Hi! Have Some Mini Reviews

Attack of the Killer Donuts

Yep! Its attack of the Killer Donuts. I was eager to watch this the moment I heard about it, but didn’t know where I’d be able watch it. I thought maybe it would take at least a year for it to reach the Syfy channel, maybe. Its actually on a library app called Hoopla. (If you have a library card, and your library subscribes to Hoopla, you should be able to access free books, movies, comic books and music.)

Yes, this movie is exactly as stupid as it sounds, carrying on in the grand tradition of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and stars our boy, Ponyboy,  I mean C. Thomas Howell, yucking it up, as a cop who naturally, loves donuts. I’d list the other actors in this movie, but you still wouldn’t know who they were. It’s an entire cast of nobodies, who will never be anybodies, because that’s just how atrocious their acting is.

It’s hard to make a parody of a parody, but this movie actually  manages to successfully spoof Killer Tomatoes. Johnny is a hapless loser, whose blonde bombshell girlfriend cheats on him, and who doesn’t recognize that  his childhood friend, Michelle, has been totally crushing on him. He lives with his Mom, while his uncle lives in the basement and does weird medical experiments on rats. Also, his Mom is secretly sleeping with his nerdy best friend, Howard. Johnny works in a local donut shop that’s been going out of business for years because the town is nearly dead.

Image result for killer donuts gifs

 

Michelle is a techinical genius, who fixes computers, in her spare time. Unfortunately, her shiftless, dumbbell brother takes all the credit, and refuses to pay her for it. Michelle has been crushing on Johnny since they were little kids, and I totally bought into their relationship. The actress is good  enough, and there’s just enough backstory, to be able to sell her friendship with Johnny. Why does she love him, especially since she’s the smartest person in town? Because it’s in the script.

When Johnny’s uncle’s weird resurrection experiment manages to contaminate some donuts, the infection soon spreads to the rest of the shop, where the donuts come alive, sprout giant teeth, and decide to chew their way through the town’s inhabitants. Do not stop to ask yourself pertinent questions like: Where did they grow those teeth from? How are they moving around without legs?  Where is all the flesh they’re eating going to if they don’t have stomachs? And do the donuts produce poop? Never mind all this! Just enjoy the sheer goofiness of watching crullers, twists, and creme filled long johns, flying through the air, and trying ot bite people.

Image result for killer donuts gifs

 

I got a real kick out of this movie, though. It’s not very deep and I got a few hearty laughs out of it. The characters are definitely meant to be mocked and ridiculed. The three smartest people in the cast are Michelle, Howard, and Johnny ,who manage to fight off the donuts, and prevent possible donut Armageddon, by beating back the donuts using a combination of bravery and batlike objects, and blowing up the donut shop. The body count is pretty  low, but only because the movie doesn’t have a large enough budget to star more than ten to twelve people anyway.

The characters who are meant to be liked are likable, and you root for them to survive. The characters who are meant to be hated, are hatefully over the top, and you gleefully hope the donuts will eat them, like Johnny’s asshole boss, who allows Michelle to be bullied and sexually harassed by some dudebro customers, and Johnny’s faux-girlfriend, who is only with him because he keeps giving her money. Michelle is waaay too pretty and smart for Johnny, but that’s also on purpose. Heroes in these movies are almost always outshone by their girlfriends.

The stars of the movie though, are the donuts who chase, bounce, jump, bite, and generally act like a pack of rabid weasels. Occasionally someone  eats one of the cursed donuts and they, in turn, become rabid, and attack people, too. These are some of the cheapest, funniest special effects, I’ve seen in a while and I loved it! You could do worse than spend a happy, mindless, 90 minutes with this movie.

 

Star Trek Discovery

Image result for star trek discovery

I re-subscribed to CBS All Access because they offered some kind of special to sign back up. Of course I’m sure they realize, that as soon as the first season of this show is over, I’m going to unsubscribe to this  channel, because there’s not a whole hell of a lot to offer on this network. I generally don’t watch CBS. (They don’t have especially interesting shows, there’s almost no diversity, and there’ aren’t a whole lot of movie choices, either.)

Well, I subscribed so I could watch the first half of the first season of Star Trek Discovery and I have to say. I’m hooked! It took about three days to get through the first 7 or 8 episodes and now I’m invested. Like a lot of shows that do so, it improved from the pilot episode, with the introduction of new characters and themes.

Image result for ash tyler gifs

The first two episodes don’t really give a lot of indication of what the show will be like the rest of the season, and by the 4th and 5th episodes the show has definitely developed its flavor, with a good balance of light heartedness, and seriousness. Michael Burnham’s character takes a real turn when her prison ship is diverted to the Discovery by Captain Lorca.

Michael isn’t well received on the ship. Most people either hate her or fear her, except for Lorca, and her roommate, Tilly, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. There’s also been the introduction of a love interest named Ash Tyler, played by the lovely Shazad Latif, who was rescued from a Klingon ship, suffers from PTSD, and may be a Klingon spy. I’m also really liking Anthony Rapp’s character, after I hated him in the first couple of episodes. Something happened to him that made him much more likable and approachable, without changing his essential nature.

Image result for star trek discovery gifs

Each episode has a philosophical theme, that can get a little bit heavy. and I’ve gotten the impression that a lot of the kids on Tumblr aren’t used to Scifi shows being like that, I guess. But if you’re an OG Star Trek fan you should be well used to that sort of thing. The show definitely captures the spirit of Star Trek, if not the exact timeline and details. One of the things you may have the hardest time with is people cussing, and actual (not implied) sex scenes, because up til now, its mostly been a very PG type of show.

I’ll do a more in depth post on this later this month, after I’ve had some more time to think about the characters and plot.

 

Justice League

Image result for justice league flash gifs

 

Certain parts of this movie I really enjoyed, mostly any scene that didn’t involve Batman, or the villain. The end of the movie is a hot and colorful mess. The pacing is off, the music is annoying, just really, this could have been a  better movie.  But there are things to like about it. The most compelling story is Cyborg, and I wish I’d gotten to see more of The Flash, because all we got from him is quips. He still turned out to be my favorite character in the entire movie, which was a suprise because I thought it would be Aquaman. (Cyborg is too grim and tragic to be a favorite, although I really liked him, and I look forward to his solo film.)

It doesn’t help matters that every time I heard the villain’s name, I thought of the band Steppenwolf, (I did not know this was an actual character in DC comics.), and the funky remix of Magic Carpet Ride would play in my head.

 

Thor: Ragnarok

Image result for thor ragnarok fenris gifs

 

This was a much better movie, even though I was trying really hard not to compare it to Justice League.  I really love Taika Waititi, and his brand of humor is stamped all over this movie, plus there’s a lowkey anti-colonialist message underneath all of the fun.

My favorite moment is Hela’s entrance into the story, and the introduction of Fenris. I didn’t know I needed to see a giant wolf  until I saw it. The Hulk turned out to be a lot funnier than I thought he would be, and of course, Jeff Goldblum was gold! Tessa Thompson was having waaay too much fun blowing shit up, and catwalking her way through the action scenes, and I loved it. Heimdall has a much larger role in this movie, and I’m eternally grateful at getting to watch Idris Elba kick some ass with a giant sword.

Image result for thor ragnarok goldblum gifs
Funny moment #213!

I had a great time!

 

Blade of the Immortal

I used to read this Manga back in the nineties, becasue that’s what I was doing back then, reading Samurai Manga, and binging YA novels. If you’re looking for a fairly faithful rendition of the manga, this will do.

Manji is about to die in battle when he’s approached by some type of immortal nun, who infects him with something called blodworms. The bloodworms heal any injuries he gets, no matter how severe or life threatening. In the books, he can only be killed after he kills 1000 men. Well, in the movie its been 50 something years, and he hasn’t killed 1000 men yet, when he’s contacted by a woman, Rin, who wants him to avenge her family’s deaths at the hands of the local sword fighting school.

I really love Samurai movies, ever since I first watched Seven Samurai, and will watch almost any one of them. I really liked this one, but not for the story, which I found not too remarkable. I liked it for the gore and sowrdfighting. I’m pretty sure Japanese viewers will get a lot more out of watching this movie than I did, but for me it was all just eye candy and some great fight scenes. And there are a lot of those, and naturally, there’s also a lot of blood. Blood and appendages are flying all over the place in this movie, re-attaching themselves, only to be lopped off later in the film. While this has the unintended side effect of muting any danger that Manji might be in, Rin is still in peril, and you’ll have to settle for a will she or won’t she survive type of thrill.

 

Valerian and the City of One Thousand Planets

Image result for valerian movie

I was really hyped to see this movie because its got creatures, aliens, scifi costumes, and action and adventure, and I like Dane Dehaan. I ended up being disappointed, not because this is a bad movie, but because  it has so little substance to it, and I just expected more. Despite all the alien candy on display, the most fascinating thing, in the entire movie, was Cara Delevigne eyebrows. Talk about eyebrows “on fleek”. I kept staring at them, wondering when she had time to do her makeup, with all the shooting and running around she had to do.

I was also mildy excited because there was a big deal about the  singer Rihanna being is in this movie, as a shapeshifting character named Bubble, but she doesn’t appear until about 3/4 of the way in, and is killed off soon after, as she sacrifices her life for the two White protagonists, after one of them tortured her for information. Everything aobut this character is just bad, when looked at from the perspective of race. Everything!!! She’s toyalty of some kind, who was kidnapped and enslaved, and reduced to the level of a sex worker, (who is happy to be whatever you want). The worst part is that this tragic character is meant to be a form of comedy relief.

So let’s get this right:

Enslaved? Check!

Sex worker?Check!

Torture of yet another PoC? Check!

Comedy relief? Check!

Sacrifices herself to save the White protagonists? Check!

*Sigh!*

It’s like the writers went through a list of all the  Black film stereotypes they could find and wrote the character around every one of them. It wouldve been better if this character had never existed at all. (That would still have not improved this film however.) I know Rihanna is a huge scifi geek because she said so, but she really needs ot choose her nextproject with more care. I had no trouble with her performance of Bubble, however. She came across as funny and sweetly vulnerable.

There’s a lot of action in this movie. A lot of running around all so that everyone can end up in the same place, which has the side efect of making you think all the running around was to no purpose, a series of film vignettes, loosely based around the movie’s McGuffin. There is the same underlying theme of colonialism as in Thor Ragnarok, but it’s so nebulous you can barely see it.

Image result for i'm disappointed gif

And so am I.

 

Advertisements

The Mist Movie Review

Image result for the mist movie script

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

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

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

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

Image result for the mist movie gifs
The Grey Widower

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

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

The Stephen King Multiverse

Related image
The Leviathan

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

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

.

David Drayton

Image result for the mist movie gifs

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

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

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

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

Image result for the mist movie gifs

Eventually, the only survivor is David, and he realizes the futility of what they’ve done after he steps out of his vehicle, intending to just give up and be eaten by whatever monster finds him first, only to encounter the retreat of the mist, and the American military destroying any monsters left over. That was something that infuriated a lot of people. David and the others having given up too soon. Had they waited just another hour or two, they would have all survived. But many people don’t understand that this is all an illustration of how hopelessness works. It’s immediate and intense, and must be taken care of right away. Hopelessness has no patience, and believes there is no time.

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

Edward Norton

Image result for the mist movie gifs/norton

Andre Braugher is incredible as Edward Norton. Heperfectly  captures Norton’s officious resentment, from the book, and even manages to add an uncomfortable racial component, to his discussion with David in the market. So watch that scene again where he insinuates that people are racist, wtihout actually saying people are racist towards him.. In the book, he becomes the leader of the Flat Earth Society ,a faction of people withing the store who simply refuse to believe that the mist is  dangerous., or that there are monsters.

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

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

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

Mrs. Carmody

Image result for the mist movie gifs/carmody

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

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

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

That scenes lends a new perspective to her actions in the market. She is not as certain of her strength as she seems, not as sure she’s doing the right thing but she forges ahead anyway, and since you get the subtle impression she has just as much contempt for the townsfolk ( they are all horrible sinners) as they do for her (as the town crazy), we have to question her motivations for calling for more and more extreme ends to deal with the  mist. Her way of dealing with the mist is to try to appease the deity, from whom she beleives the mist comes, but she goes about it the wrong way.

Image result for the mist movie gifs/carmody

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

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

David’s confrontational approach doesn’t work because it is self-serving, and he  ends up losing everything, his wife, son, friends, and endangering his sanity. Everyone around David dies, every time he goes into the mist. But he miraculously  survives, because his reasons for going into the mist, while altruistic, are not completely pure. One can even make the argument that only the impure, the sinners, die, and that the reason David survives while others do not, is because, although he is tainted,  he is still never directly responsible for anyone’s death, and does make efforts to save people, like Norm the bagboy, and Edward Norton. But he is the one who talks the others into going to the pharmacy,  and talks them into escaping the market. And those actions could be considered a form of hubris, as Mrs. Carmody says.

Image result for the mist movie gifs/carmody

One can make a comparison between David and Mrs Carmody, in that it is their pride and hubris  that get other people killed, as they are both guilty of these things. Norton’s pride and disbelief got him killed, and David’s pride lets him believe he can somehow defeat the mist by confronting it head on. Carmody’s prideful belief that she knows God’s will results in her death, too.

It’s interesting to note that Ollie Weeks dies just after he kills Mrs Carmody. He is not a prideful character, and seemed to genuinely regret killing her, and even though he had a very good reason for doing so, murder is still a sin. In the novel, the soldiers commit suicide, but in the movie Carmody is directly responsible for the death of at least one of them, when she talks the crowd into sacrificing him to the mist, which is still murder. Their situation can be likened to a form of purgatory, in which there is nothing they can do to escape their fate,except for  the one character who actually does.

Melissa McBride’s character is one of the few people who actually survives walking out onto the mist, and I suspect it’s because she doesn’t  negotiate with it, or try to run from it. She surrenders to it with faith, and humility, that she will be safe to save her children. She is also one of the purest people to do so, as she has harmed no one,  unlike Mrs. Carmody. She believes the mist is dangerous, but leaves the market anyway, to save her kids, and hers is one of the few motivations which is pure and not entirely self serving, the love for her children. At the end of the movie, we see her riding with the soldiers, both her children with her. It is interesting that David survives only after he does what she did, which is knowingly surrender himself to the will of the mist, and simply walk out into it.

All that said, I don’t believe Darabont (or Stephen King) set out to tell a religious allegory, but the presence of Mr.s Carmody allows one to see it in that light.

Superstition & Stuff I’m Not Doing

Well apparently, I’m not reviewing any TV shows, which I probably should be doing. Actually, all it is is that I’ve been busy and tired to review the shows, and movies, I’ve been watching, and I’ve been watching a lot of stuff.

What have I been watching?  I have been watching The Walking Dead. So far I’m really liking this season. It’s very action packed, and full of feels, and I like that. All of my favorite characters are doing some next level shit as  the war between The Alexandrians, Hilltoppers, The  Kingdom, and The Saviors  heats up. I haven’t been feeling any urges to write about any of these episodes though, although I find  Morgan’s storyline the most compelling. I just learned that my precious tigress is dead. Shiva got taken out by a pack of zombies, while defending the life of her king. (RIP Shiva! You badass!)

Image result for tired gif

I’m so tired!

Image result for tired gif

Part of the reason I’m not reviewing so much is that I’m tired, but part of it is that I don’t actually know what to say about it yet.. There’s not a lot to be said about the plot, other than to recap it, and if you’re watching the show, you already know what happened. Morgan and Jesus came to “fisticuffs’ over the treatment of prisoners of war, and Carol got her kill on for a while, and Gregory kept it real by being an asshole. I do have thoughts about the characters, and major themes, but I think I’ll wait until after the first part of the season is done to comment on those. We’ve got three episodes left, so I think I’ll just do a summation of my thoughts at the end.

I always get fatigued in November and December, and not because I’m celebrating the  holidays. I’m not celebrating, or hosting or anything. It’s a combination of insomnia, sleep apnea, and finding human beings exhausting, even when they’re not jitterbugging with overexcitement  about the  holidays. (Also, some of it is just a change in the weather and age. Feeling cold all the time is just tiring. Y’all yunguns just don’t know!)

Image result for too cold gifs

And I don’t get any respite from the weather while at work. The PTB keep it freezing here, so all the women are wearing sweaters, and carrying around tiny electric heaters, while many of the  men walk around in shirtsleeves, and poke fun at us for being cold all the time. I can’t stand them!

 

Supernatural

Related image

Where was I? Oh yeah, I’ve been watching episodes of Supernatural, but not reviewing those either. I have liked the episodes I’ve seen, but that one particular standout episode, that occurs every season, hasn’t happened yet. I’m waiting for that one. There’s only so many times I can say this episode deserves a B-. So far the show appears to be in a kind of holding pattern except for the return of Castiel from The Empty, but it’s still early in the season, so we have plenty of time to establish where the plot is going, but our theme is, as always, is family.

 

Ghost Wars

Image result for ghost wars

 

 

I’ve been watching Ghost Wars, which is still chugging along on the Syfy channel. I’m liking this show, with one of my favorite characters being played by Meatloaf. He is doing an exemplary job on this show. I hadn’t paid too much attention to his acting before, but I love him in this show. He is tearing it up! The show is actually proving to be kinda scary. I’m not normally into ghosts. I don’t usually find them particularly scary, but the show is pretty good at establishing mood, and I find most of the characters likable. There’s a token Black woman,  a scientist from the local research center. No, I would not be surprised to find that some physics experiments were behind the influx and hostility of the ghosts.

 

The Exorcist

Related image

The Exorcist has kicked it into high gear. The first few episodes were spent establishing the information about where, and who, the characters are going to be, and then trying to figure out who is possessed. So we’ve figured out  its John Cho’s character, who is possessed by a demon that’s masquerading as his late-wife, and this is really groundbreaking for American television because Asians don’t often get to be possessed by demons, and the show is actually proving to be compelling. There also an added gay subplot, as one of the priests is engaged in some flirtation with a local silver-fox, who looks like Anderson Cooper, (if he was a fisherman). There’s also a secondary plot about some type of holy order of assassins hunting down a cabal of demons, which is only of mild interest to me. I’ll have more to say about the treatment of the show’s traumatized children, and their disabilities, later.

I am working on some long form essays. I can still knock those out, it seems. And I have a bunch of ideas, that I’m not gonna tell you about, because I wanna surprise you. I’m going to  concentrate on those for a while, along with a few long form movie reviews, and eventually I’ll have something to say about The Walking Dead, and Supernatural.

 

Superstition

Image result for superstition cast

What I have been enjoying is the show Superstition. I mentioned it before, and said I wasn’t greatly impressed with the acting,in the pilot,  and I thought the drama was a bit much, considering I didn’t know any of the characters, but I’ve kept up watching it, and it’s maturing into a compelling show.

Superstition has an all Black cast, about a family, The Hastings, who have a history of fighting monsters. It’s their calling, and their base of operations is a small-town funeral home in Georgia. It stars Mario Van Peebles, and while I was a bit dubious about the quality at first, I’m  glad  the show is here. Even if it doesn’t become a breakout hit, it’s still a good foot in the door, paving the way for other genre vehicles starring PoC casts, (so is The Exorcist).

That said, this show has greatly improved since the pilot. The acting has gotten much better, too. I’ve got a good bead on people’s relationships to each other, and the show can, and does sometimes surprise me, by overturning certain tropes, or not going in an expected direction, and it keeps me asking questions, on the basis of those relationships, which is proving to be the show’s strong point.

Image result for superstition cast
Isaac Hastings & May, Chief of Police

The show stars Mario Van Peebles as Isaac Hastings, who taught his son Calvin the ins and outs of monster killing, and his wife Bea, who runs the day to day operations of the funeral home and, I think, is one of the keepers of the family lore, along with a woman of mixed parentage named Tilley. I’m not certain if Tilly is a member of the family or not, but she’s very smart and nerdy, and I like her. The local police chief is May (above), and she has a daughter by Calvin, named Garvey. Garvey is the least likable character on the show but only because, as is  typically written, she’s an obnoxious teenager. There’s nothing wrong with her acting. The character is just annoying.

The show has a lot of Black women, and all of them have complicated, and occasionally mysterious, relationships with each other, which Calvin has to try to navigate, along with getting to know the daughter he never knew he had, reacquainting himself with her mother, and his childhood sweetheart, May, who is now the Chief of Police. He has already been through a bout of people fighting, as he has returned from the Iraq war, after having left town many years ago, and not had any contact with his family, after a falling out with his father.

The show is notable for its depiction of a stable Black family, depictions of Black love and loyalty and Black women actually holding conversations with each other, instead of screaming at each other. Its also important for PoC to be shown being heroes, saving themselves and each other, and being total badasses, in general. Calvin is obviously meant to be the everyman hero of the show. I like how the writers allow him to be human, complex, tragic, and also have a sense of humor. I love the female friendships (and mild enmities) on the show. I like what I see between Garvey and her Mom, Bea and May, and them and Tilly, who seems to be some kind of archivist or researcher. She’s the one who most often explains whats going on to everyone else.

What’s interesting  for me is Calvin’s flirtation with his old girlfriend, May. He was taken aback at the idea of having a daughter he didn’t know about but he’s taken it in stride and wants to get to know her better (though Garvey is having none of it. She’s used to not having a Dad.) I like that May and Calvin are trying to get back together, and making some effort at getting to know each other again. The show could’ve taken the easy way out, and had the two of them hating on each other, and I’m glad it didn’t go in that direction.

Image result for superstition tv show

 

I made the mistake of reading the reviews on IMDb, which truly indeed was a mistake, because some of the reviews seriously pissed me off. The show is being roundly hated on , while being compared to Supernatural. Superstition is everything that Supernatural isn’t, and it really isn’t fair to compare the two. For one thing, Superstition has a cast of WoC, who are well written and treated better by the script. None of the Black characters are there to make White characters lives better or happy, or sacrifice themselves for them. (And I am unlikely to be subjected to the image of an innocent Black woman being held at gunpoint, by a deranged stalker, because the Black writers  have at least some sensitivity to their audience.)

Other than a family fighting monsters, I don’t see  much resemblance. Half the shows on TV have the same premise as Supernatural, so I don’t understand exactly why that’s the comparison being made, unless of course the reviewers are Supernatural stans who just hate any shows about the supernatural, or are too young to remember that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a thing. There’s also a third reason, but I don’t wanna get my blood pressure up by talking about the Klandom today.

 

The Hastings aren’t travelling the country, evading demons, fighting angels, and developing superpowers. Their base of operations is a funeral parlour,  which they’ve been at for a long time, and everybody in the family knows what it is they do, and appear to be on board with it, including Garvey. They also have a society or person (I’m not sure which) which rivals them, called The Drudge. There are other mythologies and belief systems being represented besides European ones. For example, one of my favorite actors, Jasmine Guy, is doing a great cameo as a representative of  Anansi, named, of course, Aunt Nancy, and I love her already, and all she had to do was show up, and be intriguing.

Image result for superstition tv show
Isaac and Calvin Hastings

 

For the Hastings this is all just a job. The show tries to make what they do seem as normal as possible, as just a family profession. This show doesn’t talk down to its audience, or browbeat a point, because that’s not Peebles style.  Superstition doesn’t give you a whole lot of setup, which I had a moment getting used to. It throws you right in the deep end with Calvin. You learn what he learns as he learns it. You get one explanation and then it’s  on you to keep up. If you don’t pay attention to the dialogue and you miss something, you betta rewind, because it probably won’t be mentioned again, but still may be an important plot point later.

The atmosphere is one of normalcy, with routine answers to supernatural  puzzles, like trying to retrieve May when she gets trapped in a “mirror world” by an evil witch. There’s no oohing and ahhing about the paranormal in this show. It’s the bizarreness of the situations people  are put in, and the relationships between the characters, that is the source of most of the drama. Supernatural started as a show for teenagers, and still has much of that flavor. This is a show about grownups for grownups. The audience is expected to pay attention and keep up. I reminded more of the show Leverage, crossed with the X-Files, more than anything else.

Not that the there aren’t legitimate criticisms of the show. The pacing needs some smoothing, some of the acting is  still a little dodgy, but not enough to make me stop watching. It could use some memorable music. I don’t care so much about the special effects, as I don’t think that’s what makes a good show, and some of the acting could be tightened up a bit, but its far from being the worst show on TV, and shows real promise of future greatness, and I’m here for it.

 

So, I’m off for the next couple of days, and will get back to you, for some weekend reading, later this week.

TTFN

Bladerunner 2049 LinkSpam

<i>Blade Runner 2049</i> Knows You Aren’t Special

Hey there! Have some weekend reading on one of my current favorite films: Bladerunner 2049. Yes, I have read all of these, but there are quite a few out there that I haven’t had a chance to read, so if you have a link that’s not listed here, please feel free to post it in the comments! And just a word of warning, since so many of the articles deal with social issues, you should probably avoid reading the comment sections, if you want to keep your blood pressure at a manageable level.  The White Nonsense Faction was out in full force for a lot of them.

 

Identity

*One of the primary plot points in the new Bladerunner is Ryan gosling’s character, Officer K believes he’s the special child born of a replicant from the first movie, Rachael. He believes tihs because of an uploaded real memory, something forbidden to replicants. He finds he’s not as special as he seems, when he discovers other replicants also hold  the same memory. He becomes more human when he moves past this need to feel special. And so would we:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2017/10/17/blade-runner-2049-is-about-learning-that-youre-not-the-main-character-in-your-own-story/?utm_term=.47e2d3dd43f2

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/11/blade-runner-2049-knows-you-arent-special.html

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/10/9/16433088/blade-runner-2049-spoilers-review

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/the-real-and-unreal-in-blade-runner-2049/542574/

@@

Dystopia

*Do the Bladerunner movies predict the eventual outcome of capitalism run amok?

http://thephilosophicalsalon.com/blade-runner-2049-a-view-of-post-human-capitalism/

*Are we tired of dystopian narratvies yet, considering that we might well be living in one? And does that fatigue acoount for Bladerunner’s poor run at the box office?

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/why-blade-runner-2049-may-have-been-a-victim-of-peak-dystopia-fatigue-w507722

Whether Harison Ford's character is a replicant has far-reaching implications for the film series — and for what it says about our own society.

@@

Race

Bladerunner has been criticised for doing a lot of borrowing, mostly of  Asian aesthetics,  and Black American cultural narratives. 

As critic Angelica Jade Bastién recently noted at Vulture, mainstream dystopian sci-fi has always been obsessed with oppression narratives. While it returns over and over again to the downtrodden-rises-up-against-the-subjugator model, the genre has always had a remarkable ability to overlook the persecuted groups—people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities—whose experiences it mines for drama. White creators, men in particular, tend instead to whitewash their casts, imagining themselves as both villain and hero. Rather than simply putting the real thing in the story, their tales become metaphorsfor the real thing. Blade Runner 2049 falls into this trap: Even as Wallace grandstands about “great societies” being “built on the backs of a disposable workforce,” everyone the movie deems powerful or worth exploring is still white and almost 100 percent male, relegating those disposable workforces’ descendants to the story’s incidental margins.

———–   https://www.wired.com/story/blade-runner-2049-politics/

@

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/10/06/25457531/race-and-blade-runner-2049

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2017/10/13/on-blade-runner-2049s-asian-influence-and-disconnect

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/blade-runner-2049-why-it-matters-deckard-is-a-replicant-1046963

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/06/blade-runner-2049-dystopian-vision-seen-things-wouldnt-believe

@

By contrast, in both Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, the notion of white-skinned replicants as escaped slaves does not fit the historical and representational iconography that we associate with slaves as being both black and engaged in menial labor.  Neither film gives us a glimpse of the ‘slave labor’ that the replicants were engaged in on the off-world colonies.  Therefore, the written preamble in both films about replicants being used as slave labor in off-world colonies does not become a significant theme in either film.  From the perspective of dispassionate black spectators, all we see are white people killing other white people for somehow not being authentic white people.  The replicants are near perfect reproductions of white people that even the authentic white people in pursuit are unsure about until after they have been killed. It is in this way that one might consider both Blade Runner films as mediations about white-on-white crime.  “Do white people kill other white people for not acting like authentic white people,” might be an alternative title for both films.  Furthermore, does being a slave for the benefit of white people automatically revoke one’s status as human? 

—————–   https://shadowandact.com/blade-runner-2049-slavery

 

@@

Women

One of the themes in Bladerunner 2049, is the commodification, of  not just labor, (which has always been so), but women . Of their bodies, their sexuality, and in the case of Niander Wallace, the commodification of reproduction.

There are also all the issues surrounding the character of Joi and her relationship to Officer K, what she is, what she thinks, and does any of it matter if she’s not real.

There are also issues stemming from the films excessive use of the male gaze and how that impacts the film’s message.

http://mashable.com/2017/10/14/blade-runner-2049-feminist-environment-patriarchy/#Dp20nOimkkqJ

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/10/20/blade-runners-immaterial-girls/

http://www.denofgeek.com/us/movies/blade-runner/268248/blade-runner-2049-and-the-role-of-joi-in-a-joyless-world

@@

The Actors

I disagred with a lot of this article. The author completely dismisses the role of of the holographic Joi, in K’s existence, and her projection of a certain type of mindset onto Robin Wright’s Lt. Joshi, but otherwise, this is a nice solid article on how well Gosling captures K’s quiet inner life.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/10/ryan-goslings-vulnerable-performance-in-blade-runner-2049.html

@@

THE MEANING OF LIFE IN ‘BLADE RUNNER 2049’

A philosopher expounds on the film’s deep questions about knowledge and genetically engineered life, and offers some clues as to its ambiguous ending.

https://psmag.com/news/meaning-of-life-blade-runner-2049

 

@@

Audience

*This new movie seems set to duplicate the box office results of the first Bladeruner. In this article, the author of Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson, wonders why that is, and ponders the new film’s thematic content.

https://www.wired.com/2017/10/geeks-guide-blade-runner-2049/

Racism in SciFi

*I just wanted to elaborate on this article, that I posted earlier in the year, on the topic of how race is depicted in SFF genre films and shows. No matter how well meaning the filmmakers may be, their blind spot is almost always racial in nature, and it is impossible to completely and fully tell certain narratives, if the creators refuse to even look in the direction of race. I don’t know if it’s intentional, or deliberate, but one of the failures of modern SFF cinema is an inability to approach the subject of racism  from an honest perspective, when these creators are White.   This is why creators like Jordan Peele, Ava Duverney, John Cho, and even Rod Serling are so important. They did not (do not) ignore race as a factor in the stories they are (were) trying to tell.

Why Don’t Dystopias Know How to Talk About Race?

————Fantasy novelist Daniel José Older sees the problem as a failure of imagination and craft. “I find it very telling how little these worlds that are so much about power and oppression and ways of resistance also magically somehow have solved race,” he said. “On the one hand it’s a truth failure in the sense of it doesn’t feel real to anyone who knows about the lasting power of racism and to anyone who is paying attention to the world today. And it’s a craft failure in that it is a tremendous missed opportunity to develop the world more deeply.”

http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/why-dont-dystopias-know-how-to-talk-about-race.html

@@

* I’ve been seeing an increasing number of SciFi shows where Blacks, and other minorities, are being cast as the oppressors of White protagonists. We’re not arguing that PoC can’t work for oppressive systems, because plenty of them do. And we’re not arguing that PoC cannot discriminate against White people.Yes, we know PoC can be bigots (towards other PoC, mostly) but that’s not what is being discussed here.

We’re talking about the casting of Black people, particularly, dark skinned, Black women, as virulently racist bigots, which  is starting to become a trope. From Teen Wolf, to The Gifted, to Heroes Reborn, I think the White male writers who create these shows are starting to get a little too comfortable with this idea.

They don’t seem comfortable with depicting actual racism towards PoC by White people, and they continue to cast White actors as the oppressed minorities in these racial allegories (like The Handmaid’s Tale). It’s especially galling in a racism/slavery allegory, to not only erase the existence of  PoC, who are actually experiencing what is being depicted onscreen, in the real world, but to cast them in the roles of the oppressors, and I’m not here for it. I’m also not here for White Writers stealing the narratives of oppressed people of color, but then NOT including any of those oppressed people in the story. (I touched on this briefly in my review of The Gifted.)

One of the major reasons I stopped watching Heroes Reborn wasn’t just because of its lackluster, badly written plot, but because  a Black woman was cast as a virulently nasty, hardline racist, who was willing to kill children, and the children they showed her killing, were White. This is the same plotline used in the final season of Teen Wolf, where a Black woman is seen killing and sometimes torturing White teens, and again, in the show The Gifted, you have a brown-skin man, of indeterminate race, spouting racist jargon against the White protagonists of the show, and hunting and arresting White kids. All of these shows steal the narrative of Black and Brown people being killed (shot, tortured, and abused) by people in positions of authority, but does not include any of these Brown people in the story that’s being told. Instead, casting White actors in roles that real PoC actually live out.

The Gifted is even more annoying because there are PoC on the show who are members of the oppressed minority, but we don’t get to see their stories, sympathize with them, or understand what their lives were like. We do get to see them be bravely tortured by the government, which sends the message that not only are our stories available for consumption, but the pain and degradation of PoC is as well.

Just Like A Caucasian

How Sci-Fi and Fantasy Television Shows Always Get Racism Wrong.

                                                     ————Shabazz Malikali
On Medium.com

 

 

**Reprinting my review of The Gifted, (which I wrote before I saw this article)

I’m simply not in the mood for this show, and I’m fed up with this type of plot, now. It’s loosely based on some of the X-Men and New Mutants comic books, in that it has some Sentinel plotline, and some of the characters from those groups. Stephen Moyer stars as a lawyer who used to prosecute mutant criminals, and  the father of two young mutants, now on the run from the government, which is rounding up mutants and imprisoning them in scientific camps.

I tried watching the first episodes, and while I like a couple of the characters, the show is simply not compelling enough to keep me watching it every week. The characters have the usual teenage angst, with superpowers, that made me dislike the First X-Men movie. Blink is a teenager who can teleport by creating portals, and Thunderbird, who is Native American, is a kind of tracker of people and things. I’m dismayed that the show used the Native American tracker stereotype, as that’s nothing like Thunderbird’s actual powers in the books, which consists of speed and strength.

And I’m just not here for yet another plotline of people with superpowers being rounded up and used by the government. This seems to be the only plotline they can come up with for superpowered characters, especially on TV, and once again, there is only the focus on how this affects White, suburban, middle-class families.

Just like with the show Heroes, there is no focus on how the discovery of superpowers would affect any marginalized communities, something I would consider much more entertaining, and which the show Cleverman handled with a certain amount of depth. As I complained about before, we keep getting stories about middle-class White characters being subjected to the same oppressions that have been visited on marginalized communities. This show would have had far more depth and been much more interesting if it had been set in the G/L community,  or the Black and Latinx communities, in which this type of interment is already occurring.

In the forties, the Japanese were rounded up in internment camps because they were considered a danger to the US, and later, authorities used to raid the gay and lesbian communities and lock them in jails with the full force of legal authority behind them. Today, its immigration officials grabbing random Brown people out of their homes, and locking them up on suspicion of being illegal immigrants. What do you want to bet that none of these things will be addressed in yet another show where we see average White people being treated in the same manner?

 

*For further reading check out Malikali’s article on The Ellison Test. It’s great reading, and available on Medium.com, (which I can’t link to here.)

 

The Ellison Test: The litmus test for diversity.

 

 

@@

Another way that TV and movies get racism wrong is the constant message, and I’m not certain this is intentional, is the idea that the people being oppressed actually are powerful and dangerous and need to be controlled. So, while Hollywood steals the narratives of PoC to sell their oppression stories of White people, they paradoxically send the message that the oppression is also deserved. This is what went wrong with the movie Zootopia. Zootopia made some excellent points about discrimination, but the animals being discriminated against are all powerful animals that traditionally eat other animals. There’s also the setup that in the past these animals did indeed eat the lesser animals, and so deserve persecution and fear. So Zootopia is trying to tell a story condemning the discrimination and persecution of others is wrong, it reinforces the idea that the ones being persecuted deserved to be feared and hated.

This is also the same problem I ran into with the X-Men and Mutant hysteria plotlines of The Gifted.  The persecuted minority are actually exceptionally powerful beings, and actually can destroy human life, and even the entire world, which goes against the racism metaphor the stories are trying to establish, and defeats the anti-discrimination message that’s being touted.

One story that does get the themes mostly correct is the graphic novel called Maus by Art Spiegelman, in which the Jewish people are represented as helpless prey animals being harmed by cats. The cats are depicted as Nazis.

How Zootopia Gets Its Own Point Exactly Backwards

———–The movie starts with a history of the world, explaining that while predators used to be uncontrollably violent, they have since been civilized and can now live among prey animals, which also means behaving like prey animals (prey animals aren’t asked to accommodate their behavior for predators at all). Because in Zootopia there’s a right way to live and a wrong way to live, and some animals are — in the context of this movie — biologically programmed to live wrong. They have to be corrected in order to fit in with proper, civilized society.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/why-talking-animals-are-bad-way-to-talk-about-racism/

 

Zootopia wants to teach kids about prejudice. Is it accidentally sending the wrong message?

————–The most natural line to draw between the two is that Zootopia‘s predators stand in for black men in our world, and one needs only look at the resurfacing of Hillary Clinton’s “superpredators” clip from the ’90s to know why that’s potentially inflammatory territory.

But all of this pales in comparison to the fact that when you scrutinize Zootopia‘s core metaphor for even a second, it struggles to make sense on a literal level. Yes, the film’s message is that Judy learns to trust Nick, even though he’s predator and she’s prey. But on some other level, we all know that an actual rabbit is right to be afraid of an actual fox — and that muddies the movie’s message considerably.

https://www.vox.com/2016/3/7/11173620/zootopia-review-racism

 

@@

Yes, even Bladerunner manages to fall into this same trap of presenting a persecuted minority as being incredibly physically powerful and smarter than the humans hunting them.

Blade Runner’s source material says more about modern politics than the movie does

It was written for an age of overreaching policing and sociopathic lack of empathy

———-The police in Do Androids Dream…? are merciless, unstoppable android killers. Their victims, in contrast, are remarkably vulnerable and weak. In the film, the replicants have enhanced reflexes, super-strength, and tremendous intelligence. Part of the reason Deckard evokes sympathy is that he’s clearly overmatched. Replicants may not deserve to be murdered, but they are terrifyingly powerful and dangerous. Roy, howling his shirtless way through an abandoned building at the end of the film, is an atavistic, gothic terror. The androids in Blade Runner are dangerous and threatening when provoked — which is how Darren Wilson saw Michael Brown, and the excuse most often given by police who kill unarmed black civilians.

————–https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/5/16428544/blade-runner-philip-k-dick-do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-analysis-adaptation

 

@@

*The next  3 articles are essays on how the new Bladerunner movie tackles the narratives of racism, assimilation, inclusion, and persecution. Or  how they actually don’t.

‘Blade Runner 2049’: The Deckard Question Matters More Than You Think

Whether Harison Ford’s character is a replicant has far-reaching implications for the film series — and for what it says about our own society.

———-http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/blade-runner-2049-why-it-matters-deckard-is-a-replicant-1046963

 

@@

Race and Blade Runner 2049

The only black people in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner are extras. The replicants are all white, and the city of Los Angeles is basically an unmixed population of whites and Asians. The Asians live on the streets or work in small shops. Whites rule the LAPD (all that’s left of the city’s government) and biotech corporations. Whites are also the slaves manufactured by Tyrell Corporation. There are no black, Mexican, or Asian replicants. And the leader of the rebel replicants is a very Aryan Roy Batty. Replicants, however, are, according to Rick Deckard’s voiceover, called “skin jobs,” which is equivalent to calling black people “niggers.” So, Blade Runner is about a slave revolt. And what do the slaves want? Freedom? No. They want more life, which, to be fair, is another kind of freedom. As the 20th century British philosopher Alfred Whitehead put it: “Life is a bid for freedom.”

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/10/06/25457531/race-and-blade-runner-2049

 

@@

This Future Looks Familiar: WatchingBlade Runner in 2017

————-I watched Blade Runner for the first time this week. Since I have apparently been living in a cave for the past few decades, I thought that Blade Runner was kind of like Tron but with more Harrison Ford, and less neon, and maybe a few more tricky questions about What Is The Nature Of Man.

That is the movie I was expecting.

That is not the movie I saw.

 

@@

*It is far easier for White audiences to watch allegories about racism, than it is for them to actually tackle the subject head-on in their daily lives. Just as it seems easier for White filmmakers to propose the idea that persecution of minorities is wrong, while engaging in erasure and whitewashing in their films on the subject.

@@

*There has been some discussion on Tumblr of The Empathy Gap, to explain the woobification of White villains in fandom, vs the vilification of Black and Brown villains, and even characters of color that are the stars and protagonists in the narrative. Want to know more, then read on:

Why White People Don’t Like Black Movies

Why White People Don’t Like Black Movies

http://www.indiewire.com/2014/01/why-white-people-dont-like-black-movies-162548

 

@@

 

*This is a perfect example of what we mean by implicit bias in filmmaking. I know the director of this movie, James Mangold, is not some die-hard ,card carrying, member of the alt-right, or KKK. Nevertheless a critical look at his films reveals his own blindspot when it comes to the subject of race.  Because the directors are White males, living in America, they have a tendency to reproduce narratives of race that have always prevailed in films, without much examination. I’m sure it never occurred to Mangold that it would be difficult for PoC to watch a movie in which am entire Black family is brutally murdered by vigilante members of the state. It certainly did not occur to him how such images would impact our watching of the film, given the status of American race relations today. (The same blindspot is evident in the Netflix show, Daredevil, and Mangold’s last Wolverine film, which was set in Japan.)

The Thoughtless Diversity of Logan

————–   Let’s linger on that last point for a second. In Logan, an entire black family gets slaughtered onscreen. This is a black family who we already see terrorized by racist hicks for refusing to move off their farmland. We are shown that they are at the mercy of these white folks to maintain basic amenities like running water. We also see that they are often terrorized by these men WITH GUNS on what seems to be a daily basis.

——https://fishnetcinema.com/2017/03/07/the-thoughtless-diversity-in-logan/

 

@@

*I liked this rather tongue-in-cheek essay on why Black people don’t attract ghosts or hauntings.

White Fright; Or, Why Are There No Black People in Haunted House Movies?


http://www.blackhorrormovies.com/white-fright-no-black-people-haunted-house-movies/

@@

*And another tongue in cheek piece on the expectations that Black people should  die in Horror movies, because that’s the tradition, and how hard it can be getting used to watching them survive these movies sometimes.

The Black Die Young: The Internal Struggle of a Black Horror Movie Fan

——–I have a secret passion; the less addicted of you might call it an addiction. I like to watch. I rent base, filthy movies and slip them into brown paper bags so no one can tell. I sit alone in seedy, near-empty theaters, pleasuring myself with this trash. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about my weakness, although my wife has caught me watching a time or two (“It’s a documentary!” is my standard excuse; she’s since cancelled the Discovery Channel.). But now I’m ready to step out of the shadows and proclaim loudly, I am a black man… and I love horror movies.

http://www.blackhorrormovies.com/black-die-young/

 

@@

*Yeah, we’re looking at you Star Wars! 

Every Galaxy Needs More Than Three People of Color

———When people of color do appear in science fiction, it’s often as sidekicks or advisers. Black characters are likely to die quickly and are unlikely to ever interact with any other black characters, since many galaxies seem to contain only about three black people. That lack of representation makes it hard for people of color to imagine that their writing will ever find a home in the genre.

https://www.wired.com/2016/02/geeks-guide-diversity-destroy-scifi/

 

 

*I was going to finish up my review of Bladerunner 2049 with a critique of the films technical and philosophical aspects, but I think I’ll post a list of other critical apporaches to the movie, and post my viewpoint as a followup. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thangs I Been Looking At (Mini – Reviews)

Ghost Wars

Image result for ghost wars

I’m  impressed with this show, ,not just for its good production, but because it’s actually scary. I don’t normally pay much attention to literary ghost stories, but movies and TV shows seem to work for me a bit, although I still prefer monster movies, where normalcy has been upheaved by something that’s blatantly malicious, and then order is restored after the creature is defeated. Ghost stories are too open ended for me to really get into them, and sometimes they’re just not very scary to me.

The ghost stories that actually scared me were The Sixth Sense, Ju-On, and, The Ring. In my mind, everything made since those movies have been nothing but ripoffs of the originals. But I actually like this show. There’s just enough uncanny shit happening to keep me off balance. I like the characters and their issues. The acting is better than I expected (because Vincent D’onofrio is present as a town preacher.) and there’s also just enough social subtext to make it compelling.

 

 

Roman Mercer is the town outcast because he can see ghosts, especially the ghosts of regular townspeople, so he has a reputation. In the pilot, he was attempting to leave town, but there was some type of explosive paranormal event that prevented that, and killed the bus full of people he’d been on. (His best friend is a young lady who is also a ghost, and she warned him about the bus crash in advance.)

Image result for ghost wars syfy gifs

So now this remote Alaskan town is being overrun by ghosts, who are definitely malevolent. What event awakened them all, and what the ghosts want, is still a delicious mystery, that I’m here for. The ghosts can possess people, cause nasty hallucinations, like when the town preacher, while giving a wake in the town bar, sees blood pouring from his drinking glass, and they cause people to believe the town bridge  is still intact, when its been destroyed. The only thing that saves everyone is that Roman can see through the hallucination, and prevent people from trying to drive across.

There have also been some interesting character changes as the townsfolk who didn’t believe in Roman’s abilities, now have no choice but to believe, as they are being attacked by ghosts, and those who did believe in Roman’s powers, and hated him for it, have since realized his usefulness, and stopped bullying him.

 

Kim Coates and Meatloaf also star in the show. I’ve liked Coates ever since I first saw him in Waterworld, although he’s been around since the late 80s. In the show he plays either a lovable rogue, who is responsible for his little brother’s death, or the town ne’er do well. I wasn’t sure of Meatloaf’s acting abilities until I saw him in Fight Club, although I’d also seen him in other projects. He plays one of the town bullies.

I think I’m going to stick with this show for a while. The Syfy Channel is slowly starting to build back its reputation for interesting shows, and I’m glad. The Expanse, Dark Matters, Killjoys, Z Nation, Superstition, Ghost Wars. By focusing on character, paying close attention to diversity, (lots of women in these shows, lots of PoC, and most importantly lots of different WoC), and coupling these things with interesting  concepts, Syfy is slowly getting back its street cred as a network that geeks are not ashamed to admit to watching.

 

Superstition

Image result for superstition show

I really like the idea of this Black family that fights supernatural creatures in this small town, and I have tremendous respect for Van Peebles for breaking new ground, just by adding racial diversity to genre shows. He’s done Westerns (Posse), and werewolves, (Full Eclipse), and now he’s taking a crack at the Supernatural/Buffy style show, involving family dynamics with monster killing.  I don’t know how long this show is going to last because I haven’t seen many people talking about it anywhere, but I hope it at least finishes out one season.

The problem I have is with the execution of the ideas on the show. The acting could be better, (its a little dodgy) and the plot needs to be beefier. I feel like it should’ve lead with the demons/monster plot, and then worked in the soap opera aspects, once we got to really know the characters. I  think the plot leans a little too heavy on the drama, and we just met all these characters, so we have no incentive to care about their emotional issues.

The Hastings are basically a bunch of badasses who use deadly weapons and magic to battle the forces of evil. The eldest son was estranged from the family, but has come back home, and been welcomed back into the family business of monster killing, so we learn about what’s going on just as he does, as he needs to be taught the ropes.

Sadly, not much was known about this show before it aired and the only place I saw any promos was on the Syfy network itself. The network does not appear to be as invested in this show as it seems to be in other shows, like The Expanse, and Z Nation, and that’s why I don’t think this show is going to last very long. But I’m here for it while it airs.

 

Stranger Things Season Two

Image result for stranger things 2

I get why people like this show. There’s a definite nostalgia factor, and those kids are cute as all heck, but My feeling about the show was kinda meh. its not a bad show, and it has excellent production values, but I just wasn’t deeply invested. I wasn’t carried away, I guess.

Maybe part of the reason I didn’t find this especially compelling is because I didn’t watch the entire first season. I saw bits and pieces of it. Enough to get a general idea of what was happening, but not all the tiny details, like names. I liked all the little 80s callbacks, and I liked quite a few of the characters. Wynona Ryder plays Michael’s Mom, and she was her usual excellent self. Sean Astin plays her love interest, and he is a goofily cheerful character that I sort of liked. The most interesting two characters were Lucas, and his seeming love interest, a ginger haired skater- girl ,who just moved into town. Lucas’ friendship with her causes a minor riff between the four friends.

Eleven escapes from her overprotective adoptive father, but after the two of them have a falling out,  she finds herself having adventures in the city, where she falls in with a group of thieves led by another girl with tattoos, and the ability to cause illusions. She eventually leaves them when she receives a premonition that Mike is in danger. Eleven’s activities are the most interesting part of the show.

Michael, the boy who befriended Eleven in the first season keeps having visions of a massive creature that has infested (infected) the entire town. He develops a connection to it, and eventually becomes possessed by the creature. When the rest of his family and friends realize what’s happening they spring into action to prevent the creature’s release, into the town, from the local  medical facility, but its already too late, as one of Michael’s friends has befriended a small  frog-like creature that turns out to be a juvenile form of the monster.

I didn’t dislike the show, and I bingewatched all ten episodes, but I wasn’t wildly enthused either. I can recommend it if you don’t have anything more pressing to watch, or if you just really love 80s nostalgia. Really, the most compelling thing in the entire show was the monster, and I want to see season three because I’d like to know what’s going to happen to it, and Eleven.

 

Jeepers Creepers 3

Image result for jeepers creepers 3

Don’t worry. I didn’t pay money to see this movie. At any rate I couldn’t have even if I wanted to. Sensing that people wouldn’t want to associate too much with the cinematic output of a convicted pedophile, the movie’s creators sought only a limited, one day, release, before sending it directly to video, or rather the Syfy Channel where I saw it the weekend before Halloween.

I did not care for this movie because it’s a confusing mess. It takes place between the first and second films, but that isn’t immediately apparent, as only two of the characters from the first film appear in it, and only one of the characters from the second. Ridiculous things happen in the movie that I couldn’t make sense of, and even though there’s a lot of exposition, (I mean a LOT! People talk and talk and talk.) all the talking didn’t make anything about this movie any clearer.

Most of that talking is is from a brand new character, a cop named Tashtego, who is constantly stressing to the other characters how evil The Creeper is and that he must be killed. There’s lots of shots of he Creeper being his usual weird and nasty self, terrorizing teenagers, eating people, etc. For some reason, someone thought it would be a grand idea to prominently feature the creature’s truck, which is tricked out with various booby traps, which is what the police find out when they try to investigate the dead bodies lying in it, and a pack of obnoxious teenagers find this out too before they’re promptly caught and killed by The Creeper. He still likes to hunt  pretty young men, but occasionally takes time out of his busy schedule to terrify a woman or two.

One ofthe most baffling scenes is the discovery of a disembodied hand of The Creeper that gives people visions when they touch it. This isn’t something that was even hinted at in the first movie, although in every film, there’s the one character who seems to mystically know shit about The Creeper, so as to give more exposition on him. Exposition that illuminates not at all.

Since The Creeper can’t actually be killed, and we saw him in the second movie that was released we pretty much know how this one ends. He doesn’t get caught. At any rate, it matters not one bit, because I don’t believe Salva will be making any more of these. I sense that the makers of this movie just wanted to release it quietly, and get it off their books, and get Salva out of their hair, so I don’t think he’ll be making another Creeper movie any time soon. It’s very possible that he won’t ever be making any more movies again, since no one wants to be associated with him, especially in this new climate of awareness involving past sex scandals.

 

Seoul Station

Image result for seoul station

I was really excited to get to see this, the moment I heard of it, especially after watching Train to Busan. Seoul Station is an animated pre-quel to the live action Train to Busan, and its every bit as harrowing, nerve wracking, and action packed as the movie, despite the medium. It takes its time getting started but like the live action movie, once it gets going it doesn’t let up, doesn’t let you have a rest, and you get attached to the primary character just as in the other film.

In Seoul Sta. we see the beginning of the zombie infestation, and how it managed to escape notice until it got out of hand. This happens the way it always does by affecting the poor and underclass first. We meet a young woman who just escaped prostitution with  an abusive pimp, but the man she’s currently  living with isn’t much better. He’s having money issues and keeps trying to convince her to sell herself so they can pay the rent. At one point he hits her, and she;s so used to being treated that way she doesn’t even fight back.. (I wasn’t expecting that scene and it kind of threw me for a bit, so here’s my warning in advance. If you have trouble watching such things,s know the movie contains scenes of stalking and domestic abuse.)

We follow this young woman for the rest of the movie, after she breaks up with her current boyfriend. She barely manages to stay one step ahead of the zombie infestation, running from one seemingly safe place to another, only for those places to be overrun by the dead. From a police station, to the subway, to an alley that’s been cordoned off by the police (who think its all some type of insurrection), she has to use all her strength, and wits to stay ahead of the zombies, while wearing nothing more than a little pink dress and bare feet. She’s not an entirely sympathetic character either, as one of her most annoying traits is a complete inability to close doors behind her, thereby exacerbating her zombie issues.

In the meantime she’s also being pursued by her current boyfriend and her former pimp, both of whom have try to make their way through the zombie infested streets of Seoul. I was a little confused at first, because I thought her former pimp was her father, but it turns out he’s just lying to enlist her boyfriend’s aid in finding her.

A funny observation  about this movie (and I don’t know if this is just something that’s done in the movie, or if people in Seoul actually behave this way) are the many people who are  willing to verbally harangue strangers in public. From her landlady screaming at her about her late rent, to when she screams at her boyfriend at a cyber cafe, to random disturbed people on the street, characters are forever running up to others and screaming at them. Needless to say you cannot do that shit in America, where you just run up on somebody and start yelling, especially during a Zombie apocalypse. (You will get your ass beat for that just on a regular Tuesday.) Sometimes they just scream gibberish, but sometimes the rants are very specific. At any rate, some of this behavior serves too illustrate the lives of the rather downtrodden, and in some cases, criminal individuals.

Unlike the live action film, none of the characters are your typical salaried workers, which is a refreshing change from American made films, in which we watch your standard  American family endure some kind of crisis. Some of them are not the least bit nice, or innocent, either. There are homeless people bullying each other, and salaried workers, who treat the homeless characters with disdain and contempt. I don’t know if the creator is trying to make some kind of social argument about life in Seoul, or not, though.

Seoul Station is available right now for free on Amazon Prime, (or for rent). This is an absolutely excellent double bill, with its sequel, but you’re going to have to rest between films, because neither will give you a moment.

The Mummy

Image result for the mummy

I was not impressed by this movie. In fact, I think I hated it. Tom Cruise looks worn and tired, the plot is rather lackluster, and I was not expecting Russell Crowe to be shamelessly overacting in this movie. Its not a bad film, in the sense that the people who cared about it, tried their best, to make it look good, but the movie is simply uninspired. The first Mummy movie in the last trilogy at least had a feeling of freshness in its lead female character, Evie. Here the only female character we are meant to pay attention to is boring and flat, and the other one is the villain.

Essentially, The Mummy tells the origin story of how a modern man gets chosen by an ancient priestess, Ahmanet, to be the avatar of the Egyptian god, Set. It would’ve been a much more interesting movie, if they had just stuck to the portion dealing with Ahmanet, but you know Hollywood hates WoC, because its unthinkable to them that one of them (namely Sofia Boutella, who is actually Egyptian) would ever be the head of her own franchise. Franchises must be led by your standard white guy named Chris, or Tom in this case. One of these days Miss Boutella will be treated with respect and won’t have to kiss tired looking men, twice her age, to be in a movie.

Tom should  stick with those Mission Impossible, and Jack Reacher movies, which I actually like. He looks as if he’s enjoying himself in those, and I like a Tom Cruise film in which he appears to at least be having some fun. Here, he  looks like he can’t wait for the movie to be over, and seems like he’s just going through the motions until it ends.

I was only mildly excited to see this in the theater, and I’m glad I didn’t waste my money. My advice is to skip this and watch the 1999 version again.

Mindhunter Review

*Amanda DobbinsWe need more expensive, mediocre, highly watchable television!

https://www.theringer.com/tv/2017/10/18/16495494/mindhunter-exit-survey

*Fennessey: One of the things I like about this show is that its pleasure is not derived from murder sequences, scenes that depict or dissect murder, or even the hunt for a killer. They’re process-driven, sure. But they are also skeptical of their heroes, unafraid to undermine their intelligence. This show isn’t about watching serial killers. It’s about watching watchers.

                                   ———-Excerpted from the Mindhunter Exit Survey

I’m just going to showcase this review of Mindhunter from Bitch Media. It highlights all the good and bad, from the perspective of a fan of Forensic Science shows.

Image result for mindhunter

I’m also a fan of Forensic Science shows, in general, and I did like this show a lot, but it does have some real issues. Those particular issues didnt stop me from bingewatching it though, mostly because, on the issues of racism and misogyny, I expect only the absolute bare minimum, from a White male Hollywood director like Fincher, who has never addressed those specific issues in any of  his movies. (Now if this were Bryan Fuller, I’d be more upset. I expect more social awareness from Fuller, than I do from Fincher.)

Hollywood’s writers, who tend to be White and male, have a blind spot when it comes to certain issues and most of them are highlighted in this show. Not wanting to address those particular issues, (like  racial corruption in the FBI and COINTELPRO) doesn’t make those issues go away, and this is something that made me increasingly uncomfortable as I watched, as  I know something of the FBI’s sordid history.

I would have found this a far more interesting show had its focus been on one of the much smarter women, like the lesbian psychologist who gives the lead character all the correct answers, or the girlfriend with an actual sociology degree. I would have liked to have seen whatever dynamic played out with the killers being interviewed by someone they would normally consider one of their victims.

One thing that the article doesn’t mention is the latent homosexuality, in this all male environment, which is tinged with just a hint of violence between the main character and his interviewees. This is noticeable especially in the scene with Edmund Kemper, who makes a habit of invading the character’s personal space ,and touching him in an almost intimate manner, when they first meet. I think this is entirely unintentional on the part of the writer, but probably not on the actor’s part.

Cameron Britton and Jonathan Groff in Mindhunter

 

On the other hand, I do realize that’s not the show’s focus, (as its not a critique of the FBI,) and I do know more than I should about some of  the serial killers being interviewed in the show, having read John Douglas’ seminal book of the same name (and all his other books). Edmund Kemper, Jerome Brudos, and Dennis Rader (known as BTK) are all featured, and I can see that much more attention was paid to getting their details correct than in approaching social issues. Also, Douglas doesn’t address any of these issues in his book, so the writers may have been performing their idea of faithfulness to the source material.

PROFILING 101

THE WHITE MEDIOCRITY OF “MINDHUNTER”

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/mindhunter-white-male-problem

Image result for mindhunter

‘Ford is a mediocre white cishet male hostage negotiator for the FBI, who we are introduced to during a hostage situation. While the hostage was not harmed, the perpetrator–who was suffering from mental illness–committed suicide. We learn, though, that Ford already exhibits some of the character traits that will lead him to criminal psychology; that is, exploring not just what killers do, but why they do it. Post-hostage scene, Ford’s mediocrity is increasingly apparent to everyone except, perhaps, the writer and director, who clearly envision him as a determined and dedicated individual hellbent on finding answers, but who the audience might peg as a white guy to whom white-guy things happen.’

 

Mindhunter is available on Netflix, and despite its problems, is actually is worth watching, although it’s a much better show if you know nothing about the history of the FBI. Hopefully, the writer will become a little more daring with his characters and plot, in the second season.

Note: This is a vert talky show. There are no car chases, gore, or scenes of women screaming and running. The horror doesn’t derive from watching the killers take lives, but talking about why they did it, and how, and the focus, and casualness, with which they approach the concept of killing other human beings, as a hobby. 

28 Days Later (2002): The Evolution of Selena

This was number four of the five Black Women in Horror reviews I wanted to do for October.

When I first saw this movie I had no idea who Naomie Harris was. I ‘d heard about the movie in a magazine and I was already a Cillian Murphy fan, having loved him in Kinky Boots, so I was pretty much just watching the movie for him. Naomie Harris came out of nowhere and just killed it. Literally!

Image result for 28 days later character gifs

 

Now, I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent, and mention once again, that this is why we need diverse reviewers of Pop Culture. When I read the early reviews of this movie, all of the focus was on Murphy, which is understandable, because his star was definitely on the rise at the time, and people were enamored of him. (He is very pretty!) But Selena was barely mentioned, and I feel some type of way about that. I think if I had known there was  an awesome Black woman in this movie, I would’ve paid more attention to her.

And people really should pay attention to Selena. In fact, I would argue that though the film is from Jim’s point of view, the movie is really about Selena, and Jim, as they both grow and change, and adopt what the other thought of as each other’s worst traits to survive. Selena grows from someone who is cold and calloused, who disparages Jim’s compassion for others, into someone warm and compassionate, willing to love and let herself be loved. Jim grows from someone who is too trusting and idealistic, and saying he could never live the way Selena has been living, into someone willing to fight and kill for the people he loves.

Image result for 28 days later  gifs

When we first meet Selena, she is essentially  the Sapphire stereotype, of a cold an unfeeling Black woman. She loves no one, isn’t capable of loving anyone, and is angry, cold, and bitter, saying she would cut Jim loose, in a hot second, the moment he jeopardized her survival. That her anger and bitterness is justified is not made specifically clear, but she has reason. Her entire world and life has been destroyed. She believes the only thing worth doing is surviving, for survival’s sake. She is unlikable at first, (and Jim says as much), but she grows into a  more sympathetic character as the plot moves forward. Selena is the co-protagonist of this movie. She has a definite character arc, and her decisions  help to carry the plot.

Image result for 28 days later  gifs

Jim wakes up alone in a hospital and discovers that the entire city of London has been evacuated because of a disease called Rage, which makes the infected viciously attack anyone they encounter. When he meets Selena, she really isn’t all that different from the infected herself, violent and quite vicious. She is travelling with another young man, who is accidentally infected, and Jim witnesses the brutal manner with which the uninfected, like Selena, have had to deal with the situation. She is cold, and incompassionate, and does not want to get attached to him. Nevertheless, she agrees to travel with him because she doesn’t want to be alone. Being alone is not good for survival either, it seems.

Over the course of the movie, she does get attached to him, and the young daughter of a family they meet in their travels., named Hannah. When they encounter an AWOL military company, who threaten to imprison and rape her and the girl, and execute Jim, they both have to use all their wits and bravery to save themselves, but ultimately it’s Selena’s attachment to her new family, and his love for her, that’s saves all of them. One of the most poignant moments in the movie is when Selena, unable to prevent their degradation from the soldiers, offers Hannah drugs to survive what’s about to happen. Not because she’s trying to hurt her, but so Hannah won’t care what’s happening. The woman who was willing to cut anyone loose, who impinged on her survival, offers to do this from a place of compassion.

Image result for 28 days later  gifs

I initially didn’t like Selena, and it took some time for me to understand that that was the point. The things she says to Jim when they first meet are mean and callous. She is a hardened woman, and he rightfully chides her for it, telling her he can’t live that way. Ironically, he has to become  hardened, and more than a little brutal himself, if he wants to save the woman he’s fallen in love with. He brutally slaughters all the soldiers he meets in an effort to find and rescue the two women. Selena, in turn, has to adopt the qualities she hated in Jim, when they first met, if she wants to save Hannah, and herself.

In the end, Selena and Jim declare their love for each other when he walks through a nightmarish landscape of screaming zombies, and military men, to rescue her and Hannah, and I am totally here for it, as it echoes the plot of Django Unchained, which was based on Siegfried’s Story from the German opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen. Siegfried, who rides through a ring of fire, in a locked tower, to save the Shieldmaiden Brunhilde, and make her his wife. Selena could be classified as a Shieldmaiden like Brunhilde. She is a warrior, who at first only fought for her own survival , but later fights for those she loves, Jim and Hannah.

Image result for 28 days later  gifs/selena

 

If Selena were White, it would be insulting to see her dameseled in such a fashion, but since we so rarely get to see Black women be vulnerable and loved, but still brave and smart, it overturns the stereotypical narrative of the strong Black woman, who don’t need no man. At the beginning of the movie she declares she doesn’t need anyone, but she is wrong. Hannah tells her midway through the movie, that they all need each other, and by that point Selena is willing to accept that.

The movie has three different endings. In the first ending, which was not filmed,  everyone arrived at a research medical center, and gets trapped there. The second involved Jim dying in the hospital, with Hannah and Selena continuing their journey without him. The third ending involved Jim waking up in the hospital to discover it was all nothing more than a dream. The director decided to go with the more positive ending we eventually got, of Hannah, Jim, and Selena  being rescued.

28 Days Later was the best zombie movie released that year, so it got a lot of attention, not just for Murphy’s presence, and its fast zombies, but because of the multiple endings. If you have no quarrel with zombies that are not strictly zombies, then this is an excellent film to add to your zombie film collection.

It won’t be October, but I’m still going to do that last review, which is Gugu M’Batha-Raw From Blade. Stay tuned!

They Came From Netgalley

 

 

I was really excited to get these from Netgalley, and I’m happy to share my thoughts about them with you guys. I’m usually never able to finish reading these before I get the next book, or the original is released but, I like to take my time and get the full flavor of a book before reviewing it.

 

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng 

34643773

I don’t think I’m going to finish this book. I was initially very excited at the idea of Christian Missionaries from the Victorian era visiting the land of Fairy, as that is such a novel concept, but this book has turned out not to be what I’d hoped. What I thought would be  a kind of expedition to strange lands and peoples,  with grand adventures, heroes and villains, turned out to be a lot slower and more contemplative. This isn’t a bad book, I just don’t think I’m the audience for it.

First,  let me start off by emphasizing, for me, this is a very slow book. There’s almost no action, and little investigation of the Fairylands, even though I’m almost a third of the way through. The main character, a woman searching for her brother who has become lost in Fairyland, has been trapped in the same location since the beginning of the book, a large mansion where her brother resided. She is an acceptably brave and intelligent character, and I like hearing her thoughts as she narrates the story, but she hasn’t gotten a chance to have any real adventure, which I thought this book would be about. The most notable thing she has done is find an important book in the mansion’s  library, meet a couple of  fairy house servants, and hold a church service.

I also feel some type of way about missionaries in general (as in not approving of them) but so far the proselytizing has been kept to a minimum. It’s not  that type of book, for which I am grateful, but I still don’t know if I want to keep reading it.

 
Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham

Image result for magicians impossible

This book is much more promising. I like the action in this book. What I don’t like is the protagonist. The lead character is just boring and so very ordinary. Jason Bishop has a mysterious past, and a father he barely knew, who was said to have committed suicide. When he attends his father’s funeral, he starts an adventure where he discovers that he comes from a line of mages, and that his father was one of the primary players in an ongoing fight between several magical societies.

I don’t dislike this book, (I really like  it!) but Jason is not an exciting  character, and maybe that’s the point.  Maybe there’s some character growth later in the story? I don’t dislike him though. That would require that he have enough personality to dislike. On the other hand, the other characters are really interesting. There’s a female  Punk/Mage I really liked, and the bad guys are suitably nasty, and everyone is after Jason. Jason  has to try to navigate an entirely new and unknown world, manage his own magical gifts, and figure out who are his friends and enemies.

The magic in the books is the typical bombastic hand waving sort, but it’s also abetted by actual card magic,  which I thought was a lot of fun. Despite the presence of Jason, I am looking forward to the next book in the series, as we get past all the introductory stuff of Jason picking up skills, and meeting the other characters. Once we get into the serious world-building, this will be a wonderful series to tide you over, between Harry Dresden novels, which is the greatest compliment I could give to an Urban Fantasy book.

 

The Change Series by Guy Adams

Image result for the change series/ guy adams

I remember reading something very similar to this book a few years ago. That opening chapter scared the Beejesus out of me because I had no idea what was happening. I never got a chance to finish that book, and I think this is it.

Something happened. As in Robert McCammon’s short story ‘Something Passed By’, something happened on Earth that was so awful, that most of the people who witnessed it died. The ones who didn’t die were  mentally and physically altered and all the rules of the world changed. No one can get near any of the cities without dying, animal life has been altered, and strange and malevolent creatures prey on the people who are left.

Howard managed to survive the invasion but has amnesia. He doesn’t remember what happened but knows he needs to make it to the city of London. On the way he encounters machinist biker gangs, deadly blackbirds, and a mechanized monster that eats people and incorporates their bodies into its own.

This is a six-part series ranging from London, to Paris, to Tokyo, chronicling the adventures of various characters as they deal with this new and changed world. What makes the books so frightening is that all of the changes are inexplicable and unexpected. We learn about the nightmares of this world at the same time the characters do. The world was a known thing, but now all bets are off, and almost anything at all can happen to them as they try to survive, not just the monsters created in the wake of The Change, but the people who were badly affected by it.

The latest in the series, about the adventures of a young girl in Tokyo, named Noriko, is available  on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Bladerunner 2049 Review (Part I)

Last  weekend I did go see  Bladerunner 2049 because Mum changed her mind about going to see The Mt. Between Us. I went to see this alone, which is what I prefer when I go see such movies, so I don’t feel a burden to socialize with the person next to me, or talk about the movie afterwards. I can take my time and get my thoughts and feelings in order.

Image result for bladerunner 2049 gif

I had a lot of feels about this movie, but wonderfully, I also got a bit of intellectual stimulation too, as I tried to puzzle out what the plot meant,  and what the characters symbolize. Also, the movie is just great eye candy. Let me start from the very beginning with a primer on the two movies and how they’re related to the book on which they are both based. This is going to be a long one, with lots of spoilers, so I’m going to need to break into two parts. Forgive me if I get some things wrong because I’m writing this from memory.

 

Warning For Spoilers

 

Related image

 

 

There really isn’t any direct need to watch the short films,  but watching them will enhance your Bladerunner 2049 viewing experience because there are some things in the movie which are not made explicitly clear, or if you blink, you’ll miss it.

https://www.inverse.com/article/35997-blade-runner-shorts-2049-prequels-connections-canon


Image result for bladerunner 2049 gif

The Plot:

Foundation

I cannot talk about Bladeruner 2049, without discussing the plot of the first film, because so much of that film is the foundation of this one, and I can’t discuss that movie without talking about the book on which all of this is based. So much of the new movie is built from the original that it’s difficult to understand the full scope of what Villanueve has done without looking at his sources.

In the original novel, by Philip K. Dick, titled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the primary themes of Self, Identity, and the meaning of Humanity are still present. One of the major changes from the book is that the replicants in the book are different from the ones in the movies. In the book they’re definitely robots/androids. In the movies, they are genetic constructs, that are alive, need to breathe, can be drowned,  bleed out, and die just like humans. Except for being stronger, faster, and largely immune to pain, ( or indifferent to it, as illustrated in the first movie, when Pris sticks her hand in a vat of boiling water), they are indistinguishable in appearance from human beings.

In the new movie, all replicants after the Nexus Six are distinguished by having lit tattoos of their serial number in their right eye, as we saw in the film short, Nexus Dawn. This is something that figures into the plot of the short film Blackout 2022.

For all intents and purposes, just as in the book, all replicants were indistinguishable from humans, which is why the Voight-Kampff test was created. The Voight-Kampff Test is what you see happening at the beginning of the first Bladerunner movie, and it detects emotional responses in human beings, specifically pupillary response to emotion. Replicants, specifically the Nexus 6, built by the Tyrell Corporation, (from the first movie), don’t have normal human emotional responses because they only had a four-year life span, which doesn’t give them time to develop such things. This, and Eldon Tyrell’s conversation with Roy Batty in that movie, is important to remember, because it directly pertains to Rachael (Deckard’s lover), and the replicants of the current movie. Rachael was Tyrell’s experimental success, in that she had an unlimited lifespan. This must have been a successful line because all Nexus 8 replicants have unlimited lifespans.

Image result for bladerunner  gif

The new replicants in the current film are built by a different creator than was featured in the first, Niander Wallace, here played by Jared Leto. The Tyrell Corporation went bankrupt after the Blackout of 2022, I think, which occurs after the creation of the Nexus 8. The Wallace Corporation stepped in to build on Tyrell’s foundation. Just as in the first movie, all the replicants, the current ones built by Niander Wallace, and the Nexus 8s built by Tyrell, know what they are, and  don’t seem to like it any more than the Nexus 6s. The major difference between Wallace’s replicants and Tyrell’s is that the new replicants  are programmed tonever question their submission to humans, to always obey.

In Nexus Dawn, Wallace has a meeting with some of the city’s governing bodies about removing the replicant ban on Earth. If you will remember from the first film, replicants were banned from Earth after a bloody rebellion shortly before 2019. Replicants are only allowed in the off world colonies. Keeping them off Earth is the reason the Bladerunners were created. The current Bladerunner’s job is to “retire” the Nexus 8s. (There’s a list.)  Niander’s argument is that the ban needs to be lifted because humanity is dying, just like most of the Earth, and he thinks the replicants could replace them.

In Blackout 2022, the Nexus 8s cause a massive blackout over the city, destroying all the city’s digital information. In conjunction with the removal of their right eyes, they hoped to erase the knowledge of any Nexus 8s left on Earth, and remain undetected. The Blackout  also plays a major part in the plot of the sequel.

Image result for blackout 2022 gifs

Niander’s theories are related to another theme from the original book and movie, ecological destruction. In the book, one of the major ways that humanity differentiates itself from replicants is by caring for animals. Showing care for animals is a way of proving you have human feelings. Deckard owns an android sheep that lives on the roof of his building, and other characters own other types of robot animals, because they are too poor to own real ones.  This world  is so damaged, that most of its animals are extinct, or specially protected, and no city dweller, unless they’re extremely wealthy, has ever seen a real animal. The movies remains faithful to this idea, so all the animals you see in the first movie, are all replications of animals, made by humans.

The world is so ravaged, that  Officer K, played by Ryan Gosling, marvels at small plants (Sapper Morton’s window garden) and bees, because he doesn’t know what they are. One of the standout images in this movie is when he sticks his hand into a beehive without flinching. He not only doesn’t know that they sting, he doesn’t  register it when they do.

The Earth is dying, humanity has killed off most of its plant and animal life, and the ones left behind are dying too, from various abnormalities and illnesses. It is implied that humans without illnesses, or afflictions, are highly encouraged and incentivized to move off-world, and Wallace claims that humans have colonized some nine different worlds. But he thinks this is not enough to ensure mankind’s survival, and believes humans should colonize all the known universe.

 

Now

Officer K is a replicant programmed to retire other replicants, namely any Nexus 8s left on the planet after the blackout of 2022. The first replicant we see him retire is Sapper Morton, the replicant from the third short film, as a direct result of Sapper’s actions there. Afterwards, K discovers the bones of a woman interred beneath a dead tree, located on Sapper’s protein farm. These are the bones of Rachael, Deckard’s lover from the first movie. It  is discovered, under examination, that she gave birth to two children, a boy and a girl, which is considered impossible, because replicant women are infertile. And if Deckard is a replicant, as was theorized in the first movie, this is doubly impossible.

Image result for bladerunner 2049 gifs

Officer K is tasked by his boss, Lt. Joshi, played by an unrecognizable Robin Wright, with finding these now adult children, and retiring them, lest word gets out that replicants can now reproduce. It would make it that much harder to tell the difference between manufactured beings and naturally born human beings. K is aided in his investigation by his, implanted childhood memories, and his holographic lover named Joi, and thwarted by Niander Wallace’s personal replicant assistant, Luv, who has also been given the task of finding Rachael’s children.

K follows the trail of his memories all the way to a children’s workhouse, where he discovers there was only one child, and it was a girl, but her records were obscured during the Blackout. He makes his way to a devastated Las Vegas, where Deckard lives in exile. K  believes himself to be the lost child of Rachael because of the memory that was planted in his programming by Rachael’s daughter, Ana, until he encounters a group of replicants who all were implanted with that same memory. Ana is alive and well, but living in isolation because of an immunity disease. She creates replicant memories for the Wallace Corporation, and the memory in K’s mind, and in all the others minds, is actually hers, even though giving repplicants real memories is illegal.. She seeded this memory in all the replicants she worked on, in the hope that one day one of them would find her father.

K finds and loses Deckard in a fight with Luv, who destroys Joi, and kidnaps Deckard. He defeats Niander Wallace’s plans to torture Deckard for information on Rachael’s pregnancy, kills Luv, then reunites Deckard with his daughter. Fatally injured in his fight with Luv, K lies down to die in the snow.

 

 

The Characters:

Officer K

Image result for bladerunner 2049/ gifs/ K

When we first meet K he is as cool as they come, and  completely unperturbed by the thought of the  danger in his job, at which he is extremely good. The only character who can get anywhere beneath this placid exterior is Joi. He is a replicant who kills other replicants, but by the end of the movie, he is willing to sacrifice his life for the  cause of  reuniting Deckard with his child. For love.

K does have a character arc, but its a quiet one, that’s not as obvious as Deckard’s, although it parallels that one. It requires some effort to see, as it is not neatly or clearly spelled out. His  arc is the opposite of Deckard’s. Deckard goes from being a cold and unfeeling human being who disregards the lives of the replicants enough to kill them, to rediscovering his humanity by realizing it doesn’t matter whether or not they’re human. By falling in love with Rachael. K goes from being a replicant that is callous enough to kill his own kind, to sacrificing his life for Deckard’s goal, because it’s the closest he will ever be to being human.

Lt. Joshi, his superior makes a point of stating that replicants, at least the newer models like K, can’t lie but he does actually lie to her about finding and retiring Deckard’s child, which I find interesting. After every mission, K is subjected to a post-trauma debriefing that establishes his emotional base parameters, and determines whether or not he should be retired. By the time he’s lying to Joshi, his programming has become so compromised (he has become so human in hs responses) that he can no longer pass it. Joshi, as a grace, gives him the opportunity to run, which is ironic after what he said to Sapper earlier in the movie. His kind don’t run.

Incidentally, the test K undergoes is a series of keywords that he must repeat in sequence. Those words are based on a poem Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire.

 *Decode the test, and you realize that the computer is quoting verse:

Cells interlinked within cells interlinked
Within one stem. And dreadfully distinct
Against the dark, a tall white fountain played.

 

There is a Pinocchio element to K’s character, as he comes to believe that he may be Rachael’s special child and you can see the heartbreak in his eyes when he discovers that those childhood memories are not his, and he is not the one. For a brief moment in time he was truly special.  In the original film, the unicorn is associated with Deckard, as being special, as being unique. K thinks he is a unicorn for a fleeting moment and  when it passes, it is devastating to him, and Gosling conveys all of this with just his eyes.

Ryan Gosling carries the bulk of this movie as Officer K. I have to admit, I’d paid not an ounce of attention to this actor except to note that White women seemed to be crazy about him, while I was simply unimpressed. Now I am impressed. He’s phenomenal as K. I have to admit I had some doubts he could pull off this role because the trailers lead you to believe that all he does is look stoic for the entirety of the film. It’s a  lowkey performance as befits the character. The majority of what Gosling does is in his eyes, which is appropriate,  as the eyes being the windows to the soul, is one of the primary themes of both movies.

As an often despised minority, I identified with him on a certain level. K lives in a world  where he is disdained for who, and what, he is. Chillingly, as he is walking down a crowded corridor, one of his co-workers spits the word “skinjob” at him, and I am heavily reminded of  the narration from the first movie which equates that word with the N word. People just sort of casually say this word to him, or around him, and I’m reminded that there was a time when the N word was so casually said, in the presence of Black people, that nobody raised the slightest eyebrow at its use. And no one blinks at the use of the word “skinjob” in this movie.

Sapper Morton 

Image result for bladerunner 2049/ gifs/ Sapper

 

Sapper is played by Dave Bautista, who you may remember as Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s the replicant we met in the short film set in 2048. He works as a protein farmer in one of Earth’s dead zones. When K comes to retire him, just after the events in the short film, he claims to have witnessed a miracle and, it is heavily implied, was present at the birth of Rachael’s child. After Rachael’s death, he buried her bones beneath the tree on his property.

I just want to commend Bautista. He is killing it in the serious acting category, and is hilarious as Drax. I never expected this level of acting quality from a Championship wrestler, which is something I just found out about as I only know Bautista through his acting career, in Spectre and Bushwick. He is definitely one to watch.

 

Rick Deckard

Image result for bladerunner 2049/ gifs/ deckard

Harrison Ford reprises his role as Deckard. If you’re hoping to find out if he’s a human or a replicant, you’re not going to find out in this movie. It’s heavily implied by Wallace and Luv that he is a replicant. But he has clearly aged, and every replicant he’s ever fought has thoroughly kicked his ass. So he’s not fast, or especially strong, and unlike K, he definitely seems to feel pain.

According to Ridley Scott, Deckard is a replicant, but Harrison Ford doesn’t believe he is. After watching the first film, I was convinced he was, but now I’m not so sure. Also, I just like the idea that he’s human, as it sets up a thematic parallel to K’s journey of finding his humanity. Both of them end up finding their humanity through the love of women the rest of the world disregards as unimprtant and disposable.

When K finds Deckard,  he is living in what’s left of an irradiated Las Vegas, and has reached a point in his life where he simply doesn’t care what’s real or synthetic. When K asks if his dog is real, he says he doesn’t know. He has long since ceased to care about such things because his love for Rachael was as real to him as K’s love for Joi.

Its important to remember that part of the reason for the dynamic  seen between Deckard and K, is that K, at this point in the narrative, falsely believes he is Deckard’s son, and tells him the name Joi provided him. Joe.

We do not get to see Deckard’s reunion with his daughter, and I feel some type of way about that.

 

Joi

Image result for bladerunner 2049/ gifs/ joi

Joi is K’s holographic girlfriend, played by actress Ana De Armis. I actually liked Joi, although she doesn’t really have a huge role to play in the film’s plot. She is, rather, emotional support for K. She serves as the embodiment of joy for K.  Like many “real” women, she grounds K, giving him a homebase. She is his refuge in a loud, and untidy world, and later in the movie, she accompanies him on his quest to find Deckard. This feeling of safety is as ephemeral as her body, though. She cannot really save K.

K can’t physically touch her, although there is a scene where Joi takes it on herself to hire a local sex worker that she can possess so that K can imagine having  sex with her. She is tied to the emitter in his apartment until K buys her a mobile version. He tells her she can go anywhere, but naturally her first request is to go outside, where she experiences rain for the first time. Despite all this, Joi is capable of making decisions for herself, or for K. She is capable of delight, and wonder, and who is to say that how she experiences the world isn’t real. That she isn’t real.

After the apartment emitter is destroyed, she is confined only to her mobile emitter until Luv destroys it, and her, in her fight with K. Dejected and bereft, having lost both Deckard and Joi, K wanders the streets of LA until he encounters a giant nude hologram which looks like Joi. When she refers to him as Joe, he realizes that what he had with Joi was always meant to be fleeting and was probably never real. Earlier in the movie,  when he believed himself to be human, Joi had re-named him Joe. In the background of this scene can be seen the shadow of a small horse, possibly a unicorn. Joe thought he was special, and unique. He thought Joi was special.

 

Luv

Image result for bladerunner 2049/ gifs/ luv

Luv is Niander Wallace’s personal assassin/henchman. She appears to be as calm and callous in her treatment of humans as K is with replicants. Where K develops a soft spot for humanity, Luv has nothing but contempt for them. This is best illustrated in the scene where she kills Lt. Joshi, after referring to her as a small thing. She makes the deliberate choice to destroy Joi’s emitter, after Joi pleads for K’s life.

There’s not a lot of character development with her. She remains as hard and cold at the end of the movie, as she does in the beginning, except for one slight surprise.When Wallace kills replicants in front of her you can see her shocked reaction.  Later she kills a fake version of Rachael, not because she wants to do it, but because she is designed to obey Wallace without question. And in another surprising moment, she shows a certain amount of compassion towards Deckard.  Luv takes out her hatred of Wallace on  people he sends her  to kill. She seems to have no trouble killing humans. Her more softened approach to Deckard is puzzling, if you believe Deckard is human.

Luv is deeply affected by Wallace’s treament of his supposed children, and I believe she hates him. She is also deeply afraid of him as he could decide to kill her on a whim like so many of the other replicants we watch him abuse. She’s not capable of expressing that hatred to him because he is too powerful. He controls her. But she can  express that rage towards humans less powerful than she is, like Lt. Joshi, as she screams in rage while she kills her. (We’ll talk more about this movie’s treatment of women in Part Two.) I do wonder about her past. I know she can’t be the first version of Luv to exist, and if not, was she forced to kill her predecessor?

Luv also knows how to lie, which is something else Wallace has not seemed to notice, probably becasue they don’t lie to him. But K blatantly lies to Joshi, and so does Luv. Most people think that replicants can’t, which might be true of the older models, but apparently Wallace’s can.   I don’t think Zhora and Sapper outright lie when others ask them questons. I think they sort of derail or sidestep the questions. SoTyrell’s replicants couldnt lie, maybe, but they made up for that by being openly rebellious. Wallace’s replicants are extremely obedient, but their programs can be just as corrupted from being around humans, or K’s baseline wouldn’t need to be checked so often.

 

Niander Wallace

Image result for bladerunner 2049/ gifs/ K

Niander is an egomaniac who likens himself to god. He often refers to the replicants as angels, or his children, but that doesn’t stop him from casually ending their lives on a whim. In the film short, he orders the replicant to take its own life, but in the movie he’s a bit more hands on, disemboweling a female replicant, to prove a minor point, and ordering Luv to shoot the Rachael replicant he was using to torture Deckard.

Wallace is as incompassionate, in his behavior towards the replicants, as Deckard was in the first movie. In Bladerunner, Deckard had a conscience, and bemoaned having feelings about what he did, especially after killing Zhora. When we see K kill Sapper, he is emotionless. It’s just work, although later we see his warmth and regard for Joi, buying her presents, and bantering with her. We can see that he is visibly touched by her willingness to endanger her existence to aid him, and his grief at her destruction. Later, he kills Luv with his bare hands, with all the rage and grief at his disposal. He hates her for killing Joi.

So here we have (potentially) a human who lost and regained his humanity, a replicant searching for his, and another human who is so out of touch with his humanity that he thinks he’s God. Wallace is more than just physically blind. He doesnt see what is right under his nose (or he does but disregards it.) He doesn,t, for example, see that Luv hates him. He says he has built his replicants to always obey and never run, but K is a perfect example of never saying never. Wallace’s replicants can be compromised and are highly emotional creatures. We can see this in K, and in Luv as well. Niander also doesn’t see something else directly under his nose, that the child he is looking for, Ana Stelline, has been working for him for years.

Tyrell’s attempt to make the replicants tractable by giving them memories, did not work to make them less violent, and Wallace’s ability to make them obedient doesn’t seem to have worked either. Luv is just as violent as Batty from the original, and K’s programming becomes so corrupted that he rebels. Wallace doesn’t see that his goal is doomed to failure, as there is no way to make replicants happily accept being the slaves of  lesser beings.

 

Dr. Ana Stelline

Image result for bladerunner 2049/  dr. ana

Ana is the woman who implanted the memory that leads K to her. She is subcontracted by the Wallace Corporation to create false memories for replicants. It’s illegal to plant real memories, nevertheless, she has seeded her childhood memory, of a small wooden horse, into the minds of dozens (possibly hundreds) of replicants, in the hope that one day, one of them would find her, or her parents.

As the daughter of a replicant, is she one as well? If Deckard is human, does it make her human? It has been theorized by fans that the immunity disease she claims to have is merely a false front to keep her isolated, and away from the suspicion of being Rachael’s daughter. It also has the added benefit of protecting her unique DNA from further scrutiny. Its  just another layer of false information, like the memories, the obscuring of her gender, and where and when she was born.

She has a deep well of compassion for the replicants. She tells K she can’t make their lives easier but she can give them happy memories.

 

The Girl with All The Gifts (2016)

This is the first of my five posts reviewing horror movies where the stars are Black women, all part of the Graveyard Shift Sisters posts on 31 Black Women of Horror, for the month of October.

Okay, despite the fact that I read the book, I still didn’t know what to expect from the movie. I should have because the movie is mostly very faithful to the source material. It had not occurred to me that the filmmakers would do the thing, and make Melanie a little Black girl. I loved the character’s voice in the book and was looking forward to whoever they would cast as she would be carrying the movie, and I’m glad the director made that decision.

Image result for girl with all the gifts gif

When the writer, M.R. Carey was asked about the development of the movie he stated:

‘We went a slightly different way in the movie, especially when it came to point of view. Where the novel moves between the five main characters and lets us see what’s going on in all of their heads, the movie sticks with Melanie all the way. And there are no Junkers in the movie. The base falls to a hungry attack. But it’s a case of two different paths through the same narrative space. The ending is absolutely faithful to the book.’

— M.R. Carey, in an interview with Mom Advice[7]

The plot of the movie is very faithful to the source, so if you’ve read the book, you know the ending. Most of humanity has succumbed to fungal spores and become what are known as “Hungries”. ( Basically they’re zombies. They attack and eat people. (This is not  unprecedented in nature, as there are actually fungal spores that infect hosts, and force the hosts to  propagate itself.)  Some of the zombies are intelligent, and Melanie is one of the smartest ones.

Melanie, and a group of like children, all of whom were infected in utero, are being taught, studied, and experimented on, at a specially guarded facility, by Dr. Caldwell, played by Glen Close. She is attempting to find a cure for the fungal infection by vivisecting  the children’s brains, and Melanie is her star pupil. One of Melanie’s teachers is Ms. Justineau with whom Melanie develops a close  relationship.

Image result for girl with all the gifts gif

Melanie is played by the unknown Sennia Nanua, and she is absolutely perfect. She doesn’t try to play Melanie as sinister, or evil. She’s just like any other regular little girl, smiling, curious about the world , and happy, until her hunger is triggered. Those scenes are shocking in their viciousness. We watch Melanie attack and bite people, and at one point she captures and eats a cat. Although the movie has kids in it, it is not for children. Her behavior isn’t sugar-coated  or glossed over, and the soldiers are correct to be afraid of Melanie, as her Hunger appears to be something she seems to control. Gemma Arterton is great as Justineau, and I enjoyed seeing her relationship with Melanie.

Justineau doesn’t try to control, or change Melanie, seems to accept Melanie just as she is, and unlike the soldiers, seems unafraid of her. She doesn’t seem to want Melanie for what Melanie can provide for her like Caldwell. Seeming to genuinely love and care for her, worrying about her safety when she’s not around. The two of them seemed to have formed a real and loving bond, and that bond between them, goes a long way towards the audience accepting Melanie for who and what she is, too.

Image result for girl with all the gifts movie

Justineau was constantly cautioned against attaching herself to the children she is teaching, but  she seems unable (or unwilling) to do so with Melanie. There are several scenes of the soldiers being verbally abusive to the children in their care, in order to teach Justineau to avoid them, but Justineau always behaves towards them with dignity and respect.

 

When the facility is overrun by Hungries, Melanie and Justineau escape inside a mobile lab, with some other soldiers. Caldwell, who has been bitten by one of the Hungries has developed sepsis, but still continues her experiments. The soldiers are wary that Melanie will turn on them so they make her wear a muzzle ala Hannibal Lecter.

Image result for girl with all the gifts movie

 

They soldiers fear her but Melanie is useful because she can walk among the infected with impunity. In their travels, they use Melanie to lure the Hungries away from them so that they can more successfully forage for supplies. Melanie uses that time as an opportunity to feed. During her explorations she encounters a group of feral infected children who have formed a gang to hunt  any wayward humans.

In one of the movie’s most exhilarating moments Melanie challenges and kills the gang’s leader, and commands the gang afterward, keeping them in line with the threat of her strength and ruthlessness. I’m not sure how to feel about these scenes. On the one hand, I applaud Melanie’s ability to survive and be a leader. On the other hand, I’m witnessing children committing shocking acts of violence, which is something I’m just not used to seeing. I generally avoid movies where children are killing each other. Melanie’s leadership of this gang is something that will come into play at the end of the movie.

I have to admit I felt some type of way about watching this little Black girl kicking ass, and being so vicious, because that actress looks so sweet and innocent, when she’s not doing those things. I can only guess that’s why this particular actress was chosen. There’s also the stereotype of the vicious Black brute, who is uncivilized and must be controlled, restrained, and made useful, which is illustrated in Melanie having to wear a plastic muzzle for at least half the film. All of Melanie’s captors are White, and with the exception of Ms. Justineau, they are all deeply frightened of her, which gives this movie a  disturbing racial angle, that it would not  have otherwise had, if Melanie had been cast as a little White girl. Her Blackness gives the end of this movie  a wholly different meaning, which I’ll have to discuss in another post.

There’s very little wasted space in this film, which is less than two hours, but feels   longer because the director takes time to have quiet moments to explore Melanie’s world from her point of view. She is in nearly every frame, she is the one around which the other characters revolve, and she moves the plot forward with the decisions she makes, especially the last one.

I considered giving away the ending of the movie, because I wanted to discuss how groundbreaking this is, but if you’ve read the book you already know it, and if you haven’t, I really don’t want to rob you of your feelings (and you will have some) when you see it for yourself, as everything that happens in 90 minutes of the movie is what leads up to Melanie’s final decision.

This is an excellent movie to watch on Halloween night along with, 28 Days Later, and Train to Busan, two other films that have WoC dealing with a zombie apocalypse.

28 Days Later will be my next review.

ETA: The Website featuring this list is available at the Graveyard Shift Sisters.

http://www.graveyardshiftsisters.com/2017/09/watch-31-horror-movies-starring-black.html

 

Weekend Reading Roundup (October 2017)

Some interesting articles and news items from the past week.

Race and News Media

http://fair.org/article/racism-and-mainstream-media/

http://www.stopracism.ca/content/racism-and-media

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

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/culturebox/2017/10/playing_devil_s_advocate_in_conversations_about_race_is_dangerous_and_counterproductive.html

 

Race at the Movies

*I’m a person who studies these subjects, and while I did know about some of these issues, I still managed to miss some of the others:

https://shadowandact.com/hyper-tokenism-ii-othering-the-black-female-body-in-star-wars-the-force-awakens/

*http://www.racebending.com/v4/blog/aliens-looking-white-extraterrestrial-skin-color-in-sci-fi/

https://www.wired.com/2016/02/geeks-guide-diversity-destroy-scifi/

 

On Harvey Weinstein

*Sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood is an industry wide phenomenon.

 

http://www.shakesville.com/2017/10/men-who-are-bullies-hurt-women.html

https://www.thecut.com/2017/10/why-the-weinstein-sexual-harassment-allegations-came-out-now.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2017/10/06/harvey-weinstein-and-that-different-time-when-hostile-workplaces-were-totally-okay/?utm_term=.daf14ea32517

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/jia-tolentino/how-men-like-harvey-weinstein-implicate-their-victims-in-their-acts

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/from-aggressive-overtures-to-sexual-assault-harvey-weinsteins-accusers-tell-their-stories/amp

*The fallout from Rose McGowan being banned from Twitter was White women’s allyship being called into question by WoC, when White women decided to boycott Twitter in support of McGowan.

http://www.newsweek.com/women-color-wonder-why-it-took-until-now-white-women-boycott-twitter-684198

 

*An unexpected Tweet from Terry Crews on his own brush with sexual assault, and why, as a Black man, he never told anyone:

 

 

Black Movie Critic List

*Earlier I did a post on finding Black critics of Black media like Luke Cage and came across several, including an organization developed specifically to support such critics.

http://www.aafca.com/

https://splinternews.com/theres-a-huge-divide-between-how-black-and-white-critic-1797478105

https://kinja.com/danielleyoungproducer

https://www.theringer.com/authors/k-austin-collins

http://www.rogerebert.com/contributors/angelica-jade-bastien

http://www.aafca.com/carlas-corner

 

On White Men With Guns

*I feel some kind of way about watching this show, especially after what happened in Las Vegas..

The Punisher

Let’s talk about The Punisher, for a second. You know, the guy with the massive guns, chip on his shoulder, and penchant for killing people?

Are we gonna talk about how his whiteness plays into people’s acceptance of him?

Are we gonna talk about how his use of violence is pretty much accepted and lauded because of the fact that he’s a white dude?

Are we gonna talk about how Jon Bernthal had to fight to make Frank Castle unheroic on set, and how fans are still going to talk about him like he’s the greatest thing since Iron Man?

Are we gonna talk about how Frank’s whiteness allows him the space to be violent, gory and still sympathetic?  While Black heroes (like David Walker’s Nighthawk) do the exact same thing, but aren’t supported?

 

https://www.splicetoday.com/moving-pictures/taxi-driver-and-the-culture-of-violence

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2017/10/02/when-white-men-turn-into-lone-wolves/?utm_term=.d13d79b39238

https://theintercept.com/2017/10/02/lone-wolf-white-privlege-las-vegas-stephen-paddock/

 

 

On Rick and Morty Fans

I’m not a fan of this show. I just don’t have the patience for any of the character’s shenanigans at this time, but I’m thoroughly and completely appalled at what most fandoms have come to, at this point. Geek fandom was never a healthy place for me, to be honest, but fandom today seems to be especially toxic, with an influx of the kinds of people who have no idea how to be fans of pop culture, (although to be fair this has been happening in sports for decades.)

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/10/rick-and-morty-szechuan-sauce-breaking-bad-pizza-fandom-gone-bad-1201886904/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danidiplacido/2017/10/08/rick-and-morty-fans-take-obnoxiousness-to-a-whole-new-dimension/#1e71038676ac

https://www.polygon.com/2017/10/9/16447460/rick-and-morty-szechuan-sauce-mcdonalds-fans-anger

 

 

Free PDF Book List On Race

Found from various places online:

The Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

Angela Y. Davis – Are Prisons Obsolete?

Angela Y. Davis – Race, Women, and Class

The Communist Manifesto – Marx and Engels

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde

Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf

Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic

The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America- Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki

Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism – bell hooks

Feminism is for Everybody – bell hooks

outlaw culture – bell hooks

Faces at the Bottom of the Well – Derrick Bell

Sex, Power, and Consent – Anastasia Powell

I am Your Sister – Audre Lorde

Patricia Hill Collins – Black Feminist Thought

Gender Trouble – Judith Butler

Four books by Frantz Fanon

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

Medical Apartheid – Harriet Washington

Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory  – edited by Michael Warner

Colonialism/Postcolonialism – Ania Loomba

Discipline and Punish – Michel Foucault

The Gloria Anzaldua Reader

Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? by Mark Fisher

This Bridge Called by Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa

What is Cultural Studies? – John Storey 

Cultural Theory and Popular Culture – John Storey

The Disability Studies Reader 

Michel Foucault – Interviews and Other Writings 

Michel Foucault – The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1Vol. 2Vol. 3 

Michel Foucault – The Archeology of Knowledge 

 

Things I’ve Been Watching (October 2017)

Here are some of the shows I’ve been looking at this month. There’s a lot of releases, and I can’t keep up with a lot of them, but I’ll watch what I can and get back to you on what I thought about them.

The Gifted Season Premiere

Image result for the gifted

I’m simply not in the mood for this show, and I’m fed up with this type of plot, now. It’s loosely based on some of the X-Men and New Mutants comic books, in that it has some Sentinel plotline, and some of the characters from those groups. Stephen Moyer stars as a lawyer who used to prosecute mutant criminals, and  the father of two young mutants, now on the run from the government, which is rounding up mutants and imprisoning them in scientific camps.

I tried watching the first episodes, and while I like a couple of the characters, the show is simply not compelling enough to keep me watching it every week. The characters have the usual teenage angst, with superpowers, that made me dislike the First X-Men movie. Blink is a teenager who can teleport by creating portals, and Thunderbird, who is Native American, is a kind of tracker of people and things. I’m dismayed that the show used the Native American tracker stereotype, as that’s nothing like Thunderbird’s actual powers in the books, which consists of speed and strength.

And I’m just not here for yet another plotline of people with superpowers being rounded up and used by the government. This seems to be the only plotline they can come up with for superpowered characters, especially on TV, and once again, there is only the focus on how this affects White, suburban, middle-class families.

Just like with the show Heroes, there is no focus on how the discovery of superpowers would affect any marginalized communities, something I would consider much more entertaining, and which the show Cleverman handled with a certain amount of depth. As I complained about before, we keep getting stories about middle-class White characters being subjected to the same oppressions that have been visited on marginalized communities. This show would have had far more depth and been much more interesting if it had been set in the G/L community,  or the Black and Latinx communities, in which this type of interment is already occurring.

In the forties, the Japanese were rounded up in internment camps because they were considered a danger to the US, and later, authorities used to raid the gay and lesbian communities and lock them in jails with the full force of legal authority behind them. Today, its immigration officials grabbing random Brown people out of their homes, and locking them up on suspicion of being illegal immigrants. What do you want to bet that none of these things will be addressed in yet another show where we see average White people being treated in the same manner?

 

Legends of Tomorrow

Image result for Legends of tomorrow

I’m looking forward to this new season. I really enjoyed the season premiere, which was a lot of fun and addressed a couple of cliffhangers from last season. This season will also introduce one of my favorite characters. Constantine.

Constantine’s show was something of a bust, but I think he’ll fit right in on this ensemble show, because he just works better when interacting with other super powered, snarky,  characters, and yes, the writers have promised to keep his canonical bi-sexuality intact, something which was never addressed in his own show.

Also, returning this season is Captain Cold, played by the very candilicious, Wentworth Miller.I always loved his dynamic with Heatwave (yeah, I totally ship those two) and I’m looking forward to the two of them meeting again, especially after Cold sacrificed his life to save the team, in a previous season.

I generally like all the characters on this show. My top favorite is Firestorm. I remember reading those comics as a kid, and briefly again in the 90s. He’s an interesting binary character of an older White man named Stein, and a Black teenager named Jackson, and I love the friendship that has developed between the two of them. The show has managed to carefully avoid the stereotype of the Black brute, who is nothing but the muscle in their relationship, by making Jackson an engineering genius, with Stein as his mentor. so naturally, Stein will be leaving the show later this season. I wonder who Jackson’s new partner will be.

I least like Black Canary, but I think that has more to do with the actress, because I like the version from the comic books just fine.

In the last season, the Legends broke the world by causing a set of time anomalies, which caused them to get kicked out of their spaceship. We open the episode with them leading normal lives on Earth. Black Canary is working, unhappily, in a department store, and Jackson is attending college. Stein appears to be the only happy one, spending time with the daughter he never knew he had, from another timeline. Heatwave, played by Dominic Purcell, is also having the time of his life, vacationing on the beaches of Aruba, before he is attacked by Julius Caesar, another time anomaly.

The team gets called back together to fix the problems they caused with all their time travelling last season. This show airs after The Flash, which is absolutely perfect, since I’m really starting to like The Flash a lot more, and have started regularly watching that.

 

 

Brooklyn 99

Image result for brooklyn 99

When we last left The 99 last season, Jake and Rosa were sent to prison, for a crime they didn’t commit, by a corrupt cop. When we meet up with them at the beginning of the new season, the two of them are not adjusting well to their situation. Jake’s roommate is a cannibal, played by Tim Meadows, (he is extremely funny), but we don’t get much insight into Rosa’s situation. We spend most of our time with Jake, as he tries not to get outed as a cop by the Warden, who is trying to capture a drug smuggling ring, run by Lou Diamond-Phillips. I liked the guest stars more than I liked Jake in these episodes, and I hope to see more of Lou Diamond’s character in the future. He so rarely gets to do comedies, and I think he’s hilarious here.

Amy and Charles are working hard to find proof that Jake and Rosa were set up and come up with zany schemes to do this, even though Charles thinks his podcast about Jake should be enough to free him. One of the funnier running gags is that he invited Terry on the podcast, but the interview wasn’t successful, and Terry is confused about why.

By the end of the second episode, all is well in the Kingdom of 99, Jake and Amy have been reunited, Charles can give up his podcast, and well, Rosa remains very much Rosa. I normally do not watch shows about cops, (as I consider all of them to be thinly veiled propaganda about the inherent goodness of law enforcement), but I will make an exception for a really great, or funny show, and Brooklyn 99, along with the very politically incorrect Reno 911, are worth the watch.

 

The Exorcist Season Two

Image result for exorcist season two

Well, I think its too much to say this is an enjoyable show, because its supposed to be scary, but it does star John Cho as one of the shows leads. The show does have some issues though. I’m not at all interested in the storyline of the two priests who have made off with the possession victim from last season, and the gruff speaking victim gets on my nerves after about thirty seconds, but fortunately her onscreen time can be easily ignored. I just pretend I’m really engrossed in my knitting when she’s on the screen.

John Cho’s storyline is far more interesting, as he stars as the father figure for a home of orphans with severe trauma issues. The home is being visited and assessed for its level of care by an old flame of John’s, so the show is killing it in the Asian representation column, as this role is being played by an actress named Li Jun Li, and I’ve become very invested in their relationship, although I do fear for the life of the young lady, because TV loves to kill off  Asian characters, and that actress isn’t especially well known. The last time we saw Jun Li, she was the coroner from the show Minority Report, and was dressed like a Rave victim.

Well, inconveniently there’s some spooky happenings at the house and the kids are acting up and misbehaving in ways they didn’t before she came there, which increases the tension between her and John’s character as he wonders if she can be fair to him, especially taking into account their dramatic past together.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this season because its so rare to see Asian Americans as stars in a horror show. Actually, this show is pretty good about diversity, and a sensitive portrayal of children with various disabilities. The disabilities are not the source of any of the horror (some outside force is) so that’s another stereotype that’s been upended.  Its not as hysterically over the top as American Horror Story, so I’m able to get caught up in the mystery without getting a headache, and the characters are all mostly likable.

 

The Flash

Image result for the flash season four iris

I’m just really starting to get into this show. I watched most of last season and understood maybe half of what was happening, but I did like the characters, which is what mostly draws me into a show. My favorite characters are Iris, and Cisco, and I got to see a lot of both of them in the season premiere, although I like all of the characters on the show except Caitlin Snow. That actress acts like she’s in a different show altogether, but she has good chemistry with the other characters, so I can tolerate her.

Can I just say how much I genuinely love Iris. She is by every definition of the term, a  rare flower. She’s gorgeous, graceful, intelligent, and heavily reminds me of Nichelle Nichols version of Uhura, an example of the kind of woman I wanted to be as a child. I hate to say this, because I really like Barry, but she is waaaay too good for him. I also love that Iris is a Black woman, because it’s so rare that Black women get to be loved, sacrificed for, or  damseled in mainstream media, and I am here for it. She also gets some really nice speeches during the episode.

Last season, Barry sacrificed himself to save the love of his every existence, and entered what is known as The Speed Force. I think its the source of his powers or something. I’m not too clear on that. Anyway Cisco comes up with a way to save him, but the Barry that comes back to Earth is deeply confused and unintelligible. The entire situation is complicated by a supposed new enemy, come to challenge Barry, a Samurai with a sword that causes earthquakes. The entire crew needs to save Barry, so he can save the city.

I’m looking forward to this new season as I’ve heard that Ralph Dibney’s Elongated Man will be featured on the show. I used to read  his comics as a kid.  Harrison Wells will be making another appearance, too, along with a character played by Danny Trejo. Katee Sackoff is also supposed to show up as a supervillain, I think. Killer Frost has already put in an appearance in this first episode, and this season is supposed to have a lighter tone than the last, which I think all superhero shows could use a dose of.

So, I’m in, I guess.

 

The Orville

Image result for the orville

I’ve been watching this off and on.. Its still rather uneven n tone, but hopefully it will settle down into what it wants to be by the end of the season. Its not a bad show but it wavers between wanting to be a comedy, with some rather juvenile humor, a drama relationship, and a space opera, and these three things while done effectively, are not meshing well with each other. The switches between styles can be jarring and obvious.

Seth McFarlane’s presence does bring in the guest stars, though. We got a Charlize Theron guest shot, and a cameo from Liam Neeson, which was pretty cool. I kinda like most of the characters, but the surprise for me was the ex-wife and  First Officer, played by Adrianne Palicki. Her, and most of the other women, are the  smartest people on the show. Most of the guys are well… kinda weird, and not too bright, but I like them anyway. There’s a metal robot, and an alien with a same sex husband, and so far the show has been very respectful of the two of them, treating them just like any other couple on the ship. I’m not sure this counts as gay representation though, since they’re both aliens from a mono-gendered  planet.

Its not a bad show. Or rather, not as bad as I thought it was going to be because I was a little dubious about McFarlane being on the show and he and I don’t share the same humor. We still don’t, but so far he hasn’t done anything to actually upset me, so I’m inclined to keep watching.

 

American Horror Story

I’ve pretty much stopped watching this. I’m just not in the frame of mind to consider it entertaining right now, even though it may well be for some people.

 

Outlander

Image result for outlander season 3

I’m a lot less interested in Claire’s life in the fifties and sixties then I am in her life in the past, which is how this season has begun. In order to raise their chid in safety Claire has gone back to her own time period to raise her little girl. Her current husband has issues with this of course but is willing to wrap his head around the fact that his wife has two very different lives, and that her child is not his. That’s a lot to ask of a man, but he seems to be down for all this.

There’s slightly less Jaime in the opening episodes of this season, so I’m not really as invested as I normally would be. I generally do not like romances, and I haven’t read any of the books this show is based on, but I actually like the show for the romance between Claire and Jaime. Go figure! I guess I’m just a sucker for a period romance, I guess.

 

Forthcoming

This weekend is the debut of the show Mindhunter by David Fincher on Netflix. I’ll definitely be watching it, as its based on one of John Douglas’ non-fiction books on serial killer profiling. I’ve read all of his books as he makes the topic very accessible. Also I like David Fincher. The Atlantic review is here:

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/mindhunter-review-netflix/542781/

 

My review for the first few episodes will be next week along with my long form review of Bladerunner 2049.

I was supposed to see The Mountain Between Us with Mum, but she changed her mind, the night before, and kicked me out of the house to go see what I wanted, all by myself. I really enjoyed Bladerunner, and have a lot of feelings, and thinky-thoughts about it. My review is in two parts, covering the plot and characters, in comparison to the first film and the book, and then, in part two, some of the technical stuff, like the cinematography, music, and themes.

 

Amended to add: The Supernatural Fox Sisters have a thread up on Twitter listing 31 Horror movies that feature Black women, and rather than review The Thing vs The Thing, I think I’m going to review a few of these movies instead, as some of them are my favorites exactly because there are Black women in them as the main characters.

http://www.graveyardshiftsisters.com/2017/09/watch-31-horror-movies-starring-black.html

I chose five of these movies from the list to review. I’ll surprise you with which ones.

Last Week Tonite On Tumblr

Generally happy stuff to start off your week, especially if you haven’t heard some things yet:

Movie News

Image result for happy kermit gif

The first official trailer for Pacific Rim is LIT!!! Hollywood is killing it with the music for these trailers, but I do have to remind them that just because a movie has Black people in it doesn’t mean you need to put rap music in the trailer. Some of us recognize different musical styles, although I realize that the soundtrack can go a long way towards getting a certain type of Black guy into the theater, (namely that no account Pooky from down the street.)

I love that we get to hear Boyega’s natural accent again in an action film. I’m definitely taking my niece to see this because she loved Mako Mori in the first movie, and John Boyega was her first movie boyfriend. This movie also heavily reminds me of The Power Rangers, only for grownups, because its more violent. (I’m pretty sure there’s also lots more of the cussing.)

Boyega stars as Jake Pentacost, the son of the late Stacker, who gets called into Jaeger service, from his underworld criminal lifestyle ,by his adopted sister, Mako.

@@

I’m really looking forward to the reboot of The Predator franchise because it has a long history of racial progressiveness. The first movie featured the first time team up of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers, and I guess the makes realized they had a good thing going, because the second film starred Danny Glover ,as the hero of the movie, and Maria Conchita Alonso, who gets to live to the end of the movie. The third movie, Alien Vs Predator starred Sanaa Lathan, a Black woman as the hero of that movie and it’s one of my favorite Predator films, naturally. 

It’s interesting that as many tropes about race have been created in the horror genre, it’s also been a genre that’s been very progressive in its treatment of women, and characters of color, allowing them to be heroes and heroines, allowing them to be the stars, and sometime save the day, or the Earth. But this version of Predator appears to be more mainstream and there’s always tropes in mainstream movies.

Its as if mainstream movies know no other language beyond the visual shorthand of stereotypes (or maybe mainstream writers are just a bunch of lazy fucks who are unwilling to think outside the box). Namely The Black Guy Dies First Trope, and The Smurfette Syndrome.

Mainstream movies simply don’t have  track record for subverting tropes that the Horror genre does, and I’ve noticed, the more mainstream a horror movie  franchise becomes, the less likely it is to star a PoC, or have the woman be the primary character. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, just a trend I noticed.

I do blame the original Nights of the Living Dead for this. Something of George Romero’s liberal sensibilities in the making of that movie (and casting a Black man as the lead), has made its way into the genre.

Also, I just love Keegan Michael Key and want to see him defeat a Predator.

Keegan-Michael Key Joining Shane Black’s ‘The Predator’ (Exclusive)

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/predator-keegan-michael-key-joins-shane-blacks-reboot-961207

Director Shane Black has shared a look at his team of alien hunters.

Soon, the hunt will begin... again.

 

@@

I thought this was a really interesting article about casting more than one Black person per movie. Now if we can get to the point where we can cast more than one gay person per film, or one woman per action  movie, or hey! let’s get all wild and shit and put two, count ’em! TWO, women of color in one mainstream movie, and let them interact with each other. 

I know, it’s crazy right?!!!

Image result for dogs and cats /ghostbusters gif

 

Chadwick Boseman And Sterling K. Brown Remember When There Could Only Be One Black Actor In A Movie

“The opportunities are not so scarce. And that’s an important moment to note.”

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jarettwieselman/chadwick-boseman-and-sterling-k-brown-remember-when-there?utm_term=.jfaWKG0qQ#.wavvWkD5R

Chadwick Boseman and Sterling K. Brown in Marshall.

@@

Image result for scared kermit gif

Here is the official trailer for the live action version of Tokyo Ghoul. I’ve heard that Hollywood is planning an all out assault on Manga with live action movies of some very famous books. My stomach dropped as soon as I heard that because nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is asking for Americanized versions of Full Metal Alchemist and Akira. ( I swear to Gob, if Akira does not star Osric Chau, I’m gonna personally send J J Abrams a strongly worded letter suggesting that he go fuck himself!) Now these movies have not been cast yet, but hopefully, they learned their fucking lesson from the handful of whitewashed flops in the past few years. 

Yes, it looks almost as terrifying as the anime!

Note to Hollywood:

Please, stop removing Asian people from the stories they created, and cast them as the main protagonists!!!!!

People who are fans of these stories are well used to seeing Asian faces, and some of us have a pretty large pantheon of Asian, and Asian American actors they enjoy watching. We do not read anime, or read Manga, so that we can see White people. If we wanted to see White people in Asian influenced media, we’d just watch your whitewashed dreck!

@@

This is why Osric Chau needs to be in any live action version of Akira. Here he is  in a (kind of) fan made trailer of The Akira Project. This is AWESOME!!!!

@@

The Twitter and Tumblr response to this article had me cackling the whole week. I mean, how do you reach a point in your emotional development, where you have had your ass beat by this person 18 times, and you still out here signing checks your ass can’t cash, even when you cheat.

Maria Sharapova’s Rivalry With Serena Williams Is In Her Head

Sharapova’s new memoir suggests that she still can’t seem to accept the reality that her whiteness is not enough to compensate for her own failings.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/bimadewunmi/maria-sharapovas-rivalry-with-serena-williams-is-in-her-head?utm_term=.jpMJEzJvw#.mjQPrOPmB

She’s not good enough at tennis to have a rivalry with Serena. You have to be able to sometimes be able to beat someone for it to be a rivalry as opposed to a regularly scheduled ass whoopin’.
It’s never a rivalry if you’ve only beaten someone two times and they’ve beaten you 18 times in a row and badly Serena has decimated this woman for a decade-plus there is no rivalry it’s only Domination by Serena, Maria knows that but pride mixed with delusion is a motherfucker

that’s like me having a rivalry with bill gates lmao

 

I have a rivalry with Beyoncé

 

It’s like I had a rivalry with god by throwing rocks at the sky.

 sauvamente

Sharap it’s over needs to put the meth pipe down and face reality. She’s shit and a cheat. Retire.

 pinkcheesegreenghost

Even illegal, performance enhancing drugs wasn’t enough to keep her from losing 18 times

 stayingwoke

18-2. That’s 90%. I don’t even have a 90% win rate in closing a car door all the way.

 

my-friends-call-me-lol

I have a rivalry with the sky, nothing can be higher than me.

 btheadventurer

Serena don’t give a fuck bout her. She’s literally has beef with her imagination.

 

 

 

@@

Image result for mad max movies

*Okay , here’s some commentary on why dystopian apocalypse wardrobes always seem to consist of bondage and fetish gear. Personally I blame Mad Max for starting that trend, but this person has another theory on this very important issue:

why does so much post apocalypse media have people wearing straight up bdsm/fetish gear like. do the kinksters watch the world ending and think “oh boy i can wear my bondage gear in public now”

 

What I wanna know is why the spiky kink warriors are always the bad evil marauders. They might be into some weird shit and unafraid to show it but that doesn’t mean they want to go around killing dudes. They’re a tight-knit bunch. A lot of them are queer. They understand the importance of community.

If the government collapses and all laws come to an end, the people rampaging around killing and looting are gonna be like, frat boys and 4chan rejects. You can mistrust the bondage raiders all you like but they’re definitely the ones you’re going to run to for help when the neoliberal blood cultists and Nazi meme demons lay siege to your survivor enclave. There’s gonna be gayboy berserkers busting up slaver gangs and burning down warboy frat houses. The assless-chaps leather daddies and weird petplay people are gonna be the accidental peacekeepers of the post-apocalyptic world just because they’re the only motherfuckers who understand the importance of consent anymore.

Listen. Don’t come to me asking how to get the secret cadre of bisexual death commandos to protect your wretched tent village if you’re scared that we might call in the kinksters for backup. I don’t give a shit if they dress up like dogs and spend all day writing poems about butt plugs. There’s assholes out there acting like Vlad the Impaler on a meth bender and you’re afraid of seeing a nipple. Fuck you. If you really want to get rid of the MRA death gangs you’re going to have to accept that a lesbian chainsaw dominatrix or two might be involved. It’s the fucking post-apocalypse my guy we gotta weigh our priorities here

 

@@

I love these Gothic Fables :

Black Diaspora Gothic

Image result for black gothic

your mother tells you to go find something for her. it’s not there. when she goes looking for it, it reappears, just where she said it was.

this woman is your auntie. that man is your uncle. you have too many aunties and uncles to remember. you haven’t seen them, but they all have seen you. you know, when you were no bigger than THIS?

 

You start to notice that your mom actually does look like one of your little friends. Too much. More and more each day.

You do have ____ money, but you don’t know where it is coming from. It’s just that every time you put your hand in your pocket you have just the right money you need.

 

You buy a tin of brand new cookies. When you open it there are only sewing supplies. Tin after tin there are only sewing supplies. You continuously have cookie money, but there are no more cookies.

 

you are walking down the street. you spot your favorite cousin and wave in greeting. but wait – she has a friend with her. the friend is also your cousin. he smiles. you have never seen this man in your life. it’s fine. family is family.he waves at someone behind you. it’s your cousin. your cousin waves. the legion of cousins waves
as a child, the sizzle of a hot comb or the burn of a relaxer has desensitized yet traumatized you. you tell yourself there’s food at the house just when you think about heading down to wendy’s. there’s always food at the house
  1. nightshadepaladin the-afro-argonaut

    you take the chicken out of the freezer.your mother calls. did you take the chicken out of the freezer? of course you did – but the counter is bare. you take the chicken out of the freezer.did you take the chicken out of the freezer? of course you did. you do a double-take. there is no chicken. there is no freezer.<i>did you take the chicken out of the freezer?

    You think you might be suffering from amnesia … You could have sworn you just took the chicken out of the freezer but each time you go back to check on it thawing you find it right back in the ice box. Maybe you just imagined taking it out. But this feels like the third or fourth time.. Also, hasn’t the clock read 4:15 each time you remember coming in to take it out? Just 45 minutes before mom is due home. Theres nooo way it’s going to thaw in that amount of time…

    butpersephoneitsspring

    you open a tub of ice cream and find rice. you open another, and find chicken; you open yet a third, and find stew. was there ever ice cream in the house? does ice cream exist at all? you don’t know.

    aphonicgod

    that girl? she your 5th cousin twice removed. both your parents got 5+ siblings and those siblings each have 3-5 kids. your great grandparents had 15+ kids and 10+ siblings. that random guy who says hi to you is actually your 3rd cousin his name is Jackson. say hi.

    Your mom’s always asking you if you think she looks like Booboo The Fool. You’ve never met this person, but you instinctively know that the answer should be no. One day your mom looks a little different. Is it her, or is it Booboo?

    Your mother tells you not to play in your nice clothes. After school you come home and take off your nice clothes and replace them with your play clothes.While out playing with some friends you fall into some mud. You look down and you’re still in your nice clothes. Not the other ones your switched into.In the distance you hear the distinct snap of a switch being made.

     

    lkeke35 

    You remember there’s food at the house just before you decide to go to Wendy’s. There’s always food at the house. The food is always freshly made and hot, and although there’s a huge variety to choose from, it’s always the same dishes. Cornbread, yams, potatoes, fried chicken, biscuits, green beans, a variety of side dishes but only ever one kind of meat: chicken.You’ve never seen anyone cooking in this house. You know the people in it have full time jobs, but the food is always ready no matter the time of day…or night.

    You are not The One. Your mother is not The One.No one knows The One.But everyone knows The One is somewhere.Everyone knows The One is waiting. And if someone finds The One…Pray no one ever does.

    isisnicole 

    You are told to fix your face or it will be fixed for you. My face is a part of your face so are you fixing your face also? You fix your face does my face get fixed at the same time?

    stsathyre intheindigo

    There’s just a little clap of thunder, not even full applause. Turn off the TV. Turn off the lights. Don’t touch the phone. Stay out of the tub. Whatever you were watching will never be seen or heard from again.

    You go outside to play, but you can’t come back in, because you smell like outside. You smell like an abandoned baby bird. Not her baby bird. How does one smell like inside again? Somehow you get dinner.

    Your mother had a dream. She calls every family member living or dead.

    fantasticallyvicious sauvamente

    grandma says “stop runnin in and out of my house.” grandma says “close the door you lettin all the cool air out.”every time you open one door, a different but similar grandma waits, demanding that you close the next portal to their worlds.

    spookiest-star iridessence

    You hear your mom call your name from another room. You respond only to be met with silence. You immediately get up and start running to find your mom, knowing she expects you in front of her ASAP. The silence is deafening. You hear your name called again, this time with a sharper tone. You’re not sure where the voice is coming from but you run around, only finding empty rooms. Again, your name is called with the ferocity of nails on a chalkboard and you panic. Your mother’s voice carries…

     stonecoldfemme

    You open the Danish cookie tin and find sewing supplies. Your trust has been broken. You have never seen the tins in the store, and when you finally do, you are afraid to look inside. Who are these people that create sewing tins with cookies on them?

    karnythia cypheroftyr

    There was a party. You made yourself a plate to take home. It was not enough food. It is never enough food. Even though you cooked too, the ribs made by someone you don’t know are the best you have ever had.

     karnythia

    the women have been doing your hair since you could sit up. the hands in your head are both familiar and new at the same time. each touch is a memory handed down from women for generations. out of the corner of your eye you see your mother’s mother’s mother’s behind you. stay still. don’t cry. tenderheadedness is a fault. you must suffer to be respectable, black girl child, the hot comb smells of seared ear skin.

     

     angelsscream

    Your fave Auntie makes the best potato salad. She is designated potato salad maker by the family. You get to the cookout, your fave Auntie couldn’t come and your not fave auntie made the potato salad.

     boolyphyll

    Your mother tells you to take the chicken out of the freezer before she gets home. You take out the chicken. You take out more chicken. The chicken never ends, the freezer is full of chicken, and only chicken. She gets home, everything you brought up and put on the counter is not the chicken. She is furious.

    psammoma 

    Your mother tells you to do the dishes. The sink is empty, the dishwasher is empty. You search the house for dishes. You own no dishes. You don’t remember owning any dishes. What are dishes? Who are they? Your mother screams at you to do the dishes. “What dishes?” You cry. “ALL THESE RIGHT HERE!” She screams, pointing at the sink. The dishwasher. The counters. There are no dishes. But you do the dishes.

     

@@

The X-Men

I’ve been reading the X-Men comics since the 80s and I can fully attest that this is generally true. This really is what most of the plots were in the 80s and 90s. I stopped reading the books in the late 90s, but I imagine this is still true:

A Complete Listing of All The Plots of the X-Men Comic Books

– vampires vs xmen
– god damn it where is [insert xmen]
– youre a better leader. no youre a better leader. no youre a better leader. no youre a b…
– someone dies
– someone comes back to life
– THE XMEN GO TO SPACE
– magneto is in the yard and wont leave

 

– Time for the annual kidnapping (either Mags and Charlie or Sabretooth and Logan, occasionally others)
– House blowing up builds character
– Put that thing back where it came from or so help me

 

-i came back from the future because you need to stop

-your best friend turns out to be mystique

-hey look some new x kids, time to ignore the ones we already had for the rest of *checks watch* forever

-the x men are DISBANDED!!!!!

-alternate universe babies

-your best friend turns out to be a clone/xorn/psychic projection

 

-well i guess it was Mr. Sinister all along

-fuck the Summers family

-no seriously fuck the Summers family

-i quit the x-men but normal life sucks

-just like the last time but i guess kind of grittier

-fuck the Summers family… IN SPACE

-wellp i guess Charles faked his own death again

-goddamnit Hank don’t put that there

 

– who the fuck is possessed this time

– the villain is in love with storm but who can blame them

– goddammit give me my body back you’re using it WRONG

– somehow we’ve ended up in a fetish club, let’s just go with it

– we’re revamping the uniforms again! deal with it logan

– our powers are gone! now they’re back! now i’ve got someone else’s!

– who wants more trauma? too late, you’re getting it

– the phoenix force is tired

 

@@

Introverts

Seriously, this speaks to me for some reason:

@@

Disability

*As a person with one of those unpredictable disabilities, where I have good days and bad days, I just found this post hilarious. Yes, I have wanted to say these things to able-bodied people:

you ever realize how able bodied people just are not expected to do things that cause them excruciating physical pain? like they’re just. not

if i shouldn’t use my cane because i can sometimes technically walk without it, it would just hurt like a motherfucker then abled people should no longer be allowed to use potholders to take things out of the oven because i mean

well they could technically pick up a hot pan with their bare hands. it would just hurt like a motherfucker

 

*sees an abled person using potholders*

i just think it’s really sad that you’re giving up on yourself like that

 

*abled person rests the day after they sprained an ankle*

‘oh come on you can’t just lie in bed. it won’t get better if you don’t run around! get up and help me!’

*abled person uses protective eyewear when handling dangerous chemicals*

‘sweetie why would you limit yourself like that.’

*abled person wears shoes*

‘some people are MUCH WORSE OFF THAN YOU and they don’t wear stupid things like shoes! stop pretending that it hurts to tread on broken glass’

 

@@

*The Defenders

Really, I actually liked The Defenders, but this post is an incredibly accurate description of each of these character’s approaches to problems:

The Defenders: How Shall We Get to the Boardroom?

Danny “White Privilege” Rand: Shows up in a suit, gets escorted in by security.

Luke “Harlem’s Hero” Cage: Busting in like the Kool-Aid Man

Matthew “Vigilantism as an addiction metaphor” Murdock:unnecessary staircase parkour with a scarf on his face

*Jessica Goddamn Jones: Takes the fucking elevator like a normal-ass person, what is wrong with you people.

Discussions and Linkspam (October 2017)

So it is officially October, which means its time for me to start watching and reviewing horror movies. Its also the start of Pilot season, with new and old shows premiering on network TV. I’ve already watched the new season premiere of The Exorcist and I liked that, along with episodes of The Orville. I have not yet watched The Gifted, and I simply skipped The Inhumans. I may check out the second episode of it though. There are also a few movies I’ll be reviewing this month, too.

 

Image result for fury Road gifs

Mad Max: Fury Road and Disability

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/from-louis-armstrong-to-the-nfl-ungrateful-as-the-new-uppity/amp

View story at Medium.com

http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/2015/06/mad-max-fury-road-makes-rape-arguments-invalid/

http://www.popmatters.com/feature/194573-power-and-disability-in-mad-max-fury-road1/

@@

 

Image result for black people gifs

Black Issues:

When I was watching American Gods, we got to see penises all over the place. The show did not shy away from depicting them, but one thing that was absent was any sign of Ricky Whittle’s (as he is the only Black man in the show. ) I do recall a full frontal Black male in Westworld, and I was kinda shocked. Not because of what it was, but because it’s so rare.

Don’t laugh! This is important. #Allblackpenisesmatter!

Yeah, this is a pretty good reason why I don’t, and have never watched almost anything on CBS. (I used to watch the Big Bang Theory until I began to really, really, hate every single one of the main characters on that show.) Nevertheless CBS is very possibly one of the Whitest networks.

https://www.salon.com/2016/05/22/cbs_is_the_gop_of_tv_the_networks_year_of_white_men_coincides_all_too_well_with_the_rise_of_donald_trump/

 

“Ungrateful” is the new Uppity: I don’t think there are enough words to unpack all of the meaning in the word ungrateful. It says far too much about the person using it.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/from-louis-armstrong-to-the-nfl-ungrateful-as-the-new-uppity/amp

@@

 

Image result for grits food gifs

From VerySmartBrothers/The Root

These are some of the funniest articles I read last week:

This is an all important discussion on grits. I guess I must be pretty boujie because I will eat grits with sugar and lot and lots of butter, but  I don’t actually care all that much because I will eat grits with anything in them really. Bacon, sugar, cheese, butter, I don’t really care. For me, grits is the main meal.

http://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/sugar-on-grits-are-the-white-people-of-breakfast-grains-1818998656

 

I think the author of this piece left out the all-important body language portion of this discussion, because “clapping” is key here. If any portion of these phrases is accompanied by measured clapping, especially during the phrasing, then you best just start planning your funeral,  cuz its already too late.

http://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/threatening-black-phrases-ranked-1818770473

 

It turns out I have quite a bit of Black Privilege, especially #s 18, 16, and 15. Hell, I can’t fight worth a darn, but apparently I look like I can, and have two sisters (and a brother) who love to throw down.

http://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/types-of-black-privilege-ranked-1818633495

@@

Everything Wrong with The Big Bang Theory

 

I started watching this show as a favor to a friend who was really into it, and I enjoyed it for a while. When it first aired, I avoided it because I did not like Penny, and after I started watching it regularly, there were a whole host of things I began to actively hate about the show. One of the first things that worked my last nerve was my ideas about  Penny were correct. Penny is a dumb, incurious, basic Becky, with a certain amount of snark, a that snark is only used in service of making fun of the male nerds of the show. 

But my greatest issues were the show’s depiction of  women, and its treatment of  Raj. To a one, every single woman on the show has nothing but disdain, and contempt, for the nerdy pursuits of the primary characters, and I found it very telling that the show’s writers could not imagine any women who were nerds in the same way the male characters were nerds.

That most of these women are in STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields is not a good substitute for their complete lack of appreciation (and even hatred) for nerd culture. Outside of wanting to be princesses at Disney world, the women are shown as humorless, cultureless, unimaginative nags, who only seem to want sex and marriage. This is a white male nerd’s idea of what women are like and it is wholly inaccurate. Also there are absolutely no women of color on the show (beyond Raj’s sister in the earlier seasons, who seemed to be the template for this.) The showrunners simply could not envision a world where women could be, pretty,  involved in STEM, and actually like and appreciate Star Trek, and Disney princesses too (which is impossible, because every woman I’ve ever known in, also STEM loves Star Trek.)

As for the main characters though:

 

*Here are essays on how the masculinity in Fight Club has a direct bearing on the philosophies of the Alt-Right and Charlottesville. This also ties into my theories of how pop cultural depictions of anti-heroes are often adopted by fringe elements, of White male society, to represent their ideas. Characters like Tyler Durden, and The Joker, get to be the public icons of their philosophies, in the same way that Black gangsta rap culture adopted the mafia figures from movies like The Godfather, and 1980s Scarface.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/dec/13/fight-clubs-dark-fantasies-reality-chuck-palahniuk

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fight-club-2-chuck-palahniuk_us_5845c35ae4b028b32338a632

http://thefederalist.com/2017/03/30/why-fight-club-still-matters/

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

@@

Image result for GOT shame gifs

 

 

*Recently on Tumblr there was a discussion of the difference in reception of the movies Rough Night, about a group of White women who get into a night of adventures while partying in the city, and Girl’s Trip, which is about a group of Black women doing the same thing while on a trip to New Orleans. Rough Night was a complete flop, while Girl’s Trip went on to make millions and was a huge hit. Both films have nearly identical premises. Leaving aside the racial aspects, the discussion evolved into the depiction of sex workers in both movie’s narratives, and how sex workers are often mistreated in film and TV. Real world sex workers are often subjects of disdain, contempt, abuse and murder, and it was considered irresponsible for Rough Night to show the death, and humiliation of a male sex worker, as a source of comedy.

“First thing’s first: Strippers are people, and sex workers unfortunately have to tirelessly remind people of this over and over. ‘Sex workers are very marginalized groups of people who don’t have the same workplace safety and rights as other workers—and we get murdered a lot,’” says Arabelle Raphael, a porn performer and sex worker in Los Angeles. ‘Our lives are seen as disposable.’ A long-term mortality study on sex workers found that active sex workers have a mortality rate of 459 per 100,000 people—to put that in perspective, the general public mortality rate is around 1.9 per every 100,000 people.”

http://www.vocativ.com/409744/rough-night-film-trailer-draws-ire-of-sex-workers-and-allies/

https://ww2.kqed.org/pop/2017/06/20/does-rough-nights-box-office-flop-indicate-a-cultural-shift-in-how-we-see-sex-workers/

http://affinitymagazine.us/2017/03/09/rough-night-a-comedy-about-murder-and-abuse-of-male-sex-workers/