I’m gonna be honest, while I’m “mildly” excited to watch this, I don’t know that I’d shell out the money to go see this movie in a theater. Due to family issues beyond my control, I would have to watch this alone. Some movies are good for watching alone, but this one isn’t. It looks like a lot of weird fun that you share with your buddies.
I’m mostly interested in seeing Jonathan Majors’ giant screen breakthrough because I really really like him, I’ve heard that the character he’s portraying, Kang the Conqueror, is a huge Billy Bad Ass in the Marvel Universe, and because this movie kicks off one of the multiple plot threads of this new phase of the MCU, The MultiversalWar. Each movie after this one will be a piece of that story introducing us to alternate universes and other realms of consciousness and existence, like the Quantum universe in this movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2.5: Christmas Special
This movie looks like so much fun. Unlike the many fanboys who insist on complaining about the direction of the MCU, it seems that I actually do have a sense of humor. I love the MCU comedies, and I do not understand why all the MCU movies must be dark and deadly serious all the time in order to be taken seriously. I love the direction in which Thor was taken. I thought it was great fun and definitely better than the emotional slog that was Thor 2. Sometimes you don’t need or want great cinema, you just want the creators to lean into the craziness of whatever you’re watching.
Guardians of the Galaxy has been something of a comedy from the beginning, mostly because of the nature of the characters, and that last movie and this new one just sort of lean into it a little bit more. I’m looking forward to this one more than the Antman sequel because I really like spending time with all these deeply funny goofy people, and I’m glad that the creators and writers are just fearlessly leaning into the sheer batshittery of this part of the universe, because C’mon! Really!
I’m just coming off the finale of the Interview With the Vampire series which I’m going to have to talk about at some point because Wow! so, I’m really in a good place mentally to feel excited about seeing more Black men in wigs and stockings! It’s one thing to see Black and Indian women doing the whole ballgown movie thing, but we don’t often get to see Black men in these roles unless it involves Shakespeare or playing a servant.
I love the look of this film, and there’s the added attraction of it being based on a true story, that of a French Caribbean composer named Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Joseph Bologne. I’m a sucker for beautiful costumes, beautiful music, and sword fighting, and you throw in some Black people and I’m in, I guess!
John Wick 4
I just had the most interesting discussion about this movie with my co-worker, who said she had a real problem suspending her disbelief while watching these movies and kept getting pulled out of the film. I told her I didn’t have that problem because it never even occurred to me what I saw as taking place in a world like this one with the same political and systemic setup. I had always viewed this franchise as taking place in some kind of fantasy alternate universe, where you can just be riding through the streets of downtown New York with swords and guns and not one person would blink an eye at it.
This is what I mean when I say that whatever your mindset is when you start to watch a movie will probably determine how you’ll feel after having seen it. Anyway, this looks great and I’m eager to sit down in a theater with some popcorn and enjoy two hours of sheer Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, and Hiroyuki Sanada mayhem!
This looks like such wild and crazy fun that I just have to see this. This is definitely one of those movies that you can go see by yourself at the theater. I don’t know that I’ll do that but it’s an option. It looks like a Christmas version of a John Wick movie except it’s Santa Claus using magic and probably some guns which I know all of you must be excited about as well.
Still don’t know what to make of this but I will not have to go to the movie theater to see it. I can just watch this, whatever this is, at home on Netflix. I like most of the actors here and quite frankly I was going to watch any movie that starred Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, and Daniel Craig because these are not actors’ names that one tends to think of as being together. This also looks to be more comedic than the first film, which I didn’t think was especially funny, but apparently, that’s just a me thing.
For some reason, I’ve been watching a lot of comedy mysteries this year. I just came off the Hercule Poirot movies, The Orient Express, and Death on the Nile, and I will probably be watching See How They Run this weekend. I don’t normally gravitate to period mysteries. I’m not opposed to them or dislike them or anything. They’re just not the sort of movies I tend to gravitate to, so when I get the urge to do so, I flow with it.
Maybe I’ll Watch These
Bones and All
I’m not sure I’m in the mood to watch anything dealing with cannibals but I’m willing to watch this if it’s streaming. If it’s in the theater then it’s out of luck. I’m not spending a bunch of money to see this, although it seems intriguing.
Yeah, this is a movie that’s just going to be watched via streaming only. This is not the kind of movie I would ever watch in a theater. I mean, Kung Fu movies are meant to be watched in the house, with popcorn and a remote.
Warriors of the Future
Fortunately, this is a Netflix jam so I don’t have to spend money on my curiosity about it. Okay, it really doesn’t seem like it’s a lot of fun, in the sense that it’s intentionally funny, but it does look thrilling and action-packed, so I guess that’s a kind of fun.
And Movies I’m Not Watching
I didn’t care too much for the White Saviorism of the first movie. In fact, I found that movie infuriating in a way that I didn’t for movies like The Last Samurai, or Dances with Wolves. I’m not arguing about how beautiful it is but I think I’m gonna wait to watch this next year on some streaming service. Since my niece and nephew aren’t going to be with me, and this is really the kind of movie one watches with a group of people, I’m unlikely to see it in a theater anyway.
I do not have any particular need or desire to spend money to see this. Plus this looks like one of those movies where there’s going to be a lot of crying. I’m really glad Brendan Frasier has made this return to making movies. I missed him, and this actually looks alright, but I’ll catch this on streaming.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
I’m not going to sully my memories of Whitney Houston with a biopic. I just can’t do it.
This movie is probably going to blow up once it comes out becomes it looks unintentionally hilarious and there are already a bunch of memes about it! I’m not paying money to watch what is essentially a killer-doll movie, but I’ll go see it my sister pays for my ticket because this seems like the kind of thing she’d attach herself to.
I still do not understand after all these killer doll movies why anyone would ever build life-size killer robots that look virtually indistinguishable from an actual person. I don’t understand the plots of movies like Bladerunner and stuff where that kind of thing happens. Why would human beings still be doing that? Have we learned nothing?!!! On the other hand, this could just be an American thing because the Japanese build life-size robots all the time and they don’t ever seem to have this problem with the robots trying to merc people.
I stumbled across an entire series of these terrifying TikTok videos recently ,and by terrifying I mean it’s probably not a good idea to watch these late at night. But…during the day they might seem pretty funny, and are a great illustration of how comedy and horror are two sides of the same coin.
One of the reasons I love horror comedies so much is, as has been said before, horror is comedy without the punchline. It’s also been said that what horror and comedy have in common is the overturning of an expectation. You either laugh or jump based on what you expect to happen, so I hope you enjoy these videos (if that’s a word that can be used here), as much as I did.
TikTok Nightmare Creatures Compilation
Sometimes expectations are overturned in some very surprising ways. I really enjoyed this video. In fact, I loved it and would enjoy seeing a movie made from it.
I Live Here Too
Some videos aren’t exactly horror but they are mysterious and disturbing like this early one from Denis Villenueve, the director of Dune and Bladerunner 2049. What exactly is going on here? What is the point of it?
I kept stumbling across horror animations by the grickle and thought I’d choose one of my favorites for this post. For the record, I have never liked nor understood the purpose of lawn gnomes.
The Hidden People
Sometimes something is much more comedy than horror. This is from the same group that brought you the slasher boy band, The Merkins. I could not stop laughing at this because I love the first two Predator movies and I used to watch this other show late in the evening, about a journalist who would trick child predators into being interviewed (and sometimes arrested) on live television.
To Catch A Predator
As funny as the previous video is, this one is my personal favorite for this Halloween combining two of my favorite things, The Exorcist movie, and candy.
What I find funny isn’t immediately obvious to a lot of my friends. They don’t know what I might or might not find hilarious, so are hesitant to introduce me to things THEY think are funny.
Plenty of movies make me laugh though, and I’m a huge fan of completely absurdist, campy (and occasionally tasteless) humor. Some of my requirements for making this list is that the plot is ludicrous, but at least one of the actors is taking the plot seriously, and at least one other actor recognizes exactly what type of movie they’re in and is just rolling with it. Sometimes the plot is deeply stupid, trashy (usually because of some implied sexual issue) and/or tastelessly over the top, but everyone in the movie plays it completely straight, or the plot is actually what’s serious and straightforward, but the actor’s reactions are exaggerated.
There is a thin line between Campy, Horror/Comedy, and Parody and not everyone can tell the difference. Sometimes there is a lot of overlap, but most people, even if they can’t describe what it is, know Camp when they see it. For example, Rob Zombie’s Halloween is trashy, but it isn’t Campy. The new Munsters movie however is all Camp. In a Campy film, things tend to be overdone. The color is more saturated, the acting is just a bit long, and the plot is just a bit too of whatever it is. There’s a fine dance of all these elements and too much of one thing, and not enough of another, can put a film in a different subgenre.
Here’s a list of the movies I thought were the most enjoyable and funniest. These are not in any particular order, but there are a number of them from the 80s, since that was the time period in which I first saw them, and quite frankly, I consider the 80’s the great age of Horror movies. As I once said, I think my Mom and I tried to watch every single Horror movie in that ten-year period. The Horror movies of the 90s were a lot less Campy than the ones from the 80s.
Fright Night (1985)
If I were making a numbered list this would definitely be in the top five. This movie was so much fun, and not just because the vampire, Jerry Dandridge, played by Chris Sarandon, was having so much fun in his role, but because of the addition of Roddy McDowell, who is a wonderful actor who has to play a has-been Horror movie actor who is also a failed television movie host, named Peter Vincent. Vincent is the one who thinks the situation is insane, but once he realizes it’s real and incredibly dangerous, wants no part of it. He starts out as an unethical and cowardly man who eventually steps up to the plate to become a brave and surprisingly compassionate hero. The movie is also enlivened by the performance of Stephen Geoffreys as a sympathetic and completely over-the-top villain named, appropriately enough, Evil Ed, which is more of a clue as to what type of movie this is. Actually, the only characters who take the plot at all seriously are the two leads, Amy and Charlie, played by Amanda Bearse and Wm. Ragsdale.
Death Becomes Her (1992)
I absolutely love this movie (despite its problematic depictions of fatness). Madeline (played by Meryl Streep) is a vain, insecure, formerly great actress, who keeps stealing the boyfriends of her childhood friend Helen (Goldie Hawn). Tired of this dynamic after Madeline steals yet another boyfriend, Helen embarks on a revenge scheme that involves taking a potion that makes her beautiful and immortal. She hatches a plan with her ex-boyfriend (an unrecognizable Bruce Willis) to murder Madeline. Unknown to both him and Helen, Madeleine also takes the potion, and hijinks ensue as the women find out the hard way that although they can’t die, they can be killed.
The movie has the feel of a comedy of manners, (because of the various misunderstandings and mix-ups), except no one in this movie has any manners. No one in this movie is at all serious about this utterly ridiculous plot, delivering their lines with a wink and a nod, with the sole exception of Isabella Rossellini as the potion provider, who acts as if she is in some grand gothic Horror cinema, while everyone else is in a torrid soap opera. This was my first exposure to Meryl Streep the comedian, and she is absolutely hilarious, as a character whose body has started to break down after she is murdered, but my all-time-favorite line is Helen telling Madeline (after Madeline breaks her neck in a fall) that she won’t speak to her until she gets her head on straight!
At the time the movie was released in 1992, the special effects were groundbreaking as it was the first time CGI had been applied to living, moving actors. This movie is now a Cult Classic in the LGBTQ community, btw. If you haven’t seen (or even heard about) this, it’s well worth watching.
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark(1988)
Anytime I have such fond memories of a movie that I start laughing when I hear the title, it definitely means the movie has made my favorites list! I absolutely love this movie and it’s Elvira who sells it with her patented blend of sexy and snarky, which is never mean-spirited. Most of the humor involves Elvira getting herself into silly situations about which she has to make smart-ass remarks before rescuing herself. In this, her first film, she inherits a small town Gothic home from her Aunt, and is menaced by her Uncle who is hunting for a Witch’s grimoire he thinks is hidden within it. This gives Elvira plenty of opportunity to deploy her snarky little side-quips (the bread and butter of the movie) against the self-righteous townsfolk. The movie is very deliberately Camp, but only Elvira seems to understand that’s the case, and she occasionally breaks the fourth wall with a wink and smile to the audience.
The actress (Cassandra Peterson) is also a true Gay icon as she recently came out in her Memoir, Yours Cruelly, where she confessed that she’d been in a relationship with her friend, Theresa Wierson since 2002.
Evil Dead 2(1987)
If you enjoyed Multiverse of Madness and the first Spiderman trilogy you have to see where it all began, although technically Evil Dead 2 is a remake of the first movie Evil Dead by the same director, Sam Raimi. Everything that made Spiderman 2 so much fun to watch, and all of the Madness of the latest Doctor Strange movie has its foundation in this one.
I saw this movie when it was released (on a double bill with Robocop), at a ratty little downtown theater and I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard at a movie in my life up to that moment. Picture a 17-year-old girl sitting in a movie theater by herself, laughing uproariously as a man gets attacked by his own hand. Evil Dead 2 is a deeply stupid film, but only maybe two of its characters understand that. Ash, the hero of the movie is an over-the-top clown, but one of the other characters, a female scientist of some kind acts like she’s in a perfectly straight Horror movie. This is one of Sam Raimi’s greatest films. Everything in it is overdone, extremely loud, and unashamedly, unabashedly frantic, from the music to the dialogue, and even the camera work.
The movie is a lot, and despite all the colorful gore, is actually great for teenagers who like Horror movies that aren’t quite that horrible.
Big Trouble In Little China
The best character is the one who has no idea that he is not the hero of this movie, and that is the arrogant, self-referencing, and derpy Jack Burton, played by Kurt Russell. Most of the movie is shown from his point of view, he narrates the movie and thinks of himself as a lovable scamp, but the actual hero of the film is Dennis Dun as Wang Chi, who commits numerous heroic acts, saves the day, and the girl, and plays all of the ridiculous shenanigans in this movie completely straight. Kim Cattrall plays a breathless and overconfident Gracie Law, James Hong (from Everything Everywhere All At Once) is a Fu Manchu parody, and Victor Wong is a Chinese wizard named Egg Shen, which is all you need to know to know what kind of movie we’re dealing with here.
The plot is deeply silly, (and probably exploitative as well since this is the 80s) involving the villain (Lo Pan, aided by his awesome henchmen, The Three Storms) trying to become immortal by sacrificing a girl with blue eyes to his gods, and the only characters who take any of it seriously are the hero (Wang Chi) and the villain (Lo Pan).
Return of the Living Dead
Most of the characters do act like they’re in a serious movie, but this is a movie that knows it isn’t serious at all, as the plot becomes increasingly silly for the audience. We know the movie isn’t to be taken seriously mostly because of the dialogue, and c’mon, the name of the primary company in the movie is called Uneeda which sells cadavers for profit. It’s not the characters that give a sly wink to the audience but the director and writers.
Most of the movie takes place in two small buildings (one a crematorium) with most of the characters being shuttled back and forth between them as the zombies take over the area. The zombies are the fast kind brought about through chemical means, and they also talk. well okay, they only yell for brains, but still. However, the greatest camp moment of the movie is the scene above where the zombies use the ambulance radio to call for more paramedics – so they can eat them.
Return of the Living Dead has its tongue firmly planted in its own cheek.
There were quite a number of Camp vampire films made during the 70s, most of them came from the Italian studios, and that put Hollywood off from making vampire movies for a while, but they seemed to rediscover their interest in the 80s, releasing quite a few as Horror comedies. Vamp is one of my top favorites from the era of, what I like to call, the Golden Age of Comedy Horror.
A trio of college boys in an attempt to get into a fraternity, promise to provide strippers for a party. In their search, they stumble across a goofy childhood girlfriend who is working for a millenia-old vampire Queen, and her bug-eating human servants, in the After Dark nightclub, along with a gang of albino bikers (and yeah, the bikers and the vampires get to duke it out!) The movie is a tragedy but what makes it a comedy are the great, blink and you’ll miss them, one-liners by the lead characters, but what makes it Camp is the utterly silent Queen vampire (played by none other than Grace Jones, in what is probably one of her most pants-shittingly frightening roles) giving the audience the middle finger at the end.
And, oh yeah, there’s a little bit of stripping and Grace Jones does something that could loosely be called dancing.
There’s a thin line between Horror-Comedy and Camp because the two tend to overlap. I consider a Horror/Comedy to be much more deliberately in-your-face funny. In a campy movie, the humor is just a little bit more subtle or has a sexual element that gives the dialogue, and/or horror scenes, a double meaning. Frankenhooker walks that thin line and works it! On the surface, it appears to be a typical Horror/Comedy, but it’s the sexual component of the plot that makes this movie a little-known Camp Classic.
Everything about this movie is utterly ridiculous, from every element of the plot (supercrack, and exploding hookers) to the acting (wooden), to its dialogue (melodramatic). From its opening scene of death by electric lawnmower to the iconic scene of Frankenhooker walking the streets of, where else but New Jersey, screaming at the top of her stolen lungs: “GOT ANY MONEY?!! WANNA DATE?!!”, this movie doesn’t let up for a single moment.
All of it is incredibly, stupidly, trashy!
Some movies don’t seem especially Campy at first, except for a knowing wink and a smile to the audience, which is embodied here in one of the werewolf characters deliberately addressing the audience at the end of the movie. The Howling is one of my favorite werewolf movies and that’s because the Camp is so subtle and well done. Like most Horror movies of the 80s, the scenes are over the top and kind of ridiculous but, if you pay close attention to the dialogue you get that the characters are all smirking at you a little bit. Occasionally, one of the characters will say something as if they know they’re being watched by an outside audience, and the movie is shot in such a way that the creators (namely VFX artist Rob Bottin) want to make the maximum amount of spectacle out of watching someone turn into a werewolf.
For example, this is a process that starts about three times during the film. The first time we don’t get to see it in its entirety because the scene is set in a dark room and interrupted by gunfire, but the second scene, (and we’ve waited for half the movie to see this) is completed in all its closeup, gory, lumpy, squishy detail. The third time, we are all set for a repeat of the second transformation, but we don’t. We get interrupted again.
There’s nothing elevated about the plot, the characters, or the scenery. The characters are rural lower-class peasants, contrasted against sophisticated metropolitan outsiders. The 3 outsiders play everything completely straight as if they don’t know they are in a werewolf movie, but all the rural characters seem in on the secret and are laughing at them and us, and that’s a large part of why this movie is so much fun!
The Newest Addition:
Rob Zombie’s Netflix adaptation of The Munsters, which makes no secret of its Campiness, just putting it all out there as brazen as you please! This was released last week, and I really enjoyed it. It was as much fun as I thought it would be although looking at it can be a bit exhausting. It is extremely colorful. He seemed to very much capture the mood and aesthetic of the original. I could have done with more of the Herman and Lilly falling in love plot, rather than the no-count werewolf brother side plot getting so much airtime, but it turned out the plot is a prequel, so we understand why the family moved from Transylvania to Los Angeles.
I have no idea why Youtube recommends certain types of videos to me. Sometimes it will recommend things to me from over ten years ago that are not based on anything I’ve been watching recently. I normally don’t search for music videos on Youtube, but I guess this was rec’d to me because of the music post I made before, with none of those videos having anything to do with this type of music, so there’s that…
Not that I don’t like this video. I just think it’s weird that it would recommend Indigenous Rock music, seemingly out of nowhere. I love the clothing (those coats are awesome!) and attitude though, although I’m not too impressed by the actual music. At least it’s upbeat. If this is your bag though, then go for it.
Okay, I was trying to find movies directed by George Plympton and I got nothing until several weeks later and this was Youtube’s answer. I liked this a lot (it’s deeply funny) but I wonder why it couldn’t have given me this video at the time I asked for it.
Plympton’s videos are always very silly and I enjoyed this one.
Just note, I think this video is incredibly funny, but I’m not sure why this was recommended to me at the time it was (a few weeks ago). Okay, I do search for animated shorts like this every year in October, but Halloween was months ago and I don’t recall asking for anything like this recently. There seems to be a significant lag time between what I ask for and what gets recommended. Or maybe the video simply didn’t exist back when I asked for something like it.
This one really resonated with me because there have been times when highly extroverted people latched onto me and determined that we were going to be friends regardless of what I wanted. Not that I didn’t appreciate their friendship but I do understand this lady’s predicament.
This is one of Denis Villeneuve’s weirdest films. I still don’t completely understand what’s going on here, but I enjoyed it, and it probably needs to be made into a movie. I do know why this was recommended to me though. It’s the interaction between requesting short horror films, watching all of the Bladerunner short films, and Villeneuve’s interviews.
I will unashamedly admit to watching cat videos, I generally enjoy most of them, and recently searched for some. So why Youtube decided to offer me tiny goat videos is a mystery. Not that these weren’t fun to watch (and now I want a dwarf goat). I don’t know how or why Youtube makes some choices, although I suspect a bunch of other people also watched cat videos and then searched for tiny goat videos and Youtube thought I might like some too.
For the record, I have never requested tiny goat videos.
The DCEU just had this thing online in August, that was sort of like ComicCon, but only for DC and its properties, called the FanDome. Basically they showcased all their shows, movies, and trailers online, for a week. So here are the relevant trailers, and a couple of random trailers, and videos, I threw into the mix, just because I liked them!
This is a new series on Netflix, based on the Enola Holmes Mystery books, which I have heard about, but never read. Enola is Sherlock and Mycroft’s little sister, and Since I like her brothers, and I like this actress, I’m looking forward to the first episode, which looks like lighthearted fun.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
For the record, I cared not one whit for the Zack Snyder cut to be released, let alone that it even existed. I’m also not exactly a Zack Snyder fan, even though I’ve probably seen all his films. Its more that Zack Snyder keeps directing movies that have actors in it that I like, and so I end up seeing his movies.
All that said, I actually am looking forward to this and will definitely watch this mini-series, which I understand will take place over four days. Frankly, that’s how it should’ve been approached in the first place, rather than a 2+ hour movie, that seemed to displease everyone.
The Suicide Squad
Now, I must state up front, that I am a fan of the first Suicide Squad, which is differentiated from this one by not having the word ‘The” in front. I know people hate that first movie, but I found a lot of things to like about it, (as well as hate), and it’s more likely that I was looking at that film through a very different lens, than the white fanboys who hated it, and one day I’m going to have to write about why that is.
Anywho, I am a big fan of James Gunn, whose career got canceled briefly, but who has since been reinstated, in his role as the director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, which I personally love. Those are two of my absolute favorite MCU films ,so I’m very much looking forward to his version of the Suicide Squad.
This movie actually looks okay. Yeah, I was more than a little dubious about Robert Pattinson playing this role, but I never liked Ben Affleck, and I’ve since watched Pattinson in other roles, and I feel confident that he is gonna bring it as The Batman.
Now this is a much younger Batman than we’re used to. I’d say year one or two, in his role as Gotham’s protector, and you can see that he is not as controlled in his manner, as we’ve seen the older Batmans, and that there is a little more hand to hand combat, rather than the reliance on gadgets, that a lot of the movies fall into. Hopefully, this movie will also focus on Batman being a detective, because that was the part of his role that made him interesting in the comic books, and which hasn’t really been depicted onscreen yet.
You guys all know I’m a dedicated Stephen King fan despite some of my issues with some of his characters, but I will admit that I disliked the original mini-series of this book intensely, because the acting was so spotty, and it was trying just a little too hard to be faithful to the book, without actually being faithful to the book. But I’m kind of looking forward to this version. For one thing, it stars much better actors ,and it looks like its going to remain faithful to the spirit in which the book was written, and it happens to be timely.
Now, I don’t know how many of you want to sign on to see a pandemic destroy the Earth, considering what we’re all going through. I tried reading the book back in May, and just couldn’t get through it, and I also believe the money spent on this would have been better served filming The Talisman, but I’m gonna watch this in December, even though it ain’t got nan but two black people in it, and let you guys know what I think.
Taika Waititi continues to be comedy gold! I just love this man’s humor ,and of course the Thriller dance would be a Haka!
Raised by Wolves
Not sure what to think about this one, but I’m going to check it out because its SciFi, and based on my blog name, I am required by law to watch this, I think.
I am definitely going to watch this, and then we’re going to talk about my love of Christopher Nolan films
I think this is an American remake of the French movie, The Night Eats The World, a zombie type movie, in which people act insane, but are not actually zombies, right? It stars that guy from Teen Wolf. There’s also a bunch of other movies out right now called Alone, but with 0009949443528
a different type of horror, so try not to get confused. This looks intriguing, but I’m not sure I want to binge on too many end of the world flicks right now, because I’m just not feeling it.
*Hopefully, my review of Lovecraft Country’s first episode, will be ready by this Friday!
I was just looking over a list of of horror movies I made early on this blog, of some of my favorite monsters, and took note of how damn weird all the monsters on that list were. I remember deliberately leaving certain types of traditional monsters off the list, like vampires and werewolves.
I also noticed a trend, from decade to decade, too. Whatever social or economic concerns Americans were voicing in the media at that time, got appropriated by Hollywood to make these movies, although its not quite that simple, as Hollywood didn’t just reflect our fears, but reinforced them, as a lot of these films had a sort of dialogue with one another.
In the fifties, the big theme was nuclear generated monsters because people were still reeling from the use of atomic weaponry during the war. In the sixties, the theme was zombies, and other human related horrors, as people began to question American lifestyles, and there was a great deal of social and racial upheaval. In the seventies, it was environmental concerns, and in the eighties, Hollywood focused on human and supernatural related horrors, like zombies, and slashers.
Here is my top ten list of the weirdest horror movie monsters ever screened. There’s a lot more, these just happen to be my personal favorites.
Little Shop Of Horrors – Giant Venus Flytrap
This is certainly one of the strangest monsters ever seen in a movie, (especially considering the sheer numbers of strange monsters in movies), a giant flytrap that is actually from Venus, that talks and sings. It took me years to figure that that’s what Audrey II was, probably because I wasn’t paying attention to the dialogue as closely as I should have, and well…Audrey is certainly distracting. The 1986 movie stars the music of Alan Mencken, was directed by Frank Oz, of Muppet fame, while Audrey was voiced by Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops.
Food of the Gods – Giant Mice, Chickens, and Hornets
This 1978 movie was loosely based on the H.G.Wells novel of the same name about a strange substance that bubbles out of the ground near a farm, which gets fed to various animals. This causes the farm animals, and all the nearby woodland wildlife to grow to tremendous sizes. The audience gets treated to giant chickens, giant hornets, and of course, giant mice. Yes, the acting is terrible, and the special effects are laughable, but there are at least a couple of truly effective scenes, which makes this movie worth taking a look at.
Part of the reason for all these giant and killer animal movies, during the 70s, was America’s new awareness of ecological issues, which prompted Hollywood to try to cash in on these new environmentalist fears. Movies like Squirm, Slugs, Day of the Animals, Frogs, and the many Grizzly films gave vent to American’s fears of humans destroying the environment, which prompted the environment to take revenge on us.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes – GiantTomatoes
In keeping with the theme of ecologically based monsters, this is an utterly ridiculous, 1978 satirical film, whose style is loosely based on the giant nuclear animal movies of the fifties, and The Blob. The tomatoes even have their own theme song, written by John Dibello. The acting is atrocious, which only contributes to the films very, very, broad humor.
Night of the Lepus – Giant Rabbits
This is a 1972 horror scifi movie about a town being overrun by giant rabbits. The special effects are incredibly laughable because the rabbits don’t look especially evil or angry. They just look like rabbits, which is entirely in keeping with the “nature is trying to kill us all” phase of horror that happened during the 70s.
Rubber – Killer Car Tire
This 2010 movie is about a rubber tire, named Robert, that somehow becomes sentient enough to psychically kill the people it encounters. It rolls around the desert, exploding the bodies of hapless animals and unsuspecting people. Directed by Quentin Depieux, and starring a cast of nobodies, this film is much more surreal, as it also has a chorus of bystanders, who view the events, while making commentary, and who eventually all contract food poisoning by eating some bad poultry they brought with them for a picnic. Quentin needs help!
Attack of the Killer Shrews – Giant Shrews
This 1959, black and white, giant animal movie revolves around a boat captain and his crew, who get stranded on a research island, with a mad scientist, his daughter, and the staff. The mad scientist believes shrinking human beings to the size of party snacks is a way to solve world hunger. He should have stuck with enlarging plants, because naturally, he gets to be one of the first people eaten by the shrews. Its also a monumentally stupid idea.
This movie has the distinction of being one of the few movies, on this list, that scared the living beejeezus out of me…when I ten years old, and watched it on some idle Saturday afternoon. its always those childhood fears that stick with you, because I saw this a couple years ago, and yeah, I laughed at it, but it was, lowkey, still effective.
From Hell It Came – A Tree Stump/Zombie?
In keeping with the theme of murderous, sentient, wildlife, this is a 1957 scifi horror movie, about what appears to be an angry, nuclear generated, tree stump, on yet another desert island. This movie has the rather unique plot of having a witch doctor and human sacrifice involved, as well. As usual, there is the demonization of some sort of African pagan religion, which I’ll be speaking on later.
Black Sheep – Sheep
Black Sheep is a 2006 movie from New Zealand, about a brother who accidentally zombifies a flock of sheep, by performing genetic experiments on his father’s sheep farm. Just one bite from one of these fat, and perfectly normal looking sheep, is enough to transform a man into a horrific man-sheep monstrosity. The humor is that all of this is played completely straight and the actors really sell it.
The Crawling Eye – Giant Loose Eyeball
Originally called the Trollenberg Terror, this is a 1958 British, black and whit,e film. This one of the few films where the monster’s origins are not a result of nuclear something or other. The location is isolated, scientists are involved, and the monsters seemingly have a form of mind controlled.
Squirm – Worms
This is another movie I remember watching as a kid where I wasn’t so much terrified, as disgusted. This movie, released in 1976, was one of the worst of the ecologically based horror movies, if only for the acting, but I still found it intriguing, because…worms. During a thunderstorm, a farm full of worms get struck with electricity from downed power lines, and decide they like the taste of people. There’s some greatly ridiculous scenes of screaming worms, and houses being swarmed by regular sized, bloodthirsty, worms.
The Swarm – Killer Bees
This was apart of the great Swarm! of killer bee movies that we all got inundated with in the 70s, thanks to the media horror stories about the Africanized honey bee, the most hostile and aggressive bees on the planet because…Africa! taking over America.
Frogs – Frogs
This movie released in 1972, is a rather slow moving thing that doesn’t contain monsters so much as deeply stupid people. A wealthy family has a reunion on their private island, so they can fight among themselves in private, but are inundated by swarms of frogs, and other wildlife, that apparently hate them. The frogs and other animals, aren’t grown to large sizes, or are even especially malevolent. They pretty much just act like snakes, birds, and lizards, while the family members act like accident prone ninnies.
So hey everybody, have a happy weekend, and watch out for the trees!
Okay, maybe its not all sweetness and light, but I find Youtube amusing and interesting, as I carefully curate the things on my dashboard, to minimize bullshit. Here’s a list of ridiculousness that I stumbled across, and a short list of Youtubers I subscribe to. This is maybe half of them, but its a pretty good snapshot of the subjects that most interest me.
Tony Baker Voiceovers
From now on, I’m going to use the word “The Skibbity Pap”, every time I love smack one of my nieces or nephews on the back of the head. These Tony Baker videos have been around for years, but they’re new to me, and I just love them. Whenever I need a quick pick me up, I just put on one of these, and I’m soon crying for a completely different reason!
Also “skibbity pap” just sounds like the kind of thing that cats would call those love smacks they enjoy giving to anyone, or anything, that wanders into their orbit.
Two things that are deeply funny to me, are how the animals love to sing R&B songs to themselves, when they’re alone, and continuing adventures of Rudy, and his dogs.
The Patriot Act
ASMR: signifies the subjective experience of “low-grade euphoria” characterized by “a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin”. It is most commonly triggered by specific auditory or visual stimuli, and less commonly by intentional attention control.
This is one of the weirdest/funniest videos on Youtube, as Hasan Minhaj, from Patriot Act, gets in on that whole ASMR experience, by helping you relax while you’re doing your taxes. Watch the whole thing!
Beau of the Fifth Column
The first time I stumbled across one of Beau’s videos, I did what maybe a lot of people did, and skipped past it, because I really didn’t want to be bothered by yet another opinion video, from a straight white guy, about social issues that didn’t affect him. I’ve had my absolute fill of white men, “objectively” playing devil’s advocate on social issues.
But his videos kept being recommended to me, so I gave one a try, and was pleasantly surprised by how open and level headed he is. I don’t always agree with the things he says, but he always clearly, and honestly explains what, and why, he believes it, in a way that doesn’t talk down to the viewer, or occlude the issues with erasure and lies.
The titles of the videos are often misleading, but once you start watching, you realize that he is someone who thinks very differently from most people (even me) about a thing.
I am more than a little tired of this idea, that more than a few people deeply believe, that criticism must be negative. I keep trying to tell people that any opinion, whether its positive or negative, is actually a critique of whatever you just consumed, because that’s what “criticize” means. Yes, loving something, and stating why, is a perfectly valid critique.
This critic says he originally started this channel as a rebuke to the Cinema Sins Channel, (which I hate). I chose this particular video because I love this movie as much as he does, and for all the same reasons.
I knew what I was getting into when I stumbled across Dollamore’s videos, because I started watching him back in the days when he was taking down the low hanging fruit that is Tomimo Laurencias stupid ass. At least part of the reason I like his videos are the incredible insults he levels at trump and his cronies, because they’re almost poetic. Feckless moron, and googly-eyed nitiwt, are what come to mind. I love a good, and well delivered, insult.
La Guardia Cross
Papa La Guardia says:
New Father Chronicles began in November of 2014 when my daughter Amalah was 1-week-old. I had no idea what I was doing, so I decided to chronicle my journey on YouTube and make fun of myself along the way. Our 2nd daughter, Nayely, was born in April of 2017.
My channel is filled with the silly adventures I have with my girls, infant and toddler interviews, my interpretations of their babble, silly skits, and the things I’ve learned or unlearned as a parent. Sometimes Leah and I mix it up a bit and share some pretty personal moments as well. Why? Well, we’re far from perfect and we’ve learned a lot from our mistakes.
This was one of the first videos I ever saw, and its at least a couple of years old as his baby girls are about three and five now, and I’m not sure where I heard of it, or what I’d watched, that this was recommended to me.
Okay, these are just really good reviews, and the critic makes an effort to make his critiques relevant to real world events, like this one about how Black peopel have always been talking about police brutality, which has permeated almost all of our tele-visual arts.
Sir Stevo Timothy
I’m not sure how this video got recommended to me. I thought it was funny, but still wasn’t quite sure what to think, when I saw the first one, so I did a little research to figure out who the hell this guy was. it turns out that this character is a parody of a certain type of racist, loud, old, ignorant, Irish uncle. He manages to make the things he says so stupidly ridiculous that you cannot possible take his opinions seriously, and even manages to slip in some progressive thoughts, if you pay attention.
This video is one of my favorites because no matter how hard he tries, he is simply incapable of ignoring that his passenger is a Black man (from Dublin).
I’m probably not supposed to laugh this damn hard at these videos.
The Fish Locker
This video doesn’t seem like it fits anything else on this list, but its surprisingly soothing to watch this guy combing the rocky beaches of Scotland for seafood, with his wife and son.
This is like ASMR beach combing.
And here are the real ASMR videos of Tkviper just walking the many different streets of Japan, while its raining different types of rain.
Does anybody remember these cartons from MTV’s Liquid Television, in the 9os? I remember watching hte hell out of these at the time. I think I still have the full DVD set.
Here’s a incomplete list of movies and shows I watched in April. For the most part, I liked all of these. I can tell I liked them because I finished watching them. I’m one of those people that feels absolutely no obligation, whatsoever, to finish consuming something I can’t stand. That’s a “young person whose got a lot more years ahead of them” type of thing! I’m also not one of those people who think you can’t have an opinion on something you didn’t finish. I mean, I won’t finish a cup of sour milk, but I can still know I didn’t like it. I feel like it’s the same for books, movies, and shows. I mean, you ain’t got to suffer your way through some shit, to know you’re wading through a pile of shit. You know what you like.
I have been watching tv shows, but most of it’s stuff that already aired, since there’s no new stuff being released right about now.
Unnamed Korean Drama
You may notice a trend of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese movies. Yeah, I’ve been watching a lot of those since I can now access Japanese Netflix, thanx to my IPVanish app.
Wel, this one didn’t have the title in English, so I had to research it. A lot of the shows don’t have English titles, or translations, but I’m really used to figuring out what’s happening in Asian movies, after decades of watching this kind of thing. This one did have translations in English though, so I didn’t have to figure it out too much, otherwise I would have been deeply, and I mean, deeply, confused about this movie.
This is about a little girl who goes to live with her uncle, and his common law wife, after her mother temporarily deserts her. She is often bullied at school, but there’s a little boy, often bullied himself, who keeps trying to reach out to be her friend. Her uncle lives with his transgender girlfriend, and after some initial confusion, she and the little girl start to bond, to the point where the girlfriend considers suing the mother for custody. This movie is the game Japanese director’s attempt to tackle a controversial lgbtq issue in Japan, so it’s a little heavy handed in some places, frustrating in others, and sometimes, it’s just vague, but I’m a sucker for found family stories.
It’s a beautiful story, though, and I really liked it. The little girl is unwilling to get close to people because she keeps experiencing the instability of being abandoned by her mother, every time her mom gets a new boyfriend. She is also reluctant to get close to her uncles gf, but it isn’t until the two of them bond over knitting, and the gf’s transgender status (she is pre-op) that the girl allows herself to open up to the little boy who’s trying to be her friend. Unfortunately, her friendship with him doesn’t work out, because his mother is deeply transphobic, and makes the girls living arrangements her personal business, to the misfortune of this lovely found family.
Without the translation, the most confusing part of the movie, are the knitting scenes. We get a backstory on the gf, from when she came out to her mother. Her mother, while initially confused, became deeply supportive of her daughter, going so far as to knit her a pair of tiny breasts. I mention that she is pre-op, because part of the plot is that the gf spends a lot of time knitting penises. When she finishes making exactly 108 of them, she will burn them in effigy, and that will be when she is ready to have her bottom surgery.
She teaches the little girl to knit by making these penises, and that’s how the two of them bond. At one point the gf allows the little girl to squeeze her breasts, because of her intense curiosity about her gender status. She becomes less confused, but the girlfriend’s breasts are still a focal point of their relationship, because the little girl begins associating them with the warmth, comfort, and motherhood she wasn’t getting from her own mother, especially since the gf is the one who cuddles her against those same breasts, when she gets afraid in the middle of the night. The girlfriend becomes a figure of maternal love and stability for her, but even though they have chosen each other, they cannot be together, as mother and daughter, because society will not allow it.
I though this was a beautiful little story, not too emotionally taxing, with an open ending, that was somewhat bittersweet.
Birds of Prey: The Fantabulous Life of Harley Quinn (2020)
I had so much fun watching this movie. Sometimes you really can tell the difference between a movie directed by a man, and one directed by a woman, and that seems to be the case with this movie. The story itself isn’t all that different from what would appear in a film made by a man, but it is definitely a comedy, and the emphasis is on different parts of the story, over others, and the story beats, and pacing, are different, and the tiny details can mean a lot to a female audience. Still, you can sort of tell a woman did this movie, because it feels like most of the kinds of art made by women, in which the relationships between the characters are what’s of primary importance, and that’s what’s going on in this film.
You’ll hear from a lot of male critics that the movie was bad, but really it’s that the movie is simply made with a different audience in mind, and so there’s an emphasis on different things in the movie, the kinds of things that might not appeal to male viewers. Since personal relationships are of deep importance to women in the real world, movies that emphasize that can be greatly appealing to a female audience, and we don’t consider such movies to be a failure. As women, we may be looking at the film through a different lens.
Another appeal for women is how the women interact, and I think that was this movie’s greatest appeal. The women in the movie aren’t at loggerheads just to have drama. They’re at odds with each other for real reasons, based on the plot, and they’re brought together through the plot, and learn to get along to survive the plot. The biggest problem I had was that the movie isn’t pretty. I’m not used to comic book movies looking like this, expecting a much more anti-septic, and polished, look. It looks kind of dirty and grungy, and the cinematography looks really different than a Christopher Nolan film, or anything in the MCU. Harley definitely lives in Gotham’s armpit, as do all these characters, and it shows.
Funnily enough, my favorite character turned out not to be Dinah Lance, but The Huntress. She was such an delightfully odd character, and showed some aspects of Spectrum behavior, although her uncertainty about her social skills might have had something to do with either her unconventional upbringing, or that she’s a loner, who has never had any friends. I liked Harley, but Huntress turned out to be an unexpected fave.
I really enjoyed this movie, though. It’s the complete opposite of everything in the movie Joker, so if you are any of the many women who hated that movie, then try this one, because it’s a helluva lot more fun. It’s hilarious to point at both these films and even say they are about comic book characters, let alone set in the same DC universe. The story arrangement is a little different than I’m used to, since it’s told from Harley’s point of view. There’s a lot of pausing, and back and forthing, and a couple of side issues, because Harley is a somewhat disjointed storyteller, who is mildly unreliable as a narrator, but she is zany and energetic, and a likable anti-hero, and we can see the faint seeds of the real hero she will eventually become. The movie isn’t deep, but it’s a helluva lot of fun, and I want to talk about it later in more depth, because there are a lot of fun and interesting things to be said about it.
Despite all the controversy surrounding this film, I genuinely liked this movie, as an interesting piece of filmmaking. It’s true, that it’s not an especially deep film, but that isn’t always required to like a film, and so I let that pass. I also didn’t care much for its message about yet another white guy feeling disgruntled about his life, and going on a killing spree. There are far, far, too many of these types of shows, and movies, in pop culture, and this is another one that presents the same theme, and yet, asks no questions about it.
On the other hand, it is a gorgeous looking movie, although I did think it was much too derivative of Martin Scorcese’s early works, Taxi Driver, and King of Comedy. Joachin Phoenix turns in a splendid performance though, and there were moments where I was greatly moved by the pathos and beauty of his character, his acting, and the cinematography. I’m tired of this sort of plot, but the director did a superb job of evoking sympathy for this character. Was this an Oscar worthy film, I don’t know, but in my opinion, it was worth watching. And I will probably watch it again, at some point, for the acting, and aesthetics.
This is a 90s animated anthology, from the maker of Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo. It consists of three stories about technology gone wrong, and people’s interactions with it, but I’m only interested in the middles story in particular, Stink Bomb. I thought it was hilarious, and kind of sad. There’s a message in it, but I’m not quite sure what that message is. Nevertheless,I really enjoyed it.
The Big Stink is the middle story, about a down on his luck office worker, who gets infected with a kind of biological warfare gas, that kills anyone within a certain mile radius of him. He, of course, doesn’t know this. All he knows is that people keep dropping dead around him, as at first, he tries to make his way home, and then attempts to outrun whatever is killing the people in his vicinity. For some reason, I found this part, deeply funny, although if you think about it too long, it’s pretty horrifying. The attempts by the police, and the military, just get more and more outrageous, as they escalate from guns, to tanks, and then to missile strikes, in an effort to stop him from reaching the city. The ending of this one was very satisfying, though.
This is one of my favorite little known Katsuhiro Otomo movies. I love the premise of it, which just thoroughly tickles me. It’s got a good strong story, and like his segment in Memories, Stink Bomb, there’s a deeply hilarious idea gliding just underneath the surface story of a rogue robot destroying a large city.
This was the movie that made me think about the different attitudes towards AI between the East and the West, which I am really going to have to have a deeper discussion about. I think I mentioned before that Japanese culture doesn’t have the same type of fears about automata that the US does. If you go by the types of books we write, the movies we make, and the types of discussions we have surrounding technology, then Westerners have some kind of deep atavistic fear of dolls, and robots. We are forever making stories about rebellious, or angry, simulacra that want to destroy their makers, and I want to examine this further.
Roujin Z is about a newly invented, healthcare, AI robot, that is given custody of an old man with dementia, who thinks the robot is his long dead wife. The robot, which is a kind of mobile care vehicle and bed, begins to take on the persona with which he treats it, and decides to care for him in the way his wife would have. He expresses an interest in visiting the beach, which is several miles away, and the robot decides that’s a good idea, and sets out. This causes complete chaos, as officials try to stop the robot, without hurting the old man, and the robot knocks down anything and everything in her path, to accomplish her goal, like houses, street posts, and cars. It wasn’t built to be so powerful, but it was built to modify itself to the needs of its patients, and that’s where the problem lies. Remember, the officials have no idea why the robot bed has gone rogue, and keep speculating that it is abducting the old man (which it is, but with good intentions). This is the case of an AI that isn’t actually malevolent, but as in a lot of Japanese films, creates havoc while doing its job too well, which is an attitude not often seen in American made movies of the same type.
This is another one of those Manga movies I never read, but I enjoyed this live action version, about a private war between these two immortal mutants, one of whom wants to destroy humanity for experimenting on his kind, and the other trying to protect humanity from him. Or that’s what I got out of the plot, because I watched a version of this that had no English translation. It’s got a lot of the old ultra violence in it though, which I appreciated.
Since there were no subtitles, I didn’t catch any deeper themes in the movie, but I loved the special effects, where their bodies reconstituted after their deaths, and they produce these ghostlike creatures (which look like they’re made of ashes) which battle each other kind of like Pokémon, which was fun.
If you are a fan of the Kingdom series, and Train to Busan, than you should check this movie out, if you can find it. It’s very much in the same sort of vein as Kingdom, in that it’s an historical monster movie, with gorgeous costumes, clever swordplay, and elements of class warfare. Where Kingdom and it’s cinematic counterpart (Rampart) contain zombies, this one just has a random giant monster.
The movie it most reminded me of was Alien 3, actually, but with more likable characters, and a more streamlined plot. The king receives some sort of dog like pet, which soon grows to tremendous size and becomes untrainable. The king keeps it locked up in his dungeon, where it’s gone more than a little feral, but some bright soul sets it free, presumably to destroy their enemies, the creature goes on a rampage through the capitol, and must be stopped by a hero with a bad reputation. It’s not an especially deep film, but it was a really good, straight up, horror movie, with lots of suspense. If you liked Bong Joon Ho’s The Host, then you’ll like this one, too, which is like an historical version of that film.
This was another movie I watched without subtitles. What I got out of it was this young man who discovers he’s a creature called a ghoul, which feeds on human beings, and he spends most of the movie having tentacle battles with the other ghouls. There are a lot of tentacles in this movie. That’s mostly what I remember. That, and I thought the movie had some truly disgusting scenes, which were, well, mostly just disgusting. It wasn’t particularly scary, or even fun, but it was fascinating in a “The Thing”, kind of way.
There’s a sequel to this movie which I’m debating whether or not I should watch since I didn’t get much out of the first movie beyond “ewwww”.
Kipo and the WonderBeasts
I’ve also been watching a lot more stuff that’s fun, stress free, and animated. Kipo definitely fits those criteria. This cartoon was sooo much fun! All the characters, outside of the Wonderbeasts are PoC, one of which is gay, it’s funny, has a lot of adventure, is reasonably intelligent for kids. I’d also like to add just one more thing to make you watch this:
‘ Drum & Bass’ Bees
or Giant Disco Bees, as I like to refer to them.
The story takes place far into some Earthlike future, where most humans are living in underground cities. After a horrible incident, Kipo gets separated from her father, and the rest of her community, and stranded on the surface, where she has to make friends and allies, to help her find her way back underground. It’s also a found family story as we watch these very different characters, with different attitudes and agendas bond, and have adventures.
if like me, things are just too stressful to watch horror movies, or thrillers right now, then series and movies like Kipo are well worth the watch.
Penny Dreadful (New show)
What We Do in the Shadows (Second Season is off to a hilarious start.)
Brooklyn 99 Finale (This was a great season! Jake and Amy’s baby is born in the final episode. Holt’s arch-nemesis, Munch, dies. We get a Halloween Heist episode, and we get an episode focusing on Cheddar, and Kevin.)
Schitt’s Creek Final Season (This was such a great show. It’s deeply funny, really sweet, it has great characters and character arcs, and moments of real pathos. It had a beautiful finale, culminating in the wedding of one of the lead characters, to his husband, after two years. It’s not too emotionally taxing, and a lot of fun. One of the most underrated shows on Netflix.)
Way back in the 80’s, this little gem starred Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, and lasted for two years. I do have to admit, there is no way in hell you could get this on TV right now. In this environment, this show would be a massive mistake. But I loved the hell out of this show when I was about thirteen or so. There was just something about the goofy humor of this show that just appealed to me, and Tom Hanks had incredible comedic timing.
The show is about two ad agency illustrators, working in New York city, who cannot afford an apartment together, so their friend Amy suggests they dress up like women to get in to the much more affordable all women’s apartment building that she lives in.They take on the personas of Buffy (Hanks) and Hildegard (Scolari), two sisters from some podunk town in the midwest.
A lot of the humor came out of the logistics of their double lives as men at work, and women in the evening, and navigating Buffy’s crush on his pretty blond neighbor down the hall. But it wasn’t all funny, sometimes the show liked to get serious by addressing the bigotry experienced by their glamorous Black neighbor, or discussing fatphobia, as Amy dealt with being a large sized woman, and along the way the guys got to know first hand what it was like to experience New York social life as women.
This show used to air on Hulu, but now the only place can find it is on Amazon for pay. Its unlikely to experience a revival any time soon. We’ve grown in maturity, and awareness since then, and you couldn’t do a show like this now without making a lot of changes. This is another one of the many hundreds of shows and movies that has done the work of associating transgender women with the idea of deception, associating it with men in women’s clothing, and has helped to contribute to transphobia.
Another interesting note, is that in just about every single famous actors or comedian’s background, is a show or movie, which puts them either in drag, or has them play flamboyantly gay characters. These cross dressed characters, and flamboyant gays were ALWAYS meant to be laughed at. One of the other side effects of constantly having straight men mock lgbtq characters for laughs, is that real life lgbtq people simply didn’t get taken seriously as real people. The height of this show’s popularity was also the height of the AIDS crisis, which was ignored by the Federal government, because it was believed by them, that God was killing the correct people.
I never developed the great love for David Hasselhoff that Dean Winchester did from watching this show. I liked the show when I was a teenager, but I think I mostly just loved the car, and wished I had one just like it. In fact, they used to produce these as toys when I was a child, and when my brother got one as a gift, I appropriated it for myself (i.e., I stole it), to use for my Barbie dolls.
As far as I was concerned, K.I.T.T. was the star of the show, voiced by William Daniels, and quite frankly, I thought the car was smarter than uh…whoever that guy was driving it. A few years ago there was an episode of Supernatural that referenced Knight Rider by having Sam Winchester get turned into the classic car. Y’all don’t know how much that whole thing just made me giggle like a complete fool. Even the theme song is a classic. If you were a teen when the show aired, you know how hugely popular it was, even to the point of having copycat shows, that tried to have cool classic cars that solved problems.
This was very probably one of the most progressive feminist shows on Tv, and one of the templates for feminist shows that came after it. A group of white women living together, with different sexual morals, and ethics, arguing about them, while working. The only drawback I had to shows like these were there were never any women of color, lesbians, or poor, or disabled women involved in them. This was First Wave Feminism, which meant it was almost exclusively about white working women. There was no intersectionalism at this point.
The two stand out characters were Julia, and Suzanne Sugarbaker, who were meant to be direct contrasts to one another, and Suzanne was every bit as regressive in her politics, as her cousin, Julia, was progressive in hers. Suzanne was open in her sexuality, but often treated everyone around her as if they were her personal servants, which gave Julia plenty of opportunities to give speeches, show disdain for her behavior, or teach her a lesson in how to be less judgmental. In fact, Julia’s, breathlessly, outraged performances, were often the highlight of an episode. A lot of the shows messages were pretty heavy handed, but it was the kind of stuff a teenage girl needed to hear.
Meshach Taylor also managed to get some good one liners and quips as a kind of business handyman, sort of like the character of Benson. He was the transportation and heavy lifter, doing the kinds of physical work that these four, upper class, Southern white women certainly weren’t going to be doing for themselves. He was often put upon by Suzanne, but most of the time, he managed to get the last word, without coming across as threatening. In fact his character was so non threatening I assumed, in my uninformed teenage mind, that he was gay! But at that age I had not reckoned with the social dynamics of the modern southern bigotry of white women interacting with black men. He had to be nonthreatening, and couldn’t possibly be depicted as any kind of sexual being in the presence of four professional white women. Nevertheless, I do remember liking his character.
This is another comedy, like Bosom Buddies, that didn’t age well. You could make a show like this today, but it would be bland, yet at the same time, polarizingly heavy handed.
Here are three films I watched in February. For the record, although I had some mild criticisms, I generally liked them, and I especially enjoyed the Terminator film, which I wasn’t entirely certain I would, since no one was talking about it.
Terminator: Dark Fate
I was initially very excited when I saw the trailer for this movie, but ultimately didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters. After that, I didn’t hear much about it. I dont normally get too worked up about films, that I think are going to be popular, bombing at the box office, because there are at least half a dozen reasons I won’t see it, no mater how excited I am about it. I figured that’s probably much the case with a lot of films that bomb. In other words, films bomb for a whole variety of reasons, that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the film’s quality.
And the quality of this latest entry in the Terminator franchise is very excellent. You should really check it out when you get a chance. I liked it every bit as much as I thought I would, ,and you will remember I was very excited about the trailer. It even did a couple of things I wasn’t expecting as far as plot and characters.
The basic plot sort of parallels the Sarah Connor plot from the first movie, but is much more personal. Dani isn’t the savior of the world, she is the savior of one person in particular, and Sarah comes along for the ride. The Terminator is very interesting, combining both elements of the original T-800, and the Liquid version from T2.
What was surprising about the movie is how female-centric it was, while touching on a lot of themes. Nearly all the characters are women, and they control the plot points in this movie. Sarah’s character reminded me of Laurie Strode, from the most recent Halloween movie, in that she is a broken and horribly traumatized woman. I always find it interesting when female characters are deliberately written to be unlikable, and that is the case here. Sarah is kind of an asshole, who butts heads with everyone. She is mean, and bitter, the sneer never leaves her face, and this is acceptable to the viewer, because she is definitely hurting, and broken, because of an event that happened after she and John saved the world’s future. The movie is as much about her trauma as it is about saving Dani. It is a heavy movie, with the only comic relief provided by an old school Terminator, played by Schwarzeneggar, as a drapery salesman named Carl, who is married to a woman he doesn’t have sex with, and doesn’t know what he is! Once you wrap your head around all that, the movie is an action fest every bit as good as Fury Road, only less zany.
The movie takes place largely in Mexico, and at one point, Dani, and the others must sneak into the US, but get locked up in one of the Border camps, so the movie went there, which was interesting, because I didn’t think it would. While no one says anything outright, the framing of those scenes show strong disapproval of what’s happening there, as the Terminator bursts in and slaughters half the border guards, and steals a helicopter.
The Terminator is played by one of my favorite actors, Gabriel Luna, who I got a kick out of watching in the SHIELD series, as the Ghost Rider. His technology isn’t just a blend of the two styles of Terminator we’ve seen, but so is his demeanor, which is especially chilling, because he seems very, innocuous, normal, and friendly, right up until you die.
The stand out character for me though was Grace, who is awesome. I’m saving a special place in my personal pantheon for Grace, (as not too many white women, Ellen Ripley and Furiosa being the only two, manage to get into it), who can definitely carry an action scene. The last time I saw that particular actress, she was playing a replicant, in Bladerunner 2049, and here she is playing another half human character. Grace is much like her name, moving and fighting in exactly the manner you’d expect of a technologically enhanced human being, and some of the most exhilarating scenes, are watching her go toe to toe with the Terminator, and matching him hit for hit. She doesn’t actually defeat him, but she is his equal.
The ending of the movie is bittersweet, but I liked it. I liked the entire film. There are no slow moments. Nothing is wasted, and I liked the love/hate dynamics between the female characters, which felt organic, and not just thrown in for drama’s sake. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should check it out, just to watch Schwarzeneggar’s role as Carl, and here him complain about people’s bad taste in draperies, in his usual monotone.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Despite a couple of hiccups, I genuinely liked this movie. I don’t think it’s as good as the first film, but that one had some novelty behind it in being Tom Hollands first full length term as Spiderman. This one is okay. Its not great. I wouldn’t put it anywhere near Maguire’s Spiderman 2, but its fun and watchable. The teenagers act like teens ,and the love story between Pete and MJ is really cute. This is funnier than the first film, and a genuine comedy, until it gets near the end, when things get a bit more serious. As with most comedies your mileage may vary. I thought a few of the jokes landed badly, but mostly of them hit their mark, at least for me.
The most annoying part of the movie however, is the continuing attachment of Tony Stark to Peter’s storyline. He’s still cleaning up Stark’s messes, even after he’s dead. I suspect that will be going on in the MCU for some time, since one of Tony’s major superpowers was pissing off powerful creatures and/or people. Probably half the villains in the MCU can be traced back to something Tony said or did to some hapless supplicant, and that is the origin story behind Mysterio.
I also found it annoying that everyone assumes Peter wants to take up Tony Stark’s mantle, and do what he did, only as Spiderman. Just let the child be himself ffs! Why does anyone have to step into Tony’s shoes? On the other hand, the movie does mention (rather roughly) some of the issues that happened in the aftermath of the Snap and the Return, (in this movie its called the Blip), and how much society was upheaved by both those events. I thought it was an intriguing idea that the world was just as upset by everyone’s return, after five years, as it was by the trauma of their disappearance.
Well, anyway the movie is still fun, and full of lots of humorous moments, regardless of Tony’s ghost hanging around this movie, and I have watched it a couple of times, since its release. Like the first movie, it doesn’t have a whole lot of depth, until the end, when Peter directly goes up against Mysterio.
I liked this just fine. Its not great. Its not even as good as Homecoming, but it’s a well spent Saturday afternoon or evening.
John Wick 3: Parabellum
Wow! This movie was a wild ride from start to finish. I don’t even know where to begin, I want to call this a hot ass mess, but that would imply I didn’t like it. In fact, I loved it! But yes, it is a hot ass, but very enjoyable, cray-cray mess. its like a Jason Statham, Fast and Furious movie, only with a real budget, if you catch my meaning.
Like the last movie, it picks up where it left off, with Wick being hunted by the Assassin’s guild which he used to be a member of. He’s got to find some old colleagues to help him stay alive, and they of curse come immediately into danger. One of those old friends, Sofia, is played by Halle Berry, who owns a couple of Belgian Mallinois, that she has specifically trained to kick ass, on her command, and that part of the movie is lots of fun to watch. I don’t get to watch Halle kick ass too often, so watching this fifty plus year old Black woman throwing hands was a real treat.
Another treat was watching Mark Dacascos chew the scenery, and get some genuinely funny lines, as a major villain who just wants to take John down, and supplant him as the boogeyman of assassins. I hadn’t seen Mark in a while, so it was fun to watch this professional ass-kicker throw down, even if the bald head was kind of jarring.
In the meantime, while John is trying to get his shit together there’s an actual assassins cabal, that oversees the assassin’s guild. Since John was “excommunicated”, he’s gotten help from a few friends, including Lawrence Fishburne, as the King of New York, and all their lives are put in danger, because one of the rules is that if you are a member of the guild in good standing, you have to turn in those who are excommunicated.
So the plot becomes a lot more complex, along with all the stuntwork. The John Wick movies are not especially deep, but they are great fun, even though they’re incredibly violent. Part of the reason people don’t mind the violence, quite so much, is that it’s de-mystified by the extras and behind the scenes videos, that show how are the stuntwork gets done, and watching the behind the scenes videos are just as much fun as watching
Here’s a short list of things I watched on Netflix and other streaming services, mostly at random. I just clicked on or rented stuff that had pretty promo pictures, happened to be a subject I’m interested in, or was recommended to me by some algorithm. Not all of these are TV series, however. A few are movies, but I decided to include them, because watching them on a streaming service was really the only way I was ever going to watch them.
These movies are based on the Samurai X manga. I don’t know if this is like the anime, because I have never watched that, and have only a passing familiarity with the Manga, which I read many years ago, but remember liking. These movies (there are three of them so far, with more to come later this year), heavily remind me of Blade of the Immortal, which was brutal, bloody, fun, only these have a slightly, “relatively”, more positive message, and a sense of humor. Well, I laughed at it, but y’all know I’m weird.
In the first movie, the lead character, named Kenshin, is a former assassin, who decided to give up killing, and wander the countryside helping people. This appears to be a very popular theme, because its basically the same plot of Blade of the Immortal, and a bunch of other samurai movies. A young woman who runs a martial arts school of some kind, stumbles across the protagonist, and he decides to help her with a problem she’s having with a rival school, that wants to take over hers.
A plot by some minor government official to take over the government in some drug related scheme, and a couple of Kenshin’s old enemies coming back to get revenge, give plenty of opportunities for fight scenes ,which are also interesting, because although Kenshin has decided to give up killing, he still carries a sword, but its a a reverse katana, with the killing edge on the wrong side. He can swing it expertly, but it takes a conscious effort to use it to kill, which he has promised his love interest he would never do again, and opens up some interesting dialogues about pacifism, and to what purpose violence is used.
But mostly, its just a lot of really exhilarating sword fights. I loved watching the fight scenes, especially Kenshin’s fighting style, which is fast, and inventive. Because he’s not actually trying to kill many of his opponents, but they have no problem taking his life, the fights never get boring, and if that’s what you’re looking for in a martial arts film, then check out the entire trilogy.
At least two of these movies are available on YouTube, and there wasn’t any English translation for the one I watched. So not having it be dubbed or subbed, made me deeply curious about the conversations the characters are having with each other, during the fight scenes, where they often pause in their sword swinging, to exchange words. When I finally got to see the translated versions, it turned out that those conversations were completely unimportant, and that most of the deeper philosophical discussions, take place during character monologues.
Attack on Titan
Wow! These movies were awesome, emotionally draining, and very energetic. There are few slow moments in them, and not much of either movie’s time is wasted.
Once again, I’ve only read a couple of the books, one of which was an anthology. I’ve never watched any of the anime, and I have only a passing idea what all this is about, from watching some of the most terrifying trailers I’ve ever seen, and people talking about it on Tumblr. I don’t know how close the plot of this movie, and its direct sequel, is to the original manga. The basic plotline is the same though.
Humanity lives in walled cities, to protect themselves from massive, (once human), beings, that have a nasty habit of eating the smaller versions. The movie is pretty graphic about this. There’s a lot of body horror, as people are grabbed, eaten, squeezed, pulled apart, stepped on, and otherwise massacred, by these giant gluttonous monsters. There’s also a certain amount of body horror with the monsters too. They are humanoid creatures with disfigured faces, and bodies, who are always eagerly smiling.
It’s interesting that one of the tropes of Japanese Horror films is the grinning monster, with probably the only American equivalent to this being evil clowns, and Japan does not have that trope. I personally find grinning, (non-human), monsters pretty horrible too, but I don’t see as much of that in American horror, but then Americans tend to be much more emotionally open in public, too. I suppose, in a society where privacy, reserve, (and melancholy), is encouraged, someone walking around with a massive cheerful grin would immediately mark themselves as other than normal, possibly even monstrous, and certainly untrustworthy. Its not that Japanese people can’t be zany, or don’t have emotions, its just that in the interest of personal privacy, they try to keep it themselves, a close circle of friends, or on TV shows.
There’s also a group of soldiers, and volunteers who create a new method for killing the Titans, that requires them to engage in a little too up close and personal manner, as the Titans are nearly impossible to kill, in any normal fashion. There is a lot of dismemberment, and eating, of the brave soldiers. We follow their adventures, and interactions, although I did find myself not caring too deeply about them, because I don’t feel that the focus here was on character development. It’s not that I didn’t feel anything for the characters, so much as their relationships with each other were sort of underwhelmng, next to the horror of what was happening to them. I was also irritated with them, as there are a lot of images of them just standing about and staring, as the Titans do stuff. I kept yelling at my TV because the humans simply were not taking adequate precautions to save their own lives, like dodging, or running away. On the other hand, I do live in Tornado Alley, so I’m guessing that watching giant things move slowly across a landscape, is something that is universally hypnotic.
In the first movie, the humans are living peacefully, the idea of the Titans is long ago and far away, until a brand new Titan shows up, that is significantly larger and stronger than any Titan seen before it. It turns out that the Titans do have some residual intelligence, as they have deployed this new guy to break down the walls, so they can just walk in and feast, and the humans are just not ready for any of it. In the second film, the people rally, and with the help of a half human/half Titan, and even a little bit of martial arts, (because that is a requirement for all Asian action movies), they manage to defeat them, or at least make them go back wherever they came from.
There’s a lot of nudity, because naturally the Titans don’t wear clothes, and lots of bloody and disgusting things happen to the human body, so be warned. You kind of have to be in a certain mood to watch it.
What I was expecting when I saw the trailer for this was a wacky, Japanese romp with superpowers,. To be fair, the trailer I saw didn’t have captions, and I might not have been paying as close attention as I should have been, but the trailer does mostly focus on all the action scenes. This movie is not a comedy. While its message was a bit heavy handed, and there were definitely some tears, I actually did enjoy this. It wasn’t what I expected, but I’ve learned, over the years, not to be angry at getting the unexpected in a story. I only get angry when I get LESS than what I expect, and I got a lovely and moving story of family dynamics, reparation of father /daughter relationships, and loneliness. Keep in mind that I hadn’t even read any of the Manga, if such exists, let alone seen any anime. I walked into this movie completely blind, except for having watched the trailer.
Inuyashiki is the story of an old man, (the title character), who is having a very bad day. He is a deeply lonely, and isolated man, who, one day, finds out that he is in the end stages of cancer, gets bullied at work, and then loses his job. He is emotionally distant from his wife, son, and daughter, and finds it impossible to tell them not just about his impending death, but his real feelings for them. His daughter is especially angry, because he has never shown her how much he cares about them, although this is stated as a lack of protection, since he kept telling them that the reason he worked so hard, and was never home, was to protect their future. I was starting to get really annoyed with how much of an asshole she was, until I realized there was a point to it.
Inuyashiki goes to the park one night, gets kidnapped by aliens, and in their efforts to cure him, (at least that’s what I think they may have been doing, because its never stated in the movie why the aliens did this), they turn him into a machine/cyborg, who is able to manifest machine parts, weapons, and even fly, possibly done through nanites. The very first thing he does with his powers, is heal a little boy, who is dying of cancer, at his hospital. This outlines the type of man he is, that the first thing he does after getting superpowers, is to save another life. These superpowers are yet another thing he cannot tell his family, but he does confide in one of his daughter’s classmates, who coaches him in how to use his new superpowers.
At the same time, another student, the close friend of Inuyashiki’s coach, whose name is Shishigami, is also kidnapped at the park, and turned into a robot of some kind. Both he and Inuyashiki were both in the same place emotionally. They were alone and depressed, and dealing with highly volatile issues. In Shishigami’s case, it is school bullying, and the death of his mother, from cancer. Shishigami does share knowledge of his new abilities with his best friend, but it says a lot about his character that he demonstrates his abilities by killing an innocent creature. Shishigami of course meant to go on as he started. he becomes first a murderer, and then a mass killer, with his superpowers allowing him to kill people through their phones and other video screens.
We have these two men, both of them undergoing uniquely personal tragedies, but their reactions are completely different. Inuyahsiki dedicates himself to saving lives, and Shishigami decides to do the opposite. Inuyahshiki is an old man, at the end of his life, so finds life more precious than Shishigami, who is young and angry at having been mistreated by his classmates, and can only think of revenge. Shishigami is unable to think of life as precious, viewing people as disposable, and this is how he treats most of his victims. The first time he kills people, its just a random family whose home he invaded. He is brutal, without mercy, and unnecessarily cruel. When he finds out his mother has cancer, he saves her life, but in his rage at the unfairness of it, he decides to kill more people. For Inuyashiki, all life is beautiful however, and he works hard not to kill Shishigami, understanding his pain, and viewing even his cruel existence as precious, and salvageable.
Needless to say, the two of them are on a collision course ,as Inuyashiki sets out to stop Shishigami from killing people, and the last third of the movie is taken up with their furious, and energetic, battling through the skies of the city of Tokyo, which is what you see in the trailer. Ultimately. during all this fighting, Inuyahsiki’s daughter’s life ends up in danger, and he gets plenty of opportunities to protect her from his nemesis. This results in her discovering her father’s superpowers, of course, and a reconciliation between them, as they both share this new thing that mom doesn’t know about.
I found the whole thing very touching, even if it was, as I said, a little heavy handed in its messaging. One of the interesting things about a lot of Japanese genre movies is that characters rarely exchange important information with each other. The dialogue between characters is often kept very simple and unremarkable, while most of the important things get said in monologues, with characters appearing to just talk to themselves in the middle of some important event. That’s something that, once you notice it, takes a little getting used to, but over all, I liked the movie, its message, and it was worth the time I spent watching it.
Ever since Barney Miller, I’ve had this thing about cop comedies, and I don’t know what that’s about. I won’t watch dramatic cop shows, and generally spurn mystery thriller cop shows, unless Black actors are the stars. From shows like Barney Miller, Reno 911, Brooklyn 99, and Monk, to movies like Beverly Hills Cop, Hot Fuzz, and Mall Cop, to The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, I’m noticing a trend. I’m attracted to laughing at, and with, cops. So Wellington Paranormal is right up my alley ,as it contains three of my favorite topics, the paranormal, and cops who are deeply funny.
Wellington Paranormal is a loose spinoff of the movie What We Do In The Shadows, about the adventures of four vampires living as flatmates in New Zealand. Its also the second spinoff from the movie, as the first one, a series with the same name, and basic setup, is set in America. In the movie, there’s a scene where the police get called to the vampire’s house, because the neighbors were concerned, when the vampires were engaging in some general domestic violence.
Wackily, this show is about the two cops who get called to the house, Officers Minoghe, and O’Leary (their actual real life names). If you have seen the movie, (and if you haven’t, you need to, even if you never watch either of the spinoffs), then the blithe obviousness of the two cops is the basic attitude of the show, as the two of them get conscripted by their boss, (Sgt. Maaka Pohatu), to deal with paranormal events and situations in the city of Wellington.
In the first season, they deal with such silliness as a body swapping demon (shoutout to The Exorcist), zombies, and werewolves, while giving each one of these issues about the same amount of portentous gravity, which means none at all. O’Leary and Minogue are the anti-Scully and Mulder of the detection world, and that is never not funny to me. The two of them find a way to make even the wildest, most batshit of circumstances, appear utterly mundane, which is where most of the humor comes from, but at least 20% of the humor comes from their interactions with each other, and their boss, who takes things way too seriously.
In the second season, they tackle a town full of alien clones of themselves, in a direct callback to The X-Files, a possessed car, a group of high school witches, in a shoutout to the Midwich Cuckoos, and some possessed cell phones. So yeah, the creator’s reference game is on point, and another nice gesture is that their boss gets a lot more airtime in the series. The closest comparison for some people will probably be Brooklyn 99, but its really not much like that. Its more of an X-Files parody, so if you liked that show, and would like to see it treated it with the level of silliness it deserved, then you will probably have to pirate it, as its not available in the US.
This is not a comprehensive list of movies released in the past ten years, that featured a Black cast, or had Black directors, or writers. This is just a list of movies, listed by year, that I thought were the most influential, that I actually watched, liked, or know other people really loved, for that particular year. There have been a lot more released than what’s on this list, but 2018 was a record year for the number of Black films released, and/or nominated for awards.
In my mind, the past ten years has been one of the Blackest decades in film, since the 90s, not just because of the number of movies released, but the quality of the films, and the attention and writing surrounding them, thanks to social media. Black Panther, and Get Out were probably two of the most written about Black films in cinema. There is an encyclopedic number of writings on these films, examining everything from the plot, themes, and characters, to wardrobe, and hairstyles. In fact, writing about Black films has almost become an industry in itself.
For Colored Girls – an adaptation of the book by Ntozake Shange, and written and directed by Tyler Perry.
*Book Of Eli – Denzel Washington stars as a blind man, traveling through an apocalyptic landscape, carrying precious cargo.
Lottery Ticket – Not one of my favorite films, since I’m not a huge fan of such broad humor, but it is a reminder that Black comedies, in the tradition of Friday, are alive and well.
*The Help – Again, this is not one of my favorites but I’m putting this movie here because it is often in attendance at conversations about the White Savior trope in movies.
Madea’s Big Happy Family – Madea is the only Tyler Perry character I can stand to watch, but it greatly appeals to people with a certain form of humor that I don’t particularly share, and it helped make Tyler Perry one of the wealthiest Black men in Hollywood.
*Beasts of the Southern Wild – The story about a little girl growing up in a dysfunctional family in Louisiana.
*Django Unchained – A cathartic fantasy Western starring Jamie Foxx.
12 Years A Slave – Oscar nominated film directed by Steve McQueen, and based on the autobiography by Solomon Northup.
*Belle – One of my favorite historical films, because historical films about Black women, that don’t prominently feature slavery, are kind of rare.
*After Earth – I’m one of the few people who actually loved this depiction of a Black father and son’s relationship, set in the far future.
Fruitvale Station – Ryan Coogler’s Oscar nominated film before Creed, based on the true story of the shooting of a young Black man in a NY subway station.
Dear White People – About a Black student who runs a radio program at a White college.
*Ride Along – An action film, in the vein of Bad Boys, starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.
*Selma – One of the first Oscar nominated films directed by a Black woman, Ava Duverney, and based on the true life story of MLK.
Beasts of No Nation – A movie starring Idris Elba about child soldiers in an unnamed African country.
*Creed – Ryan Coogler’s second film after Fruitvale Station starring Slyvester Stallone and Michael. B. Jordan.
Dope – The coming of age story of a Black boy in California
*Chocolate City – Black cinema’s answer to the male stripper movie, Magic Mike
Straight Outta Compton – The backstory of the Rap group N.W.A.
Fences – Based on the play of the same name, by August Wilson, and starring Denzel Washington, and Viola Davis
*Hidden Figures – Based on the real life stories of the Black women involved in the US Space program
*Magnificent Seven – A remake of the 1960 movie with the same name, and starrring Denzel Washington in a diverse cast.
*Moonlight – Oscar winning movie about the early life of a young gay Balck man in California.
Queen of Katwe – About a young female chess player in Uganda, starring Lupita Nyongo, and directed by Mira Nair
All Eyez On Me- The stardom story of the rap artist Tupac Shakur
*Get Out – Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is a horror movie about white racist bodysnatchers.
**Girls Trip – A comedy starring an all Black female cast, including Queen Latifah, and one of the top comedies of the year.
Marshall – A legal drama about Thurgood Marshall, directed by Reginald Hudlin
*Sleight – A superhero origin story of a young Black man who builds a device which gives him magnetic powers.
BlackKlansman – Award nominated film by Spike Lee about a Black undercover agent infiltrating the KKK.
*Black Panther – Award nominated superhero movie about the King of a fictional African country called Wakanda, and part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
**First Purge – The fourth film in The Purge franchise, focusing on the original purpose of The Purge, and set in a Black neighborhood.
The Hate U Give – A drama based on the book by Angie Thomas, about a young girl dealing with the aftermath of witnessing the police shooting of her friend.
If Beale Street Could Talk – Based on the book by James Baldwin, a young woman is under pressure to prove her lover’s innocence before the birth of their child.
*Sorry to Bother You – Award nominated film about a telemarketer who discovers he has magical voice powers.
*Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse – Oscar winning animated film about the Afro-Latino Spiderman, Miles Morales.
Widows – An action thriller staring Viola Davis. A group of widows pick up where their husbands left off after they get killed in a bank heist.
*A Wrinkle In Time – A film based on the young adult novel by Madleine L’engle, and directed by Ava Duverney.
*Us – Jordan Peele’s second horror movie, about a family terrorized by a group of doppelgangers, while vacationing with friends.
21 Bridges – A cop thriller starring Chadwick Boseman.
**Black and Blue – A Black female cop witnesses a murder by her fellow officers, who along with a neighborhood gang, set after her in pursuit, before she can become an informant.
*Fast Color – About three generations of Black women, with super abilities, who have a family reckoning, after one of them becomes a person of interest to the American government.
*Dolemite is My Name – an award nominated biographical comedy about the Blaxploitation director Rudy Ray Moore, starring Eddie Murphy.
Harriet – The semi-biographical story of Harriet Tubman
*Little – A comedy about a mean Black woman who wakes up one morning as a little girl. The movie has an all female cast, and was produced by the 14 year old Marsai Martin.
Queen and Slim – A young Black couple goes on the run, becoming folk heroes, after they kill a police officer who threatened their lives.
The past ten years was seemingly a record for the number of movies released that had Black casts, contained Black themes, or had Black writers and directors, which reached mainstream audiences, or won critical acclaim. Of all the films I listed, twenty of them were either nominated, or won, mainstream awards.
These movies were also rich in their variety, and I have to give credit for that. We have a full roster of comedies, superhero movies, thrillers, and even horror, and I hope this is a trend that continues. It’s not just that we need more films with Black artists, we also need more variety in the films that get made, instead of an emphasis on only crime or historical misery.
Forthcoming in 2020:
**Antebellum – A historical genre bending mystery starring Janelle Monae
Bad Boys For Life – Action movie sequel starring Will Smith
**Tenet – Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending mystery thriller starring John David Washington
**Respect – An Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson
Soul – Animated film from Pixar, about a Black jazz player navigating the afterlife
Coming 2 America – Sequel to the 90s comedy starring Eddie Murphy
**Candyman – A remake of the original 90s classic, directed by Jordan Peele
Trial of the Chicago Seven
**No Time To Die – Starring one of the first Back female agents in the franchise who takes over the 007 title.May be Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond.
**Bloodshot – an action sci-fi thriller starring Vin Diesel
The Lovebirds – A romantic comedy thriller starring Issa Rae.
A meme is a virally-transmitted photograph that is embellished with text that pokes fun at a cultural symbol or social idea. The majority of modern memes are captioned photos that are intended to be funny, often as a way to publicly ridicule human behavior. Other memes can be videos and verbal expressions.
I spend a lot of time on Tumblr, which, much like Twitter, is meme central. Here’s a list of some of my all time favorite memes from the past ten years. I generally do not have a strong meme game, but I try.
I love this one because this perfectly describes me and my mother’s relationship, when it comes to me talking about things like superheroes, and some of the movies I like. Of course, that’s me, on the right, when Mom is enthusiastically describing whatever happened on her soap operas that day…
I’ve seen this meme all over Tumblr, and quite frankly, it describes a lot of people’s relationships with any one of their enthusiastically geeky family members. You just know that poor woman has no idea what the hell that girl is crying about, just like I have no idea of this meme’s origin story.
This is one of the many faces you simply cannot get away with making at your White co-workers because you will probably get written up or something. You can only do this face, when you’re discussing whatever nonsense you endured, to your Black friends, at some later date.
Here’s the thing, I have no idea what show this is from. I think it might be Parks & Rec, or The Office, but I’m not sure. I only know this guy’s face from this meme becasue I never watched either show. Its like that sometimes on Tumblr. I only know what has happened on a show I don’t watch through the gifs that appear on my dash.
Sometimes I do know a memes origins, and that’s why this is one of my favorites.This is from Quinta B’s short lived video series, about being an awkward Black girl, titled “Don’t Tell Me To Relax”. Quinta B is currently starring in The Black Lady Sketch Show on HBO, and she is one of the funniest Black women in comedy.
I love this image because her facial expression is absolutely perfect. That is the expression you wear when you know you’re right, the other person has acknowledged that you are right, and you want to just be a smug asshole…
…or this is twelve year old me winning a game of Uno!
This is Linnethia Monique “NeNe” Leakes from the show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, which I have never watched. I only know her from her gifs and memes. In fact, I never did find out what she “said” she said, but Nene is the meme of every emphatically correct Black woman on the internet. “Don’t explain back to me what I just said. I know what I said!”
This one is called calculating woman. I have no idea where this is from, so I probably could use this meme, to explain my confusion, about who the hell this woman is.
I do know why I find this one funny.This is the look Black people wear when seeing White people do something inexplicable, like walking on the sidewalk in their bare feet.
I know these are two separate memes, but I have only ever seen the two of them paired together. I only like this because my mind is very literal when it comes to this set of images, although its pretty much used everywhere on Tumblr. I would be outraged if a smug little cat sat itself down at my dinner table, too. I also know that any cat would be completely unperturbed by me screaming at them.
The woman in this meme spoke about what it was like to actually become a meme. She says that although how its been used is pretty funny, it wasn’t about her squinting incredulously at anything. She said she made that face because, before this pose, she’d been in a kneeling position, and when she stood up, her knees hurt!
Either way, I can understand both of those moods.
I’ve only ever seen both these memes used in conjunction with people complaining about colonizing, or appropriation. They’re both so very different, but are almost always used to mean the same thing, often used in conjunction with the term Wypipo!
I wouldn’t call myself a film comedy fan, whatever that means, (although I have and will, watch plenty of TV comedies), nevertheless, I have watched a large number of them in the past four decades. Some of them have been more impressive than others, and by impressive I mean that I actually laughed at them, or watched them multiple times, “… and it keeps getting funnier, every single time I see it!!!”
I have a strange relationship with humor. I don’t often find funny what other people find to be funny, is much so, that I used to think something was wrong with me (but it turns out I’m, most likely, somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum). I’m often unimpressed with the kinds of movies other people think are hilarious. I’ve been told, from time to time, that I’m pretty funny myself, and while I like to say silly things to strangers to break the ice, I don’t really think of myself as a particularly funny person.
I have noticed a pattern to what I find funny. My sense of humor is tends to be childlike, just straight up silliness, solely for its own sake, and the movie usually has to be mixed with some other genre. Of all the movies on this list, The Nutty Professor is the probably the only movie which I would say was made solely for comedy’s sake, as its really not mixed with some other genre, (maybe sci-fi, since it’s a parody of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and yeah, I am including the 1963 Jerry Lewis’ version. But most of these are Western, or Horror, or SciFi Comedy.
So here, in no particular order, are just some of my favorite comedies. I have several more favorites that, for whatever reason, didn’t make it onto this list, but hey, I can always so another post, right?
There is no such thing as the comedy to end all comedies, but if there were, Galaxy Quest would be the parody to end all SciFi parodies. After this movie got made, no more need be said on the subject.
I absolutely love the fuck out of this movie, taking every opportunity to watch it when it airs on TV, and here are only five of the reasons why:
Its a Star Trek parody, and I am an Old School Star Trek fan. Name a character, or play some music from the original series, and I can tell you the title and plot! I wanted to be Lt. Uhura when I was a little girl, and I would of course, marry Spock!
2. Sigourney Weaver, the queen of my other favorite movie franchise, Alien. Sigourney gets nearly every great line in this movie, and is only rivaled in the amount of great lines she gets by:
3. Sam Rockwell, as Guy Fleegman, a redshirt nobody who is convinced that because his character has no last name, and is the head of security, that he is going to die on whatever adventure they are having.
4. This movie contains one of my all-time, favorite, movie tropes, featured in films like The Three Amigos, Tropic Thunder, and A Bug’s Life, where a group of actors mistake a plea for help, from some unsophisticated victims, to be a request to do a show. The actors sign up to do a show, which turns out to be the real thing, and they have to now become actual heroes. This plot trope is also a parody based on The Magnificent Seven, and The Seven Samurai.
5. Alan Rickman’s Dr. Lazarus, who is a loose parody of a conflation of the character, Spock, and any number of Shakespearean English actors, like Patrick Stewart, whose makeup becomes more, and more disheveled, the further we get into the movie, until its time to say that one line of dialogue that he absolutely hates, (but for real this time), during which his makeup becomes perfect.
Its not that Tim Allen’s character isn’t funny. He has his moments, but he is also the only character willing to take everything seriously, while all the other characters are like: WTF?!!! Especially Tony Shalhoub’s character, Fred Kwan, who I think, spends the entire movie high as a f*cking kite, and still manages, somehow, to keep his game on point, and get the girl. I don’t think he actually believes that any of the shit that’s happening is real, and is able to just totally roll with whatever happens, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s probably a great way to get through most of the world’s minor tribulations.
One day, I have to do an entire post on this film, talk about why I love this so much, what tropes the film is parodying, the whole thing.
Before, Raising Arizona, I was not much of a movie comedy person. I watched most comedies on TV, and that was where I stayed. I grew up watching the Three Stooges,, The Little Rascals, and Looney Tunes, and moved on to more adult comedies like Mary Tyler Moore, Barney Miller, and WKRP in Cincinnati, and comedians like Robin Williams from Mork and MIndy, or George Carlin, and Jonathan Winters, especially if they showed up on the late night TV shows I wasn’t supposed to be up watching. Sometimes I would watch a Scifi comedy, or a Horror comedy, but I didn’t often watch comedic movies that were just whatever they were.
I mentioned in an earlier post how this movie came to resonate with me, and played a big part in my memories of college life. Everything about this movie strikes my funny bone, from Hi and his friend’s highfalutin’ manner of speaking, despite that all of them are lowlifes, to the plot, the music, and cartoonish action scenes. This is the only movie I will watch, (besides, Ravenous, and Mars Attacks!), that prominently features yodeling.
My favorite scene in the entire movie is Tucker being chased by bees, while wielding a chainsaw. I just lose it every single time, and you have to watch the movie, just to put that scene in context. This movie is utterly ridiculous and knows it.
Best in Show
The great thing about this movie, isn’t the situation, although I do like Dog Shows, its the complete silliness of the characters. The Director is none other than the maker of This is Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest, an alumni from Saturday Night Live, who wrote the script with Eugene Levy, who has become another favorite of mine. They specialize in the kind of smug, off brand, humor that a relies on subtly, weird characters, and puns, and which is often called pretentious.
These are not laugh out loud, guffawing type movies. The humor goes much deeper than that, to tickle waaay down in your stomach. The characters are not necessarily doing obviously funny things, there is little slapstick, and most of the humor relies on dialogue. In some cases, you are actually laughing at the characters, while others you laugh with, and this is some exceptional writing, when you can have multiple characters like this in the same movie. But what I love the most about this movie is no matter how funny the character’s are, none of it is mean spirited. Guest loves his characters, and doesn’t humiliate them, just for the enjoyment of it. They are always either clueless, or hapless, people who mean well, but just, for whatever reason, can’t.
The movie follows three different couples as they navigate their way through a dog show. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara play John and Cookie Fleck, a lower middle class couple, the owners of a Norwich Terrrier, who are out of their league at such a prestigious event as the American Kennel Club Dog Show. Cookie has a sordid past as the town futon, who is constantly running into old lovers, while Eugene is her hapless, two left-footed, husband.
Meg and Hamilton Swan are a pretentious, and neurotic, yuppie couple, who you are probably meant to laugh at, as they wax nostalgic about meeting each other at competing Starbucks, and freak out over their completely unperturbed Wiemeraner. Scott and Stephan are a gay couple, who are the charming, funny, and the gracious, highlight of the movie, and the sweetly pretentious dogfathers of a pair of tiny Shih Tzus.
The singletons are Mrs. Cabot, a trophy wife, who has an interesting relationship with Christy Cummings, played by Jane Lynch, as a famous, over-competitive dog trainer of a poodle. And Christopher Guest himself rounds out the cast as an overly hopeful Basset Hound owner, who is totally out of his comfort zone, named Harlan Pepper. The most silly character in the film is the Dog Show announcer who embarrasses his fellow announcer by making dumb, loud, and off-color jokes.
All of the characters are deepened with interesting side stories, and little quirks of personality that make them more likable than annoying. Guest is the type of humorist who doesn’t try to be edgy, or shocking, to the viewer. You can tell he likes these characters, even the Swans. He’s not trying to humiliate them just for shits and giggles, and most of them get positive, if not happy, endings. This is also one of my favorite movies about dogs.
(Yes, we have two dogs in the house, our dignified elder statesman, Sargent, a Rat Terrier, who has a bobbed tail. I like to call him Capt. Wiggle-Bottom, and our smalle, and faster, back up model, named Rusty, a redheaded Yorkie, I like to refer to as The Squeaker, and however you just pictured them, is exactly how they behave.)
Okay, I know that I am probably not supposed to find this movie as funny as I do, filled as it is with Blackface, Black stereotypes, Asian stereotypes, Jewish stereotypes, and its use of the R word, but I just cannot help myself. I just love this movie, and that is due almost entirely to Robert Downey Jr’s character, a White Australian actor, who spends the entire movie masquerading as a Black man, while working next to an actual Black man, and lecturing another White man on how that man went too far in portraying a marginalized character. I think what’s really the movie’s saving grace for me, is the ACTUAL Black man, played by Brandon Jackson, who calls Downey’s character out at every opportunity. The people who made this film knew that everything they were doing was wrong, and still went there with it!
Tropic Thunder is meant to be a satire on war movies, and actor’s careers. Jeff Portnoy is meant to poke fun at Eddie Murphy. The makeup artist for this film, Rick Baker, also did the makeup for Murphy’s Nutty Professor movies. Tug Speedman is a play on Tom Cruise, who also has a cameo in the movie, (and almost steals the whole damn thing, even when you don’t recognize him!), and Robert Downey’s character, named Kirk Lazarus, was a statement about Australian and British actors who make it big in Hollywood, by playing chameleon-like roles.
As the film progresses, and the events that were only being faked on a movie set before, become more and more real, Lazarus’ makeup starts to wear off, and you can see his real face, as he becomes a White man, with an incongruous, 70’s Blaxploitation accent. I remember when I first saw the trailer, I kept looking for Downey,, because I was told he was in it, and not finding him. It wasn’t until after the movie’s release that I realized I’d been looking at him the entire time. His makeup is so incredibly convincing that he looked like my late uncle, something which struck me as incredibly funny. Even after knowing it was Downey, I still kept seeing my uncle, (probably because he says a number of things that are exactly how my uncle would have reacted, under the same circumstances).
Some of my favorite moments aren’t even in the movie, like the DVD commentary, where Downey does a ridiculous Blaccent, the entire time, because as Kirk Lazarus states, he doesn’t break character until the DVD commentary. It is hands down one of THE funniest DVD commentaries I’ve ever listened to, as Jack Black is a natural born cusser, and, very probably, drunk during the whole thing.
The Nutty Professor (1963)
This is the original movie on which Eddie Murphy’s 1996 version was based. This is the one I grew up watching, along with a bunch of other Jerry Lewis films. It does differ significantly from the remake, but the basic plot is the same, a kindhearted, nebbishy, teacher transforms himself into the ultimate masculine man, to attract the attention of the beautiful woman he has a crush on. But the differences are interesting too, and not just the race of the characters. The original film is also a musical with a number of setpieces written by Walter Scharf, and performed by Jerry Lewis himself.
Jerry Lewis plays Julius Kelp, a nerdy, science teacher ,who has fallen in love with one of his students, Stella Purdy, who is played by the lovely Stella Stevens. To win her love he transforms himself with a potion, (ala Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) into an obnoxious character, named Buddy Love. Just as in the remake though, the potion doesn’t last, and his true self gets revealed for all to see.
From the opening scene, to the final act, the movie is filled with a lot of great physical comedy, but the highlight of the movie, at least for me, were the two musical performances by Lewis, and performed with maximum chill, called Old Black Magic, and my personal favorite, We’ve Got A World That Swings. But the movie is filled with some great little character moments, like the one below, where Dr. Kelp gets carried away by the song being performed by Les Brown’s Band of Reknown. He is truly among the world’s worst dancers! The dialogue is smooth and funny, with Kelp and Buddy as very distinct characters. The most popular moment, for most viewers, is the introduction of Buddy Love, but Stella also gets her due, and her man. She may not be the star of the film, but she is always treated with respect, by the writers, and the other characters.
The Nutty Professor (1996)
The best comedies don’t just make you laugh while watching them, they make you laugh while thinking about them later. The 1996 Nutty Professor is a remake of the 1963 version of the Jerry Lewis film, only instead of a nerd scientist, made cool by chemistry, you get an obese man, turned into Eddie Murphy, at his most obnoxious, through the use of chemicals. The remake makes more evident, what the original only sort of played around with, that Buddy Love is a horrible person, who is not meant to be admired. This is done by contrasting him against Sherman’s sweet and gentle nature, as they both pursue a romance with the beautiful Miss Purdy, played by Jada Pinkett.
I think most people who love this movie will agree, that the dining scene, which happens somewhere in the middle of this movie and illustrates both the love and shame that Sherman feels about his over sized family, is without a doubt, one of the funniest scenes ever. Eddie Murphy plays four different characters who all interact with one another, but its his Grandma who gets all the best lines, that people are still repeating to each other, over twenty years later. Even my mother loves this movie, and is just the right age, (apporaching 70), to get away with telling someone, “C’mon Cletus!”, while shaking her cane at people, and have that shit be funny as hell!
The Blues Brothers
Here’s another comedy that’s also a musical. I was a big fan of John Belushi, mostly for his SNL parodies of Toshiro Mifune’s character from Seven Samurai, called Samurai Delicatessen, Samurai Stockbroker, Samurai TV Repairman, Samurai Night Fever, and Samurai Hotel, bearing in mind that, at that age, I had never seen Seven Samurai.
I was not a huge fan of Dan Ackroyd, but I was willing to tolerate him, for the sake of John, and in a delightful surprise, Aretha Franklin, performing Think, and Ray Charles, performing, Shake A Tail-feather. The movie has never struck me as especially deep. It doesn’t seem like its trying to make a point, and its not really all that laugh out loud funny, but what it is, is pure, goofy fun because Jake and Elwood are the best possible brothers.
Evil Dead II
I remember watching the first movie a little while before I went to see this sequel. I remember I was not particularly impressed with the first film. I remember seeing this one at a theater downtown on a double bill with Robocop. I do remember those as some very enjoyable hours.
In hindsight, I cannot imagine why I was against seeing Raising Arizona, when I was in college, because that movie has some of the same ridiculous type of humor as this one, and I thought, (heck, I still do), that this is one of the funniest horror movies I’ve ever seen.
Have you ever watched anything so over the top, ridiculously stupid, that you have no choice but to laugh at it? That pretty much describes this entire film, from the image of a rotting corpse, dancing with its own severed head, to a demon possessed hand, that’s trying to kill its owner, Sam Raimi just gave full vent to his silliness, for which I will always respect that man. The movie cemented my love for Bruce Campbell, whose career I’ve been following ever since.
This is another one of those movies, that is just so over the top ridiculous, that its hard not to like it. I love both Looney Toons, and martial arts films, and this movie is the perfect mashup.
Blazing Saddles – This is the scene, that caught me, right here:
The Birdcage – One of the thee funniest movies Robin Williams ever made, and what’s so hilarious about that is, he was the straight man in this duo, while Nathan Lane got all the best lines:
A Bug’s Life – I love the bloopers and outtakes scenes at the ends of the early Pixar movies. The creators didn’t have to do that, and I love that the writers went a little out of their way. But my favorite line in the entire film is in the bar scene: “Waiter, I’m in my soup!”
What We Do In the Shadows – Who hasn’t Wanted to finish some “dark bidding” on Ebay?
These are the reviews from things I watched in October and November. I will try to make these as short as possible, but y’all know I’m good at blabbing about TV shows, so wish me luck with that.
Dolemite is My Name
I was kinda excited about seeing this, nevertheless i was surprised by how much I liked this movie, and I can think of no better actor to play Rudy Ray Moore than Eddie Murphy, a comedian I have always had tremendous respect for, and who really doesn’t get enough credit for all the work he’s done, in the past 30 years.
Now, I have to give a little bit of background here. I grew up in the time period in which this movie is set. I would have been 2 maybe three years old at the beginning of the movie, but I have very distinct memories of grownups being really excited about Moore, and Yes, I did encounter a couple of those racy album covers in my mom’s collection, but I don’t think she knows I remember she was a Rudy Ray Moore fan.
I have a very clear memory of mom, and her then boyfriend, taking us to the Drive-in to watch The Human Tornado, which came out in 1975, and was a sequel to Dolemite. I would have been five, and my brothers would have been 3 and 4. She would have had the assurance that, since we were babies, we would all be asleep by the opening credits. I don’t think she knows I was wide awake No, I wasn’t scarred for life or anything, but I definitely remember parts of the movie, and even some it’s theme song. I know this is a genuine memory because I have never seen the movie as an adult.
Anyway, all this to say that this definitely brought back some memories. There are some things about Black culture that only Black people know. I’m gonna let y’all in on a little secret.
Black people have our own stories, which seem to parallel stories from other cultures. Most of them you’ve probably never heard of, unless you grew up in the culture, or have parents of a certain age, like my Mom. My mom used to tell us stories about the Signifyin’ Monkey, the lion, and the elephant, (only without all the cursing, and never the whole story, since its fairly raunchy.) Probably not the sort of things one would tell one’s kids today, but things were different back, then, and my Mom was kinda weird. It has a pretty long history, too. If you have ever read American Gods, Anansi tells a story that is directly based on the folklore tale , titled How the Monkey Got the Tiger’s Balls:
Numerous songs and narratives concern the signifying monkey and his interactions with his friends, the Lion and the Elephant. In general, the stories depict the signifying monkey insulting the Lion, but claiming that he is only repeating the Elephant’s words. The Lion then confronts the Elephant, who physically assaults the Lion. The Lion later realizes that the Monkey has been signifyin(g) and has duped him and returns angrily to castrate the monkey, rendering him unable to reproduce.
The Signifyin’ Monkey is part of the Dolemite theme song. Since this is a Rudy Ray Moore biopic, there’s a lot of cursin’, and some mild nudity. Its not half as raunchy as the actual Moore, but I think he’d be satisfied with what was shown in this movie.
I also enjoyed it outside of the nostalgia factor. There’s a scene, in the early part of the movie, where Rudy encounters a plus size woman whom he recruits into his comedy troupe. This woman later became known as Queen Bee, who was every bit as raunchy in her style of comedy as Rudy. The story is arranged in such a way that you’re meant to cheer Rudy as a driven, hard working man, who triumphs against the small minds of others. Needless to say, most comedians probably couldn’t get away with most of the comedy routines, in this movie. The seventies featured a lot of new culture, that we take for granted now, and one of those things was raunchy Black comedians.
There were plenty of Black comedians before Rudy, who said some fairly racy stuff, but they mostly worked what was known then as The Chitlin’ Circuit, which were a collection of venues where only only Blacks could perform, since they still, even in the seventies, considered too raunchy to play in the mainstream (i.e. White ) circuits. Rudy was one of the first of these type of comedians to go (sort of) mainstream, in that even White people heard about him, although he still would never have been invited on The Johnny Carson Show. So, the movie is one of those low key inspirational films, about overcoming racism in Hollywood. The first half of the movie is very caught up in people telling Rudy “no” , telling him what he can’t do, or making fun of him for wanting certain things, and Rudy going off to do those things anyway.
I have since learned that Eddie Murphy has received a Golden Globe nomination for this role. but I don’t think he will win. He does some great work here, but its not the best work he’s done, and really, I thought it was a walk in the park for him. He can play this type of role in his sleep. But I did enjoy watching him, because his charm makes the occasionally cringey plot, very watchable.
I am loving The Mandolorian, and not just for the Baby Yoda scenes. (No, that isn’t actually Yoda, but some distant descendant, since this series is set after Return of the Jedi.) This series is full of some of the classic themes we expect from Star Wars. George Lucas has said the original Star Wars was based on the works of Japanese film Director Akira Kurosawa, most specifically, Seven Smaurai, and you can see some of the influence here.
In fact the series heavily reminds me of the Japanese Manga called Lone Wolf and Cub, in which an itinerant samurai, a ronin, wanders the Japanese landscape, with his tiny son, searching for vengeance, and getting into various adventures. The only differences between that, and The Mandolorian, is the son doesn’t have force powers, isn’t on anybody’s wanted list, and isn’t half as cute as Baby Yoda. The show takes care to focus on the relationship between Mando and Baby Yoda, too. There are a lot of really cute moments between them, and the public seem to have really taken a shine to the little guy, much the same as his adoptive Dad.
Its also a classic story about a character’s personal growth. Mando starts out as a bounty hunter, who is just there for the work, so he can buy some new armor, but makes the decision to take the baby and run, rather than deliver him/her to his clients. There are larger mysteries which haven’t been answered yet, like who exactly is the Mandolorian, why does everyone want the baby, and where did this baby come from.
The production values, the costumes, acting, and special effects, are all top notch. It really does have the look and feel of one of the movies, which makes it very easy to watch, although this luxury comes at the expense of the episode running times, which never get beyond 45 minutes. I can live with that, especially since the action scenes are the highlight of the series. In one of the earlier episodes, there is a full on fight between a team of Mandolorians and the various ne’er do wells, and criminals, on the planet on which they’ve all been hiding out. When CG is used, its mostly for the creatures, and action scenes, and is largely invisible, as its supposed to be.
War of the Worlds – BBC Version
There have been umpteen different versions of this show. A book, a radio program that, as it is rumored, gave some people the shits back in the thirties, as they thought it was real, several movies from the fifties to the nineties, one of which starred Tom Cruise, another TV show, and now this.
Its a three part miniseries from the BBC, and so far I’m really liking it. Its got some nice production values. You can see where the money went in this one. The special effects are well done, and not that usual cheap TV stuff you sometimes get in big idea shows, and the show, quite frankly, looks gorgeous. The acting is acceptable, although the only actor I truly recognize is Robert Carlisle.
And this show is not fucking around with its theme. H.G.Wells wrote the novel as a reaction to the British annexation of the Congo, and the atrocities that were being committed during the colonization of India. He wrote a book about the violent colonization of England by a superior technological force, as a condemnation of the British Empire’s activities, and the show makes this connection loud and clear, right in the opening credits. In the first fifteen minutes of the show, you hear characters having conversations about the might of the British Empire, and how wonderful it is to live in such a powerful country. By the end of the first episode though, the Martians have shut that talk down.
There’s also some melodrama involving the two stars of the show, Rafe Spall, the brother of Timothy Spall, as a fellow named George, and Eleanor Tomlinson as his paramour, Amy. The two are madly in love, but cannot be together, because George’s wife refuses to divorce him, She hates him, and wants to remain married to him just to spite him. The family is scandalized, his older brother, is outraged, and the the rest of the community don’t know how to think of this thing, where the two of them are living together, unmarried. Plus Amy is pregnant.
I was not initially interested in the melodramatic aspect of the show, but the show does this thing, where it flashes back and forth to the future, after the alien invasion has been conquered, but the Earth is a literal hot mess, because the aliens weren’t just there to invade, they were terrraforming. Amy is wandering through the red deserts of what used to be England, with her young son. She has been separated from George for a long time, but still holds out hope of finding him. I didn’t care, at first, but I decided that I liked the characters. At least, I liked Amy, and that seems to be enough for me to start to care the rest of it.
The show opens with her and George witnessing the launch of the ships from Mars. Its a little different from the movies, because the ships look like meteors as they land, and that’s hat people think they are. They look like black globes that float off the ground, and are capable of setting people on fire from a distance. The tripods break out of the ground after the globes explode, and start their rampage, although the tripods aren’t so much interested in annihilating people, as they seem to be in seeding the planet with various gasses and chemicals. Like I said, this is not an invasion, exactly. They are transforming Earth into another version of Mars, and if you look at the flash forwards, their mission seems successful.
I did have some criticism about characters doing stupid things, but this is only because this is one of those situations where the audience knows more about what’s going to happen than the characters do, so there were a lot of instances where people are standing around looking at things, while I yell things like ,” Get the fuck out of there!!!!’, and, “Run!” There are various government officials who act like the mayor from Jaws, and simply bluster uselessly at the reports they’re getting from other parts of the country, about the annihilation of entire towns, even though the city is filling up with refugees from those areas. The British are so full of themselves about the initial events, that I have to admit, it was a bit satisfying watching them get their asses handed to them by the Martians, which point the show is trying to make. Basically, the show is saying that the British “ain’t all that!”
There are lots of closeups of boiling ant colonies, along with images of English people living their best lives, not unlike the ants, walking the streets of their mighty London, and looking quite busy, and the tripods themselves look very insect like, such that there is a connection being made between the idea of invasive species, and the colonizing aliens, and that what is being done to England by the Martians, England is currently doing to other countries, and been quite proud of themselves for it. We know the English are proud of their activities, but we don’t get any idea how the aliens feel, though. There are scenes where people touch the black globes that have dropped to Earth, and see smeary lingering images of their hands and faces, in the glossy sheen of the alien device, in a very, “We have met the alien, and they is us.” type moment. So yeah, the show ain’t being coy regarding its critique of British empiricism.
The setting for the various iterations is England, at the height of the British Empire, when it was engaged in the violent colonization of different countries. The English were largely brought low after WW2, (look up London Blitz), so its interesting that the first American version showed up in the fifties, (1953), when America, having won some victories during the war, (and starting to feel itself to be the shit) began engaging in its own world dominance behavior. (Before the War, America pursued an isolationist stance.) The 1953 version, (and subsequent invasion movies, like Strange Invaders, and Independence Day), were not about the humbling of America, so much as they were America conquering some great enemy, against all odds.. The 2005 version is a response to 9/11, where its made clear that the alien invasion is a stand-in for the terrorists, and America doesn’t triumph, so much as get lucky.
Not all alien invasion movies are violent. Some of them are enlightening, like 2001, and/or hopeful, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This series is in the truest spirit of the book, however, which was a rebuke to British hubris.
Once they were analogies of the Cold War or Vietnam. Sometimes the underlying theme is corporate greed, environmental destruction or fears of technology supplanting humans. The movies feed on public fear of enemies from abroad, which in today’s world, he said, could even include mortgage bankers.