The State of the Union – TV (Pt. 55)

I’m just putting random numbers on these types of posts, at this point, since I can’t remember whatever number I used for my last State of the Union Address. But here’s a list of shows, I’ve been looking at this Summer.

Watching/Have Watched

Castle Rock (Hulu)

Image result for castle rock

I watched the first two episodes of this show. I was really excited about seeing it and the show doesn’t completely disappoint, but that’s mostly because I’m a full-on Stephen King fan who has caught a lot of the Easter eggs in the episodes, and there are quite a few, which is something entirely in keeping with the idea of a Stephen King Universe where all his stories are connected.

We start of with the small town of Castle Rock itself, where more than a few King stories take place. The episode begins with a missing little Black boy named Henry, who is found by Sheriff Pangborn eleven days later. If you remember Pangborn is the sheriff who defeats the demon from the novel Needful Things. Henry’s father went missing as well. his adoptive mother is played by Sissy Spacek, who played Carrie in the  1976 movie of the same name.

When Henry is called back to the town of Castle Rock, we discover that his mother is suffering from dementia, and she has a romantic relationship with a much older Pangborn. Henry received a mysterious call from one of the guards at Shawshank prison, after a young man was discovered in the prison’s basement levels, who asked for him by name. The prison is also under the reign of a new female warden after the bizarre suicide of the last one, who garrotted himself in his car.

So two episodes is as far as I’ve gotten, and while I’m not wowed by the mystery I do find the characters interesting, the show looks gorgeous, and atmospheric, and I also liked the understated music in the show.

Pose (FX)

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/05/pose-fx-ryan-murphy-review

Image result for pose series cast

The series just finished up its first season run and is scheduled for a second season next year. I took a brief break from the show but I was there for the season finale. Good gob! but this show brings waaaay too many feels.

One of the things I love most about this show is the shameless use of sentiment, without falling into corniness. You start to seriously care about these characters so much, and get really caught up in their lives. When they’re happy, you’re happy. When they experience disappointment, so do you. It’s a testament to the acting skills of the cast. But their lives are not tragic, and the show is not a sob story. You experience as much laughter and happiness as in any drama. The characters are complicated, messy, and human.

For example, I complained that I might not be able to get into a show where characters spent so much time being nasty to each other, but that turns out not to be the case. Yes, there are some villainous types but the show has a lot of romance and heart. After Blanca’s former mother, Elektra, from House Abundance,  gets ousted from her position, Blanca takes her in, and it is commendable for Blanca, especially when you consider that the two of them parted on such bad terms,  that Blanca treats her no different than she does any of the children of her House, by counseling her, and helping her get a job.

Blanca is rewarded for her compassion by being crowned Mother of the Year, at the local Ball, while the bitchy little characters we met in the first episode get their comeuppance with an epic dress-down from Elektra. The season ends with a dance-off  between the House of Evangelista and the House of Extravaganza, going  head to head on the ballroom floor.

There is also the side story of one her children falling in love with a married businessman, and one of Blanca’s boys falls in love with another dancer after he is accepted into  Dance school, and the two of them compete for a role in a music video. In another side story, the master of Ceremonies at the Balls puts on a performance at the hospice where his lover is dying from Aids, and later goes out on a date. The conversations in the show feel true, adult, and emotional.

I fell in love with these characters so fast, I just don’t know if my heart can take this level of shameless romanticism and drama. I’m definitely going to return for the second season of this show.

 

Preacher: Season Three (AMC)

Image result for preacher season three

Its as zany as the last season, picking up with the death of Tulip. Jessie takes her to his grandmother,a Hoodoo woman, who brings Tulip back from the dead. She says Jessie owes her for this, but I’m unsure exactly what it is she requires in payment.

Cassidy gets kidnapped by a cult run by another vampire and its hilarious because the other vampire has enthralled these goth kids into worshiping him, and he’s like a cheap, backwoods version of Lestat.

I’m not doing any in depth reviews for this show, mostly because its kinda lightweight, and is far too richly zany to put that kind of work into it.

Although its rarely laugh out loud funny, it is definitely entertaining.

Luke Cage: Season 2 (Netflix)

Image result for luke cage season two

I watched the entire season all the way through, and mostly enjoyed it. It really does still have some issues, mostly with pacing and story coherency, and should probably tone down on some of the music, because that was starting to be a bit much. But overall I liked the season.  I wasn’t as awed by this season as I was with the first, and I’m pretty sure it’s because the novelty of it has worn off some.

Frankly,  I was tuning in to see what happened to Misty Knight, after her ordeal in The Defenders, and I , and a lot of other people, have reached the conclusion that we are all ready for a Daughters of the Dragon spinoff , of Misty and Colleen Wing. The scenes between the two of them were a lot of fun, the actresses have good chemistry, and I was glad to see the writers of the show did not neglect the relationships between the women, although I was dismayed to realize that all of the Black women in the show had adversarial relationships with each other. I understood most of the reasons why they would, because they’re mostly well written characters, many of them with clear motivations, but I still think the writers should do better. Women don’t always have to be enemies for  dramatic tension.

Yes, there is a brief cameo, in one or two episodes, with Iron Fist, which happen late in the season, but I don’t feel this was a detraction from the show, and I wasn’t upset at seeing him. Like I said, a little bit of him goes a long way. I’m still not especially enthused about the second season of IF, but I am curious enough, based on how his character is much more positively depicted here. I know there are some people who are going to hate him no matter what the writers  do with him ,but I’m willing to forgive past sins if they fix his character, and this show, and The Defenders, went a long way towards almost making Danny Rand likable. I don’t actually like him. I don’t know that I will ever like him-like him, but at least I don’t dislike him. Let’s just say I’m open to liking him.

There was a new vilain called Bushmaster, who heavily reminded me of Black Panther: if T’Challa had become a junkie for the special herb which gave him his powers, and was a gang leader, rather than a good guy.  I still think the accents of some of these characters could use work, though. There are several moments of extreme horror that I could’ve done without, and we didn’t spend as much time with Luke as you’d think we would in a show that’s about him, but that’s okay because Luke is not an especially compelling personality, and Mariah Dillard is. Luke gets to fight with a lot of different characters, and that is always fun, but he’s not a very interesting person beyond his fight scenes, and the show’s attempts to add character to his character fell flat for me. His relationship with his father, and his fights with Clair didn’t feel true or believable.

Actually, you could just call the show Dillard, or something, because Mariah was one of the most awesome characters all season, and is a truly complicated villain. I’ve long ago given up on white feminist fans paying any attention to Black female characters, and I suppose I should be grateful for that, especially considering how shitty they are regarding all Black characters, in general. I think the last thing any of us want is twenty year old, suburban, white girls trying to write sexy fan fiction about Shades Alvarez. But there’s not a lot there for them anyway because while there are a few canon relationships, none of them involve White people.

Mariah is a very unconventional villain, being an older, educated, Black woman, who is also  an unstable, conniving alcoholic,  in a semi-abusive relationship with her lover, Shades Alvarez, who is many years younger than her, and thoroughly devoted to her. I  can’t even say she loves him, because Mariah is a psychopathic user, who loves no one but herself but the chemistry between them is palpable, and it really is a very sexy relationship. Mariah is also surprisingly vulnerable, and open at odd moments, which makes her deeply compelling. This was really a superior performance from Alfre Woodard, and one of her best roles ever.

There’s also a throwaway relationship between Shades and another man (Comanche) that if you’re anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum,  will thoroughly enrage you, so you might want to skip all that.

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/luke-cage-shades-mariah-shadymariah/

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/luke-cage-season-2-review/?tu=dd

https://screenrant.com/marvel-iron-fist-better-luke-cage-season-2/

Killjoys (Syfy)

Killjoys has added a smidge more humor to the show, but I still have trouble with Hannah John-Kamen’s acting style. Its still annoying. I’m still surprised that people like this show. It looks great but I find the acting and plotting uneven. It’s not a bad show, but it struggles to hold my attention. I like the costumes, though ,and the guys are both reasonably handsome.

Image result for killjoys/wynonna Earp

Wynonna Earp (Syfy)

Wynona Earp started its new season. I watched the first episodes of the show and while I was not “not”  entertained, I wasn’t exactly inspired to keep watching them either. WE turned out to be mildly funny as vampires have been added to the show and Waverly’s approach to danger has always been funny. If you’re looking for a cute  litttle White girl lgbtq relationship, then this is the show for you. If you are a fan of mustaches, there’s a Doc Holliday character who is really cute.

 

I’m Not Watching But Probably Should

Killing Eve (BBC America)

I’ve heard so much about this show, and these curious gifs keep popping up on  my dashboard. One day I’m actually going to get around to watching this. and I’m gonna be wowed, because I really do like Sandra Oh, and I heard she got some award noms out of this. From all the meta  and gifs I’ve seen, I got the impression that this show was a female version of the Hannibal series, with its lowkey same sex relationship vibes, between an officer of the law, and a deranged psychopath. Since I’m a big fan of Hannibal , I feel I at least need to give this a looky-loo.

The Bold Type (Freefrom)

I heard there was some great LGBTQ rep in this show, between two young women, that’s being well and fairly treated,  and this is  another show that people insist on making gifs of, and sending them across my Tumblr dashboard. One day I may or may not look at this. It does involve some very young people, and I usually avoid shows that star a bunch of very young, people, so I’m dubious. Not every show is for everyone.

Dear White People (Netflix)

I keep hearing good things about this show, but once again it stars some very young people, and I’m not one of those people who is sentimental about my college years, so imma pass on this one.

Yeah…No!

Snowfall/ Power

I know people are watching these shows, but shows about Black crime are not to my taste, and I already got my quota of that subject from Luke Cage. If Black crime stories (ala New Jack City) are to your tastes,  and you’re not watching these, then you need to hop to it because they look gorgeous.

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I’m working on several of those longform essays you guys seem to like. The use of setting in movies, a trip in the wayback machine to some forgotten  TV series, the personalities of Goodfellas according to MBTI, an examination of the trope of the retired killer, an examination of The Thing, Eastern Promises, and some that are little more than ideas I hope to flesh out at some point.

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Straight Out The SDCC 2018

The San Diego Comic-Con started this weekend, and we already got a buttload of movie and TV trailers that I’m very excited about. (Picture me jitterbugging around my living room in my bunny slippers!) The Con lasts all week, so I’m going to publish some more trailers for Wednesday and even Friday if necessary. Later this month, or in August, its time to start my list of TV shows to watch for, and I’ll be working on that soon.

Let’s get started. First up:

Godzilla: King of All Monsters

I am so geeking out about this move, not because of Godzilla, mind you, although there is the iconic roar, but because of the presence of Ghidrah: The Three-Headed Dragon, and Mothra, basically a giant moth. I grew up watching Godzilla movies on those Saturday afternoons when my brothers and I couldn’t go outside. I watched Mothra a bunch of times when I was a kid, so I was excited to see something like it in the last movie, and now the full effect in this one. I’m probably not going to get Mom to see this, because she hates Godzilla, but I can introduce my nieces and nephew to it if nothing else.

 

 

Shazam

I’m not excited about this movie, but I’m not dismayed. I remember watching Shazam on TV as a kid. (I watched all the superhero TV shows.) In the TV series, Shazam was a teenager or probably an adult. I haven’t seen it in so long, I can barely remember it, beyond the iconic yelling of  “Shazam!” I don’t know what to think about this yet, probably because I wasn’t expecting it to be funny. And it did give me a few laughs. This trailer isn’t inspiring me to see it though, so I’ll wait until I see some more. Also, its DC and they’re not really good with funny.

 

Glass

Now this one, I’m really, really, excited about. (See, I used to “reallys”!) I’m a huge fan of Unbreakable. It’s just exciting to see David Dunn again. (I’m a little less a fan of the movie Split, although it has its merits, and The Beast is pants-shittingly frightening.) These are really just down to Earth versions of superhero movies, and I will always grok that.

 

 

Aquaman

This is another one I haven’t formulated an opinion on yet. I love that Momoa is Aquaman though, because it seems fitting that the King of the Oceans would be a Pacific Islander, and I never get tired of looking at him, and going, “It’s Kal Drogo! Under the sea!”. It also helps that he just looks fine as Hell!

 

 

Titans

Woo! The bitching and whining about what’s wrong with this trailer, and the miscasting of Ana Diop as Starfire, has already begun on Tumblr. I’m completely dismissing any criticism from ALL White men about her casting because here’s the thing: Starfire has always been nothing but wank material for them since she first starred in the comic books. Casting her as a Black woman seems to have put a crimp in their masturbatory fantasies for this show, I’m guessing, which is why so many of them are throwing nasty racist hissy fits.

Diop has already disabled the comments on her Instagram because of the vitriol she’s been receiving, and no! I’m not surprised by it. Sending racist messages to actors of color, and then claiming they’re doing it just to protect the show, or movie, or whatever,  is just White, male, fandom’s go-to move at this point. And it’s also all they have. They’re still gonna watch the show, they’re just gonna bitch about it the whole time, and I don’t really care at this point, as long as their eyeballs provide ratings.

What I have decided not to do is read any more whiny bullshit about TV shows before they air. I got my own whiny bullshit in mind, and ain’t adopting other people’s crap. I’ll wait to actually see the show before I form an opinion on whether it’s good or bad. Also, I’m a lot older than most of the complainers on Tumblr and have been reading Teen Titans since I was a child. I can decide for myself whether or not the show is any good.

For the record, I think the trailer looks okay, although most of it is too dark to see anything, and I’m satisfied with the depiction of Starfire, and Raven.

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald

I don’t know that I’ll see this in the theater because I got the same issues with it, that I had with the first. But I really enjoyed the first movie, I really liked all the characters a lot, and this is an incredibly gorgeous film, too. I’m less interested in the worldbuilding than I am with the people.

 

Patient Zero

This looks like an interesting take on vampire mythology and might turn out to be what the show The Strain should have been, so I’m gonna check into it. Plus, I’m always up for some vampire apocalypse stories.

 

 

The Passage

This series is based on one of my favorite books by Justin Cronin, a trilogy called The Passage. I’m very excited about this because they’ve changed the races of the characters, thereby giving the story a deeper subtext, especially when you remember that African Americans have been used before as subjects of medical experimentation.

http://www.history.com/news/the-father-of-modern-gynecology-performed-shocking-experiments-on-slaves

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuskegee_syphilis_experiment

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/henriettalacks/index.html

So you have scientists experimenting on Black convicts, and chasing after a little Black girl they want to use to save the human race, from an experiment they created, that went horribly wrong. This also closely parallels the events of the first  200 or so pages of the first book, which I thoroughly enjoyed, it was so well written, just without the racial angle. The series offers a changeup to the  “Black man bonding with and protecting,  a little White girl”, which we’ve seen more than enough of in the movies. There’s also Mark-paul Gosselaar , which is kinda neat.

 

Overlord

This looks a lot like Patient Zero, only set during WWI, and with a Black lead character, which is intriguing. It looks like it might be about medically created zombies. I dont have a lot of opinion on it yet.

 

The Walking Dead Season Nine

After the first few episodes, I skipped most of last season. I just lost interest. I still don’t care which is why I haven’t talked much about it. I’m going to watch season nine because I’m nosy, and there will be less of Negan chewing the scenery, which is something I got really, really, tired of. It’s rumored that this will be the last season for Rick. Personally, I would like to see the show headed by Michonne, but I don’t expect we will get that so I’m not getting too hopeful. At any rate, this season doesn’t look too bad, but then I thought that about last season’s trailer, too, and look what happened.

 

Star Trek Discovery Season Two

The second season for this show doesn’t air until January which I think is a horrible tease, but I can wait. It looks just as gorgeous as always. I’ve read that the series will be preceded by a series of character shorts in December, and that Spock will put in an appearance. I have been total trash for Spock since I was twelve years old, and will watch him in anything, so I’m very excited about the new season.

Can I also mention that the guy playing the tragic Captain Pike, is Anson Mount, the same guy who played Black Bolt in that deplorable Inhumans series, that only lasted a few episodes? (If you want to know what eventually happens to Captain Pike, in ten years, you need to watch the first episode of the original Star Trek, called The Menagerie.) He looks much better here than he did in the Inhumans. As a matter of fact, he is cocky, and foine as f***!

The show also looks like its adding a little more humor.  The showrunners say the focus for the new season will be “family”, so there’s going to be more character development of the bridge crew, I’m guessing. At the end of last season, Michael had gotten back her rank, and she looks a lot more comfortable in this trailer, and I’m looking forward to what she does in the role. Her character and storyline carried the entire first season, so I expect the writers to give her a little breathing room, and focus on some of the other characters this season, with Michael as the emotional center again.

 

Doctor Who Season 11

I’m not excited about this new Doctor, so much as deeply curious, about how the show will feel with a female Doctor. It looks intriguing and I’m definitely going to check it out. I have, in the past, claimed to not be a huge Doctor Who fan, but I’m enough of a fan to have favorite Doctors, Companions, villains, etc. I think this new one might become a favorite. We’ll see!

 

“Am I Black Enough For You?” The Respectability of CW’s Black Lightning

The CW’s Black Lighting represents the split between Black respectability and radical politics in a singular figure.

via “Am I Black Enough For You?” The Respectability of CW’s Black Lightning — The Middle Spaces

 

This is an absolutely gorgeous analysis of Black Lightning. I haven’t written much about the show, not because I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it, but because  of the density of the text. This series is every bit as rich with meaning as Black Lightning and Luke Cage, and is pertinent to many of the discussions Black Americans are having about social justice, existing, as it does, in a space somewhere between those two sources.

The show isn’t perfect, of course. It certainly has its issues in pacing, dialogue, and occasionally the acting, but these problems are not consistent enough to make me dislike the show, and it gets more right, than it does wrong.  This review, and analysis, contains a lot of what I was thinking about, when it was on the air.

Later, after I’ve re-watched a few episodes i might do a post squeeing about everything I thought the show got right, and the handful of things that annoyed me.

Black Lightning is currently available on Netflix, and has already been renewed, for a second season on the CW, this Fall.

 

Forthcoming Geekery

Bohemian Rhapsody

The very first song, I ever heard by Queen, was Another One Bites the Dust, waaay back in the seventies. I had a kid’s turntable that I played the 45 on, endlessly. I loved the hell out of that song.

I listened to Queens music all through the eighties, and sort of kept track of what they were doing, and even watched a couple of concerts, and music videos on TV. Queen also did a lot of the songs to one of my favorite movies, Highlander.

Freddie Mercury  didn’t prominently feature, in my teenage music fandom,  the same way someone like Michael Jackson, or Boy George did. But I followed his career. I didn’t  realize I was a true fan until college. I picked up a Queen’s Greatest Hits CD, because  I hadn’t heard Another One Bites the Dust in a very long time, and I missed it,  and found that I knew the words to every song on the CD.

I am really, really excited about this movie. I kinda lowkey loved Freddie Mercury, and he is one of the few celebrities (along with Prince, Bowie, and George Michael) I actually shed tears for when he died. I miss him a lot, and Rami Malek’s spot on impersonation of him in this trailer just brought all kinds of feels. Malek looks so much like him, and captures the stage attitude so well, that I’m not sure I want to see this in the theater without a box of tissues. It even looks like the creators aren’t glossing over his bisexuality, either.

The movie will be released in November.

 

 

BlackkKlansman

I think most of us, when we heard the title of Spike Lee’s new joint , immediately flashed back to Dave Chappelle’s skit about Clayton Bigsby, the blind,  Black Klansman.

I thought this movie would be one of those cringe worthy comedies that Lee produces every few years. I like Spike Lee but his idea of humor often clashed with my own.

I’m also not a fan of Adam Driver, because he’s such an unfortunate looking fellow, and I don’t know if I want to look at him for two hours. For the record, Adam Driver isn’t actually Jewish, or so I’ve been told, but for some reason, he plays a lot of Jewish people in movies. John David Washington is actually Black, though,  is a former football player, and also the son of Denzel Washington, so I expect much.

The movie is based on the book by Ron Stallworth, who wrote about his time as the first Black police detective of  Colorado Springs, and how how he went undercover to infiltrate the local Klan.

Fortunately, this is not a comedy. According to the trailer, its more of a drama, with some funny elements. I don’t know if I’ll go to the theater to see this, but I have tremendous respect for Lee as a filmmaker, and I’m always excited whenever he releases a new movie, so I’m putting this here.

 

 

The Predator

I’m cautiously excited for this movie, mostly because Keegan Michael Key is in it, from the show Key and Peele, and I worry that he’ll be killed 30 minutes into the movie, because that’s what happens to Black people, in franchises that go before a mainstream audience. But I think the premise is interesting, and kinda unexpected, and I really liked this trailer.

The Predator movies are one of the few franchises that actually treats the characters of color with a certain amount of respect. Even when they die, they at least get to have heroic deaths (Carl Weathers), and a couple of the Predator films had Black heroes, one man (Danny Glover) and one woman, (Sanaa Lathan), and I can appreciate that.

This version stars Sterling K Brown, and Olivia Munn, who I hope is the star of this one, and gets to fight with or against the Predator of the title. It also, unfortunately, stars Jake Busey, and no Black women, but I’m willing to tolerate all that, in the names of Key, and Brown.

 

I know it looks like I’m being a slacker this week, but I was on a bit of vacation, and I’d just finished that giant post on Bladerunner. I have a lot more posts forthcoming about various movies, but like I said, those take time. Throughout the Summer, especially during the hiatuses of various shows, I’ll be doing movie posts, and re-watching season three of Hannibal.

I went this weekend to see Breaking In, with Mom. This was the movie she chose to see on Mother’s Day. It wasn’t a bad film, I had a good time, and she seemed to really enjoy it. The movie was full of cliches, and I think it lasted a little too long, but was otherwise okay. We went to the movies, and had lunch with my little sister, and her three kids.

Monday I goofed off and shopped a bit, and Tuesday I got some household chores out of the way, like putting away the winter clothes and unpacking my Summer wardrobe. Those of you from warmer climates probably think that’s bizarre, but for those of us who live above the snowline, it’s a twice yearly ritual of packing away clothes, according to forthcoming weather trends.

But I did take time out of my busy schedule to watch a couple of movies on Netflix. I’ve decided to do this thing where I watch whatever random movies Netflix recommends to me, and occasionally I come across a real gem. Just lately, I watched a show called Travels with My Father, a movie called The Outsider, and I’ll be watching another movie, called The Survivalist, this week, while knitting my first shawl. I’ll post about these later.

Forthcoming Movies 2018

Hey there! Here’s my list of movie trailers  I found interesting for this Summer (and one in Oct.). I left out some of the biggies, like Jurassic World, and Infinity War, although my Mom and I do have plans to see those. I know for sure I’m going to see Deadpool and The Incredibles. I’m less certain about The Cured, and Upgrade, but I still liked the trailers.

Deadpool 2

I will probably go see this movie alone, becasue I’m not sure its entirely appropriate for a 13 year old niece. or watching it with my Mom. I don’t think she wants to see this anyway. I was a bit dubious, at first, about Zazie Beetz as Domino. I only knew her from the show Atlanta, and Domino is a White woman in the comic books. I didn’t know if her character would be anything like the comic book version, but she looks great here. I’m not a big fan of Cable from the comic books, but Terry Crews is in this and I just can’t resist seeing him on the big screen, and I genuinely like Ryan Reynolds, who seems to have found his perfect role.The movie also just looks like a helluva lot of fun.

 

Incredibles 2

The first movie is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite Disney movies, so yeah, the Potato and I are going to see this. I like that Frozone is playing a slightly larger role in this one, and that it’s  Elastigirl who gets to take center screen. I loved her relationship with Edna in the first movie, and of course I’m glad to see more of Edna, and the Baby.

 

Venom

I do plan to go see this. I don’t know that I will see it, but I plan to. It looks disgusting, btw. I have a thing about sentient snot, so this plays as a horror movie for me. Plus despite some other people’s inexplicable distaste for Tom Hardy, I actually really like the guy and won’t miss a chance to see him onscreen.

I’ve read maybe three or four graphic novels about Venom, and I did read the  origin story,  from the first Secret Wars books, when it attached itself to Spiderman. I’d say this is a pretty faithful rendition of the monster. Although, I suppose now in the comic books Venom is more accurately called an anti-hero.

 

Upgrade

I was deeply confused when I first saw this trailer, becasuse the guy in this movie looks suspiciously like Tom Hardy. In fact, I still want to see Tom hardy when I look at him, even knowing for sure that it’s not him. It turns out he’s the asshole who  gets killed by The Vulture in Spiderman: Homecoming.

I see this as a kind of superhero type movie. The one drawback I have is the vigilante angle, where his wife, or his girlfriend, gets fridged, and he responds by beating up some Black guys, and this is supposed to be funny, I guess. (Not when  I can watch Black guys get beat up by the police, for free, on the internet, without the one liners.)

On the other hand I like movies where people transform into other things, so I’ll check it out at some point, but probably not in the theater though.

 

The Meg

My Mom and I already made plans to see this because Hey! giant shark! I despair of her ever getting out of her Sharknado addiction, and gong to see this with her may be enabling, but I’m gonna do it. I know she’ll love it. I am surprised that she knows who Jason Statham is though, and when I asked her about it, she said she saw him in The Transporter. I find it less disturbing that she knows who he is, than that she sat all the way through The Transporter.

 

Equalizer 2

I have tried to get my Mom to watch the first movie but so far, no luck. I did like the first movie but I could have done without the sex worker angle, which seems to be a staple of these type of vigilante rescue movies. Denzel does a really good job of playing an older, retired man, who is just tired of killing, but keeps having to do it, because people need help.

I feel like not enough people realize that this  movie is based on a TV show. I remember watching a few episodes as a teenager. The main character was played by an older White man, and I feel like the only way they got away with race-bendng this character, is not  many people know about the TV show and, of course, its Denzel.

 

The Cured

I think there was a British TV show loosely based on the concept of zombies who have been reclaimed, or cured, and are being slowly integrated back into society. This looks much more intriguing than that show.

Tumblr Discussions #167

 *Sometimes you get some interesting discussions to eavesdrop on over at Tumblr. This one is about how the western ideas of approaching the rest of the world  always seem to depend on conquering and collecting other countries, and simply stealing the resources, rather than relying on trade.
People often forget that some five hundred years of history, after the fall of Rome, seemed to have consisted of endless warfare between the various city-states, that came into existence afterwards, and when they finished warring among themselves, they began to compete with each other for who could gather up most of the rest of the world and own it.
It almost seems like colonization, genocide, slavery, and conquest were the hideous byproducts of various European nations competing among themselves, to prove who was the  more superior group of White people.
What’s  galling is, while engaging in this behavior ,Europeans managed to displace their barbarity onto the backs of the people they conquered and destroyed, as a reason for conquering and destroying them. (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?)
What’s sad about this is that most White Westerners cannot conceive of any other way of approaching the rest of the world, except through  dominance and submission. It is a philosophy that finds its way into everything from entertainment to politics.
  doublehamburgerjack
It’s really hard for people to understand that everyone had boats, exploration, and trade interactions without the same level of murder, colonization, and violence that the Europeans did. It’s really hard for people to get that.

 ami-angelwings
This is important for the knowledge/history aspect, but also because of what was said above, that exploration/seafaring/technological advancement does not automatically mean conquest, colonization, and genocide.  It’s one of those myths that an annoyingly large amount of people pass around to justify white supremacy: that everybody wants to conquer and wipe out everybody else, and that white people just got the technology and exploration level up first to do it.  They like this myth for several reasons: 1) it frames genocide, slavery, conquest, etc, as natural results of human development, SOMEBODY would have eventually done it regardless 2) it frames evil acts as “human nature”, it implies that the victims of those acts would have done them if they could, and that the people doing it were only acting on “nature” 3) it implies that because white people did these things therefore white people must have had the highest technological level and 4) because white people had the highest technological level therefore white people deserved their place in the world as conquerers and colonizers and enslavers.

Of course none of this is true, but it’s something our society likes to believe and the narrative is distributed through “common knowledge” and through our media, where non-white cultures in “historical” dramas are framed as “primitive” or warlike or both, and all the various dystopia fiction where “the oppressed become the oppressors” and what not (i.e. everybody wants to conquer everybody else, so SOMEBODY has to be on top).

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*I want to get rid of the argument about “Historical Accuracy” when it comes to defending lack of diversity in fantasy worlds. That concept needs to be taken out back, and killed with fire, because I no longer want to hear that PoC did not contribute  to the European historical record, and that  somehow has relevance for their existence in fantasy worlds, that are based on particular European time periods.

“To put it yet another way, in my country where Dukes are actually a thing, there are a grand total of 30 (6 members of the Royal family, 24 others), and while the amount of Duchies in the Kingdom has varied a bit over the years, this number has remained relatively stable.  By contrast, although I don’t have access to hard census data for the 19thcentury, Google reliably informs me that there were 2,651,939 people in London in 1851. And, if we take the extremely conservative estimate that only 0.1% of them were people of colour, that means that in the mid-19th century there were 2650 POCs in London compared to about 30 Dukes in the whole country.

So, from a certain perspective, a historical romance about a person of colour set in England in the mid-19th century is 88.3 times more plausible than one about a Duke. But because we’re used to seeing stories about Dukes in the 19th century and we aren’t used to seeing stories about people who aren’t white or heterosexual in the 19th century,  stories about the absolutely tiny number of high ranking members of the landed aristocracy seem natural and normal to us while stories about the proportionally much larger number of marginalised people living in England at the time feel implausible or disorientating, even though they’re actually more reflective of the lives of real people.”

-Alexis Hall, Obligatory RITA post (with added mu

 

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*This is about the devaluation of art done by women, and the prioritization of female nude art, created by, and for, a male audience. Bet you never gave this one much thought before, have you? Hell, I studied art for two decades, and it never occurred to me that the value of certain types of art is biased in favor of the male gaze.

http://anewdomain.net/paint-naked-women-male/

Could the reason for 83 percent of the New York Metropolitan Museum’s nudes being female have anything to do with it being run predominately by men? And who collects art?  Rich people, right? And who is rich enough to collect art?

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*This particular discussion highlights how  fashion does not exist in a vacuum. Clothing is just as political as any other part of our culture from hairstyles to music. This also ties into something discussed in an earlier post, about how, before the Civil Rights Movement, juvenile delinquency was coded as being White, (before that it was Italian and Latino) was heavily romanticized, and was almost never associated with Black teenagers. After the Civil Rights Act was passed, juvenile delinquency (and violence) became associated with Black and Brown youth exclusively, (reaching new heights during the nineties, with the invention of the Super-Predator.)

Greaser was a derogatory term for a Mexican in what is now the U.S. Southwest in the 19th century. The slur likely derived from what was considered one of the lowliest occupations typically held by Mexicans, the greasing of the axles of wagons; they also greased animal hides that were taken to California where Mexicans loaded them onto clipper ships (a greaser). It was in common usage among U.S. troops during the Mexican-American War.

why are greaser aesthetics still used to depict “bad boys” in art and media, when it hasn’t been that way since the 50s. this is a real mystery, i’m a serious scientist.

And the response:

 

it’s a so frustrating because greasers were originally  Mexicans or other latinxs, or Italians – either by subculture reclaiming, or slur. “Greasers” started out as the object of white fear.

Ethnically, original greasers were mostly composed of mostly Italian Americans in the Northeastern United States and Chicanos in the Southwest. Since both of these peoples were mostly olive-skinned, the “greaser” label assumed a quasi-racial status that implied an urban lower class masculinity and delinquency. This development led to an ambiguity in the racial distinction between poor Italian Americans and Puerto Ricans in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s.[6] Greasers were also perceived as being predisposed to perpetrating sexual violence, stoking fear among middle class males and arousal among middle class females.[8]

What most people remember is NOT the actual era of the greasers, but instead the 60′s and 70′s “sanitization” of who they were, why they were stereotyped against, and why they were used as villains.

Hell, before greaser was ever recognized as a “subculture” it was explicitly used as a derogatory term against mexicans. (That link references The Greaser Act, and lots of Hollywood movies which used the word.)

so before the 40′s-50′s, greaser was heavily used to portray a racist stereotype of a Mexican/Chicano man as violent/aggressive. (at least in media). This term also got used against some other latinxs in general, as well as Italians and sometimes Greeks. At least in hollywood this “greaser” type promoted mexicans as bad/dangerous and while also promoting latin lover stereotypes:

The Mexican Government soon objected to Hollywood’s portrayal of its citizens as “bandits and sneaks” and threatened to ban all films produced by companies which offended its people. This 1922 threat caused screenwriters to treat their neighbors to the south with more care. The “greaser” swiftly lost his Mexican nationality in the attempt to diffuse potential complaints, but his ghost still haunted new screenplays which concerned Hispanic characters.

Clever subterfuges often placed an unnamed “greaser” in a new locale. Rather than use the name of an actual country and risk offending its inhabitants, screenwriters began to create mythical cities and nations. “The Dove” (1928) provided an obvious example. The film concerned Don Jose Maria y Sandoval (Noah Beery), who considered himself “the bes’ damn caballero in Costa Roja.” Costa Roja, as the title cards explained, was situated in the Mediterranean!

The flimsy guise fooled scarcely anyone. The Times critic commented: “Taken by and large, Jose is perhaps a screen character to which the Mexican government might have objected, for he is greedy, sensuous, boastful, cold-blooded, irritable, and quite a wine-bibber, but he does dress well. He hates to have his luncheon spoiled by the noisy victim of a firing squad.”

(movie image, and its sound remake)

those images don’t look super like what you’d think of as “greaser” subculture, but…when you go forwards a decade or two, and then look at the actual people:

Zoot Suit(er) after arrest during the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots in LA. The Anglo police officer is inspecting his hair.

Wikipedia mentions that the Mexican American community was then…investigated to see if they had ties to the Nazis. (Yeah.)

On June 21, 1943, the State Un-American Activities Committee, under state senator Jack Tenney, arrived in Los Angeles with orders to “determine whether the present Zoot Suit Riots were sponsored by Nazi agencies attempting to spread disunity between the United States and Latin-American countries.” Although Tenney claimed he had evidence the riots were “[A]xis-sponsored”, no evidence was ever presented to support this claim. […] In late 1944, ignoring the findings of the McGucken committee and the unanimous reversal of the convictions by the appeals court in the Sleepy Lagoon case on October 4, the Tenney Committee announced that the National Lawyers Guild was an “effective communist front.”[15][27]

so that 1940′s look becomes this over time:

three Cholos showing off their outfits (1950′s). why? because zoot suits were deemed horrifically unamerican and “wasteful” during WWII.

but then ofc bitch ass racist white boys and motorcyles co-opted the look, add in a little bit of Travolta white washing of the radical pushback against racism in the origins of this stuff, and now we’re here.

 

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I have been wondering about the depiction of Tony Stark in the MCU vs. the comic books. The comic book version of Tony has at least some redeeming qualities, much like the version in the Iron Man Trilogy. He’s not a great character in the trilogy, but he’s less awful than in  The Avengers movies, for example.

When Tony is depicted in other movies in the MCU, besides his own, he’s often written as a callous, misogynist, asshole, who is thoroughly unlikable. For example, I got the impression that the Russo Brothers deeply dislike Tony Stark, because he doesn’t come off looking good in Civil War, at all, and even manages to look  several degrees worse in Spiderman: Homecoming.

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=captain

A lot of what this guy says about Tony’s lack of moral center, I already talked about, in an earlier post, comparing him to Steve Rogers.  In that post I expressed some doubts about my assessment of Tony’s character, and  its nice to know I wasn’t the only person getting that take.

 

This was something I specifically stated in my post:

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*I have always wondered about this narrative, being put forth by the media, that these killers deserve sympathy because they were victims of a society that didn’t understand them. It turns out that they are, just as I suspected, mediocre, entitled ,white boys, who go on killing sprees because the world refuses to worship them for being the special snowflakes they believe themselves to be.

I like how she ties this into the racial aspect, where white men receive sympathy for killing others, (and the benefit of the doubt), but Black men who kill…don’t. 

Also read up on the topic of “Wound Collectors, which is a fascinationg insight into how some mass killer’s minds work. Just about every mass killer, according to many of the writings they have left behind, seem to fit this dynamic.

These individuals use these wrongs, slights, or wounds, to then justify their beliefs or behaviors, or to help them deal with their own psychological or social distress. What is the definition of a wound collector or wound collecting?            
Wound collecting is the conscious and systematic collection and preservation of transgressions, violations, social wrongs, grievances, injustice, unfair treatment, or slights of self and others, for the purpose of  nourishing, fortifying, or justifying a malignant ideology, furthering hatred, satisfying a pathology, or for exacting revenge
Apr 7, 2013

 

More on the point about Columbine: Eric Harris was actually a relatively popular kid.  Not with the “popular kids” but, when it came to the more obscure cliques in the school, Harris was actually relatively well liked even for a kid who was, as was stated, an ACTUAL psychopath.  Dylan Klebold was less popular, but only because he was more of a follower who mostly just wanted to hang around Harris.

Neither one of the Columbine shooters was bullied.  They literally WERE the bullies.

 

Klebold’s own mother has been vocally debunking the narrative that they were bullied and “the real victims” for years. Her book, “A Mother’s Reckoning” is worth reading. It counters everything in the media. Kid was well off, wanted for nothing, wasn’t abused, neglected or bullied. What he was was radicalized by Harris, a neo-Nazi.

And just as “Walk Up” types don’t suggest showing compassion for poor Black or brown kid at risk of joining a gang, they don’t acknowldge that white radicalization is the root of a lot of America’s problems, more so than non-Westen radicalization that is readily accepted as dangerous.

Telling kids they should be kinder to the creepy kid who does Nazi salutes in the hallway is in fact making them more susceptible to radicalization. “Walk Up” is not only misguided, racist, misogynist and ableist, it makes things worse. Painting the Columbine shooters as the real victims set off the era of school shootings, and the more people call for more empathy toward angry white men who fit the profile (and again, in many cases these kids are actual neo-Nazis), the worse it gets.

 

Do your research properly or don’t have an opinion.

“According to Lee (2013), there are two leading causes of school shootings: bullying (87%), as well as both non-compliance and side effects from psychiatric drugs (12%). Most school shooters claimed or left evidence behind indicating that they were victims of severe and long-term bullying. The majority of bullying victims experienced feelings of humiliation, which resulted in thoughts of suicide or revenge (Lee, 2013). Additionally, of those school shooters who had been prescribed psychiatric medications, 10% displayed medication non-compliance (failed to take drugs prescribed). Many school shooters who were taking psychiatric drugs for their disorder experienced side effects of the drugs prior to carrying out a violent act (Lee, 2013). In fact, there have been 22 drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence, and even homicidal ideations (Lee, 2013). There have been at least 27 school Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2015 4 shootings committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, which has resulted in 162 wounded and 72 students and/or faculty killed (Lee, 2013). However, there has yet to be a federal investigation in the United States on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of school shooting.“

American Counseling Association

 

That 2013 data completely ignores the rise of white radicalism over the past five years. I read through the link, they didn’t even include rates of known white supremacy or radicalization. 76% of the attackers were white (with a 8% gap where race isn’t specified) according to their data, 99% were male and many left “cryptic messages,” a detail typical of neo Nazi mass killers like Eric Harris and Dylan Roof. That they didn’t analyze possible radicalization was a pretty major oversight.

Angry young white men believe they are the most persecuted, it’s not a surprise that attackers frame themselves as bullying victims. There’s a more a accurate term for it that hadn’t yet been coined in ‘13: wound-collectors.

In essence these are individuals who go out of their way to collect social slights, historical grievances, injustices, unfair or disparate treatment, or wrongs—whether real or imagined (Dangerous Personalities (link is external) 2014 Rodale Publishing)

At some point, we’re gonna have to stop pretending they’re “fighting back.” (X)

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Hellotailor (who I love btw! Please check out their website where they discuss the meaning of clothes and fashion in various movie franchises.), caught a lot of shit for writing this about Ready Player One. I don’t dislike the movie (it looks hella fun, and it is Spielberg!), but that doesn’t  mean they’re wrong.

Ready Player One could be the most hated movie of 2018. Considering the fact that it’s a Spielberg film with relatively respectable reviews, that’s quite an achievement. But like Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s based on a bestselling book that lends itself well to embarrassing viral quotes. Ready Player One has come to represent a certain kind of toxic fanboy mentality, and no amount of positive reviews can change that now.

At this point, the film’s quality is almost irrelevant to the backlash. Opponents are going after Ready Player One’s basic concept, because it’s such a perfect illustration of Big Bang Theory-style geek culture and its obsession with masturbatory trivia.

It simultaneously caters to the idea that white male nerds are underdog heroes, while proving that they’re actually a dominant force in Hollywood.

[READ MORE]

On The Table: Items For Discussion

On Race and Gender

Image result for race and gender gif

*One of the things most invisible to us as film goers is, through whose gaze are we viewing the world around us. The statistics are pretty clear, from television, to movies, to books, the point of view is that of cis-gender, straight, white men, who control nearly the entirety of all three industries. They are the ones who determine which stories are important enough to get told,  and how those stories get told. 

One of the more interesting aspects in film and TV, is how none of the  White characters in any of these narratives ever question their race in relation to PoC characters.  Most of the White people in movies do not think about their race, their race is never mentioned, and they never think about the existence of  PoC, just like the creators of these films. Racism doesn’t exist in these all White worlds, and no one ever has to think about it, or deal with it, unless its a story specifically about it. For example, you can have a story with an all White cast that may be specifically about a Native American issue, but White people’s complicity in that issue  is never mentioned in the narrative.

I think I mentioned in another post, how the subject of race is the boogeyman that White creators (and critics) dare not look at directly. Race is the sun around which their entire psyche revolves, but which they refuse to acknowledge exists, as even the stories they tell, that do not explicitly mention race, still say much about how they think (or don’t think) about the subject.

This post discusses the output of three different white male directors who have not included PoC, in any of their films, in prominent roles: Martin Scorcese, Tim Burton, and the Coen Brothers. I have thoroughly enjoyed the collected works of all these directors, but it even took me a moment to realize that this is true. I basically study this subject, but the fact that a number of film directors I truly enjoy, have never employed any PoC in their films, (outside of a couple of villains), was still largely invisible to me, and that’s the point.

https://theestablishment.co/how-to-make-white-movies-5b9b83c61c53

… films with all, or mostly, white casts are not inherently harmful (some are great), but they do create for themselves a unique problem. Because even as the overwhelming whiteness on screen goes unquestioned, unremarked upon, it remains up there for us all to see — and it thus necessarily conveys some meaning.

…Films starring white people, or featuring zero people of color, don’t have the same impact. They must contend with an inherent dilemma, which is that without any commentary, their casting reinforces the status quo. White remains the default, and this itself is a kind of unspoken celebration. Ignoring this reality as a filmmaker is like ignoring a boom mic which falls into the frame. We will see it, even if the director somehow missed it.

Image result for gender bias gif

Why Cinematography May Be the Most Gender-Biased Job in Hollywood

A cinematographer — also known as a DP, for director of photography — dictates the movement and gaze of a camera, hugely influencing a movie’s feel. For years, women have been shut out of having that influence. Men vastly dominate its ranks, meaning that movies have been quite literally subject to the male gaze in a way audience members may not even be aware. (This article may have a paywall.)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/03/06/why-cinematography-may-be-the-most-gender-biased-job-in-hollywood/?utm_term=.0519c70ed87d

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*This interview with the show runner of Jessica Jones is a perfect example of the above topic, and shows that its an attitude not limited to White men. In fact, she is a textbook practioner of “White Feminism” (this is not a reference to the person’s race, but the name of the type of  feminism being espoused by that person, which does not take into account the lives of marginalized women ). It is the type of feminism that considers WoC to be an afterthought, at best, and non-existent, at worst.

You know how I can tell there are no WoC (or marginalized women) in the writer’s room of that show? In season one of Jessica Jones, there is the Angry Black woman stereotype in the first episode, Jheri is The Evil Lesbian who tries to have her ex-GF killed, her ex-GF is The Hysterical Female, loud, and irrational, and then there’s the Black female victim of the show’s lead. Not one of the show’s writers stopped to think how it would look, that Jessica kills Luke Cage’s wife (conveniently getting her out of the way) and then sleeps with him, while never mentioning to him what she did, (after she discovers that was his wife.)

I made a point to skip the new season, but I am not heartened by the news that the situation has not changed for WoC (or queer women) on that show, and I’m not going to give a third season a chance either. I’m done with the show. What I find even more galling, is that the showrunner makes it sound like the choices they made, regarding the roles of marginalized women on the show, were just some sort of “accident”, that no one had any control over.

Image result for white feminism gif

Fumbling to accurately portray both race and gender onscreen is hardly a problem exclusive to Jessica Jones. Shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and Law & Order: SVU, among others, center on transforming our ideas of what a “strong female character” looks like, but fail to decentralize whiteness. By refusing to do so, intentionally or not, these shows continue to present race as a hindrance rather than a very real part of their characters’ identities and a factor in their experiences. 

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/reviews/jessica-jones-leaves-black-women-behind

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*The Twitter thread on this topic was brutal and hilarious. Mainstream publishing is another industry where female characters  are seen through a White male gaze, and no one ever seems to question this. When the writer is great, this isn’t quite so much of a problem, but when theyre mediocre though, its absolutely cringeworthy.

https://electricliterature.com/describe-yourself-like-a-male-author-would-is-the-most-savage-twitter-thread-in-ages-60d145d638d6

Whitney Reynolds

@whitneyarner

new twitter challenge: describe yourself like a male author would

Lilly Beth Chung@LillyBethChungx

[insert something about being mixed race and how that makes me petite and inherently submissive but juxtapose it with the idea of me being adorably aggressive and will stand up for myself. But make it sound endearing. ]

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*This post is about how women’s stories, in movies and television, are devalued by men. Essentially the test is, take a man’s story that has gotten widespread approval,  replace all or most of the characters with women, and watch the ratings for that story plummet.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/06/the-male-glance-how-we-fail-to-take-womens-stories-seriously

Male art is epic, universal, and profoundly meaningful. Women’s creations are domestic, emotional and trivial. How did we learn to misread stories so badly?

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Image result for living single gif

*This same dynamic is at work in the idea of White prioritization. A perfect example of that is the TV show Friends, from the 90’s. There was a Black show called Living Single, on which Friends was entirely based. It is Friends that is remembered, and  got  revived for more episodes, after its cancellation. Living Single was simply forgotten. This is a great article on the difference between these two shows, and why those differences mattered in the remembrance of one, but not the other.. 

https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/01/the-gentrification-of-city-based-sitcoms/513302/

Patronizing a Central Perk-style coffee shop in the ‘90s meant you had enough income to spend on a marked-up cup of coffee. It meant that you had the luxury of time to hang out in a cafe for hours with your friends because you weren’t working two or three jobs to get by. When free internet became a basic feature, you went there because you could afford a laptop—which were then well out of the price range for many working-class people. Chances were good that your cafe was mostly populated by a bunch of people who shared your privileges and skin color.

Now, for the record, I was a Living Single fan and I pretty much hated and dismissed Friends. I watched pretty much every Black sitcom that came out in the 80s and early 90s, from Sister, Sister, to Family Matters. But just in case you want to get on me for hating Friends, I watched a lot of sitcoms that had nothing but Whites in them like The Drew Carey Show, Perfect Strangers, and Bosom Buddies, as well.

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Recently  the idea of White prioritization  was turned on its head by the movie Girl’s Trip. It was expected that Rough Night, a similar movie about young White women on a road trip, would have been the movie to capture public interest, while Girl’s Trip was ignored. But that was not what happened:

https://www.thewrap.com/how-did-girls-trip-succeed-where-rough-night-and-other-adult-comedies-failed

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*And when White writers do write about race, they don’t do  their homework. They almost always get the depiction of it wrong. Its as if they know racism is bad, they just don’t seem to have quite processed why that’s so. I think I mentioned this before that most depictions are wrong because the bigots actually have legitimate reasons to be afraid of the beings they’re oppressing. Otherworldly creatures, and superpowered beings, (who are almost always White) are bad stand ins for marginalized people in allegories about bigotry, because real PoC, DO NOT have superspeed, superstrength, or  laser eyebeams.

Its also interesting to me that audiences can empathize with these oppressed characters in movies and TV, but in the real world, oppressed people are often admonished against being angry about their situations. Its not a coincidence that such admonishments often come from the ones engaged in the oppressing, and who are most likely to be on the receiving end of that anger.

https://www.themarysue.com/jessica-jones-race-gender-superpowers/

 And in every one, it ends up being people of color versus white vampires, aliens, or whatever a show would rather have stand in for POC than actual POC. It’s often exhausting, and not just because watching a white actor preach about bigotry and racism to a brown actor is irritating. What I find more upsetting is that the characters who are mutants, aliens, super-powered, or whatever, get to be more militant and angry than characters of color.

 

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On the Female Gaze

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To read more on this topic, and the responses, become a member of Medium.com, where you can also follow me, read my responses to articles, and read posts I’ve recommended.

I posted about this earlier, on the fetishization of White, gay men by White women writers.

Why Are So Many Gay Romance Novels Written By Straight Women?

https://electricliterature.com/why-are-so-many-gay-romance-novels-written-by-straight-women-e1ad2ad2f5c8

And in the responses:

I know the perspective you’re talking about here all too well from my experience in fandom, and it’s disheartening as hell. It’s disheartening as hell to come to queer (and queered) media looking for that kind of representation and complex engagement and see it overrun with the worst kinds of Kinsey 0–2 women fetishizing queer relationships. If I never see another who tops/who bottoms “debate” in my life, it will be too soon. If I never see another piece of fanart reblogged on Tumblr to the tune of hundreds of thousands of notes putting stereotypically slender, able-bodied, attractive young white men in crop tops and flower crowns, it will be too soon. If I never am around another Kinsey 0–2 woman acting like pretty boys are just so much prettier if they’re making out with bruises and bloody patches on their faces after being physically abused/physically abusing each other for reasons related to homophobia, it will be too soon. If I am never exposed to the “woke up magically one morning with breasts because of a supernatural plot ….—Kate (Medium.com)

View story at Medium.com

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On Cultural Appropriation

There’s been some huge discussion of how Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (a play on the words I love dogs) is actually appropriating Asian culture. Is this appropriation?

https://www.themarysue.com/cultural-appropriation-poc-isle/

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-isle-of-dogs-review-20180321-story.html

https://mashable.com/2018/03/23/isle-of-dogs-japanese-culture/#uoZ_BFMcqZqD

*For the record, I had never made plans to see this movie even though I have a dog (Hi Sarge!), and love dogs, because I  thought the dogs looked kind of terrifying, and everyone in the trailer spoke in depressing monotones. (I know I don’t talk about Sarge often, but really he doesn’t do much of note, beyond shedding copiously, and watching me expectantly in case  “walkies”  occur.)

 

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On Harassment Activism

Image result for angry internet typing cartoon  gif

*A warning for reading these articles, some of them contain some really nasty shit against women and PoC, so read with a certain amount of caution, (or just have a few drinks first.) This seems to be the Right’s go to response to everything they dislike: harassing it out of the public sphere. This is about more than just controlling public forums like Twitter, this is about shutting up the people who are no longer listening to, or supporting, the received wisdom of White men. White men are fed up with so many people talking back, and refuting, the things they’ve been told, or espoused themselves. 

https://www.thedailybeast.com/comicsgate-how-an-anti-diversity-harassment-campaign-in-comics-got-uglyand-profitable?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

https://www.inverse.com/article/41132-comicsgate-explained-bigots-milkshake-marvel-dc-gamergate

 

*And even academics aren’t immune from this “activism”, if they start saying things White men don’t like.

https://www.aaup.org/article/new-reality-far-rights-use-cyberharassment-against-academics#.WsejGfnwb0N

—Their plans became darker and more elaborate. One commenter suggested that their remote attacks on me be expanded to include my family. Another suggested that they take images they had found of my wife and Photoshop them in profane ways. They began to draft letters to send to administrators at my university and provided suggestions for editing to incriminate me. One commenter suggested they alter a screenshot they had created to make it appear as though I had used the term n****r. Another suggested that they accuse me of anti-Semitism. Their stated goal was to see that I was fired. This, apparently, was the type of opportunity they relished: find a person to harass, maybe by drawing him or her into a politi­cal argument, locate any information they could find online, and then coordinate attacks in an attempt to damage the person as much as possible.

 

 

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*This was an interesting article about the response of white people to diverse television, and movies, and their nostalgia about, and retreat to,  past eras of pop culture, like the eighties, when there was less diversity in the media.  We’re going to be seeing more reboots and remakes of TV shows that are not being remembered for their diversity, at the time.

This isn’t just the problem of RPO, but just about every show that is an nostalgic homage to that  time period erases the fact that Black people were having a serious impression on American culture at that time.

The problem with RPO is that the only pop culture of the eighties that’s mentioned in the movie, are things White guys would’ve loved. There’s no mention of the burgeoning hip hop scene, no Beastie Boys, or Run DMC, no Black fashions. In show after show, that’s all just conveniently erased from the history of that era.

https://www.theroot.com/ready-player-one-and-the-unbearable-whiteness-of-80-s-n-1824212737

Where is the Ghostbusters’ Winston Zeddmore? Jazz from The Transformers? Panthro from Thundercats (c’mon, we all know he was black), or even prominent women like Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake and She-Ra?

Writ large, Ready Player One, with its frothy retelling of the ’80s, is no different from decades of Western films with no black cowboys, rock ’n’ roll retrospectives that eliminate the black roots of the music, and commercials that appropriate our past while removing us from it. Today’s Gap commercials would lead you to believe that white people invented breakdancing and pop-locking.

 

I usually post in the mornings, but I was a little late with this one today.

The Mist (2007)

Image result for the mist movie script

Normally this would be a comparison between The Mist film, and the TV show, but I didn’t watch the TV show beyond the first couple of episodes. I got bored. The TV show ain’t got nothing on the movie, probably because Frank Darabont had nothing to do with it, and the two people who were involved with it had a very different vision of what The Mist was about.

The series was a hot mess, that was slow and mostly incoherent, and was finally canceled.  I was hopeful that it would be good, (I’m always hopeful that a show will be good), but I was a bit dubious when I heard there wouldn’t be any monsters in the show, and I think part of the reason for its failure, is  fans of the movie had one idea of how it should be, and the creators had a completely different, and incompatible, idea

And of course, it’s really hard to top the original movie that it was based on. Frank Darabont has proven to be something of a genius when it comes to adapting Stephen King’s stories, having directed not just The Mist, but The Shawshank Redemption (which I loved), and The Green Mile, (which I hated for  different reasons.)

Except for the controversial ending, The Mist is faithful to the novella after which it’s named, and that’s part of its success, because  the story is a very effective study of human nature under extreme conditions, and you can’t get more extreme than being trapped in an enclosed space, while being menaced by giant hungry monsters.

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The Grey Widower

I wrote an essay on how to write the apocalypse novel, and I used The Mist as the type of  framework that many writers could try to hang such a story on, but really I have to credit Agatha Christie with making the premise famous, (although its much, much older than her) of a small group of people, trapped in a  space they can’t leave, who start mysteriously dying. It’s an idea that seems to work especially well with horror movies, in everything from Alien (outer space), to Friday the 13th (the woods), to Night of the Living Dead (the home). The only thing that you can truly change about such stories is the size, and nature, of the space, (jungles, warehouses, summer camps, spaceships) the type of people dying (usually White, with a token PoC thrown in for variety), and why (probably monsters). Along the way, the survivors have to navigate the human monsters of greed, stupidity, callousness, cowardice, insanity…

In The Mist, David Drayton, his son Billy, and neighbor, Brent Norton get trapped inside a local grocery when a mysterious mist descends, a mist that contains some very hungry creatures. Also trapped with them is a small contingent of local people, along with Mrs. Carmody, a woman with the reputation of being a kind of hedge witch, who is also a  religious fanatic.The two standout performances are from Andre Braugher as Norton , and Marcia Gay Harden, as  Mrs. Carmody, with Melissa Mcbride (aka Carol from The Walking Dead) in her big film debut, making this a grand trifecta of awesome. Bringing up the rear, but never slouching, is Toby Jones, William Sadler, Sam Witwer, and Laurie Holden as Amanda Dunfrey, a woman David has an attraction to.

The Stephen King Multiverse

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The Leviathan

Near the small town of Bridgton Maine is a military facility that’s believed to be responsible for the descent of the Mist, after a huge thunderstorm knocks out  the power in the town. The book suggests it was some experimental physics event created by something called The Arrowhead Project, that triggered the Mist, and Stephen King (and many fans ) have made this story part of the Stephen King Universe by suggesting that the Project opened what’s known in other King books, as a “thinny”, a portal between the worlds.

My personal theory was that the portal opened into what King calls “todash” space, the dark void between the different worlds, which is inhabited by different types of monsters, like Tak , from The Regulators, and the creatures in this story. Todash Space is also something heavily referenced in The Dark Tower books, and at the opening of the movie, we can see David Drayton painting a picture of Roland Deschain, from The Dark Tower.

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David Drayton

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Thomas Jane, as David Drayton, just manages to just hold his own in this movie, which is impressive, as I never credited him as a particularly fine actor, although he has had a long career in film. Here, he’s supposed to be our everyman character, with whom the audience is meant to identify, and through which we’re meant to get into the story. His most direct nemesis’ is not the mist, but Edward Norton, a representative of disbelief, and later, Mrs. Carmody, who represents too much belief.

David tries to navigate these two approaches to their extreme circumstances, without falling into either the camp of delusion and denial, called The Flat Earth Society, in the book, or hysterical religious ideation, like Mrs. Carmody. In the novel, David has an affair with Amanda Dunfrey, as a form of solace over the loss of his wife, but in the film, Darabont stated that the two of them having an affair would make David’s character less sympathetic, so that was removed from the script. It would also have had the unintended side effect of the audience supposing that David was being punished for his adultery with her, especially if that was coupled with Darabont’s ending.

The ending sparked a great deal of controversy, at the time,, because it’s completely different from what happens in the book, and some viewers claim that it defeats the purpose of everything David Drayton survived beforehand. The novella itself is open-ended, David and the others never find their way out of the mist, although it ends on a hopeful note. In the movie, David and his friends elect to kill themselves, rather than be eaten by the monsters,when their car runs out of gas. This made some people angry because they felt David went through so much to survive Mrs. Carmody, only to give up at the end.

But I felt this was an entirely reasonable response, if looked at along a continuum  of the kinds of  behavior we’d seen from everyone caught in the mist. In the book, some of the characters retreat from their circumstances by getting drunk, and a number of people who David says “went over”, simply go insane. People commit suicide, and retreat into religious hysteria, and denial. But the bottom line is that most of these people (except for a handful) do not want to face their situation head on. In the movie, David does, but even he and his friends are eventually defeated by the mist, and take their own lives.

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Eventually, the only survivor is David, and he realizes the futility of what they’ve done after he steps out of his vehicle, intending to just give up and be eaten by whatever monster finds him first, only to encounter the retreat of the mist, and the American military destroying any monsters left over. That was something that infuriated a lot of people. David and the others having given up too soon. Had they waited just another hour or two, they would have all survived. But my theory was that this is all an illustration of how hopelessness works. It’s immediate and intense, and must be taken care of right away. Hopelessness is a liar that has no patience, and believes there is no time.

At any rate, staying in the store wouldn’t have saved them. They would have had to leave because of Mrs. Carmody, as the military would never have arrived before she started killing more people.

 

Edward Norton

Image result for the mist movie gifs/norton

Andre Braugher is absolutely incredible as Edward Norton. He perfectly  captures Norton’s officious resentment, from the book, and even manages to add an uncomfortable racial component, to his discussion with David in the market. Watch that scene again, where he insinuates that people are racist, without actually saying people are racist towards him.. In the book, he becomes the leader of the Flat Earth Society, a faction of people within the store who simply refuse to believe that the mist is  dangerous, or that there are monsters.

It’s never made exactly clear what Norton does for a living, but I suspect he’s a lawyer. He approaches the entire event from an argumentative stance, as if his clinging to a rational approach to their circumstances should be enough to survive it. He and his crew represent just one approach to what has happened, and they (and the bagboy, who also didn’t believe the mist was dangerous.) are the first of the store’s customers to die. After those people are dead, we are left with the  those who believe their circumstances are real, and that the monsters exist.

In the book, David states that there are so many different ways that the mind can approach what’s happened, but really there aren’t that many. People can only respond in about three ways to extreme fear: flight (whether it’s  physical (suicide), mental (insanity) from their circumstances, or flight : confronting the situation head on, in an attempt to get around it, which is what David does, and negotiation, which is what Mrs. Carmody does. Edward Norton, and Norm the bagboy, tried disbelief and confrontation, and that promptly got them killed. In the novel, several people choose flight. They just mentally check out, (they go insane), still others use alcohol, or suicide to escape. This is somewhat less evident in the movie than in the story. We don’t see any of the characters getting drunk as a way of coping with the situation, for example, and only one of the many suicides is seen.

And then  there’s Mrs. Carmody. I think, in the movie, she’s meant to represent insanity, but I don’t believe she is insane, and I’ll explain why in a moment.

Mrs. Carmody

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In the book, Mrs. Carmody is  a caricature of religious insanity, screaming about the abominations in the mist, in a bright yellow pantsuit. She starts off the story as a joke, a figure of mockery. Over the years, King has become better at writing radically religious people, but Mrs. Carmody is one of the weakest characters in the novel, as she is very one-note, and over the top. When we first meet her in the novel, she only has one setting and that is “crazy”, and she remains that way for the rest of the story. There’s no background or depth given to her. She’s little better than the monsters in the mist.

This is where Darabont’s talent for adapting King’s films comes into play. Under his creative control, Mrs. Carmody is considerably  deepened as a character. We don’t  learn anything new about her backstory, but we do learn that she is not as sure of herself as she would like everyone to believe. In the movie, she begins as a simple curmudgeon,  complaining about the smallest things. Like Norton, she sees her response to what’s happening as entirely reasonable, calmly and quietly explaining to the imprisoned crowd what will happen to everyone, if they don’t do as she says,  which is one of the best changes from the book. As the movie progresses, you  get a much better grasp of her character, especially in a scene with Amanda.

Amanda Dunfrey comes across Carmody in the lady’s restroom, and finds her in tears, as she prays to God to give her the strength to commit to His will. Amanda offers her comfort, but Mrs. Carmody’s response lets you know that she is  aware of what contempt she is held in the town, and she rejects her. She speaks from  the perspective of someone who sees herself as an underdog, a figure of mockery and disdain. She doesn’t accept Amanda’s overture of friendship because she knows Amanda doesn’t care about her, and that none of the people in the market are worthy. She honestly believes that her mission is to bring them to the glory, and submission, to the will of God.

Her scene with Amanda gives new perspective to her actions in the market. She is not as certain of her strength as she seems, not as sure she’s doing the right thing but she forges ahead anyway, and since you get the subtle impression she has just as much contempt for the townsfolk ( they are all horrible sinners) as they do for her (as the town crazy), we have to question her motivations for calling for more and more extreme ends to deal with the  mist. Her way of dealing with the mist is to try to appease the deity, from whom she believes the mist comes, but she goes about it the wrong way, as she becomes increasingly desperate to bring these folks to heel, and submit them to God’s will.

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Carmody’s belief, that she is doing God’s will, is abetted by surviving an attack by one of the mist creatures. A large dragonfly creature, with a venomous stinger lands on her, while she prays that it won’t kill her. When it doesn’t harm her, I think she sees that as a sign of God’s approval, that she is indeed doing the right thing, (after which she starts to show a certain degree of pride, and hubris, in knowing what God wants). She also shows pride in believing that she can save these people from damnation. I don’t believe she is insane, as that’s too easy. (I think her motivations are a lot darker than insanity, and some of it may be revenge against the townspeople, she feels hate her, although that’s something that’s not immediately clear, and is just my supposition.) I don’t think her motivations are  pure.

If Norton, and David, represent forms of confrontation, then Mrs. Carmody represents negotiation, which also doesn’t work in their circumstances either. Norton tries confrontation and dies, Carmody’s approach is appeasement and negotiation, and she dies, and this is why Darabont’s ending doesn’t upset me overmuch, as its entirely in keeping with the theme of the movie.

There’s only one response that saved anyone from the mist.

Surrender.

For example, Melissa McBride’s character, a nameless store customer, is one of the few people who actually survives walking out onto the mist, and I suspect it’s because she doesn’t  negotiate with it, or try to run from it, or fight it. She surrenders to it with faith, and humility, that she will be safe to save her children. She believes the mist is dangerous, but leaves the market anyway, to save her kids, and hers is one of the few motivations which is pure, and not entirely self serving. At the end of the movie, we see her riding with the soldiers, both her children with her. It is interesting that David survives only after he does what she did, which is knowingly surrender himself to the  the mist, and simply walk out into it.

 

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Ollie Weeks

Ollie Weeks is one of the truest characters from the novel to the movie. He is written as a soft and unimpressive looking store clerk, a little overweight, with hidden skills, which is exactly how Toby Jones portrays him. Ollie is a calm, stable, but melancholy presence, with the skills of a marksman, and David Drayton makes a point of stating how useful he is several times in the narrative. At no point does Ollie give in to hysteria or fear, remaining levelheaded and brave thoughout the entire movie. He seems resigned to the awfulness of the situation in the book, neither fighting ,nor retreating from reality. In the movie he turns out to be an enormous asset for the survival of the group, until he is killed in the parking lot during the groups escape from the store.

It’s interesting to note that Ollie Weeks dies just after he kills Mrs Carmody. He is not a prideful character, and seemed to genuinely regret killing her, and even though he had a very good reason for doing so, it is still murder.

 

Amanda Dunfries

Amanda isn’t that different from the novel version of her character. The movie version is a bit more naive and trusting but its an acceptable difference. In the story the characters spend a not inconsiderable amount of time arguing about the Carmody situation, and whether or not she will resort to human sacrifice. Amanda is one of the few people, along with Ollie Weeks, who elects that she will, but in the movie, Amanda argues against it, insisting that human beings aren’t that crazy.

I remember watching this [particular scene and feeling frustrated because Amanda is speaking from a deep well of white, middle class,  feminine  privilege, believing in the best outcome of the situation. Amanda is a conventionally attractive woman, who has probably known mostly kindness throughout her life, and that  is probably what forms the basis for her opinion. In neither the book or them ovie does she have a great role to play. She mostly follows David and Ollie’s decisions.

The Monsters

But the standout is the movie’s special effects and its realizations of the monsters from the books. The movie actually improves on the ones from the book making them a lot scarier, and the half seen quality of the mist makes then especially frightening.. The scene where Norm the bagboy is eaten by tentacles is an exact duplicate from the book. And the tentacles are filmed exactly as they’re described.

The creatures that were greatly improved upon from the book are the spiders. In the movie they are called Grey Widowers. (The book gives no name for them.) There is the giant lobster clawed creature that has taken up residence in the store’,s parking lot, and kills several people, including Ollie Weeks and one of the soldiers. But the most impressive creature is the realization of The Behemoth, a multistory creature that David and the others encounter after leaving the store, and is one of the highlights of the book.

As good as the book is, Frank Darabont has crafted a gorgeous retelling of it for the movie. And it is well worth the watch, AFTER, you read the story however.

 

This was first published on November 27th. I’ve since re-written it to be a bit more focused.

I’m Looking Forward To Watching…(Movies)

I think its very interesting that we all have so much choice out there today, as regards popular media, that some of us PoC are making the bold choice of only supporting films and TV shows which prominently feature other PoC. So there is progress being made as far as diversity and inclusion. Its slow, and hasn’t reached any level of normalcy, to the point where we can just disregard these films, but hopefully we can reach that point.

For myself, I’m just reaching a point where I dont give a flying hot damn what any White fanboy thinks of most movies. I am completely and thoroughly disregarding all of their opinions on movies, (I long ago stopped listening to them as regards music) and most of television. They’ve had their say long enough. It’s time for other people to be heard now.

March

(9) A Wrinkle in Time

This movie is being released this weekend, and I’m  to take my 12 year old niece to see this. I read this book  as a child, so I’m almost as excited about this movie as she is, even if she has not yet read it. She just likes seeing little girls having adventures in movies, and I am more than happy to provide her with a steady diet of that. And yeah, watch out for the bad reviews until you’ve seen the movie yourself. They’re already getting started panning this movie, (probably because they can’t hate on Black Panther without looking like a fool.)

 

 

(23) Pacific Rim Uprising

I’m sort of in love with John Boyega. I plan to take my niece to see this one too, because she isn’t just sort of in love with him, she is crushin’ bad. We both liked the first film, I’m a huge fan of  kaiju movies,  and this looks really exciting. Plus, its  got that whole Power Rangers thing going for it, too.

 

 

 

April

(20) Rampage

My Mom loves giant killer somethings in movies -dogs, crocodiles, dinosaurs. It makes no difference to her as long as ts based on a real animal, is large, and eats people. The film does receive one demerit from her because she is not a Dwayne Johnson fan. On the other hand, I am a Dwayne Johnson fan, and it also stars Naomie Harris, which gives this movie the distinction of not having any of the Chris-es in charge of this action thriller.

 

 

 

May

(4) Avengers Infinity War

I got plans!

 

 

(18) Deapool 2

I love the trailers for this movie, but I don’t know if I’ll be inviting my niece  to see this one, and the thought of seeing this with my Mom is kinda terrifying. I think it’s just a tad too mature for my niece, so I may have to go this one alone, or not at all. I do like the movie’s version of Domino. She’s so Pam Grier! And of course, my girl-fave, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, (What an awesome name!!!) will be present, so I have to support her.

 

 

(25) Solo

This looks like fun, although I do wish the movie was about Lando, rather than Han, and the lead actor has luxurious, cheesy 70’s hair, which is annoying, since I am over that phase of my life..

 

June

(8) Oceans 8

The only reason I want to see this film is to see Rihanna. I probably won’t see this anyway. I’ll be all out of money because I have plans to also see…

 

 

(15) The  Incredibles 2

Yep! Elastigirl is worth 2 Rihannas, and Edna Mode is worth about a couple hundred of whoever else is starring in Oceans 8.

 

 

(22) Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Oh c’mon! You know! Giant animals? Check! Eating people? Check! Jeff Goldblum? Check! Running and screaming? Check!

Okay then.

 

 

July

(6) Ant Man and The Wasp

I had no plans to go see this movie, just as I had no plans to see the first film. Then this trailer dropped, and it looks like hella fun, so I’m thinking about it. Just remember, nobody was asking for the first movie. Marvel just decided, for whatever reason, to give us an Ant Man movie, despite our asking for a Black Widow movie. On the other hand, I fully support Janet Van Dyne, (I love her in the comic books) and wish the first movie had been all about her.

 

 

(27) Mission Impossible: Fallout

I have never gone to see any of the Mission Impossible movies at the theater, but I’m considering seeing this. The trailer is totally batshit, and Angela Bassett is in it, so…

 

 

August 

There are no trailers for these two movies yet.

(3) The Equalizer 2

I only kind of enjoyed the first movie, but I’m interested in this one because the little boy from Moonlight is in this one, I think. I don’t know why people are resting on Antoine Fuqua’s movies, almost all of them starring Denzel Washington, though. He’s no Ryan Coogler, but he’s a Black director who has been quietly going about the business of putting his thing down, and we should probably show some respect for that.

 

(10) Crazy Rich Asians

http://www.vulture.com/2017/06/crazy-rich-asians-full-cast.html

I’m almost as excited about this movie as a lot of Asian people. It will be the first movie starring an entirely Asian cast, along with an Asian director, based on a book by an Asian author. Its a romantic comedy , and while I’m not fond of such movies, as a general rule, this movie stars some of my favorite people, like Constance Wu, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Harry Shum,  and Michelle Yeoh. This is their Black Panther moment and I hope people come out in support for it, especially if you want to see more Asian actors in American films.

In their own words:

 

September

(14) The Predator

I haven’t seen any trailers for this yet, but I’m kind of excited about it becasue Keegan Michael Key is in this movie, and I’ve never seen him be a badass with a gun, outside of a comedic purposes. It also stars Edward James Olmos, Sterling K. Brown, and Olivia Munn. I really like the Predator franchise, which has a good history of showcasing PoC in prominent roles,  like Carl Weathers from the first film, Danny Glover from Predator II, and Sanaa Lathan in AvP.

https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/02/shane-black-shares-first-cast-photo-of-the-predator-as-filming-begins/

 

October

(5) Venom

I don’t know what to think about this  movie yet, because the trailer doesn’t actually show anytihng, or tell anything. On the other hand, it does star Tom Hardy, and I have to support his crazy ass. I’m a fan of some of  the comic book versions of Venom, so I’m cautiously excited about this. I also heard that this movie isn’t related to any of the MCU films, so I don’t think we can expect a cameo from Tom holland.

 

November

I have not found any official trailers for these movies.

(2) Mulan

I am cautiously excited about this movie. I will be even more excited if there are no White people in the cast. We watched the cartoon version and that  didn’t feature any White people, so I don’t feel we need any in the live action version either. Why would you add White people to this anyway?

Hollywood needs to learn that you do not need White actors to tell a story, or draw the audience in. If the story is good, it can stand for itself. On the other hand, overseas audiences see White people as exotic, and that might be a reason a White character would be added to this movie.

 

(16) Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald

I’m less than happy that Johnny Depp is in this, and I’m still in my feelings about the lack of PoC in the last movie, even though I enjoyed all the characters, and the plot made no sense. This one, I think, is set in France ,and I’m looking forward to seeing all the characters from the first film, although I probably won’t be seeing this in the theater.

 

Also: Creed 2; Mary Queen of Scots;Aquaman

I got nothing on these films. They just sound mildly interesting.

 

 

Why I’m Not Watching The Movie Annihilation

 

I’m a big Jeff Vandermeer fan. I’ve read most of his books, all of which are pretty trippy. (The man has a serious fascination with mushrooms.) So I was  excited to hear they’d be filming his three part Southern Reach series, and while I had no particular objection to Alex Garland as the filmmaker, I had to stop and and ask myself, Is the book unfilmable?

If you haven’t read the book, the best description of it is that it’s an intellectual exercise in horror. Events happen in the book, but the book is not linear, in the sense that the actions you’re reading about have immediate consequences, or lead to other events. This is not helped by the unreliable narrator. Events occur, are occurring, but you have no idea what they mean, or if they did, in fact, actually occur.

In the first book of the Area X trilogy, called Annihilation, an all female team of researchers go on an expedition into what’s called Area X, an area of weird life forms, and bizarre transformations of the natural world, that may or may not be hostile, which grows larger every year. In the movie, this place is called The Shimmer, and it’s probably worth looking at just to see the alien life forms.

These women are the 12th such expedition into the area. Most of the other expeditions didn’t come back, and the individuals who have made it out, either die soon afterwards, or are less than helpful as to what happened.. The narrator is a woman who lost her husband in the previous expedition. He came back but lapsed into a coma.The first book chronicles her journey  into Area X, while still in mourning for her husband. Just to complicate issues, some of the members of the expedition have been tasked with observing the others, and some of them have been given hypnotic code words, to make them do, and say  things.

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I read the first book, and skipped the second and third, because those seemed less about Area X, than about the government organization that studies it, called The Southern Reach. A lot of the second book consists of the backbiting and infighting between the members of this organization.

I don’t know how well this movie is going to do at the box office. I don’t think its going to do exceptionally well, but I could be wrong. Like Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman has never been a huge draw for filmgoers, although she’s a perfectly acceptable actress. There’s also the matter of this movie coming out on the tail end of the release of Black Panther. But then, I think any movie released in the wake of Black Panther is taking a rather bold stance. The creators of this movie must have realized this because they will be releasing the movie to Netflix UK sometime in March, from what I understand.

What I know of the plot of the movie doesn’t sound a whole lot like the book either. There’s a bunch of mutated animals, including a mutated bear, hunting the members of the expedition. This bear isn’t in the book, although a host of other odd creatures are, the most frightening of which is The Crawler.

Image result for movie annihilation the crawler

And then there is the matter of the whitewashing. Natalie Portman’s character is described as being Asian in the book, and a lot of people feel some type of way about that, to the point where Garland has had to makes some excuses for why he chose her. He claims he had not read the book before she was cast. What Portman’s excuse is, I have no idea. It was someone’s responsibility to let people know that the lead character was Asian. He also cast Jenifer Jason Leigh in another role supposedly meant for  a half Indian woman. As usual Hollywood continues to fuck up, when it comes to Asian representation.

Myriad reasons have been cited as to how this happened: The characters’ ethnicities are not explicitly stated until the second book; Garland began working on the adaptation before he was officially attached to the project and therefore before the second book was published. Etcetera. The bottom line seems to be ignorance, as Garland, Portman, and Leigh have all stated that they simply didn’t know. It’s not difficult to believe there was no malicious intent in the casting. But the statements still read like apologies that somehow lack the word “sorry,” and shuck responsibility for what happened onto a nonexistent second part

https://www.thedailybeast.com/annihilation-and-hollywoods-erasure-of-asians

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In the meantime, Non-Asian American fans are getting really, really, tired of only seeing the same 25 white actresses in everything. I have nothing against ScarJo, she’s an adequate actress, and she’s very pretty, (JLaw, on the other hand, can go kick rocks) but I really don’t want to see her ass in one more damn movie. I’m just  “tahd” of looking at her, and I’m about to feel the same way about Portman. I understand why Hollywood keeps casting the same people over and over, but still. Enough is enough.

In the book everyone dies, and this is an issue for me, because all the other women in the expedition are women of color. I love that they hired Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez for these roles, but I just don’t feel like sitting in the movie theater watching the only WoC in the entire movie get brutally mauled by a giant demon-bear. I feel tired just thinking about it. Apparently Hollywood’s idea of diversity now is to put WoC in a movie, and then brutally kill them (yeah, we’re looking at you Atomic Blonde!) I’d tell Hollywood to just cast some White women next time, but I’m pretty sure that they are also pretty tired of seeing themselves be brutally fridged,

 

I feel like making the movie about the women being hunted by a mutated animal is kind of dumbing it down, although a lot of critics claim its a very smart film. I just expected more than that because its not just the plot of the book that’s strange. The mood, the dialogue, all of feels uncanny. The book is full of long, quiet, contemplative moments, where the reader is basically sitting with the protagonists and hearing her thoughts. There’s also the added weirdness that she might very well be going insane, and doesn’t know it. It’s because of that, that her descriptions of what the other characters are doing, is suspect. (Perhaps if Terence Malick had been chosen as the director, I’d be more impressed. He seems to specialize in thoughtful voice-over  films.)

Despite my misgivings, I’m still intrigued though, but not intrigued enough to go to the movies and spend money on it. I think I’ll wait for this to come to cable.

 

A Fistful of Mini- Reviews

Happy

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This show just finished up its first season, and I really enjoyed it. What’s even more surprising, is that my Mom started watching this show, with no prompting from me, and seemed to really enjoy it as well.

Nick is a loser, a drunkard, and a once great police detective, who becomes peripherally involved with the mob. Nevertheless, he gets called upon to rescue Hailey, who is kidnapped by a man possessed by some kind of ghost or demon, and dressed like Santa Claus. He gets recruited to find Hailey by her imaginary friend, Happy, a tiny, blue, flying unicorn, who is desperate to save her, and is voiced by Patton Oswalt.

The show is every bit as zany as it sounds, and even manages to have moments of pathos, as you find out that Nick is actually Hailey’s dad.  There’s lots of action, and crazy fight scenes, as the camera zooms and zips around, to give us a Happy’s eye view of the proceedings. And Happy is a real character in his own right. When he and Nick become separated, Happy has his own adventures, one of which involves an imaginary serial killer of imaginary creatures like himself. Christopher Meloni continues to be a thoroughly underrated actor. He’s great in this show. I didn’t expect to get attached to, or even like Nick, but Meloni manages to make him sympathetic.

It still isn’t explained why Nick is the only adult who can see and hear Happy, but maybe we’ll get an explanation for that next season, which has already been promised. I promise to be there.

Counterpart

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This is another one of those shows that flew below most people’s radar. For some reason Starz simply doesn’t have the cache of HBO and Cinemax. Even though its been pumping out some pretty solid shows, like Outlander, Power, and American Gods, no one has been showing this network as much love as it should get.

Counterpart has an intriguing premise.About thirty years ago an alternate world was discovered, that looks exactly like Earth. Most of the people of Earth have a counterpart in the other one. For some reason these two Earths have become rivals that are trying to keep themselves a secret from the general population.

It stars J.K Simmons, as a mild mannered nobody, named Howard Silk, a depressed, unremarkable, man whose wife is in a coma, whose family dislikes him for keeping her alive, and who works for a mysterious company. The company is a portal to the other world, but he doesn’t know that. When some type of company froo-fra from that other world spills over into this one, Howard has to team up with his identical counterpart, who is a spy and assassin, to stop the killings.

On the surface, it seems like a science fiction show, but it’s really a pretty intense spy drama, with a lot of killing, with most of the drama occurring between Howard and his counterpart, and their frequent conversations about the nature of  their identity, and why the two of them are so different.

The series really isn’t as compelling as Starz is making it out to be, though. The dialogue is a bit dodgy, but Simmons acting is, as always, on point, and he’s worth watching. If you can get past the grim intensity of the acting, the dreary setting in Berlin, and the  dialogue, then you’ll find a good nugget of a show in here.

 

Godzilla : Monster Planet

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There was not enough Godzilla in this episode. Maybe in the next few episodes there will be more of him. The show mostly consists of humans ,who had left the planet because Godzilla was making life difficult for everyone, returning to Earth, and attempting to eradicate the giant monster. I wasn’t interested enough in any of the characters to learn their names.

Seeing Japanese interpretations of Christianity in these movies, is always interesting though, as one of the characters keeps spouting what you think is scripture, in that it sounds vaguely biblical, but I don’t think any of the verses they’re quoting are actually in the Bible. For one thing, the Bible doesn’t have a whole lot in it about Kaiju. Then again, this is sometime far, far in the future, so there’s no telling what they’re actually quoting. (Probably something that came about as a direct result of Godzilla’s destruction.)

There are lots of action scenes, and explosions, which ultimately don’t do anything but piss Godzilla off, and I got bored, as most of the dialogue consists of people yelling tech-speak, when they’re not arguing among themselves, or quoting fake scripture. I may watch the next episode. Its meant to be a series. I was really looking forward to it because I like Godzilla movies, although I dislike the American versions, which never have enough Godzilla, and too many annoying characters in them. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was made by Americans, but the annoyingly upbeat music, that is a requirement in all Japanese anime, kinda gives it away.

 

 

The  Cloverfield Paradox

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I am one of five people that actually enjoyed this movie, and its probably because I didn’t have the soaring expectations that everyone else seemed to have. Its been universally panned as the worst movie in the Cloverfield franchise, but I’m giving these reviews the side eye, for a couple of reasons. Because it really is a straight up Scifi horror movie that you actually have to pay close attention to, and actually  have to think about. I’m going to bet that most of the people panning it just didn’t understand the movie. Also most of the reviewerswho panned it, are White men, and this is another movie with a very diverse cast, without a White man in the center of it.

I’m starting to increasingly distrust White reviewers when it comes to diverse films. In the back of my mind is the thought that maybe the movie isn’t that bad. Does this person have a racist agenda? Although on occasion, the movie actually does happen to be bad, but there have been a number of movies, starring PoC, that I thoroughly enjoyed, but which got horrible reviews. (Oh, c’mon! I’m certainly not going to question my own taste in movies, which is impeccable, naturally! I’ll have a post on that later.)

The other two movies in the franchise, at least in my estimation, have a pretty standard, straight forward horror movie style plot. They also have White actors as the leads. But not his one, which involves alternate dimensions,  time travel, and a cast that’s about 75% of color. None of the plot is spelled out for the viewer. Most of it is shown,  and some of the events are  talked about by the characters. You have to pay attention and figure it out on your own. I went in thinking it would be the standard monster movie, and maybe that’s what affected a lot of other people’s reading of this movie, because there are no monsters, but I still thought it was a pretty effective horror movie, and enjoyed the twists and turns.

This movie  stars David Oyowelo, and Gugu MBatha- Raw. The very first review I read about this movie, and most of the reviews since then, have been written by White people, all of whom uniformly panned this movie, and didn’t mention its diversity.

This movie may have been bad. “Badness” is subjective after all. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as these people have made it out to be, and I’ve seen far worse movies than this one. Compared to other horror movies I’ve watched, this movie is a gem, so I’m not sure what criteria any of these reviewers are using. I used to be able to trust film reviewers, but I’m beginning to doubt I can do that now, as I question their motives for panning films with diverse casts. I don’t rule out the possibility that the film sucks, but I’ve been seeing far too much of this sort of “piling on” to what are usually not bad films, merely mediocre films, that star PoC as the lead characters, and are being judged much more harshly than mediocre films with a White cast.

In one of the first reviews I read about this movie, the reviewer said that the actors were instantly forgettable. These actors are only forgettable if you don’t know, or care, who any of the actors of color are. Gugu  graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, has won numerous awards, and is most famous for her role in the movie Belle, which also won film and critics awards. She is on her acting game in this movie and really sold the emotional arc of it for me. David Oyowelo is most famous for his role in the movie Selma, which won a host of critical awards. He doesn’t have much to do here beyond giving people orders and looking horrified, but he’s not awful at that. Zhang Ziyi also has an impressive film career and has won many awards.

Like most movies of this kind, there’s not a whole lot of character development for peripheral characters. They’re just there to die. But how is that different from any other horror movie in existence? And why was this one judged so incredibly harshly? What was the great sin here? All of the reviews I’ve read have panned this movie, but none of them have been very specific about what it was that actually made the movie so bad. Any one of their complaints could be said about any other horror film released in the past year, and I couldn’t see anything in the complaints about this movie that set it apart for special consideration as being awful.

Everyone who panned this seemed to have extremely high expectations for this movie, that doesn’t match the other two films in the franchise, and I wonder where these high expectations came from, as the first two movies didn’t impress me as grand cinematic endeavors. At least not enough to warrant this level of vitriol for this one. The major difference I see  between the first two films, and this one, is there are no White actors in the center of this story, and there are no giant monsters. So you know what? I’m calling bullshit on those reviews.

I didn’t find the story confusing. I understood it just fine. The horror elements were as horrific as they were meant to be, and I thought it was a moving and emotional drama, told through a science fiction lens. But perhaps my view is not colored by things that didn’t happen onscreen, or were merely talked about behind the scenes, or in the writer’s room.

This excerpt is from one of the few positive reviews I could find about this movie:

While this is happening. the emotional core of the movie is anchored by Ava. She is someone who we empathize with…because the reason she is on the ship is heartbreaking. But, because we are in this new universe, she must struggle with the fact that the impossible is possible. What she is missing in her universe is in this new universe. What would you do if you were in her shoes? The logical side of you is screaming No! at the TV. The emotional side of you is in teary-mode for Ava (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).

In Defense of Cloverfield Paradox – The Disconnect Between the Moviegoer and the Critic

This is very definitely Ava’s story, and I won’t give any plot details, but it is more of a very, very dark, science fiction drama, which I thought was different enough to be impressed by it. If you liked the atmosphere of Alien Covenant, and found the secondary plotline of Aliens, between Newt and Ripley intriguing, then you’ll may like this movie.

 

Blue Planet II

 

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I love a good documentary, and I really enjoyed the first Blue Planet series. If you like watching shows about marine life, this is one of the best showcases for that. Its got some absolutely stunning  camerawork. Now I’m waiting for the Making of…episode.

The Alienist

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I still don’t know what to make of this series after watching 3 episodes. Its so tentative, in whatever points its trying to make about its characters, that  I don’t know what to feel or think about any of them yet. It looks gorgeous, and so far, that’s whats been keeping me watching. That and the fact that I’m a sucker for Jack the Ripper type stories, which this is.

I think the problem is that the story itself is very lurid, but the writers seem to be playing it safe and respectable, except for the sex scenes.which seems incongruous. As with most Victorian fiction, there’s a sexual component, and lots of repressed emotions. A lot of of the characters stare blankly into the camera and speak in hushed monotones, to impart how serious all of this is. If you’re expecting something like Penny Dreadful, you’re going to be disappointed. This show doesn’t cross any lines.

The show is based on a book of the same name by Caleb Carr, and its about an Alienist, (a Victorian word for psychiatrist), named Lazlo Kreizler, who is trying to solve the serial killings of young boys in New York city, at the turn of the century. He is assisted by Dakota Fanning’s character, one of the first women on the police force, who works a a secretary for the police commissioner. It also stars Luke Evans as an interested socialite. Some of the topics addressed in the series are the sex trafficking of young boys, sexism on the police force, and poverty. As usual there’s only one Black guy in all of New York, and we don’t know what he does for a living, beyond giving people messages.

There’s not a whole lot of action, chase scenes, or really even that many scares. It feels really inhibited, and a little claustrophobic, and I think that’s meant to be some sort of commentary on that era. Its not a bad show, by any means, but if you’re expecting more exciting TV watching, this is not it, although the conversations some of the character’s have are intriguing. This is definitely a slow burn type of show, that you have to pay close attention to, because knowledge of the  the characters is all in their conversations.

This is the Victorian era, so the only people allowed to show character are the poor, and this show ain’t about them, although they make plenty of cameos. Sometimes Dakota Fanning forgets what show she’s in and shows some genuine emotion, (usually towards any men who are trying to talk down to her), and I’m starting to like her character. I hope to like some of the other characters by the end of the season.

Black Movies You Haven’t Watched (But Are Worth Looking At)

Some of these movies, I haven’t  seen because they are hard to find, or didn’t get a wide enough release. Some of them I’m only just hearing about.  Like this first one for example. It looks like a Western, but I think it’s set in South Africa, and looks really intriguing, and I like a good Western. I have no idea where to watch it. (When I find out, I’ll get back to you.)

Twenty years ago, the young ‘Five Fingers’ fought for the rural town of Marseilles, against brutal police oppression. Now, after fleeing in disgrace, Tau returns, seeking peace. Finding the town under new threat, he must reluctantly fight to free it. Will the Five Fingers stand again?

 

 

This is another beautiful film that heavily reminds me of the movie Daughters of the Dust, but is set in 1745, of course. I’m not certain that this film has been released yet, becasue when I saw the trailer the creators were still trying to get funding to finish it.

Two sisters torn from their home in Nigeria and sold into slavery try to retake their freedom in a foreign and hostile land, attempting to elude their master in the perilous Scottish Highlands. As they experience the dangerous and transformative power of nature their battle for survival intensifies, and they draw strength not only from within, but from each other and their shared spiritual roots in Africa. Yet can they ever be truly free..?

 

 

I’d planned to introduce this movie to my niece, The Potato. She loves movies about little girls, and loves to make up step routines with her friends. She might enjoy it. I always thought of this as a straight up horror movie, for some reason. The last time I checked this was available for streaming through Amazon Prime.

Toni trains as a boxer with her brother at a community center in Cincinnati’s West End, but becomes fascinated by the dance team that also practices there. Enamored by their strength and confidence, Toni eventually joins the group, eagerly absorbing routines, mastering drills, and even piercing her own ears to fit in. As she discovers the joys of dance and of female camaraderie, she grapples with her individual identity amid her newly defined social sphere. Shortly after Toni joins the team, the captain faints during practice. By the end of the week, most of the girls on the team suffer from episodes of fainting, swooning, moaning, and shaking in a seemingly uncontrollable catharsis. Soon, however, the girls on the team embrace these mysterious spasms, transforming them into a rite of passage. Toni fears “the fits” but is equally afraid of losing her place just as she’s found her footing. Caught between her need for control and her desire for acceptance, Toni must decide how far she will go to embody her new ideals.

 

 

I have heard, and know almost nothing, about this film, but it looks absolutely gorgeous.

Based on the novel by renowned South African author, Zakes Mda. The seaside village of Hermanus is overrun with whale-watchers; foreign tourists determined to see whales in their natural habitat. But when the tourists have gone home, the Whale Caller lingers at the shoreline, wooing a whale he has named Sharisha with cries from a kelp horn. When Sharisha fails to appear for weeks on end, the whale caller frets like a jealous lover, oblivious to the fact that the town drunk, Saluni, a woman who wears a silk dress and red stiletto heels, is infatuated with him. The two misfits eventually fall in love. But each of them is ill equipped for romance, and their relationship suggests the deeper concern is not so much the fragility of love, but the fragility of life itself when one surrenders wholly to the foolish heart.

 

 

I watched this last year, and I’m not certain if its still available on Netflix, but its a much better watch than that sorry movie that was released a few years ago.

Using never-before-heard recordings, rare archival footage and her best-known songs, this is the story of legendary singer and activist Nina Simone.

 

 

I saw this movie some time ago, and loved it. Gugu MBatha-Raw turned in a stunning performance. I loved that this movie isn’t simply an exercise in Black torture, and has a positive ending. 

The illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of a Captain in the Royal Navy finds her unique social standing become instrumental in the campaign to end slavery in England after meeting an idealistic young vicar’s son.

Best Scifi Costumes on TV

 

Luke Cage

Luke Cage makes this list not just because the costumes are beautiful, but because this is some of the most politically relevant costuming in the MCU. All of the costumes speak to the specific backgrounds and identities of the wearer, and were designed by Stephanie Maslansky, whose priority was keeping things casual.

Cottonmouth’s dapper business suits represent his aspirations for legitmacy, as does Mariah’s middle-class chic. Cottonmouth’s suits are carefully crafted to inspire ambition to the young people of Harlem, while Mariah’s are carefully coded to inspire the folksy warmth and political legitimacy she seeks to project to the community.

Misty Knight’s no-nonsense practiciality is what’s on display in her costuming. She is a competent detective who is sexy while not being sexualized.

Luke’s hoodie is representative of the anonymity he attempts to cling to while protecting Harlem.That hoodie full of bullet holes is a direct callback to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, (one of the many young Black men who have died at the hands of police and  vigilante shhotings in the US.), and meant to invoke a feeling of hope and strength to the show’s audience.

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Farscape

I think Farscape had some of the most imaginative costuming on television. There’s nothing on TV right now that’s come close to it. The creators managed to make the female characters both alien and sexy, while the men were alien and virile, and funny.

I think one of my favorite costumes was Crichton’s black coat, that he adopted at some point towards the end of season two, which created a very sexy outline for him, with broad shoulders, a cinched waist, and it flared nicely during his action sequences.

The creators seemed to figure out that black leather seemed to work really, really well in this universe, and so, just made an infinite variety of  these outfits for everyone on the show. There was definitely some bondage leather influence on the wardrobe.

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This is Scorpius, a half Scarran, half Peacekeeper hybrid, whose unique body chemistry requires a face mask, which gives him a sinister look..

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I especially liked this red and black number Crichton wore in season two. I think this is a Peacekeeper outfit.

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These are the Scarrans. They wear lots and lots of black or red leather.

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It wasn’t until the second season that I figured out that Virginia Hey, who played Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan, was also the Warrior Woman from The Road Warrior.

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Space 1999 – Maya

Maya, played by Catherine Schell, was the only character worth watching this show for, and the episodes that centered around her, were always the most interesting. For some reason, there was a thing about bird aliens during this time period, because Buck Roger’s had a male character that was kind of like her, too.  The only difference was that Maya could take on the shapes of different aliens. Still, she was definitely this show’s version of a Spock character, and the creators tried to differentiate her from Spock by giving her superpowers.

What’s interesting is the idea of a woman with the suggestion of mutton chop sideburns, who is sexy in a mainstream television show. But you have to remember, back in the day, these types of shows remained very much under the radar, as most people wrote them off as being for children, even if Space 1999, strived to present more mature themes. I appreciate it now, in a way I didn’t, when I was a teenager.

There’s also more than a little bit of Barbarella in her outfits and posing. In how she was prominently featured on the show. Space 1999 also starred Martin Landau, from the  Mission Impossible TV show, and Barbara Bain, who was also from that show.  I liked them both okay, and they really were too good for this show, but Maya was real draw for most people

The show aired from 1975 through 1977, but there was a definite 60s vibe in the setup, designs, and fashions, the were heavily reminiscent of Star Trek, which first aired in 1963.

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American God

I loved the costumes from this show. To go into the influences, and meaning, of the costumes, would require several posts devoted entirely to the subject, and guess what? I found one! My favorite is of course Media. Gillian Anderson is absolutely stunning throughout the entire season. A close second would be Anansi, and Easter, who had some wonderful outfits.

https://tomandlorenzo.com/2017/05/american-gods-style-costumes-art-direction-cinematography-analysis/

Suttirat Anne Larlarb is Series Costume Designer on American Gods first season, with Assistant Costume Designers Laura Montgomery, Brenda Broer, Sabrina Zain, Anita Bacic and Costume Supervisor Quita Alfred.

 

Notice the old world European embroidery on the lapels and cuffs of the Zorya’s   costume, which is appropriate, since she hails from Russia. The designs echo other  details in her home, which is old and shabby, but warm and comfortable, just like her attitude.

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This is Media as the late, great, David Bowie, one of several gay icons as she was dressed for the show. The others are Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland. Gillian Anderson proved to be  incredible chameleon, and this must have been great fun for her.

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Notice the similarity in costumes between Loki and Odin.

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If you look closely at Shadow’s suit, it has tiny little dots all over it. There’s such great attention to details that the viewer will almost certainly never notice.

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I think I already mentioned Easter’s slightly tattered finery. Notice the tiny frayed edges on her flower headpiece, and her matching eye-shadow.

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This is one of Bilquis’ outfits from her 70s scenes.

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The faceless men in white, with their jackboots, suspenders, and black hats were deliberately meant to resemble the Droogs from the movie, a Clockwork Orange.

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Outlander

Claire’s dresses are designed by Terry Dresbach and are one of the highlights of this show. No matter what era she inhabits,  whether it’s the American 40s, or 18th century Scotland, Claire is always dressed to the nines. There are websites out there dedicated to examining the fashions of this show

http://www.instyle.com/reviews-coverage/tv-shows/best-fashion-moments-outlander-season-2

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Downton Abbey

What I liked most about this show is that it told the story of this wealthy  English family as much through clothing, as what they did. And the characters themselves occasionally discussed fashion and how it was changing.

The time period moves from the turn of the 20th century, through the first world war, to the 1920s, and you can get a very good idea, not only of how women’s fashions changed over that time period, but more importantly, WHY they changed. Women’s fashions were often a response to outside events,   because, in the past centuries,  the vast majority of women’s fashions were designed by women, who were responding to the ebb and flow of historic events.

In an exclusive interview with MASTERPIECE, Downton Abbey’s costume designer, Anna Mary Scott Robbins, recently took a break from her exciting work on Downton Abbey Season 6 to talk about the signature styles of the women of Downton and designing their sumptuous, jazz-age costumes.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/programs/features/slideshow/downton-abbey-s5-behind-designs-fashions-season-5/

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Contrast the above manner of dress (from 1900 through 1910s) with the looser, lighter style of dress below. In the 20s, the world was just coming out of the first World War, when everyone, rich and poor alike,  had experienced significant hardship. With so many men lost during the war, it marked a significant turn, for women, as they begin to movie into the workforce in greater numbers, especially the women of the middle, and upper, classes, the kind of women who had been pressured against working before the war. The new style of dress was more practical, and business-like.

Take note that with so many people dead from the war, the servant class all but dried up afterwards, as they also moved into the greater workforce. The servant class, that had made it really easy to dress in the many layers of clothing that women required during the Victorian era, were all but extinct. Upper class women needed to be able to more easily dress themselves, and take care of their own clothing and hair, since, after a while, there were no longer such things as Lady’s Maids. Dresses and hairstyles became simpler. There were fabric restrictions during the war, so women saved fabric by raising hemlines, (which never went back down, and got raised again during, and after, WW2.)

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In one episode, we can  hear the women’s opinions of the change in fashion, when the younger daughters of the house model the new 20s flapper dresses for their mother and grandmother, who express shock at the flimsiness and skin exposure of the designs. The silhouette of the flapper dresses are completely different from the more modest dresses that came before.

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Star Trek :The Original Series

The fashion designer for the original Star Trek was William Thiel. You can see a lot of the 60s influence in his fashions, even though he tried really hard to make the outfits realistic. Still these are some of the loveliest women’s costumes in Scifi, all very feminine, with some beautiful colorwork.

The amount of skin being shown is entirely in keeping with the 60s era thinking, which was a reaction to the deep conservatism of the 50s. These fashions were considered very progressive for women, at the time. The biggest influence over fashion was the invention of the bikini, which was invented in the 40s, just after the war, but didn’t make its way to American shores until the 50s.

https://io9.gizmodo.com/5969957/weirdest-and-sexiest-costumes-from-the-original-star-trek/

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See the bikini influence:

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The miniskirt was a huge thing back in the 60s. There’s been a lot of discussion about how the miniskirt does not make Star Trek a sexist show.

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The third woman just appears to be wearing a one sleeved poncho.

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Into the Badlands

Being the only martial arts television series is a big burden, It’s important that everything be meticulous and that includes the wardrobe. i talked about this just a bit in my reviews of the second season.

The men’s outfits  feel influenced by the costumes from A Clockwork Orange.

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Even in the Badlands, people manage to find luxurious fabrics:

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You can see the Asian influence here, where there’s  a bit of Genghis Khan, Warlord, in Quinn’s outfit.

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Hannibal the Series

One of the best parts of this series is  looking at Hannibal’s suits. Hannibal comes from very old money, so I don’t think he’s making his wardrobe choices based on a therapist’s salary.

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http://ew.com/article/2015/08/29/everything-hannibal-wore-hannibal/

 

One of the few times we see Hannibal witohut a suit is in the season three premiere episode. The showrunner, Bryan Fuller, says he was specifically influenced by the movie The Hunger ,which starred Katherine Deneuve, and David Bowie.

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You can see The Hunger’s influence on Gillian Anderson’s look for the third season, too:

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In Hannibal, Gillian Anderson got a chance to dress upscale. Here she’s wearing a very modern Parisian look.

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The Terror TV Series

I’ve been fascinated by Arctic environments since I first watched the 1956 verson of The Thing (with James Arness) when I was a kid. And it wasn’t just The Thing, there was another movie called The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, that combined Arctic environments with dinosaurs rampaging through a city, that I got a real kick out of, too.

A few years ago, I’d never read any of Dan Simmons books, although he was on my radar because he is one of the top horror writers in the industry. I hadn’t read them, not because he’s a bad writer,he’s a most excellent writer, I just never had the time, and he writes some real doorstoppers. But I couldn’t resist the plot of The Terror, about an old school Arctic expedition that goes horribly wrong. It features a mysterious monster, some serious levels of  hardship, starvation, and  possibly some cannibalism.

I love the book.  It’s one of my top favorites of the past 20 years, so imagine my joy when I found out they were making a TV show about it, and it’s on AMC, which means the creators can remain faithful  to the plot of the book, which also involves an element of the supernatural, and some graphic deaths. It definitely classifies as horror. I hope it blows up as much as The Walking Dead did, too.

This week, the first trailer was released. The show airs right at the end of TWD’s season in March, which will be here in no time, so I’m very excited. I just want to hype this up a bit, in case you guys hadn’t heard of it yet.

 

 

It also looks very faithful to the plot of the book, and seems to have captured that feeling of dread, that seems to be a requirement of y movie set in a cold climate.It’s based on a true story in the sense that it has many events from that have actually happened in such expeditions.

For those of you worried about problematic issues, I can’t recall any from the book There is a young Indigenous woman, but in the book she comes to no harm, and if the creators keep that truthfulness to the book, she won’t on the show.

I’ll review the pilot episode when it airs.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Vs. … All The Rest

There have been three other iterations of the original 1956 movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Hollywood keeps rebooting this movie (in fact, there is yet another remake of this movie in the works), despite diminishing returns on its efforts. I blame this on a lack of understanding, by the last two directors, of the core themes.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

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The first film is based on Jack Finney’s novel of the same name, which was written in 1955. I haven’t read the book since I was a very young child, (like 9 or ten),  so I can’t speak to the authenticity of the plot vs. the book, but Hollywood has been fascinated with it for over six decades now, remaking it every twenty or so years, to less audience enjoyment.

The 1956 version was directed by Don Siegel, and starred Kevin McCarthy, and Dana Wynter. This version is very much a product of its time, so to understand its themes, you need to understand something about the era during which it was made.

A simplified version: Just after WW2, America and Russia were not on good terms with each other. The Russians were still reeling from the devastating 1941 German invasion, and America had just used its first nuclear weapons on Japan. So both countries were paranoid from the war, and shit talking each other in the media.

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During this time, the Red Scare, as it was called, was  ramped up to hysterical heights in the American media, by Senator Joseph MCCarthy. Called McCarthyism, there was increased paranoia that America was full of Russian spies, that they were everywhere,  and their goal was to destroy American democracy, and make America a communist nation.

American society was inundated by the media  ‘…with stories and themes of the infiltration, subversion, invasion, and destruction of American society by un–American thought and inhuman beings.’

… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Scare#Second_Red_Scare_(1947%E2%80%9357)

There were numerous congressional hearings, the federal government targeted Hollywood as the bastion of communist thought, popular actors were accused and blacklisted, careers were destroyed by even the smallest whispers of private disloyalty, people were encouraged to tell if any of their acquaintances were disloyal, and many of the movies from that time period reflected, not just the paranoia of the American government, but the fear that Hollywood actors  lived with, that at any time, they could be accused, and have to defend themselves against accusations of UnAmerican Activities. Just associating with the  accused, could put a person in the spotlight.

‘Some reviewers saw in the story a commentary on the dangers facing America for turning a blind eye to McCarthyism, “Leonard Maltin speaks of a McCarthy-era subtext.”[17] or of bland conformity in postwar Eisenhower-era America. Others viewed it as an allegory for the loss of personal autonomy in the Soviet Union or communist systems in general.[18]’The general consensus over the decades, is that the movie’s primary theme was anti-communism, even if the creators say there was no particular political allegory involved.

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In the movie, Dr,Miles Bennell is approached by patients who all claim their family members aren’t really them. Ironically, this is an actual mental illness known as Capgras Delusion, a psychiatric disorder in which a person believes that the people closest to them have been replaced by imposters. While investigating these delusions, he and his companions keep stumbling across pods, and duplicate bodies, and come to the terrifying realization that the delusion is all real, that humanity is being slowly duplicated and replaced by aliens spawned from seed pods.

The original story takes place in a small town in California called Santa Mira, and ends with the lead character, on his own, trying to warn the rest of the populace of the threat.The lead, Kevin MCcarthy, and the director, Don Siegel, both went on to make cameos in the 1978 remake.

The 1978 version manages not only to perfectly replicate the paranoia of the original, but build on it, by setting it in a large city, and  touching on themes of existential dread, mental illness, and urban isolation. It is, like the remake of The Thing, an exceptional example of a film remake.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

“Invasion of the Body Snatchers is regarded as one of the greatest film remakes ever made.[11] The New Yorker‘s Pauline Kael was a particular fan of the film, writing that it “may be the best film of its kind ever made”.[12] Variety wrote that it “validates the entire concept of remakes. This new version of Don Siegel’s 1956 cult classic not only matches the original in horrific tone and effect, but exceeds it in both conception and execution.”[13] The New York Times‘ Janet Maslin wrote “The creepiness [Kaufman] generates is so crazily ubiquitous it becomes funny.”[14]Related image

This version has an all-star cast of Veronica Cartwright, who had yet to star in the movie Alien, but had been the young star of Hitchcock’s The Birds, playing Nancy Bellicec. A very young, and handsome, Jeff Goldblum, as her husband Jack, whose career was just picking up speed.  Leonard Nimoy, who was still working against being typecast as Mr. Spock, plays Dr. David Kibner, Donald Sutherland is Matthew Bennell, a city health inspector, and Brooke Adams as his co-worker and best friend, Elizabeth Driscoll.

Yes, this is a remake, although McCarthy’s cameo, as a panicked pedestrian screaming about the alien invasion, in the same manner that the first film ended, has prompted some viewers to speculate that this is a sequel to the original film. (No.) All of the primary plot points of the original are replicated in this film, only writ large. Part of the success of this film is the skill, and charm, of the actors who are at the top of their game here, especially the relationship between Matthew and Elizabeth.

One of the more charming things in the movie is the genuine friendship between Matthew and Elizabeth, with more than a little unrequited love on Matthew’s part, although that’s never specifically stated. Elizabeth is already in a committed relationship with one of the first of the pod people, her dentist boyfriend. In any other movie, a romantic relationship between her and Matthew would be inevitable, but that’s not the focus of the film. It has other messages to convey.

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This version improves and embellishes on the original in ways that feel entirely natural, while keeping all of  the basic elements of the plotpoints of the original. When humans fall asleep, duplicate versions of them are birthed from pods, and the original body is destroyed. (So, yes, even though the duplicate has all the memories and thoughts of the original person, it is not them because  all of their the emotions are lacking, and the original body is dead.) The movie  manages to keep the mood and messages of the first film intact, while tweaking and embellishing the relationships and characters.

From  the opening moments, there is the theme of urban isolation, which is the opposite of the original’s theme, which focused on the closeness of a small-town environment, where everyone seemingly knows everyone, an environment which makes it all the more horrifying to find that people have changed, and that what was once known, is no longer. In the remake people are already unknown to one another, no one is really close in the city. This urban isolation is juxtaposed against the intimacy of Matthew and Elizabeth’s friendship, and their relationships to their friends The Bellicecs.

In the remake, the aliens are able to finish what they couldn’t accomplish in the first film. No one knows anyone in the city, and everyone lives in such small personal bubbles, that’s it easy for the pods to make significant inroads into the population. By the time Bennell finds out about the invasion, it’s already far too late to do anything to stop it, and it’s a just a matter of time until he, or one of his companions, falls asleep, and are changed.

I’ll have to do a more detailed review of this movie at a later date, because “I got some thoughts.”

Body Snatchers (1993)

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This version is set up as if it were a sequel to the second film, although none of the characters from the previous remake appear. Apparently, its a parallel story of the invasion, happening on some other front, and according to this movie, humanity is gonna lose, no matter how many pods get blown up at the ends of these films.

The 1993 version loses a lot of the atmosphere, and messages of the first two films, although it does make a game effort.  All of the basic rules of the first two movies, are kept in place. People fall asleep, duplicate versions of them come out of pods, and the original person is killed. This one takes place on a military base,  and there is a vague theme that the aliens are successful because of military conformity, or because people are unhappy, or something, but this isn’t clearly articulated.

Just as in the second film, the aliens get to speak for themselves, stating that pod-ification of humanity will solve all of its troubles, and the screaming and pointing stuff, from the previous remake is kept intact. The way a person is duplicated is every bit as disgusting, involving what appears to be large worms, but unlike in the first remake, it’s not entirely clear how the worms are draining a person’s life essence.

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You have to pay very close attention to infer the themes of this movie, and you are, more or less, left to guess what was the point. Unfortunately, paying close attention to the dialogue (which is actually not bad) brings the actors lack of skills to the forefront. Billy Wirth and Gabrielle Anwar are just bad, and many of the other characters already act like pod people before they get duplicated, so its hard to tell whether or not they’ve been replaced. These particular actors just  are  not in the same talent realm as those of the  previous remake. Theyre too young, for one thing, and simply don’t have the talent, or gravity, to carry this movie, although Christine Elise does turn in an engaging performance as the best friend of the lead character, Marti, played by Anwar.

The core plot is centered around the Malone family dysfunction, as Marti and her family, which consists of her, her father, her stepmother and her baby half-brother, have moved to a new military base. I think we’re meant to sympathize with Marti’s displacement and isolation, from her family, and her surroundings, where she has no connections or friends, and is angry for having to start all over again. I see the parallels the director was trying to make, but I  don’t think it was very successful, because Anwar’s performance is so bad, and she has an annoying, and unnecessary, voiceover, as well.

There’s some surprisingly sedate, and creepy, acting from R. Lee Ermey, from Full Metal Jacket fame, Meg Tilley, and even a cameo from Forest Whitaker, who gives one of the more compelling performances, as an officer who is terrified of being duplicated. Both Whitaker, and Ermey do a great job in their scene together, making you wish the movie had been entirely about them, and leaving out Marti’s family melodrama altogether. These three actors (Ermey, Whitaker, and Tilley) are the highlights in what is otherwise a mediocre film. It doesn’t begin to reach the heights of the previous one.

I get that the pod people are not meant to have strong personalities, but Tilley manages to imbue her pod-Mom with just enough personality to be really creepy, while the rest of the pod people don’t. There’s just all kinds of different acting across this movie, so the pod people don’t seem like so much as a unified group, as much as they seem like a bunch of people who have all been lobotomized.

This movie mostly stars a cut-rate cast, that is very obviously sub par to the 1978 version. Most of these actors, who were unknown at the time, continue to be unknown today, with the exception of the colonel played by Forest Whitaker, and Terry Kinney. who went on to star in the series “Oz”, for HBO, and Gabrielle Anwar later starred in Burn Notice, and Once Upon a Time. Billy Wirth (from The Lost Boys) stars as Tim, a young helicopter pilot, who becomes an unconvincing love interest for Marti. It seems that every body snatchers movie must include a, not-quite-romantic subplot.

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This movie differentiates itself from the first two by depicting the alien invasion from Marti’s point of view. She, and her friend Jenn, are the only two people on the entire base whose personalities seem to be intact.

While the film has some occasionally creepy moments, (as when Marti’s little brother first attends school, and we realize his entire classroom has been duplicated), it is rather lackluster, and  kinda disappointing. The duplication special effects don’t evoke the same fear and sadness that the process did in the 1978 version, the soundtrack isn’t as memorable as the city/heartbeat sounds of the previous movie, and the sonic screaming of the aliens in distress, is mostly all that’s left from the ’78 version. This was directed by Abel Ferrara, who went on to make more violent indie movies in the 90s, like Bad Lieutenant, and The Addiction.

The Invasion (2007)

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In 2007, the film was remade, yet again, this time directed by James McTeigue, and starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The atmosphere of this one is cool and emotionally detached, almost as if the viewer had been duplicated, rather than the actors. The messages and themes of this movies are even more vague and unstated, but a close reading suggests that the messages of urban isolation, and peace through conformity are still intact.

This time Dr. Bennell is a woman (Kidman) and there are some brief feminist themes mentioned because of this change. This time the film is from her point of view, but also viewed through the lens of a parental love, as she seeks to protect her son, who is immune to the effect of duplication.

Everything about the 1978 film is jettisoned from this movie except the occasional name, so this is a clear reboot. Even the aliens themselves get an upgrade. There are no pods in this movie, but rather a kind of sentient virus, brought to Earth from some space debris, like in the movie The Blob. Anyone who is infected with the virus gets possessed by a kind of alien collective, after they fall asleep, but their primary body is left intact.

Dr. Carol Bennell is a psychiatrist whose patients start to report that the people they love are not who they seem. Daniel Craig stars as her counterpart Dr. Ben Driscoll, and they too have a not-quite- romance type of friendship, which is about the only thing kept intact from the original films. Carol has a young son named Oliver who, because of a previous illness, is immune to the virus. The plot becomes a race against time for Carol to save Oliver from one of the pod people, her ex-husband, Tucker, who wishes to kill the handful of humans who are immune.

This is a better movie than the 1993 version, mostly because it has better actors, although I have never liked Nicole Kidman, considering her to be an actress who lacks enough warmth to be engaging. She is too formal and icy for me to care about her plight, or buy her relationship with Oliver, although she does give it some effort. She’s not a bad actress. She’s just too emotionally remote. This is something that worked well when she starred in The Others, but not here.

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In an effort to approach some of the mood of the 1978 version, McTiegue only makes the viewer feel detached , although there are some deeply creepy moments, like various pod people trying  to get people to drink various infected fluids, and a scene where one of the pod people vomits in Carol’s face to infect her,  along with a couple of exciting chase scenes.

One of my favorite moments in this film is when Carol, pretending to be one of the pod people, is invited to dinner by the possessed child of one her friends. While they’re eating you can hear snippets of news shows, in the background, as someone talks about the Middle East Peace Treaties that were recently signed. I feel like that type of political idea should have played a larger part in the plot. Most certainly the political situations of the entire world would change after humanity is possessed by an alien species, and I found that intriguing.

Another scene I found intriguing, was a scene on a bus, with Carol and several other passengers pretending to be possessed, because they don’t know who is or isn’t possessed. I thought it was a very effective scene. This scene also contains some of the few Black people with speaking lines, in any of these movies, (there is Jeffrey Wright, and a Black cop who gives Carol advice in an earlier scene) and I was intrigued at the possibilities of some highly imaginative future director making a movie about how  an alien invasion would affect PoC, and their communities. Would they notice, and would they care if they did? I would love to see a movie where an ethnic community’s reaction to such an invasion is unexpected, positive, or even ignored. There are 7 billion people on this planet and not all of the reactions we would get to  such an invasion would be “fight it out” with guns, and explosions.

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It’s unlikely I will ever see a film about people who have already experienced colonization by a foreign entity, experiencing a second colonization by another. Alien invasion movies are almost always from a  Middle class, White,  Western perspective, are almost always about White people’ s reactions to being colonized, it is always  coded as a negative, and it always involve fighting and explosions. One of the most intriguing lines from the 1978 version is Veronica Cartwright’s character asking why people always expect metal ships. What makes IotB unique is that it is one of the few alien invasions caused by space travelling spores.

Once again, there’s a cameo of an actor from a previous film, Veronica Cartwright, who probably should’ve been allowed to play Dr. Bennell in this one, because she’s the most emotionally accessible character in the movie. Daniel Craig is completely unmemorable in this movie, as a love interest, who is so removed, he barely affects the plot. He barely affects Dr. Bennell. Jeffrey Wright is  a scientist who comes up with a way to stop the aliens. He is never in any danger and is mostly wasted, as he’s only there to give exposition. (I suppose we should be grateful that he survives the movie.)

The themes of this movie are even murkier than the last remake, although I get the focus is on familial bonds. But again, the emphasis on rugged individualism, and its protection at all costs, is something very common in White Western filmmaking.

There is a new version of this movie in development, or so the rumor goes, and I’d like to see some of the above themes addressed in it, but I’m not holding my breath. Chances are, it will be written by, and from the perspective of a White middle-class urban professional, and just reiterate the same themes of paranoia, and the protection of individual identity that were addressed so well in the first two films.  These movies have become less effective over time, and one way of grabbing a new audience is by infusing it with different thinking. What I would like to see is this film, done by a PoC, and what messages they might have to convey.