The Racism in Fandom (Do I Really Need to Number This One?) Chronicles

This is PoC at this point.

Crowded Gif

Fantasy Writer N.K. Jemisin Explains the Rise of Racism in Fandom

I’m going to start this off with a quote from Chip Delany, writing in the essay “Racism and Science Fiction” which was published in NYRSF in 1998. It’s online, you can look it up.

“Since I began to publish in 1962, I have often been asked, by people of all colors, what my experience of racial prejudice in the science fiction field has been. Has it been nonexistent? By no means: It was definitely there. A child of the political protests of the ’50s and ’60s, I’ve frequently said to people who asked that question: As long as there are only one, two, or a handful of us, however, I presume in a field such as science fiction, where many of its writers come out of the liberal-Jewish tradition, prejudice will most likely remain a slight force—until, say, black writers start to number thirteen, fifteen, twenty percent of the total. At that point, where the competition might be perceived as having some economic heft, chances are we will have as much racism and prejudice here as in any other field.

We are still a long way away from such statistics.

But we are certainly moving closer.”

 

N.K.Jemisen, Leslie Jones, John Boyega, Candice Patton

Danai Gurira, Nicole Beharie, Lucy Liu

http://observationdeck.kinja.com/pop-discourse-the-state-of-black-female-characters-in-1725969028/1725979051

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*We’re going to be hearing a lot about this topic, as next month is Asian American ,and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The Model Minority Myth has often been used as a way to silence Black Americans from speaking out on their own oppression, as it was invented as a way for White racists to escape culpability for their behavior, and ignore systemic racism, by “pretending” to elevate another racial group to favored status. I say “pretending” because White people don’t actually care about Asian Americans either. The MMM has been used as an excuse to ignore social issues within Asian American communities.

The real fallout from the Model Minority Myth for Asian Americans:

Zack isn’t a new breed of Asian-American. It’s just that Zack and the millions of others like him are rarely seen in Hollywood movies. It was 1987 when TIME ran its cover story, “Those Asian American Whiz Kids,” which chronicled the academic prowess and affluence of American-born children of Asian immigrants. It was a flashpoint for Asian-Americans at the time, who became aware of their image as the “model minority” (a term which first appeared in the New York Times in 1966). A follow-up in 2014 revealed things hadn’t changed: “The belief in a blanket Asian-American culture is so thick that it has resulted in confusion when Asian-Americans deviate from the model minority myth,” wrote journalist Jack Linshi. “[T]hose who display that diversity are often perceived as exceptions.”

This misperception that Asian-Americans are naturally gifted and succeed more has been devastating for the psyche; the Counseling and Mental Health Center of the University of Texas at Austin purports Asian-American students are “more likely to seek medical leave, more likely to go on academic probation, and are less likely to graduate in four years.” The university has statistics to illustrate the crippling pressure: 33 percent of Asian-American students drop out of high school. Asian-American students were likely to report stress, loss of sleep, and “feelings of hopelessness” but “were less likely to seek counseling.”

And not all of them have the resources to seek help: 11.8 percent of Asian-Americans live below the poverty line. The model minority monolith ignores Asian-Americans from less-prosperous regions. A national report in 2015 revealed that those of Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong heritage “earned bachelor’s degrees at a lower rate than the national average.” In 2013, The Myth of the Model Minority author Rosalind Chou told NPR “there are consequences to living in a country with a racial hierarchy,” to which Sharon H. Chang argued in ThinkProgress results in complete and total invisibility, even within one’s own minority group.

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*This one was a topic that I’d both noticed and didn’t notice. I’m one of those women who are somewhere in the medium brown category, so the only time I ever noticed colorism, was when I noticed how I was treated when I was around girls with lighter skin. I kind of knew, but didn’t,  that girls who were darker than me got treated shabbily, but it didn’t really register until I saw the movie Dark Girls a few years ago. I couldn’t imagine how horribly the women in that movie had been treated, and I’m sorry to say I’d remained largely oblivious to it. I’m taking steps to correct my woefully ignorant stance on this issue:

The “Angry Dark Skin Friend”

There’s a common pattern in many forms of black media where there are 2 black female characters who are friends or sisters, one being lighter in skintone, while the other is darker. Even though darkskin and lightskin women form friendships all the time, the way they’re commonly depicted in Black Media is what stands out and perpetuates certain stereotypes:

1. in the film/show/etc, the main character/focus of the 2 is typical the lighter skin woman

2. this makes the darker skin woman the “sidekick”

3. the lighter skin woman is portrayed as prettier, nicer, “classier”, more reserved, and/or overall more likeable and desirable

4. the darker skin woman is portrayed as shady, mean, loud, desperate, abrasive, aggressive, and/or overall less attractive (many would say “ghetto”)

These photos show just a few examples that came to mind…

Coming to America (1988) – The darker skin sister was more desperate for a man, chasing after Prince Akeem, Simi, and even her sister’s ex-fiancé. In the frame of society’s norms, this would be seen as “fast”, “tacky” or lacking in morals, which would therefore, make her less fitting to be a wife.

House Party (1990) – The darker skin friend (AJ Johnson) was the louder, more outgoing friend who was ready to date both Kid & Play, whereas Tisha Campbell’s character was more timid, and ended up being Kid’s “better suited” love interest.

Martin (1992-1997) – Once again, Tisha Campbell is playing the main female character, Gina Waters, and love interest to the main character, Martin Payne. While Gina is depicted as a kinder, classier, professional, “wifey” type, her best friend/assistant Pamela James, played by Tichina Arnold, is depicted as a loud, angry, man-less, berating black woman with “buckshots” and “beedeebees” in her “horse” hair, who was constantly butting heads with Martin.

Proud Family (2001-2005) – Penny, the lighter skin girl, was the main character with Dijonay, the darker skin girl, as the friend/sidekick. Dijonay had a less “traditional” name, as did her many siblings, was portrayed as louder, having more attitude, and was constantly chasing after Sticky, a boy who not only didn’t want her, but preferred the lighter skin friend, Penny.

Rick Ross’ Music Video for “Aston Martin Music” (2010) – In the early portion of the video, we see a young Ricky out on the block with other neighborhood kids, dreaming about owning a luxury car one day. Among the kids there’s 2 young girls, one darker skin and the other lighter skin. While the darker skin girl is quick to berate him and tear down his dreams of ever being that successful, raising her voice and waving her finger in his face, the lighter skin girl is quick to reassure him and support his dream. Once again, this display reaffirms the stereotype of darker skin women being mean, bitter, and angry, while lighter skin women are kinder, sweeter, and happier.

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*This person is reminding us all that at the intersection of race and sexual expression, there is a helluva lot of anti-Black racism, in the fandoms. As a straight, cis-gender, woman of color, who is supportive of these issues, I really do have to stay on top of of what these communities are saying if I want to be a good ally.  One of the ways I do that is by constantly reading, keeping informed on the subject, through the writings and speeches of those who are are actually experiencing it.

sapphicwocsource:

I’m really tired of white LGBT people sanctimoniously preaching to LGBT people of color what constitutes “good” vs “bad” LGBT representation. You expect us to put up with heavily white-dominated, often toxic and racist representation that harms us, in the name of progressiveness, but at the same time you turn around and make fun of our sources of representation and tell us that they aren’t “good” enough or don’t hold up to your racist, exclusive standards.

You’ll tell us to endure racist writing and racist white characters but then mock LGBT characters of color using all sorts of absurd reasons – “there wasn’t enough time for them!” or “they just aren’t realistic!” or “I’m going to rant about how a children’s cartoon is reinforcing bourgeois, imperialist conceptualizations of class”. You never give LGBT people of color a chance to celebrate the few sources of representation they have. You rant endlessly about white LGBT characters being tokenized or killed off, but when the same things happen tenfold to LGBT characters of color, who are also brutalized, fetishized, and sexualized by both their creators and their fandoms, you use all sorts of justifications to whisk away any criticisms LGBT fans of color have.

Stop telling us what to prioritize and what not to like. Stop making us feel bad for finding representation in sources that you might decry as not “good” or “intellectual” or “radical” enough for you. Stop condescendingly informing us that the shows we love are bad but that the shows you love are good using x circular logic.

You’ll celebrate 0.2 seconds of a same-gender couple’s appearance in a children’s movie (like Finding Dory) but if a show begins to flesh out a storyline for LGBT characters of color (as in The Get Down), you’ll say “lol Dizzee only kissed another boy for a couple seconds so it’s terrible representation and you’re an idiot for liking it”. You’ll lament Commander Lexa’s death but justify Poussey Washington’s death. You’ll fawn over Clarke Griffin but claim that Asami Sato is a “bourgeois light-skinned imperialist”. You’ll drool over Connor Walsh but call Magnus Bane “predatory”. You’ll say “lol Barb from Stranger Things is clearly a lesbian because she died” but remain silent when lesbians of color are brutalized or killed off. You’ll claim needing LGBT representation and use that as a reason not to watch shows with people of color in them but when The Get Down and Queen Sugar both have LGBT representation, you won’t say anything about them or give them the time of day. You’ll glorify Carol, which had sex scenes, but claim that The Handmaiden, which also had sex scenes, involved “the male gaze”. You’ll get angry at cishets for expecting us to put up with heternormative media but tell LGBT people of color to shut up when they criticize how white and racist LGBT shows are and how they alienate LGBT people of color.

And I am completely exhausted by this. It is not “divisive” or “whiny” of me to bring this up because guess what? White LGBT people use the exact same arguments against cishets when they talk about how “LGBT representation is unrealistic and blah blah blah”. Yet you turn around and pull the same line of rhetoric when LGBT people of color try and express themselves. You’ll either use our media (all the “foreign” LGBT movies that you watch and consume, all the iconic LGBT characters of color who broke boundaries and stereotypes, all the LGBT celebrities of color who are outspoken and compassionate, etc) without giving credit where credit is due, or you’ll tokenize our media, stamp it as not good enough, and glorify your often racist, exclusive, and frankly bad media and demand that we put up with it. It is immensely hypocritical, not to mention self-righteous.

And as a corollary, to the above, is a reminder that some shows and movies are engaging in little more than performative diversity. They don’t actually care about representation, but they do want the brownie points that come with doing the absolute bare minimum required to support inclusion. (We’re looking at you MCU, Disney, and DCEU!)

andhumanslovedstories:

There’s such a weird fixation in media about “firsts”. Beauty and the Beast boasting disney’s “first gay scene” is the one I’m thinking about in particular, and Power Rangers with the “first gay superhero”, and in both cases it’s a blink and you’ll miss it thing, something that maintains plausible deniability of queerness within the film itself, but establishing explicit queerness in everything outside the film. We know Lefou is gay because the interview told us he was in disney’s first gay scene.

And most of these discussions of firsts devolve into which first is first. Bill gets announced as the first gay companion on doctor who, and then follows the argument of whether Jack counts as companion, whether he was the first pansexual companion while Bill is the first gay companion, whether Amy or Clara was ever canonically bisexual and should that be a factoring in calculating firsts as well. (I remember a similar argument going on when Martha was announced as the first black companion, and people were like “but Mickey?” And there’s definitely commentary waiting about contentious Firsts and characters of color, but my white ass has nothing incisive to offer on that front except the hope we are kinder and better towards Bill than we were towards Martha.) And meanwhile, here is Bill, a black gay female companion, and while that fact has definitely not gotten lost, it is still very very cool and good that she is the companion even if she is not the Absolute First.

The language of Firsts is everywhere when you start looking for it, the idea that this show/movie/video game is doing something New Never Before Done Whoa Look At The Unprecedented Gay. And when this trend worries me, it’s because:

1) it gives off a strong whiff of performative representation, where the representation isn’t as important as people knowing you’re doing it

1a) the corollary being that the emphasis on First First First makes me worried that creators are not interested in Second Third Fourth. That having had the First *spins wheel, throws dart* Lesbian Asian Marvel character (a guest star in three episodes of the Defenders, maybe fifteen minutes, every gif set celebrating her has the same three quotes because that’s all there is), they are now exempted from every having to write a Second Lesbian Asian Marvel character. Because they already did that. Didn’t you see the article in Entertainment Weekly? It was a very big deal.

2) the trend of press on the First Gay Thing tends to vastly outscale the actually gayness, which traps us in an endless loop of hype and disappointment (versus Dumbledoring where the gayness is revealed retroactively for a previously ambiguous character or relationship, and it’s a weird combination of vindication because you thought they might be gay, surprise because you didn’t expect them to be gay, and disappointment because why didn’t the work just say they were gay)

And this, even more than the rest of this post, is a personal grievance but 3) queer fandom has spent decades finding representation in subtext, in coding, in wishful thinking and disciplined literary analysis of the text. This whole First thing seems come with a subtext that every other character who had significant ambiguous relationships, was flamboyant or butch, was in anyway queercoded? Not queer. This here is the first gay thing, and we’re very brave for being the first to have done it. Gay characters must formally come out to count.

Putting aside explicitly queer characters (which exist! Which have a history that creators and fans are welcome to build upon instead of thinking they have to invent gay representation every time they launch a franchise), queer history and queer art has always entailed writing and reading in between the lines. Which requires there be lines. If the new trend is unwritten in text, out and proud in press, what does that offer? I’m happy that Explicitly Confirmed Queer is a thing that’s happening, I very much am, but if a gay child who has never read a think-piece cannot recognize themself in your Brave Unprecedented Gay Character because they didn’t read your interview with the av club, then what use is that character? What was the point? What have you actually contributed to us?

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And finally, a clear illustration of the difference between racebending and whitewashing, since some o’y’all seem confused on the issues. (Also, I thought this article was really cute! Tag me! I’m the raisin in the bottom left corner.)

This is a jar full of major characters

Actually it is a jar full of chocolate covered raisins on top of a dirty TV tray. But pretend the raisins are interesting and well rounded fictional characters with significant roles in their stories.

We’re sharing these raisins at a party for Western Storytelling, so we get out two bowls.

Then we start filling the bowls. And at first we only fill the one on the left.

This doesn’t last forever though. Eventually we do start putting raisins in the bowl on the right. But for every raisin we put in the bowl on the right, we just keep adding to the bowl on the left.

And the thing about these bowls is, they don’t ever reset. We don’t get to empty them and start over. While we might lose some raisins to lost records or the stories becoming unpopular, but we never get to just restart. So even when we start putting raisins in the bowl on the right, we’re still way behind from the bowl on the left.

And time goes on and the bowl on the left gets raisins much faster than the bowl on the right.

Until these are the bowls.

Now you get to move and distribute more raisins. You can add raisins or take away raisins entirely, or you can move them from one bowl to the other.

This is the bowl on the left. I might have changed the number of raisins from one picture to the next. Can you tell me, did I add or remove raisins? How many? Did I leave the number the same?

You can’t tell for certain, can you? Adding or removing a raisin over here doesn’t seem to make much of a change to this bowl.

This is the bowl on the right. I might have changed the number of raisins from one picture to the next. Can you tell me, did I add or remove raisins? How many? Did I leave the number the same?

When there are so few raisins to start, any change made is really easy to spot, and makes a really significant difference.

This is why it is bad, even despicable, to take a character who was originally a character of color and make them white. But why it can be positive to take a character who was originally white and make them a character of color.

The white characters bowl is already so full that any change in number is almost meaningless (and is bound to be undone in mere minutes anyway, with the amount of new story creation going on), while the characters of color bowl changes hugely with each addition or subtraction, and any subtraction is a major loss.

This is also something to take in consideration when creating new characters. When you create a white character you have already, by the context of the larger culture, created a character with at least one feature that is not going to make a difference to the narratives at large. But every time you create a new character of color, you are changing something in our world.

I mean, imagine your party guests arrive

Oh my god they are adorable!

And they see their bowls

But before you hand them out you look right into the little black girls’s eyes and take two of her seven raisins and put them in the little white girl’s bowl.

I think she’d be totally justified in crying or leaving and yelling at you. Because how could you do that to a little girl? You were already giving the white girl so much more, and her so little, why would you do that? How could you justify yourself?

But on the other hand if you took two raisins from the white girl’s bowl and moved them over to the black girl’s bowl and the white girl looked at her bowl still full to the brim and decided your moving those raisins was unfair and she stomped and cried and yelled, well then she is a spoiled and entitled brat. 

And if you are adding new raisins, it seems more important to add them to the bowl on the right. I mean, even if we added the both bowls at the same speed from now on (and we don’t) it would still take a long time before the numbers got big enough to make the difference we’ve already established insignificant.

And that’s the difference between whitewashing POC characters and making previously white characters POC. And that’s why every time a character’s race is ambiguous and we make them white, we’ve lost an opportunity.

*goes off to eat her chocolate covered raisins, which are no longer metaphors just snacks*

Source: timemachineyeah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Follows (2014): More Thoughts

*So here I am, with more thoughts about this movie, because I just love thinking about it, and analyzing it. Its also a good way to exercise my brain and practice writing. Hopefully this post isn’t too much of a wankfest, and when you watch the movie, maybe some of this will occur to you, too.

For my earlier review of the movie, and the meanings behind the monster, see:

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=it+follows

I’ve wanted, for some time now, to follow that first review with several more observations of the plot and characters. A lot of the meaning gleaned from the movie is through implication, but by looking at the movie’s details, listening carefully to what the characters say, and what they, and the monster, does, you can get a clearer idea of the movie’s meaning.

This movie is not just about sexuality and STDs. That’s just a surface-level description, and the one most easily accessed by the viewer. Those  two subjects are merely the vehicles through which the meaning of the story is being imparted. The movie is actually about the existential fear of growing up, growing old, and death.

Jay:

Jay is a pretty blond girl right on the cusp of womanhood. She is presumably attending some type of community college in her city, and is entering the part of her life where she’s considering leaving home, getting married, and having kids. These are major issues for her, and I think the monster reflects these anxieties about her present and future.

In Rockwell’s famous painting, we see a young girl contemplating her oncoming womanhood. She has thrown her doll to the side (ie. put away childish things) and is considering her  future, comparing herself to the woman in the magazine.

Image result for young girl in mirror/rockwell

Mary’s pose seems “apprehensive, as if she understands that womanhood is upon her and fears that she is not quite ready,” writes art expert Karal Ann Marling in her 1997 book, Norman Rockwell.

http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2013/03/29/art-entertainment/norman-rockwell-girl-at-the-mirror.html

I feel that the above is an accurate statement of Jay’s mindset. Several times we see Jay looking at herself in mirrors. In the first instance, she is just using it to put on her makeup. She is playing at being an adult, copying behavior she’s seen her mother engage in many times. But Jay is very young and not as sophisticated. The reason I say playing at being a adult is becasue of Jay’s visible bra straps. A more sophisticated, and experienced woman would know to wear a bra with straps that match with her dress. We can tell from this, that Jay is still new at this whole, dating thing, and is pretending at being an older, more experienced woman.

 

The second time we see her, in the mirror, is after Hugh has passed the monster to her. Everyone believes she has been raped, although  the sex was consensual. Nevertheless, this scene evokes the type of contemplation scene we often see in movies, where a woman has undergone some radical, physical experience (such as a sexual assault) and is staring, wonderingly, at herself in a mirror.

We’re not sure exactly what Jay is thinking here, as she carefully inspects her privates, but the idea being imparted,  is that she’s genuinely a woman  now, whereas before, she was only playing at being one. In the parlance of gaming, she has had sex with an adult male, of her own free will, and so now, has leveled up.  She is no longer a child. This has nothing to do with sex, exactly, because Jay was not a virgin when she slept with Hugh, but what happened to her does represent some type of  major change in her life that she is apprehensive about. When seen in the context of the rest of the movie,  for the first time, she may be thinking of her impending death, in some nebulous future.

It Follows Mirror

 

Time:

The time period for the events in the movie have been deliberately obscured, according to the director. There is no specific year, that it occurs, as evidenced by people’s clothing, the TV shows they watch, and cars they drive. People are dressed  modern, but all of the TV  shows anyone watches are more than twenty years old. All of the movies are in black and white. The cars are all older models, except for Paul’s car which looks slightly more modern at the end of the movie. Yara’s shell reader throws a monkey wrench into everything by being futuristic. That’s an object, that’s never been invented in this world.

Its also impossible to tell what time of year it is. The weather changes from sunny, to dark and cloudy, from day to day. Its cold enough for people to wear heavy jackets and boots in the evening, but warm  enough at midday for Kelly to drink cold sodas,  and  for Jay to swim in the backyard pool. One night, its warm enough for Jay to fall asleep on top of her car wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shorts, but earlier on her date with Hugh, she wore boots and a jacket. Detroit exists above the snowline, so its not winter, but neither is it clearly Spring, or clearly Fall.

Image result for it follows/shell reader

Another thing that adds to the obscurity of the time period is that we’re not sure how long it takes for any of these events to occur. We know that the events at the end of the movie occur very close to one another, because Jay is still wearing a cast on her arm, from when she crashed Greg’s car, but for the events that happen before that, there could’ve been a few days, weeks, or even months between those. For example, we don’t know  the time period from when Jay has sex with Hugh, to the time when she retreats to Greg’s lake house, or from the beginning of the movie, to its end.

Water:

Water is Jay’s safe space. This is a message reinforced throughout the movie which begins with an image of Jay floating in her backyard pool, just before her date with Hugh, after which her life is irrevocably changed.  Just before, or just after, each encounter with It, Jay retreats, or runs to water, and there are images of her in water throughout the movie. Water represents safety and childhood. Or possibly even the womb. Jay’s mirror is surrounded by photos of her in her pool, for example, and after she witnesses Greg’s death, she drives to the woods, next to another body of water.

Just after one of her first encounters with It, Jay runs to her room, and although there’s no water there, one of the first things she says to her sister, during her panicked reaction, is that she wants some water. When the monster invades her bedroom, Jay runs away, but only as far as the neighborhood playground, which represents, yet another, retreat to childhood.

Jay spends most of the movie, not trying to pass the monster on to someone else, but running from it. And in doing that, one could argue that she is regressing to her childhood, as she doesn’t want to think about what it means to be a grownup, even though she seemed happy enough to pretend at it earlier, and when she’s in the water she doesn’t have to.  One could also think of her backyard pool as a a kind of womb, from which she feels she never has to emerge. Later in the movie, there’s a shot of the pool, broken, with all the water emptied out, a not so subtle metaphor about birth.  After that, Jay can no longer retreat to her special womb, because its  been destroyed.

Image result for it follows jay

At the end of the movie we find that It does not like water, and will not enter any water voluntarily, reinforcing the idea that Jay is safe from death, as long as she remains in it, as long as she remains a child.

Image result for it follows jay

 

The Monster – Again

At this point we need to discuss the monster again, and why it appears to Jay in the forms she sees. Its interesting to note that It pays no attention to any of the other people in Jay’s surroundings. When she’s sitting on the beach, as It approaches, It doesn’t register the presences of her friends. I suspect that It can’t see anyone but its victims. This reinforces the idea that death is a specific event, for each individual, who has to grapple with their mortality alone. When a person walks through that door to the other side, they have to walk through it alone. So it’s fitting that Jay is the only person who can see It.

Throughout the movie, her friend Yara’s only quotes from The Idiot, are about the inevitability of death.

“The most terrible part of the whole punishment is, not the bodily pain at all—but the certain knowledge that in an hour—then in ten minutes, then in half a minute, then now—this very instant—your soul must quit your body and that you will no longer be a man—and that this is certain, certain!”        -One of Yara’s quotes that she reads from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.

Image result for it follows/on the beach

When Paul attacks It with a chair, it pauses in its attack on Jay long enough to knock Paul aside, but otherwise, acknowledges no one but Jay, and the only time we see It register the presence of someone who is not its immediate victim, is when its pursuing Jay’s neighbor Greg, to whom she passed it, at the hospital.  Jay has followed It into Greg’s  house, and the creature, in the form of Greg’s mother, is determinedly knocking on his bedroom door, when it pauses long enough to notice Jay’s presence. This moment is especially chilling because, until then, It has not noticed anyone else in the movie. It notices Jay because she is the only other person who can see it, and she’s next, when it finishes its business with Greg.

The first time it appears to Jay is in the forms of strangers, who represent concepts of adulthood, that Jay has anxieties about. Later, after its been pursuing her for some time, these forms become much more specific. The first form it appears in, that she knows, is her friend Yara, then  her sister, Kelly. It appears to her later as Greg, while its stalking him. Its unclear if the creature took Greg’s form only because she can see it, or if that’s just a projection from Jay.

After Greg is dead, It appears in the forms of the dead, her father and grandfather. Its interesting that it doesn’t appear in Greg’s form again, as you would expect Jay to have  some anxiety about Greg’s death, and for the creature to exploit that, but Greg’s death is probably too immediate to register as a subconscious anxiety.

It never appears to her in Paul’s, or her mother’s,  form. Jay has no anxieties about Paul, it seems, and worries very  little about her mother. She feels secure about the two of them, in a way that she doesn’t, about Yara and Kelly, who appear to be closer friends to each other, than they are to her.

 

Mothers:

Image result for it follows/moms

There are three mothers in the movie, and no fathers. We never see Yara’s and Paul’s parents at all.  It appears to us, first as Hugh’s mother, and then later, as Greg’s mom. It’s interesting that it never appears to Jay in the form of her own mother, but it does appear to her as her father, which has led some people to speculate about the sexual component to the creature’s transformations.  As I said, I don’t think the creature’s appearances have anything to do with sex. I think that’s just the vehicle by which it’s passed on.

There are many theories about Jay’s mother. That she is an alcoholic after her husband’s death, or that her alcoholism drove the father away, and that she is neglectful of her kids. I  disagree. I believe her husband is dead, but I don’t think that’s her fault. She does drink, and makes no secret of her drinking. The day after Jay’s assault, she is seen drinking,  with Greg’s mother, in the middle of the day. But I don’t consider her a full-fledged alcoholic. After all, she is still working and paying the bills. According to Kelly she has some job that requires her to be up at 5AM.

Jay’s mother (she has no name) does care about her daughters, and what we see as neglect, is probably just the usual parental obliviousness to what’s going on in their kid’s lives, since the movie is told from their point of view. She is at the hospital after Jay’s car accident, and at the end of the movie, we can see her giving Jay a backrub. Her full face is never shown. I think that’s meant to illustrate how teens often believe their parents to be peripheral to their lives. Or that Jay has assigned a decreased level of importance to her mother. Greg and his mother are shown as being close enough to have conversations about their neighbors, and Hugh’s mother, although she knows nothing of her son’s extracurricular activities, is warm and friendly to Jay, when they meet.

Much has been made of the fact that for Greg and Hugh, It appears in the form of their mothers. I don’t necessarily believe there is any Oedipal component to this. Their father’s aren’t present. Their mothers appear to be the primary influence on their life, so it would make sense that the creature would appear as someone that they have anxieties about. Although, I do understand why people would think the above, because both of their mothers appear to them either entirely naked, or half dressed.

Paul and Yara

Image result for it follows/paul and yara

I said earlier that we never see Paul and Yara’s parents. (Also, I think Paul and Yara are twins.) Most of their time seems to be spent in Jay’s house. I think Paul and Yara represent the past that Jay is leaving behind as she grows up. I think Paul represents childhood, and Yara represents being a child.

For example Jay and Paul are almost always having conversations about the past. The two of them never have a full discussion about the future until Paul comes up with his plan to destroy the creature. When Jay and Paul talk later, Jay makes it clear there are no hard feelings about any of Paul’s past misdeeds, but once again she and Paul reminisce about some past sexual behaviors, like finding some porn magazines, or being each other’s first kiss.

When Yara isn’t quoting death passages from The Idiot, she mostly discusses past events. She talks about how, when she was a child, she wasn’t allowed to go the Fair, without her parents permission. She mentions this while all four of them are out at night, going to the Rec Center they visited as children, and this is meant to delineate the divide between childhood and adulthood. Adults go where they want, when they want, but children always need permission. She and Kelly both take turns mentioning embarrassing events from Paul’s childhood.

The only person Jay ever discusses the future with is her sister, Kelly. One of Kelly’s first statements to her is asking if she’s going on a date later that evening. And when the two of them go out for a walk, Kelly asks Jay if she’s going to sleep with Hugh. Kelly is in a place where she also play acts at adulthood, by smoking, but she’s still mentally in a child’s place because she tries to hide that from her mother.

The Ending

At the end of the movie, all of them believe they have defeated the creature. After Paul shoots it ,it falls into the swimming pool, where Jay believed herself to be safe. Using dream-logic though, there is no body left behind in the pool, only a giant bloom of blood. Some people have theorized that this is meant to represent menstrual blood, as across many cultures, menses is the moment that represents a young girl’s final ascent to  womanhood. Jay’s journey is now complete and her existential wrestle with her mortality is over. She isn’t any safer than she was before, because death could still come for her “in any form”, but she has now made peace with that.

Image result for jay and Paul/it follows gifs

I think this is  illustrated by Jay finally agreeing to have sex with Paul. During their sex scene, its raining heavily outside, but not storming;  keep in mind that water means  safety. Instead of fearing the future, she has decided to find some kind of future with Paul. The last scene, in the movie, is of  the two of them, walking down a sidewalk, hand in hand. Jay is wearing the same dress she wore on her date with Hugh, at the beginning of the movie. She’s no longer pretending at being grownup, now. Jay looks mildly apprehensive about her relationship with her childhood friend, but seems like she ‘s okay to live with her curse, as long as she has Paul by her side. And this is how most people deal with existential dread. They form relationships, they love each other, and hope, by doing so, to keep their “demons” at bay, which Jay may well have done. Far in the background, can be seen a figure, walking slowly, keeping pace with the two of them.

 

Sleight (2017)

I’m really, really excited about this movie. I love stories and movies where people with superpowers deal with real world subjects, like street level crime, and social issues. Also, this stars Dule Hill, as a villain, and I’ve really missed him from when he played my favorite character from the show, Psych.

Sleight is  definitely meant to be a “street” version of the movie Chronicle, which I also enjoyed a lot. (Someone remind me to review it, and Unbreakable, together.)

This will be released next weekend on April 28th. I probably won’t get a chance to see it in the theater, but if I get the “hookup”, I’ll let you know what I think.

Favorite Movies of My Life Pt. 2 (1981 – 1990)

The eighties is when I did the bulk of my movie watching, so its going to get harder,  as I go,  to just choose one movie, and in some cases, some  movies are going to have to share the spotlight with others.

The eighties also saw the invention of the VCR, for wide spread home use, and my family got our first one  in 1983 or 1984. Yes, I saw more than a few of these movies with my Mom, but there’s less of a nostalgia factor involved, and more of an appreciation for good filmmaking in my choices.  This is sometimes less about which movies influenced me, and more about which ones I could appreciate as a noobie film-wonk.

At about the mid-eighties, I started babysitting my nieces and nephews, and some of my Aunts had cable. So I watched a lot of these movies on HBO, (along with lots of MTV). I watched a helluva lot of Horror movies, in the eighties too, so this list is going to contain quite a few of those. I think my Mom and I tried to see every Horror movie made between 1980 and 1988, at which time I headed off to college, and  wilder film adventures.

 

1981 – American Werewolf in London/The Howling

 

I couldn’t choose between the two hallmark werewolf movies of the 80s. At the time American Werewolf was released, it was considered the total shit, but I didn’t care because I was stuck on The Howling, and as far as I was concerned, nothing surpassed it. Until I realized what everyone was talking about. An American Werewolf in London is, indeed, a most excellent movie.

I love both movies for different reasons, though. By any measure, American Werewolf is the deeper film, with its themes of survivor’s guilt, and cultural displacement. That, along with the special effects, make it worth the hype.  The Howling is pure, grade B horror film-making, with its cheap melodrama, and mordant sense of humor, and something in my fourteen year old soul (my age when I saw it) just loved it.

1982 – Bladerunner/ The Thing

When I first saw the trailer for Bladerunner at age 12, I knew that was my movie, and we were destined to be together. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it until several years after its release, and only on TV. I’ve been  a Ridley Scott fan ever since. I am obviously going to have to do a review of this movie, and share my love, even if there’s nothing new to be said about it.

I distinctly remember watching this trailer on TV, and thinking I wanted to see this movie.

I could not choose between Bladerunner and what is quite possibly one of the most perfect horror movies ever made, The Thing. This is how you do a remake. I’d argue that the eighties was the decade of the great  remake. Starting in the late 70s with Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, the 80s saw the remakes of The Fly,  Scarface, The Blob, The Thing, The Little Shop of Horrors, and Cat People.

Most people looking back on this particular year, often choose E.T.  because it was the most popular. Well, I’m not an E.T. fan. I don’t care about it, have no warm feelings for it, and almost never think of it, and at twelve years old, I’d be the perfect age to love it. I didn’t.

The Thing is another movie I didn’t see at  its release. In fact, this didn’t register on my radar until several years after, when people began praising it in various magazines. I have no memory of watching the trailers for it, although I must have seen them. I really didn’t know anything about it until a few years after its release.

There was also a movie released this year called Xtro, which was one of the grossest scifi/horror mashups I’d ever seen, and  was surpassed only by another horror movie, released in 1987, called Street Trash.

1983 -The Right Stuff

I have been a total NASA stan, ever since I fell in love with Star Trek as a child, so for me this movie felt like a behind the scenes look at one of my favorite organizations. This was the first time I’d ever watched Ed Harris in anything and I totally fell in love with him, and Scott Glenn, but I was also  in love with everybody when I was fifteen, apparently.

Yeah, okay, I’m still in love with Ed Harris, solely on the basis of him starring in this movie.

1984 – The Terminator

I didn’t see this movie until 1986. I remember this so well, because at the time it was released I had longed to see it, but didn’t have any money to go to the theater. I saw it in 1986, on tape, at my neighbor’s house. I remember because our neighbors, two brothers who lived across the street from us, had just bought a new VCR, and invited our family over for movies and popcorn.

I remember their house was a total mess and I was more than a little dubious about staying, but after a while I was so engrossed in the movie, I completely forgot my surroundings. It was the first time I’d ever seen a James Cameron movie, and my introduction to Bill Paxton and Arnold Schwarzeneggar. This is another of those movies where I just wandered off, home, while slowly trying to readjust to reality.

1985 – Fright Night

See my review:

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=fright+night

Return of the Living Dead gets an honorable mention:

https://wordpress.com/post/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/3756

1986 – 3 Films

I could not pick just one movie for this year. Three of my top favorite films were released this year: Aliens, The Fly, and Children of a Lesser God. Each of these movies is the perfect example of its genre for this year. But, if I absolutely had to pick one of them, to watch on a desert island, or something, I’d pick Aliens, since I never get tired of watching it.

1987 – 4 Films

This is another year where too many of my favorite films were released, so I can’t pick just one of them.

I saw both Evil Dead 2, and Robocop on a double bill at the local theater. To this day, I can count this as the best spent three hours of my entire  life. Just me, some popcorn, and a quiet movie theater, all to myself.

Lost Boys is on this list because I distinctly remember gushing about this movie to one of my classmates about how the guys in the movie were so cute. So, this makes the list more out of nostalgia, than that its a great movie, although, its still pretty good, by today’s standards.

I didn’t see Near Dark until many years after its release, but I do hereby acknowledge it as one of the best, most underrated,  vampire movies of the 80s.

My review:

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=near+dark

1988 – Akira

Dangerous Liaisons, Beetlejuice, and Young Guns, were all released this  year, but really there was no other choice for me to make. This year belongs to Akira, although I didn’t watch it until 1992, while I was in college.

Not only is it the best movie made that year, its one of my all-time favorite Anime. Its also the very first time, I’d ever seen Anime on the big screen. When I walked into that theater, I had no idea what I was in for, since my roommate refused to tell me anything about it. She just kept saying I would like it. There are a handful of movies, that have such an effect on you, that you have to seriously readjust to being back in the world, when you walk out of the theater, and end up contemplating them for months after you see them. Akira is one of these films.

Incidentally, I had a bad falling out with the roommate who introduced me to this movie, a few years later, and while I have mixed feelings about her, I have never faulted her taste in movies. Whenever she said I would like something, she was NEVER wrong. Raising Arizona, Tremors, Near Dark, Seven Samurai, and Akira are movies I probably would never have watched without her influence.

1989 – The Little Mermaid

Batman, The Abyss, and Casualties of War, were also released in 1989, but I have to pick The Little Mermaid as my favorite. Ursula’s song, Poor Unfortunate Souls, is the meanest, snarkiest shit I ‘d ever heard in a Disney film, and I absolutely love that character. Of course now I know, she was modeled after the Drag Queen, Divine.

This was one of the first Disney films that ever made me cry, and I’ve been crying at these movies ever since.

1990 – Goodfellas

Tremors and Dances with Wolves was released in 1990, and I saw all three of these movies in the theater, where they probably should first be seen. I wasn’t unaffected  by those movies, but Goodfellas is a movie made by a director, Scorcese,  who was at the top of his game at the time, and he has never made a better movie since, in my opinion.

This one of my favorite scenes in a wealth of favorite scenes. Personally, though I don’t find the “Do you think I’m funny?” scene, to be especially funny. Yeah, its iconic, but its not my favorite.

The 1990s, though,  was when I really started, not just to develop my own tastes, but began to pin down just what attracted me to certain films. I began to really think critically about what I was watching, and Why I was watching it. I began reading the opinions of others about the films I liked, and this taught me how to approach film criticism. I started to trust certain critics over others, began reading books on film theory, and audience theory, and reading the filmmakers ideas about what they were trying to accomplish.

So, as the 90s progress, you’ll start to see a change in the kinds of films I enjoy, although SciFi and Fantasy will still make up the bulk of my viewing habits.

 

 

Ghost in the Shell Thoughts & LinkSpam

Here’s a roundup of thoughts and feelings  from Asian Americans (and a few others) on Ghost in the Shell, Hollywood, and Whitewashing:

Orientalism and the Ghost in Hollywood’s Shell

The Incomparable Differences between Whitewashing and Racebending

https://thirdtwinmusings.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/stolen-brilliance-whitewashing-and-the-white-mind-as-perfection/

https://screenalicious.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/how-to-end-hollywood-whitewash-in-10-easy-steps/

https://amazingrace350.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/how-get-out-proved-that-minority-actors-are-marketable-hollywood-just-refuses-to-make-it-work/

Exorcising Ghost in the Shell

https://haleyjb.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/entertainment-media-a-white-world/

http://www.gq.com/story/the-whitewashing-playbook

http://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/02/history-whitewashing-asian-american-hollywood

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/03/24/filmmakers_and_actors_keep_defending_casting_controversies_but_here_s_why.html

https://theringer.com/ghost-in-the-shell-scarlett-johansson-63bd6503af72

http://www.tor.com/2016/04/20/why-are-we-still-white-washing-characters/

 

 

And also check out  the site:

http://blog.angryasianman.com/

For intelligent discourse on issues pertaining to Asian Americans in Popular media, and a list of similar blogs:.

http://blog.angryasianman.com/2017/04/read-these-blogs_9.html

Asian American Month begins in May.

 

Fargo (1996): Speaking of Crime

Fargo is a depiction of what are, very possibly, some of the most incompetent, and inarticulate, criminals to ever appear in a movie. Often called Minnesota Noir, some people also like to refer to the movie as Neo Blanc, because of its overwhelming whiteness, which is not necessarily a reference to it’s cast, but the snowy environment in which it’s set.

But this description, might indeed, refer to its primary characters.  Jerry Lundegaard’s motivations aren’t from  some dark cynicism of the soul, or  sexual misbehavior. The motivation behind his crimes, and what sets the entire plot in motion, is simple human greed. In fact, his crime is so blandly unexciting, it’s barely alluded to in the script. All we know is that it has something to do with money he borrowed on non-existent cars at the dealership where he works. Why he felt the need, to borrow the money in the first place, is never said. Its probably borrowing all the way down.

Jerry Lundegaard is by all senses of the word a “milktoast”. This is a man who has never  committed to a life of criminal activity, and has simply gotten in over his head. He’s  never studied crime beyond watching  television dramas. Having committed no more than the most petty of deceptions, he decides, at some point, to become more ambitious and engage in embezzlement, extortion, and  kidnapping. Which is a mistake, because planning a kidnapping, to steal the ransom money, requires a level of skill that Jerry is entirely lacking. The man isn’t even a  good liar, which one has to admit, is one of the hallmark qualities of a professional shyster.

In one of the earliest scenes, we see Jerry  being shamed for lying about the cost of one of his vehicles.  If he were any good, the lie would never have been caught. He seems to lie and deceive just as a matter of course, even when there’s no need for it. Jerry fits an almost classic narcissistic profile. He thinks far too highly of his own abilities, has grandiose plans for the future, that he can’t live up to, and thinks pretty much only about himself. For example, he has given not a single thought to how his plans will affect his son Scotty, or how terrified his wife might be, at being kidnapped. Given the chance to comfort his son, he gives the boy lame assurances, that his mother will be alright, and not to tell anyone about it.

There’s a feminist saying:  “Lord, grant me the confidence of a mediocre White man.” And Jerry is about as mediocre as a man can get, fitting the very definition of nondescript. He has accomplished so little in life that few people respect him.  His son, and clients, disregard his opinions, his father-in-law expresses nothing but disdain for him, and bullies him, and he works at the dealership that his father-in- law owns. In fact, its implied that since his wife comes from money, nothing in Jerry’s universe might really belong to him, and that everything he owns, is due to his father-in-law’s aid,  or permission.

Jerry isn’t smooth, slick, or even especially bright. He is by any measure of manhood, mostly forgettable, and paradoxically, as played by William H. Macy, unforgettable, with his odd verbal ticks, and air of silent desperation.  What’s troubling is that this wild eyed desperation doesn’t seem like it can be attributable to his immediate situation. This is a man who looks as if he has always been cringing, in anticipation of a blow that never comes, his entire life.

On the surface, his plan seems simple enough. Have his wife kidnapped, ask his father in law for the money, split the take with his associates, and make off with the dough. But Jerry is entirely unreliable. He lies to his partners in crime, he lies to his father in law about everything, he lies to his son, and forces his son to lie to their relatives. He naturally lies to the poilice, but Jerry isn’t even skilled enough to choose competent partners to carry out his task.

People pay much attention, to the accents of the characters, here.  Yes, the accents do sound pretty funny, but the Coen Brothers are also doing something else with  speech in this film, and the accents are distracting.

The  key  theme throughout the movie is the idea that lying and deception, either renders people less articulate, or is a marker of criminal aspirations, and social status, and that honest forthrightness makes one especially gullible.  One of the more overlooked aspects of the dialogue is those who are more honest, or certain of their positions (whether  in society, or ethically) are the ones most able to clearly express themselves, but they also tend to think of everyone else as being as honest as them. They take what others say at face value.

Marge Gunderson, is  the most intelligent person in the movie,  and is  honest and forthright. She is also,as a representative of law and order, the most socio-economically secure, deeply ensconced in the middle class. She also happens to be the most well-spoken, never experiencing an inability to say what she means, and seemingly very sure of herself. On the other hand, this honesty means she can also be easily lied to, as Jerry, who is not innately skilled at lying, manages to  get the drop on her, twice.

Jerry is also capable of successfully lying to his father in law, another righteous, and honest fellow, who speaks from his deep well of financial security.  Jerry isn’t particularly skilled at lying. It’s just  the people he’s lying to, never suspect it, because he appears to be a member of their socio-economic status, and, like Marge, appears to be firmly enmeshed in the status quo.

Note that Jerry is not successful at lying to people on society’s fringes, like Carl,  Gaear and Shep. Although, they don’t call him out on it, they know when he’s doing it.

Marge, unlike Jerry, is actually considerate and charming. She thinks as much of others feelings, as Jerry only pretends to do. After she chides her deputy for getting his police work wrong, she is careful to assuage his embarrassment, by telling him  jokes. When she meets an old friend for lunch, Mike Yamagita,  he makes an attempt to invade her personal space, and she rebuffs him, but also remembers to let him “save face”, by asserting that its easier to talk to him, if he sits across from her, rather than next to her. This is a minor dishonesty, but Mike, a magnificent liar himself, knows she is doing so. He tells her various stories about his own life, which Marge just accepts. After all, he appears to be a member of her law abiding social circle.

Mike Yamagita is inarticulate in a different way then the other unethical people in the movie, probably because he is a member of her social class, and is college educated. He’s trying to impress Marge, and win her sympathy, as he has a crush on her. He is nervous and  painfully  awkward, often talking too fast, or too loud. He’s not a criminal, but he is unreliable, which is slightly further up the spectrum of unethical behavior than Carl, or Jerry.  Mike doesn’t live in the world of crime, like Carl and Jerry. Like Wade, he lives  in a comfortable middle class, but skirts carefully close to its edges, and his manner of speaking illustrates this.

Contrast Marge with Jerry, when he’s lying to his father-in-law, about his wife’s kidnapping. He has to rehearse what he’s going to say, to find the right tone. Later, at the diner, when he’s arguing with Wade, about whether the police should be called, he stutters, pauses, and  searches for what words to use, all while trying to sound as if he knows what he’s doing.  Wade Gustafson has all of the confidence that Jerry  lacks, until  after he bullies  Jerry into delivering  the ransom demand himself. Then he has to rehearse how tough he wants to sound to the kidnapper, echoing Jerry’s rehearsal scene earlier in the film.

The closer Wade gets to the outer fringes of “normal” society, with all its smiles and courtesy, the less articulate he becomes. (He has already lost his  courtesy in the diner.) When he finally confronts Carl with the ransom money, he speaks in flat declarative, non- sentences. “No Jean. No money!” Apparently, he sounds just a bit too tough, because he receives several bullets for his trouble. In his death throes, he loses his words altogether, and can do nothing but groan in pain. Wade, who is generally  forthright and confident of his position in the world,  is also easily deceived by Jerry.

All of the criminals in this movie are distinctly and  individually inarticulate. Carl Showalter, as played by Steve Buscemi, like Jerry, often loses  track of what he means to say, or searches for the right word. Unique to his character is his inability to pronounce words he thinks he knows, as when he tries to use the word carcinogen, to chide his partner, for smoking in the car. Carl often tries to sound more erudite than he is,  attempting to  get Jerry to accept him as part of a social stratus to which he doesn’t belong. Like Jerry, Carl pretends  at being more socially acceptable than he is, but unlike Jerry, he possesses not an ounce of skill at this, as we witness on his date with an escort, telling her lame double entendres, and asking her if she likes her kind of work. His inability to pronounce certain words is a sign of this lack of breeding.

Carl’s partner, Gaear Grimsrud, played by Peter Stormare, rarely speaks, and when he does, it’s almost entirely in  sentences that can hardly be classified as sentences. He possesses all of the eloquence of a human pitbull. As two men whose position in society is well off the fringe, they are entirely lacking the niceties of behavior, that Jerry pretends to.

    Where is Pancakes Hause?

                           CARL
               What?

                           GRIMSRUD
               We stop at Pancakes Hause.

                           CARL
               What're you, nuts?  We had pancakes 
               for breakfast.  I gotta go somewhere 
               I can get a shot and a beer - and a 
               steak maybe.  Not more fuckin' 
               pancakes.  Come on.

     Grimsrud gives him a sour look.

                           CARL (CONT'D)
               ...  Come on, man.  Okay, here's an 
               idea.  We'll stop outside of Brainerd.  
               I know a place there we can get laid.  
               Wuddya think?

                           GRIMSRUD
               I'm fuckin' hungry now, you know.

There’s also Shep Proudfoot, played by Steve Reevis, who is every bit as inarticulate as Gaear. When Marge goes to interview him for his part in the kidnapping, like Gaear, he barely even uses words, just grunts answers. Later, when beating up Carl in a rage, he just yells in flat declarative sentences. He also has the dubious status of being double marginalized, first  by his race, and then his long criminal background. Both he and Gaear have much in common, as they only seem to have two settings, barely  present mentally, or hideous levels of violence.

The  two young ladies, that Gaear and Carl hook up with at a truckstop, aren’t inarticulate, but  they are distinctly unclear. They are unable to describe what Carl, or Gaear, look like, though presumably, they saw them up close when they were having sex with them. (Its a running joke in the movie that Carl is described as  “funny looking” by all who see him.) As truck-stop prostitutes, they live on the fringes of society,  but they are college educated, which shows in their vocabulary, but their  marginalized social  status is illustrated by the lack of clarity in their speech.

The one exception to this is Marge’s husband Norm. He isn’t very articulate either, but the nature of his silence is very different from Gaear’s and Shep’s. He too, is honest,  forthright, loving, and thoughtful to Marge, remembering to bring her lunch, and making sure she has a hot meal, before going out on a call. But the sense from that is, Norm doesn’t talk because he doesn’t  need to. He’s perfectly capable of expressing his love for Marge in other ways, and as he needs no one but her,  there’s no need to for him to speak to anyone else.

The in-eloquence with which a character speaks, often serves to illustrate where they are on the criminal  and social spectrum, and gives some indication of how competent a criminal they are. Gaear, for example,  is such a vile person, that he  speaks with all the eloquence of a  three year old. Shep Proudfoot, has a long criminal history, and grunts most of his dialogue. This is a deliberate choice by the Coen Brothers,  as we’ve seen that they are capable of creating very erudite, and articulate criminals, in their other films. Hi, from Raising Arizona, for example, whose eloquence is used to humorously offset his criminal background, and Goldthwaite Higgenbottom, the conman from The Ladykillers, who successfully masquerades as a person of higher social status than he actually is.

All that aside, these aren’t very good criminals either, which is a common trope in the Coen Brothers more comedic films. The criminals are often waylaid by events that are  out of their control,  or that they didn’t think all the way through, and their charmlessness also causes some real problems for them.  When Carl and Gaear are stopped by the police, Carl ineptly attempts to bribe the officer. (Marge would probably have charmed the man right out of his uniform.) When Jean Lundegaard, who  is in the trunk, makes noise, Gaear elects to shoot the cop, right there, on the spot. So lacking is he, in the subtleties of human behavior, that he elects, at every opportunity, to go straight to violence, (which is how Carl ends up in the wood chipper at the end of the movie). While moving the cop’s body, two pedestrians spot this from their vehicle, and Gaear decides he has to kill them too. When Carl returns to their cabin to find that Gaear has killed Jean, he says he did it because she was making noise. This is a character who hates the very idea of speech.

Jerry is so inept at his role, that he loses control of his own criminal enterprise to Wade,  who decides he doesn’t want Jerry mucking things up. Wade decides he’s going to deliver the ransom money himself. When he tries to bully Carl, the way he often blusters his way with Jerry, Carl shoots him because, as he’s said previously to Jerry, he’s not gonna debate. This is because, as seen on a couple of occasions, Carl lacks the skill to do that, anyway.

Jerry is so incompetent he can’t even flee the police properly. The first time, Marge accidentally catches him fleeing her interview, when his words fail to convince her to go away. His folksy middle class persona is starting to show cracks. The further out onto the fringes of genteel society Jerry slides, the less convincing his words become, until finally, even his brittle, superficial charm begins to work against him. He fails to convince the police that he’s being cooperative, when they capture him trying to flee through his motel room window, so far has he fallen. At this point, Jerry just gives in to desperate yelling, his  speech having deserted him entirely. This is as low as he can possibly go, and so becomes as incoherent, and inarticulate, as Gaear, and Shep.

And then there’s Marge’s little speech at the end of the movie, her charm still in place, as she naively chides Gaear, for his criminal acts. Her speech doesn’t  actually make any sense, but we are clear on  how she feels about the sordid events, speaking, as she does, from the lofty heights of her social privilege.

At the end of the movie, the status quo has been restored, the bad guys have been captured, and Marge is  the only person involved, who still has words.

 

Oh, and for a great, astute analysis of Jerry Lundegaard,  see:

https://thisruthlessworld.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/what-does-this-movie-mean-the-coen-brothers-fargo-1996/

 

 

New Movie Trailers 

Well, we’ve got a new batch of trailers, for movies some of us have already decided we will, or won’t see. As per usual, the  more trailers I watch, for some movie I was highly enthusiastic about six months ago, the less I want to see it. I think trailers are specifically designed to make you hate a movie before you see it, and you should probably just keep your trailer watching to a minimum. Well, probably I should.

Except, from time to time, there is that rare trailer that makes you more excited to see the movie.

 
The Mummy:

I’m still not sure how I feel about this movie, except to say Tom is starting to look a bit worn. Apparently, this isn’t just a remake but, like the Ghostbusters, a re-imagining. Well, the special effects indeed look special, and there’s Russell Exposition, to give us the lowdown.

 
War for the Planet of the Apes:

I had no intention of seeing this movie, after all, I haven’t seen any of the previous ones. I have a friend who is really enthusiastic about this series, but I was put off by the animal abuse, in the first film. I get the point of these movies (slavery allegories don’t excite me) but I couldn’t get past the animal abuse. It bothered me for several days afterward, and I decided I wouldn’t watch any of the movies, not having finished the first one.

 
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Well, it’s still really really pretty. I love movies, but it’s both a blessing, and a curse. Sometimes, I just get tired of looking at white ppl have incredible adventures in movies.  (At such moments you gotta break out the Japanese anime, or Chinese action movies.)

 
Alien: Covenant

The more I see of this movie, the less I want the to see it. I love the Alien movies, but I have no intention of  seeing this.

 
Spiderman Homecoming

Well, this is the rare movie, that I still want to see, after having watched several trailers. I still love little Tom Holland, no matter how mad the children on Tumblr might be about him.



Deadpool 2

I may or may not see this movie. I’m a little dubious about  the humor in this scene, but the first movie had some nice, funny, surprises, so I’m still game.

Favorite Movies of My Life Pt. 1 (1969-1980)

This was inspired by a Twitter challenge to name the favorite films for each year of your life, starting from birth. You under thirty film folks have this pretty easy, but I’m an oldy (but goody), so its going to take me  time to lay all this out, and I’m obviously going to have do this in installments! This doesn’t mean I saw these movies in that year. It’s just the year of the release.

I thought you guys might find it interesting to know what films I consider the most influential in my life. I know compiling this list surprised me a little bit. I’d never given this a whole lot of deep thought, and I was pretty certain of what movies I knew I liked, but this was pleasantly eye opening. Also, I’m definitely giving away my actual age, but I’m not ashamed of my age, so here goes:

1969 – The Valley of Gwangi

Well, I had to pick one film a year and this was it. In fact, its appropriate, becasue this is really the first dinosaur/kaiju movie I’d ever seen, and influenced my fascination with Godzilla, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, the Ymir, and those Sinbad movies. It also introduced me to the work of Ray Harryhausen, who I have a soft spot for.

Anyway, this is a ridiculous Western/Fantasy movie, about some cowboys who encounter a valley full of  giant beasts. A tyrannosaur gets captured and brought back to the city where it, naturally, escapes, because that’s what such creatures do, thereby ensuring my lifelong love of giant monsters destroying cities.

Ray Harryhausen is also the man responsible for this. These skeletons scared the shit out of me when I was eight, and I’ve loved him ever since:

Related image

 

1970 – A Man Called Horse

I first watched this movie with my Mom, because it contained some graphic scenes, and I was a kid who needed adult supervision, or so she said, so there’s definitely a nostalgia factor involved in me liking this movie, which is basically, Tarzan in the Old West. A White Englishman gets captured by some Native Americans, they torture him for a while, but eventually he wins their respect, by going through various manhood trials, which look little different than the torture he’d undrgone earlier in the movie, which had been to less purpose. At any rate, I liked the lead actor, Richard Harris, and was a fan of his ever after.

It was while watching Westerns, that I really began to question the  tropes presented about Native Americans, like why they all wore headbands, and spoke broken English.

I watched a lot of these Westerns with my Mom. She was a fan of Richard Harris, too. She heavily influenced a lot of my early movie watching experiences, by just sharing her love of various movies (and actors) with me, until I started developing my own tastes. She introduced me to The Big Valley because she was a huge Barbara Stanwyck fan, so I liked Barbara, too. She loved Bonanza because she was a fan of Lorne Greene, so I was a Lorne Greene fan, and started watching Battlestar Galactica.  I became a fan of a lot of old actors just because my Mom liked those movies and invited me to watch them with her.

Our movie tastes have  diverged over the years, as I tend  to be more adventurous in my movie watching, (as you will see), and will watch quieter, more intellectual films, while she prefers a lot more drama and bombast.

My mom is of the generation that considers movies to be nothing more than entertaining, or melodramatic, spectacle. I’m of the generation that enjoys  movies that have some level of philosophical insight, or intellectual depth, to go along with all the spectacle, which is basically anything released after 1965. Not that movies didn’t have that before 1965, but moviemakers started making more of these types of movies.

1971 – A Clockwork Orange

There were a lot of great movies made in 1971, and I had a really hard time choosing one. I had a choice between Spielberg’s Duel, George Lucas’ THX-1138, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (a big contender in this category), Shaft, Willard, but I chose Clockwork because its one of the first SciFi films I watched without my Mom’s supervision. I don’t think she knew about it, or she would have had something to say. This wasn’t my first Kubrick film. That was The Shining, which I did watch with her. But I was hooked. I made a point to watch as many Kubrick movies as I could after that.

It may sound as if I watched these movies at a very young age but I was in my teens when I saw  most of these  films, and a lot of the movies I watched, when I was very young, were edited for television.

1972 – Aguirre: The Wrath of God

I know a lot of people choose The Godfather, or  Lady Sings the Blues, but I didn’t watch those movies until I was an adult, and I wasn’t impressed by them, by the time I saw them. I think you have to be of a certain age for a movie to have a great influence over you. I didn’t see this until I was in my twenties, long after I’d watched Salem’s Lot.

This is Werner Herzog’s movie about the conquistador, Lope De Aguirre, heading down the Amazon River to find the city of El Dorado, and starring  Klaus Kinski, who is not a pretty man. The grotesque is what occasionally fascinated me about foreign films.  Now here’s how my thought processes work: I first saw Klaus Kinski in Herzog’s remake of Nosferatu, when I was maybe fifteen. My interest, in that particular version of Nosferatu, was prompted by learning that the vampire from the TV movie, Salem’s Lot, was based on him. which I saw Salem’s Lot the  year it was released, and of course, I watched with it my Mom!

Image result for salem's lot vampire/gif

Watching this movie, I think,  informed my love of documentaries, and books, about exploring the Amazon. Up til then, I’d pretty much been consumed with books about exploring Arctic landscapes, or climbing Mt Everest. (I think at one point I aspired to be a Sherpa, but I was  later disappointed to find you have to be born a Sherpa, I guess. )

1973 – The Exorcist

A lot of good movies were released this year: Mean Streets, Don’t Look Now, Enter the Dragon. I like all those movies but The Exorcist is the movie I keep coming back to over and over. I will watch this whenever it comes on TV. I’ve watched it with all the commentaries. I never get tired of it, but I have seen it so many times that I can get a bit snarky on the parts I find exasperating.

Here’s a funny story:  I remember lobbying my Mom to watch this movie. She was a bit dubious about that, because I was all of maybe twelve, the same age as Regan in the movie,  but I convinced her that I was mature enough to handle it. So, I watched the TV edited version, with her supervision, late one weekend. I know it was aired past my bedtime, and I needed her permission to be up, anyway.  I watched it, and she saw that I didn’t seem unduly affected by it, and didn’t give it any more thought.

Now, I live in the Midwest,  an area of the country that is not known for having earthquakes, but guess what? We had an earthquake a couple of nights later.  A pretty strong one, at about a 6.0, and you don’t want to know how quickly I sprang out of that bed and ran screaming to my Mom’s room. It took her a while to calm me down, and make me understand that my bed was shaking because there was  an earthquake. She’d been watching the news when it happened, so she was perfectly calm.(It did not help matters that I was going through my existential crisis period, where I was questioning God, religion, and my existence in general.)

Yeah,  she was kind enough to indulge me sleeping  in her bed, for a couple of nights.

1974 – Deathdream

Image result for deathdream gif

I know everyone always picks Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein, and I love both those movies, but this one had a much bigger influence on me. I saw this movie as a teen, and it was the first modern era  vampire movie I’d seen, outside of Salem’s Lot. It’s set in the modern era of 1970 something, when a young man comes home from Vietnam.

Unbeknownst to his family, he died in that war, and what came home was a revenant, responding to his mother’s fervent wishes that he return.  You can tell something is seriously wrong  with him, from the moment you first see him, but his family is so happy he’s home, that they don’t want to  see it. He needs blood to live, but the blood becomes increasingly less potent, and he starts to break down,  becoming more ghoulish as the movie progresses, attacking his family and neighbors, and behaving very badly. 

The movie is notable  because its narrative is an indictment of the Vietnam War, and what happened to the young men who fought in it, who came home haunted,  broken, and forever changed. This movie had a  greater  influence over how I think about movies than Night of the Living Dead, which also had a socially conscious message. It’s also a great illustration of family dynamics, as the drama is every bit as compelling as the vampire part of the story. The mother, who was hanging on to her last threads of sanity before her son came home, and the father who realizes that something’s horribly wrong with his son, but can’t speak to his wife about any of it, because she is delusional.

1975 – Trilogy of Terror

I would have chosen Jaws, but I chose this movie instead, because although I love Jaws, and watch it every time it comes on TV, this movie had a much bigger influence over me as , once again, I watched it with my Mom, and she was a Karen Black fan. I’m only a middling Karen Black fan, so I didn’t get that out of this movie. What I got out of this movie, was a love of Richard Matheson, as his short story, Prey, makes up the third part of this movie, and I thought that part of the movie was awesome. In it, an African doll, He Who Hunts, comes to life and chases a woman all over her apartment. But its harrowing, intense, and  hilarious as this tiny, screaming, doll gets the better of this huge woman, as Karen Black is no delicate two Oz. damsel.

This movie might have something to do with my inarticulate fear of inanimate objects, that come to life,  and move around. I was about ten years old when I saw this movie, and was quite reasonably, terrified. The new Ghostbusters has a scene in it, where a mannequin chases Leslie Jones’ character, and I nearly shit myself.

And you’re probably also seeing a theme developing here, with  people with fangs and appetites, who aren’t what they seem, preying on other people.

 

1976 – Taxi Driver

I had a hard time choosing which movie was my favorite, for this year, because its the same year Carrie was released. Ultimately, I settled on this one because I think Taxi Driver is a much deeper film.

I didn’t see this until I was an adult. It’s the first Martin Scorsese movie I ever watched, (I backtracked later, and  watched Mean Streets) and only because I’d heard of its reputation from critics like Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael. Travis Bickle is a painfully awkward character to watch. I’m still unable to articulate how I feel about this movie. I go through periods where I’m loathe to watch it, yet compelled to sit through it. Watching a baby Jodi Foster might have something to do with my feelings about this movie but I’m not sure what.

 

1977- The Last Dinosaur

This movie is almost comically bad but I still love it. The special effects are awful, and the characters are ridiculous, but the movie makes up for that with its subtext and theme song. It’s by the same people that created some of the Godzilla films, and it shows in the awful acting and the rubbery monsters, which all move in slow motion, to illustrate how powerful they are.

Maston Thrust (yes, that is the character’s actual name), is a big game hunter who is tired, old, and jaded. He has hunted all of the creatures of Earth and is looking for new challenges. It’s the 70s, and Maston, a virile he-man, is a blatant sexist, and the world has changed around him so much, that he no longer recognizes it, and can find no place in it. The world doesn’t need rugged white men, who can kill things. He’s a dinosaur.

Given the opportunity to visit a Lost World and hunt a dinosaur, he jumps at this, and accompanied by his faithful Maasai tracker friend, named Bunta, (yes, I just typed that name), and a blonde female photographer, played by that era’s hottest blond, Joan Van Ark, they all head down. When he gets to this Lost World,  he, and the Tyrannosaurus Rex that killed the last expedition, develop an immediate enmity, as the Rex tries to kill everyone on his team (He enjoys stepping on his prey. He likes his food pureed.) The two of them spend the rest of the movie trying to outsmart each other.

Now, if this sounds like the plot of Kong: Skull Island, you are correct! Kong has better effects,, dialogue, acting, really everything but it doesn’t have a theme song. I first heard this song when I was a child, and have never forgotten it, as its a lovely song. It helps to think of the song as Maston’s theme.

 

1978- Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Wow, I do have a lot of favorites! This is one of the best remakes of a fifties SciFi movie ever made. This movie I think began the trend of eighties remakes that were better than the original movies. If it wasn’t for this movie, there probably wouldn’t be the remake of The Fly, The Thing, or The Blob. I didn’t really want to pick just this one movie because Halloween, The Fury, and Superman were all released in 1978, and those are all favorites, but the rule of the game is to pick only one movie.

 

1979-  Apocalypse Now

The first time I saw this movie, I didn’t get what made it so wonderful. Roger Ebert was a huge fan, and so was Pauline Kael, and I trusted their opinions. I watched it and liked it okay, but didn’t love it. It’s only after successive viewings that I grew to truly appreciate it. To give you some idea of how hard it is to choose just one favorite film from this year: Alien,  and The Warriors was also released, and I chose Apocalypse Now becasue its a deeper film.

You can start to see how my tastes have begun to diverge from my mother’s. She loved The Warriors, but was uninterested in this movie, and she  is mostly indifferent to Alien.

 

1980- Altered States

This was another tough one becasue I have a couple of favorites for this year, but I chose this movie because its such a trippy mess, and at the time I saw this, I had not yet seen 2001. This was the first movie that had ideas and concepts in it that I knew were important, but I was just too young to understand them.

Several viewings (and years) later, I was able to follow most of the arguments made by the characters in this movie, most of which involve a great deal of existential angst. it was also the first time I’d ever seen William Hurt. He’s a complete asshole for most of the movie, but he’s a cute asshole, and he  learns his lesson by the end.

My other favorites for this year are The Elephant Man, The Shining, and Fame, a musical with a diverse cast, which starred Irene Cara.

Next up: 1981 through 1990.

Ghost in the Shell Reviews Are In

*So far, the consensus seems to be that Ghost in the Shell is  a merely okay film. I haven’t seen it and had no plans to do so, not because of the Whitewashing, although that’s a big issue, but because I’m more than a little tired of looking at Scarlett Johansson.

There’s quite a lot of spectacle but yeah, there’s the little issue of Whitewashing, not just of the film itself, but actually referenced in the plot, where the identity of an Asian character, Motoko, is erased and placed in the body of a White woman. 

According to the critics, it is possible to watch this movie and not care about any of the social issues involved, but this movie is never gonna be a classic, and doesn’t have the depth of the original anime. It’s never going to be Bladerunner, or The Matrix either, no matter how much it apes those movies aesthetics. According to the critics, it’s a gorgeous film that lacks warmth. It’s at about 51% on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. The reception of the movie, even by audiences,  has been rather lukewarm.

There are a handful of reviews giving it a rousing endorsement, like Variety, Entertainment Weekly, The Telegraph and The Chicago Tribune (Roger Eberts old employer). But the critics who panned it, come from more Geek oriented online sites, that skew much younger than the ones mentioned above, with a millennial audience who grew up watching the original movies and series, and I guess they’re unimpressed by the story.

http://www.salon.com/2017/03/29/scarlett-johansson-and-the-perils-of-white-feminism/

http://www.avclub.com/review/beguiling-ghost-shell-more-replicant-remake-252941

http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/29/15114902/ghost-in-the-shell-review-scarlett-johansson

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/ghost-shell-review-remake-2017-johansson/?tu=gav

http://www.gq.com/story/ghost-in-the-shell-review

http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/03/30/ghost-in-the-shell-review

http://www.polygon.com/2017/3/30/15121524/review-ghost-in-the-shell

http://www.businessinsider.com/ghost-in-the-shell-review-2017-3

 

*And because apparently I’m just not finished bashing Iron Fist for what we could have had vs. what we got:

http://io9.gizmodo.com/heres-the-important-stuff-that-happens-in-iron-fist-so-1793445273

http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/21/14980216/iron-fist-problems-marvel-netflix-writing-villains-optics

http://www.polygon.com/2017/3/17/14958828/finn-jones-and-iron-fist-have-one-thing-in-common

*Bottom line: if your character’s backstory features him punching a gobdamn dragon, to obtain his superpowers of being able to punch shit, and you don’t show that shit on screen, you need your entire ass thoroughly kicked. So far, we’re stuck with Finn Jones as Danny Rand but this can be fixed. He’s never going to look good as a martial artist until he gets some serious training. Put him in some intense stunt training, so that he can at least look as competent as the actors from The Matrix. Get a brand new showrunner. And this time find someone who gives a shit about Danny’s Rand being Iron Fist,  cares about his martial abilities, and is willing to do the research to make it look good.

 

*Just to cheer us all up, here are some Logan reviews. I loved this ugly, bittersweet movie, so much.

http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/6/14829768/logan-movie-wolverine-hugh-jackman-patrick-stewart-discussion-highs-lows

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/why-we-needed-logan-to-kill-the-modern-superhero-movie-w470501

https://theringer.com/logan-and-conquering-pessimism-through-fatherhood-86d377ae85b9

Kong: Skull Island

First of all this review contains lots of spoilers. So if you haven’t seen  the movie, you know the drill.

 I had no plans to go see this movie. Not to say I wasn’t intrigued. I love giant monsters as much as the next person,  but I had a choice between Get Out, Logan, and Kong, and I had chose Logan. I’ve since seen both of those movies, thanks to friends with more money than me, who enjoy my company. I still hadn’t planned to see Kong. 

Well, Mom had other plans. She saw the trailer, and because it hit all the check marks for her entertainment, we were gonna be seeing it. 

Big guns! Check.

 Monsters! Check. 

Samuel L Jackson! Check.

I had read some  reviews, which seemed neither bad nor good, and I had the impression it would be sort of like Apocalypse Now with monsters. I was, and was not wrong.  It was very entertaining, mostly as a war movie with monsters, than a straight up monster movie. I’m a huge fan of Apocalypse Now and it’s got more than a few parallels with that movie.

Me, Mom, and two of the little tikes; my niece, The Potato and her baby sister, who we like to call Lil’ Momma, had a girls day out. I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time between amusing Lil Momma with treats, hugging her when she got scared, and being scared shitless myself. There’s a reason I don’t see too many scary movies in a theatre. I can’t turn them off, and walk out.

But it was still a helluva lot of fun too, and not exactly what I thought it would be. Most of the tropes of King Kong movies were neatly, and deliberately, subverted.There was a lot more talking but that was okay because most of it was setup for the action scenes. It’s not a very deep film. Well, it didn’t have a deep message in it,  but I think y’all should know that King Kong movies (and those Planet of the Ape films) have always had a deep meaning for Black Americans. We always found subtext in them. This movie manages to neatly set aside that subtext, which in itself ends up creating subtext. 

The year is 1974 and the US had just made the decision to pull out of Vietnam. Jacksons character is depressed and enraged by this, which informs his motivation for the rest of the movie. Hiddlestons character is set adrift and looking for adventure. Goodman’s character is considered something of a crackpot conspiracy theorist with his Hollow Earth, and Lost World beliefs. Him and his partner, played by Corey Hawkins, have been petitioning the government to fund an expedition to search for one of these lost worlds. They’re finally granted permission and have to assemble their crew. Tom Hiddleston is a bland, but brave hero, who didn’t really stand out to me, very much. Samuel Jackson plays the Colonel, for whom Kong becomes his white whale, after Kong nearly kills his entire team. Brie Larson is a photographer along for the ride. I barely know who she is, as there ain’t any white actresses, under 45, whose careers I pay any attention to. She wasn’t bad though, and the movie didn’t do with her what I was afraid it would do, which was fetishize the awesome purity of her blonde whiteness to Kong. There’s another woman in the movie. She’s Asian. She and Brie’s character don’t say so much as a hello to each other. It’s almost like they’re in separate movies. 

Kong does form an attachment to Brie’s character, but not because of her looks ,which is how the director sidesteps the subtext black people see in these movies. Kong likes her because of something she does, and he approves of. At no point do the Natives try to sacrifice her to him, and the rest of the crew don’t spend all their time rescuing her. Tom Hiddleston’s character does so, but only because he likes her, and she’s very brave. At one point he asks her to do a very dangerous thing, to save their lives, and she successfully carries it off. He’s not protecting her because he thinks of her as a delicate woman, and the only person who mentions her femininity at all, is Reilly’s character, and he sounds ridiculous, when he does. 

The writers neatly sidestep the native issues by having there be no Natives. The people on the island are the leftover crew members from a Japanese ship that crashed on the island and became trapped there. They’re fierce but not mindlessly hostile, and appear to have developed their own peaceful culture. Storms have caused a lot of crashes there, so there are a lot of shipwrecks lying about.  There’s a giant wall on the island, but it’s not there to keep Kong out, just the hostile wildlife at bay, and  it turns out his job is protecting the people.  Since the rest of Kong’s family were killed by the island wildlife, he’s seemingly adopted these trapped humans as his clan. Make no mistake, Kong is the star of this movie. He is the lead character, and the protagonist, and survives to the end.

 John C. Reilly’s character is the most fun and memorable character in the movie, and I loved him right away. I’ve found that I enjoy movies a lot more if I can attach myself to a particular character and just follow that character through the plot. His character gives a lot of exposition, but it doesn’t feel like speechifying, when he does it, which is a testament to how good Mr. Reilly is, as an actor. We see his plane crash on the island at the beginning of the movie. His Japanese opponent also crashes his plane, and the two immediately commence to fighting, but are interrupted by Kong. After that they stop and become friends. Kong just has that effect on people. Later, Reilly’s character gets a sweet and happy ending when he’s reunited with his family. He’d been trapped on the island since 1944, and acts exactly the way a person would, after having been separated from a life they missed, for nearly thirty years.

Kong’s motivations are also explained in the movie. He’s a guy who likes everything peaceful and quiet, because when the military expedition starts dropping bombs on the landscape, to track the islands depth, he becomes enraged, and makes short work of all of the helicopters. They were disturbing the peace. So what’s funny is that all of the usual Kong tropes are in this movie but under completely different contexts, with Kong fighting helicopters, or wrapped in chains, or rescuing the blonde damsel. You can tell the writers gave it some thought, playing with our expectations, and knowledge of other Kong movies. The end result of all this is you end up rooting for Kong, as the hero of this movie, rather than the human characters.

Kong is set up as the protector of the island (and possibly the world) from some dinosaur-like creatures, that come out of the Hollow Earth, having been awakened by the bombings. There’s some little ones, and one giant one, with skull-like heads, full of teeth, slithering around on two legs. They’re fast, powerful, and will eat anything, even Kong. He spends a not inconsiderable amount of time fighting these nasty fuckers all over the landscape. He spends a lot of the movie fighting something. At one point he fights a giant octopus, and then eats it. 

There are other monstrous creatures on the island. Some pterosaur like creatures, that like to gang up on a person and carry them off, like in the Riddick movie called Pitch Black. There’s a giant spider naturally, and also what we hilariously figured out was a giant walking stick, and just about as bright. The Potato and I guessed this because it looked like a cross between Groot, and a small Ent, from Lord of the Rings. It scared the shit outta my Mom, when she saw it, even though it’s harmless.  My favorites were the house sized Water Buffalo, because I thought they were dumb but  cute, and more importantly, non- hostile. 

Brie’s  character wins Kongs fondness, when he finds her trying to save one of the big dumb brutes, who is  trapped under a helicopter wing, and he helps her out. He likes her because she was trying to save one of the creatures he has decided to protect, and even allows her to get close enough to touch his face. It’s  telling that his closeness to her never directly endangers him. On the other hand, her proximity to Kong, puts her in danger from the skull dinosaurs. Later, she saves his life, by standing between him and a bullet from the colonel’s gun, after Kong has been hobbled, by being set on fire with napalm. The military is the bad guys in this movie, and Kong kills them indiscriminately. So if you feel some kind of way about the military, you might want to  skip this movie. They’re not totally evil, but they’re not the heroes.
During a significant portion of the movie, everyone has to ride upriver in a hastily thrown together plane/boat combo, and that, and the helicopter intro when they arrive at the island, is what lends it that Apocalypse Now feeling. But I liked the movie a lot and didn’t mind the parallels. I was expecting at some point to be insulted or offended by something in the movie, but the writers were careful to sidestep all the major issues that my Mom and I usually have with Kong movies. Unfortunately, that also took away any depth. That’s okay. The movie makes  up for this lack with a great deal of spectacle. 

Now, I have since seen Godzilla Resurgence, and I heard rumors that both of these movies were being setup for a future sequel,  where Kong and Godzilla would be fighting each other. If that’s true you could watch the setup in this movie, where Kong is being put forth as a good guy protector to the Japanese people, or whatever group of people survive to the sequel. The Kong in this movie is said to be an adolescent who hasn’t reached his full height, and like Godzilla, he’s already as tall as an office building. So the reason Kong looks bigger than ever is because of this future plan for a franchise, of some kind. In Godzilla Resurgence, Godzilla is definitely a bad monster who, sort of randomly, destroys parts of Japan, for no fucking reason. I’ll be reviewing that movie later this Summer. But keep in mind, if these two characters meet, there will be blood.

After a certain age, I stopped watching Godzilla movies, but I did enjoy the remakes, and I liked this movie okay. I’m not sure I’ll enjoy a sequel where these two characters fight, although after watching  the fight scenes in Kong, I anticipate that Kong will win.

Stuff I’m Watching

Okay, I though I posted this already, but apparently not, since I can’t find it in my published file. So here we go again, maybe!

The Ghost Brothers (TV)

 

Its a TV show about three guys who all had paranormal experiences as children, and decided as adults that they would like to investigate the existence of ghosts. The second season of this show airs April 15th. In the meantime the first season is available for streaming on TLC. I’m already addicted.

Its  a pretty good show. One of the reasons I’ve always hated ghost hunting shows is I get  exasperated with  White guys running around in the dark, shaking their cameras, and yelling at the ghosts. There’s none of that here. The feel of this show is very different. One of my biggest issues was the attitudes of the ghost hunters in these shows, challenging the ghosts, making demands, and the general disrespect. That’s not here, either. For the record, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in the inexplicable, and this show has that too, which occasionally makes it actually scary. But it’s not just that. It’s the humor and camaraderie between these three friends, that I enjoyed the most. They genuinely like each other,  and are not above ranking on each other, but don’t do it in a mean spirited way. You can tell they’re really old friends, and this is one of the most authentic depictions of black male friendship, you’ll ever see in a TV show.

The guys make a point of visiting sites that are known spots of racial trauma, so they’re not in the business of retraumatizing any presences that might be there. After all, these are their ancestors. They try to approach their job from a place of respect, with minimal equipment. They ask questions and  try to reach out and emotionally connect with a presence. In one episode, they visit a hotel where a sex worker was killed maybe a hundred years ago. They visit her rooms and attempt to find out if she’s still present. They ask her about her life, implore her to answer, and when they leave, they respectfully leave payment for her time, which I found both sad and hilarious.

In another episode, they visit a place where some children were known to have died. To get the children  to respond, they bring toys and dolls, ask the children if they would like to play, and assure them that it’s safe to come out and do that. All very respectful. Nothing happens of course, but there’s a great deal of tension as you suspect something might.They bring the absolute minimum in equipment, they don’t have scanners, and meters and various devices. They really just have their smartphones and a camera.

Also, these guys are surprisingly brave, in situations that would frankly give me the screaming heebie jeebies, sitting alone in a dark room waiting for some presence to reveal itself. Yes they do get scared, and are willing to acknowledge that, but there’s no exaggerated terror, with a lot of running and screaming. This isn’t a comedy, although the guys are occasionally funny. They take their self appointed task pretty seriously.

One of the reasons I like for white people to watch shows like Atlanta, Luke Cage, and Ghost Borthers is if they’re interested in more authentic depictions of what black people are actually like when white people arent around, and contrast these images with depictions crafted and written by white men, who can only guess at how we relate to each other, or just make shit up. One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed about media depictions of marginalized people by white male writers, is often the relationships are depicted as contentious ones. The white men, who write almost all of the media we see, have no idea what women talk about when men aren’t present, what gay people do when straight people aren’t around beyond having sex, or what black people do when white people arent present. Shows written, by marginalized people themselves, tend to have fewer token characters,  and more genuine conversations, and activities. We actually do get along with each other when white people arent around. We laugh, joke, and tease each other. We have deep conversations that aren’t about race, and trivial conversations that are. And just like with the Bechdel Test, almost none of our conversations center white  straight men.

Ghost Brothers joins those lists of shows that depicts black people’s authentic reactions to the world around us.

ETA:  I added a much more detailed description for this show, and the second season has already started. I’m currently watching episode two, where the Brothers visit the Winchester Ghost Trap House.
Ghostbusters (2016)

Image result for ghostbusters

I told myself I wasn’t going to watch this, but it aired on Starz, earlier this month, and that’s why I pay for cable. So yeah, I’m one of five people on Earth who actually love this movie. It was entertaining and I found a lot of positive  things outside of the one negative thing that made me want not watch it.

The one negative thing was me being mad about Patty, played by Leslie Jones, not being a scientist. I still don’t like that, but I also don’t feel she was ill treated by the creators of the movie. Although Leslie’s personal humor doesn’t match mine, I still really liked her character. She was one of the funniest people in the movie and gets some of the best lines. This one negative thing was outweighed by all the positive things I enjoyed.

One of my biggest takeaways was the depiction of friendship between women, which is almost never authentically shown in genre films, in favor of having a lonely badass. These characters are friendly and supportive of each other. To use Erin and Abby, for example, the subplot of how they met is Abby believing Erin when she claimed she saw a ghost when she was a child, and no one else believed her.That no one else believed her is something  that affects her for the rest of her life, prompting her to abandon Abby, and never have anything else to do with the paranormal. Later, she and Abby reaffirm their bonds of friendship when Erin risks her life to save Abby at the end of the movie. When Erin has a very obvious crush on their dimbulb male secretary, played by Chris Hemsworth, the other women never make fun of her, or make her feel ashamed of it. They just accept that she likes him, while gently cautioning her to be careful of sexually harassing him.

I liked Patty, and felt she was given ample screen time. The other characters make no big deal about her not being a scientist. She’s an expert in other things. She talks her way onto the team by offering them something they don’t have. Historical context and knowledge of the city, allows Patty to provide a lot of the movie’s exposition. This is not exactly her being “street -smart” (I suppose technically she is “street-smart,  but only because she is her own kind of nerd, who reads History books for fun. So yeah, all the ladies are in fact, nerds! Patty just is not a Science nerd.)

The other women never act as if they know better than her, or try to lord it over her that they have credentials, and even defer to her expertise on matters they know she has studied. They accept her, like Holtzman,  as one of the contributing members of the team. Yes, she gets them a car, but that’s not why she was allowed to join them. It’s something she offers, along with their ghostbusting suits. She also gets some of the funniest lines in the movie, most of which are quiet personal asides  that if you blink, you’ll miss them.

I especially enjoyed the beginning of a friendship between her and Holtzman. Abby and Erin were already friends, and Holtzman must have occasionally felt like a third wheel, but she and Patty seem to hit it off pretty well, hanging out together whenever they’re not working. Patty  saves Holtzman’s life at one point, and nicknames her Holtzy.

Speaking of Holtzman, she is my favorite character in the entire movie. She’s just plain nuts and really, really,  loves her job. The trailers don’t really do this character justice, just like they didn’t make Patty very likable. She’s impossible to describe. She just has to be seen. She loves destruction, dances around with blowtorches, and is utterly fearless when it comes to her various science toys.

ETA:

So, my niece finally watched this movie, and she had a great time. She couldn’t wait for me to get home from work, and she watched it without me, for which she was mildly chastised. And guess who her favorite character is! Guess! Patty, of course, who she thought was hilarious. I don’t know that my niece wants to grow up to be a Ghostbuster, but she really enjoyed herself, and the movie, and that’s enough for me.

 

 

Suicide Squad (2016)

Image result for suicide squad

Once again, I’m in the minority when it comes to liking a movie. I actually had a good time watching this. I really liked the visuals, and performances, even if the story was full of massive holes, and largely incoherent . I really enjoyed the characters though. I watched this with my niece and she seemed to have a good time, too. I think she wants to be Harley Quinn when she grows up, but I told her no, because that’s not a good look for a Black woman, unless she’s gettin’ paid a lot of money, like Margot Robbie. It would also require she be tortured by Jared Leto, after which I’d have to beat Leto’s ass. (He should probably have his ass kicked just on general principles, anyway, because my niece has decided she has a crush on his version of the Joker. What? She’s like ten years old!)

I’m one of five people on Earth who think that Suicide Squad winning an Oscar for Best Makeup is both hilarious and outrageous. Really!? Over Star Trek? Yeah, right!

It really shouldn’t be that shocking that I liked this. It stars Will Smith and I’ll basically watch anything he ‘s in. Margot Robbie wasn’t too bad in this. I thought her version of Harley was pretty entertaining and not too unlike the comic book version of the character. And then there’s  Queen Viola. I just love the idea of Viola Davis and Will Smith starring in a superhero movie together. Although, the next time we see them together, I hope its something a little more serious.

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

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Unfortunately I did not get to see this in the theater.  I did rent this for me and my Mom to watch for a couple of days. She is a die-hard Denzel fan, and she had expressed an interest in going to the movies to see this. Now this is pretty remarkable for two reasons. She’s not a huge Western movie fan, (even though she was the one who introduced me to Bonanza), and its really hard to get her to go to the movies with me, as she’s  picky. In the past few years, I managed to get her to see Jurassic World, World War Z, and that Halloween Madea movie.

We watched this movie over a weekend and she really enjoyed it. She was deeply happy that Denzel survived to the end of the movie. I enjoyed all the characters but I was kind of bummed out because the one Asian guy got killed. It doesn’t really compare overmuch to the original. It has a very different feel, although the plot is exactly the same. The action sequences were very exciting, and I enjoyed the banter between the various characters. It suffers from lone woman syndrome, and a bad guy who is evil just because he’s evil. (Not that every villain needs a backstory. Its just something I noticed.)

It has a Benetton ad cast, and although the one Mexican guy, Vasquez, is annoying, the stereotypes are mostly kept to a minimum. The men of color in the cast all get to have their action moments. Despite the presence of Vincent D’onofrio as Jack Horne, my favorite character was  Billy Rocks, the group’s blades-man. The most intriguing relationship was between Billy Rocks, and  Ethan Hawke’s character, Goodnight Robichaux. I kept wondering about the nature of their friendship, and afterwards I wrote my own headcanon, where Billy saved Goodnight from suicide, and Goodnight felt indebted to him. It was very clear that one of Billy’s purposes was helping  Goodnight hold his shit together.

My Mom liked the Jack Horne character a lot. He was  melancholy and  gruff, with a penchant for making profound philosophical statements, that mostly puzzled the other characters. Denzel, as Chisholm, was his usual mildly snarky, pragmatic self. He wasn’t really stretching it in this role, but Denzel sparkles on even his worst days, so its all cool.

No, this movie isn’t as good or influential as the original, but its worth watching some cold Saturday night, with a bowl of popcorn, and some good friends.

Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Image result for legend of tarzan

Let’s just state, for the record, that I’m a little bit older than some of the more hysterical members of Tumblr. As a result, I grew up with the idea of Tarzan, and am well used to the tired trope of Tarzan the White Savior. I grew up reading the Edgar Rice Burroughs books, and watching some of the movies with my Mom, whose favorite Tarzan was Johnny Weismuller. Yes, we did see the problematic aspects of having some White guy being a better African, than actual African people, in Africa, but since almost all of TV, and movies, consisted of this trope, it was easy to overlook it, yet impossible not to see it.

That said, I did watch this movie when it came on cable, which only proves that I will watch any damn thing when it comes on TV, where Alexander Skarsgard takes his shirt off, and growls like a lion. It does not mean I’m not “woke” or “aware”. It just means I occasionally have low standards for what I find entertaining, especially if I can knit to it.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this movie for the sheer silliness that it is. Yes, the premise is just as stupid as the original films, and one still wonders what the hell White people,  (and lets face it, there were no PoC clamoring for this movie to be made) were thinking when this movie got made. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s okay, as your life will not have been upheaved.

For what its worth, the creators did keep the White Savior stuff to a minimum by adding Samuel L. Jackson, who does the saving of various Black people, and some of the actual Congolese people get lines and screen time. Skarsgard is ridiculous in this role,  and spends most of his time trying to look dramatically serious, while trying to save his girlfriend, Margot Robbie, from Waltz’ slimy Englishman. I still don’t know why Waltz kidnaps her but its got something to do with diamonds. It doesn’t matter anyway because the plot is really not that important. What’s important is that Skarsgard is bare chested for most of the movie’s running time.

There is indeed some tree swinging, and some gorilla punching, and for some strange reason, Djimon Honsou is in this movie as an antagonist. He only gets about five minutes of screen time, and maybe six lines. Samuel L. Jackson is in this movie too, and pretty much just acts like Samuel L Jackson, despite the fact that everyone else is acting like they are in a period movie, which is very jarring. I wanted to turn off the sound, so I didn’t have to listen to him speak, but then I wouldn’t have been able to hear Alexander Skarsgard talking to various animals, and yodeling. Yes, there is a classic Tarzan yodel. When I was a kid, this didn’t particularly bother me, but every time I heard it in this movie, I laughed my ass off.

But really, I think the biggest question you have to ask yourself, if you ever watch this movie: Why is Samuel L. Jackson in this movie, when they have Djimon Honsou?

Tumblr Funnies

*Tumblr is great for story prompts about alien contact, and hair dye:

lady-of-greenwood:

patternofdefiance:

just-a-kind-of-magic:

Imagine being a human in an alien crew in space and leaving with bright blue or pink hair and the color fades and everybody on board wonders WHY you are losing your colors??? Is it the lack of greens? Are you sad? Angry? They just don’t know??

“Human-Kelly may we have a moment of your time?”

Kelly pauses in her inventorying of the photo-synth plates she’ll be installing after today’s cycle ends. “It’s just Kelly, hellot-Halzar, you don’t have to acknowledge my species every time we talk.” She smiles. “That’s not considered rude for us.”

“Very well hu—Kelly. Erm. May we have a moment of your time?” Many eyes blink earnestly at her.

“Sure. What’s up?”

hellot-Halzar considers. “May we discuss the structural nature of the ship interior and gravity-derived reference values at a later date? At this moment we would like to inquire as to the nature of your corporeal change.”

“Yeah sure—wait my what?”

“There is a mess hall wager.”

“About my –?”

“Concerning your strands,” hellot-Halzar says, gesturing.

“My….hair.” Kelly runs a hand through it. It’s purple as of two ship days ago. “Ok?”

“We wish to know whether the colour change signifies mood, nutritional intake variance, or ….erm….whether your mating season status has changed.”

“My mating season status, huh?” Kelly lifts an eyebrow.

“Yes.”

“Did Jerry put you up to this?”

“Human-Jerry refused to answer our questions about your strands, citing some phenomenon known to your homeworld as ‘famine in missed eek’.”

Kelly snorted. “Tell Jerry he can shove his archaic ideas about ‘feminine mystique’ where M-series stars don’t shine. As for your bet: sorry, it’s none of the above. I changed my hair because my last box of dye was about to expire and because I felt like it.”

hellot-Halzar considers. “chinret-Zer wins then, by technicality: that reason falls within acceptable parameters for ‘mood’.”

“I suppose it does.” Kelly pauses. “Who bet on the ‘mating season’ one?”

“Hmm?” hellot-Halzar had already turned to go and deliver the verdict. They turn one set of eyes back. “Oh that would be Drannuc. He said he smelled a difference in you.”

“Delightful,” Kelly says, instead of explaining menstruation and how that can affect mood, diet, and that technically it correlates to what most of the species on the ship would consider a mating season.
“Next time, instead of betting, maybe just ask questions? And not Jerry. He’s a jerk.”

“Reclassifying human-Jerry as jerk-Jerry. We will approach you with all human queries from now on,” hellot-Halzar says and then continues on their way.

Probably for the best, she thinks with a lopsided grin, and then continues sorting the photo-synth plates to install on her space walk tomorrow.

“Reclassifying human-Jerry as jerk-Jerry”

Pure. There is no other word.

Source: just-a-kind-of-magic

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*Tumblr is great for story prompts about ghostly roommates:

tygermama:

agwitow:

just-shower-thoughts:

If a ghost can open cupboards and break things, why not just take a pencil, find paper, write exactly why it’s unhappy, and tape the message on the fridge.

It just became second nature to close all the cupboards first thing in the morning (even though they’d been closed the night before). Which was when things escalated from banging cupboard doors to actually breaking things.

Faucets, door handles, curtain rods ripped from the wall… all the repairs started to add up.

“Look, I didn’t mind having an ethereal roommate, but I can’t afford to keep fixing all this shit. Here’s a pencil and some paper. Just write what’s bothering you–I doubt you could put anything that would be more expensive than having a plumber come out to replace all the faucets again.”

The next morning there’s a scrawl line at the top of the page that devolved into an angry scribbling mess that tore through the page. Two cupboard doors were entirely ripped off.

“I don’t want to get someone in to banish you, but this is ridiculous. Just tell me what you want.”

The second piece of paper is ripped into shreds and several knives are embedded in the wall.

A careful examination of the paper scraps show that it had the same scribbles as the first piece.

A quick trip to the library and a stop at a store later, there are kindergarten workbooks on learning to write spread across the counter.

“Look, I don’t know if you’re just being difficult, but I hope not. So I got an audiobook on learning to read and write, and here are some workbooks for kids–don’t get mad–to teach them their letters. Just press play on the stereo, and work through the books at your own pace. I’ll get more when you finish.”

The first workbook is half-completed before being ripped to pieces, but at least there was no other damage. Replacing it is significantly cheaper than replacing cupboard doors.

It takes awhile, but eventually the workbooks progress to a fifth grade level. These ones are starting to be more costly (they’re bigger, for one thing), but it’s not even the money anymore. Little notes scrawled in a shaky hand appear on the steamy bathroom mirror

Have A gooD dy

Or written in ketchup on the counter (that was a frightening sight the first time)

You R out of MLK

And then one day there’s a message taped to the fridge. The spelling and penmanship isn’t the best, but it’s legible and even signed.

Dear Occupente,

I have haunted this spot for ovr three huner hudre 300 years. My bones are dust and I am fergotN. I do not have wants to trap me. I am here 4 ever.

I am bord. Lonly.

I am sorrY 4 breaking things.

We be frends?

Syncerly Eloise

I love you, Eloise

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*I feel like this may be  Paul Ryan’s life goal:

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*Dog refuses to stay on pillow, is about how I’d describe the people in my life right now. Annoying but lovable inconveniences:

IF YOUR DOG SLEEPS WITH YOU THEN YOU UNDERSTAND THE STRUGGLE

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*Someone needs to invent this:

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*This pretty much sums up America’s politics at this time, yeah:

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*Other than just a general reason to be happy, I’m posting this here, because some troll in the comments, got his ass handed to him, when he stated that these weren’t the best actors.

wisdomandlogicareking:

Angela Basset: Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner, with enough award nominations/wins to necessitate her own wikipedia page for awards alone.
Lupita Nyong’o: Academy Award winner.
Chadwick Boseman: Joseph Jefferson Award nominee; already showed his stripes as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War.
Sterling K. Brown: Emmy Award Winner for The People Vs. OJ Simpson and actor in the Golden Globe nominated television show This Is Us
Florence Kasumba: Already had a bit part in Captain America: Civil War; was praised by many critics for her one scene being a scene-stealer
Forest Whitaker:  Academy Award for Best Actor
African-American Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
BET Award for Best Actor
Black Reel Award for Best Actor
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Hollywood Film Award for Actor of the Year
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
London Film Critics’ Circle Award for Actor of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association for Best Actor
Nominated – BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film
Nominated – Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
2nd Place – Awards Circuit Community Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role

^ that’s all from a single movie.
Danai Gurira: Tony-award winning writer, plays Michonne on The Walking Dead, one of the most popular series out there today
Michael J. Jordan: Featured actor in popular shows like Friday Night Lights, The Wire, and Parenthood in addition to frequent appearances on film.
Daniel Kaluuya: The star of Get Out, which currently boasts a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and has been in the press pretty much constantly upon release.  He was also featured in an episode of the acclaimed series Black Mirror.
John Kani: An actor, playwright and director; while he hasn’t had as much work in America, he’s prolific enough to have a theatre in Newtown Johannesberg named after him.

Winston Duke and Letitia Wright have fewer credits to their names (the former has a consistent role in the well-received Person of Interest; the latter has been cast in Black Panther and Ready Player One in what is hopefully the beginnings of a bright career), but I don’t mean to belittle their successes by leaving them out, and those who aren’t as well known SHOULD be given a chance by big franchises.  Lesser known names tend to get big after starring in Marvel movies.  I sure as hell didn’t know who Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth were prior to their flagship titles.

But even putting aside how important it is that this film is led by black creators, just because you don’t know these people doesn’t mean that they’re not critically acclaimed in their field, who haven’t put in the work.  They have, and they’ve been recognized for it.  Consider checking out some of their work before you decide whether or not only two of them are great actors.

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blckrapunzel

I sure your feelings are hurt and you’re a little confused by a movie that’s not made with several boxes of assorted crackers and a token black guy 😂😂😂😂😂

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cloama

1. I love this post and seeing this person get flamed and have their activity page all fucked up because of it makes me so happy. 2. This is where non-black people misunderstand anti-black microagression. This person was willing to trade their sense of logic just to shit on Black people because to them, it’s worth it. That’s a big part of how y’all talk about us. Watch yourself.3. That person forgot that every black actor in Hollywood has to have twice as much classical training and work…

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problematticusfinch

Hm, gee, I wonder which 2 are meant as the great actors. Which two…. which two stand out for the person hung up on the small number of white people… hmmm…..

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Imagine being that racist that you think only white actors can be awesome…Imagine being that racist that you look at the black ones and just go “who?” despite their loooooong list of accomplishments and popularity…

Imagine being so racist, that people are excited for a cast of actors, and you are just itching to tell them not to be excited because the cast happens to be black (and you dont like that)….but a white cast, sure you can be excited.

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@wisdomandlogicareking

I never heard of Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, or Chris Evans before their debut in a Marvel film…But unlike some cocks on here, I am not so self centered as to believe that MY personal history of viewing an actor dictates whom is good or not….I also bet similar racists (ppl like wisdomandlogicareking) never said shit about the announced cast of relatively unknown actors of Thor or Cap America, or future films like wtf is the new guy playing young Han Solo?…but just gotta put their two cents in on Black Panther…..because “reason

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*Oh, and introducing the Land of Introverts!

 

Televsion and Movie Meta Linkspam

For your reading pleasure this weekend:

 

Get Out (2017)

Wow, there is so much meta being written about Get Out that its hard to keep track of it all. (Do these writers know thats what they’re doing?)Everybody has something to say aobut this movie, even when they dont have anything to contribute. For the record, I have seen this movie and I loved it as much as I’ve loved anything on the Key and Peele show. (And no, I dont have much more to add to the discussions Ive already read.) If you’ve ever watched that show, than Get Out is not some huge surprise for you, as you are well aware of Jordan Peele’s Horror credentials. For example, his zombie spoof is pretty deep:

 

And this spoof of vampire tropes is hilarious:

I dont have anything to add since people pretty much have every topic covered:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kareem-abdul-jabbar-why-get-is-invasion-black-body-snatchers-trump-985449

http://io9.gizmodo.com/get-out-is-a-horror-movie-only-a-black-person-could-hav-1792781911

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/get-out-what-black-america-knows-about-the-sunken_us_58c199f8e4b0c3276fb7824a

http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/lets-talk-about-all-the-amazing-little-details-in-get-o-1792781479

 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997)

Its the 20 year anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and yep, people are writing about it. I was total trash for this show. I used to watch it like a religious duty, and even back then I was drafting meta, in my head, about this show. For the record, I hated the movie it was based on, and I was prepared to ignore the show. I watched it off and on for the first season. Then the internet started writing about it, and I really revved up my watching in the middle of season two, after Angel became evil. (I didn’t completely understand what was happening but I caught up fast.)

Buffy is also one of the most written about and talked about shows in television history. There are aabout a bajillion books, articles, and websites, devoted to parsing everything from the fashions, to the plot, to the characters and language. 

http://www.whedonstudies.tv/slayage-the-journal-of-whedon-studies.html

http://lithub.com/10-famous-writers-on-loving-buffy-the-vampire-slayer/

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/03/the-body-the-radical-empathy-of-buffys-best-episode/519051/

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/03/how-buffy-the-vampire-slayer-redefined-tv-storytelling/519174/

http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/3/10/14857542/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-explained-tv-influence

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/mar/10/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-at-20-the-thrilling-brilliant-birth-of-tv-as-art

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/08/buffy-the-vampire-slayer/

http://io9.gizmodo.com/10-vital-storytelling-lessons-i-learned-from-buffy-the-1766651082

http://io9.gizmodo.com/20-things-we-still-love-about-buffy-the-vampire-slayer-1793132161

http://www.vulture.com/2017/03/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-twenty-years-greatest-legacy.html

 

Logan (2017)

I did go see Logan, as I promised. I was going to write a review, but a lot of people have  already written about the issues I would’ve covered in my review. It’s an excellent movie, btw, and  every bit as heartwrenching as you expect.

http://www.rogerebert.com/mzs/all-things-must-pass-the-emotional-reality-of-logan

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2017/03/05/logan-the-things-we-leave-behind

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/why-we-needed-logan-to-kill-the-modern-superhero-movie-w470501

https://theringer.com/logan-and-conquering-pessimism-through-fatherhood-86d377ae85b9#.nsgel72hh

http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/6/14829768/logan-movie-wolverine-hugh-jackman-patrick-stewart-discussion-highs-lows

https://theringer.com/james-mangold-hugh-jackman-wolverine-logan-movie-review-1d5e5b9c5c93#.2oe0rp6ff

 

Moonlight (2016)

I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I’ve heard such wonderful things about it. I’ve seen a few clips come across my dash on Tumblr, which have me intrigued, and of course, it won Best Picture at the Oscar Awards.  I’ve made plans to watch the DVD soon, however.

Why I refuse to watch “Moonlight,” or any other film about race, with white people

View story at Medium.com

http://www.cbc.ca/arts/masculinity-and-moonlight-eight-black-men-dissect-barry-jenkins-momentous-film-1.3836460

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/21/moonlight-affirmation-gay-black-men-exist

http://www.mtv.com/news/2935326/moonlight-and-the-preservation-of-black-manhood/

https://contexts.org/blog/moonlight-trayvon-the-oscars-and-americas-fear-of-black-boys/

https://bitchmedia.org/article/shedding-moonlight-toxic-masculinity/problem-homophobia-not-gay-characters

 

Star Wars

http://www.kissmywonderwoman.com/2016/02/masculinity-monday-star-wars-finn-is.html

View story at Medium.com

A Hero, Just Not The Hero: Masculinity in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

http://www.theouthousers.com/index.php/columns/134072-lets-talk-about-finn-star-wars-the-force-awakens.html

 

Hidden Figures:

Yes, I’ve already seen this movie. I loved it, but as a long time Blerdgirl, I’m still processing my thoughts about it. I haven’t finished geeking out about it yet, but when I do, I’ll come back at you with some knowledge. Ideas are already percolating as I type.

http://latinasuprising.com/hidden-figures-feminism/

What’s Hiding Behind the Feel-Good Curtain of <i>Hidden Figures</i>: One Black Feminist’s Take

Taraji P Henson’s Hidden Figures is the intersectional feminist movie we need right now

ETA: This last link was removed because, while I have plenty of issues with feminism, I won’t tolerate any lying  MRA mansplaining bullshit on my blog.

 

Miscellaneous

http://www.chrisbrecheen.com/2012/06/8-things-prometheus-can-teach-you-about.html

https://clearancebinreview.com/2012/05/18/cinematic-soulmates-three-amigos-a-bugs-life-and-galaxy-quest/

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2015/10/pantomime-james-bond-reveals-tragedy-modern-white-masculinity

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rAM9EtJTHL_M6STjL7TyfUs9ew83v_fhYAlwI97hG5s/mobilebasic

 

Tumblr Humor # 247

*Why does no one think it at all strange to be gluing appliques on their baby? And what about gluing shit on boys? How about little bow-ties, since we’re going for that whole gender essentialism thing?

brainstatic: “Tired of your baby girl being seen as a genderless imp? Afraid strangers might not recognize your sexless proto-human as the soft femme heartbreaker she is? Well now you can glue some shit on her head! That’s right, just glue some...

brainstatic:

Tired of your baby girl being seen as a genderless imp? Afraid strangers might not recognize your sexless proto-human as the soft femme heartbreaker she is? Well now you can glue some shit on her head! That’s right, just glue some gender conformity right onto her unclosed fontanelle! Say goodbye to awkwardly explaining that no, despite her bald head, your androgynous poop machine is actually a demure coquette! Glue your fucking baby today!

@
@

*Once I sit down in my house, that’s it! I’m not having any more interactions with ppl for the rest of the evening. And no, don’t  even be in my neighborhood.

We have a twitter here too: https://twitter.com/IntrovertUnite. See some of you there?

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*I think it might have been a mistake for NASA to ask for suggestions on this. I mean they’re talking to Americans and I think we invented snark.

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*This is the most plausible explanation, I’ve ever seen, for why people don’t recognize Clark Kent as Superman, and its not the eyeglasses:

raptorific:

I still think it’s hilarious that the reason nobody ever figures out Superman’s secret identity or where he lives or what he does when he’s not saving the planet, is because he already told them all the Kryptonian stuff that can’t be tied to any of his human friends or family. I guarantee you the in-universe wikipedia article on Superman lists his name as Kal-El and the “personal life” section says that he lives full-time at his private fortress of solitude at the north pole. Nobody in the world looks at Clark Kent and thinks “oh my god, maybe he’s superman!” for the same reason nobody ever starts to suspect that their coworker who looks KINDA like Barack Obama is actually secretly Barack Obama – They know who Barack Obama is and know what he does and they know their coworker Greg is Greg and not Barack Obama. They have no reason to assume Barack Obama secretly moonlights as Greg The IT Guy at their workplace even though they’ve never seen Greg and Obama in the same place. At best, “Greg is secretly Obama” would be a running joke at the office, and the same is true at the Daily Planet. “Kal-El of Krypton, who lives in a CRYSTAL PALACE at the NORTH POLE and whose dayjob is SUPERMAN, sometimes puts on a suit and pretends to be a clumsy reporter and lives in a one-bedroom walkup in Metropolis” is a ridiculous concept to anyone who doesn’t already know it’s true

@unpretty

“Hey, that— that guy, in the corner, is that— is that Superman?” 

Clark looks up from his computer at the new intern. “Oh, no,” he says. “You caught me.”

“Clark, you pull this shit every time, man,” his desk neighbor Steve says. “Shut the fuck up.”

“No, the kid’s right, I’m Superman,” Clark says. He gets out of his seat and cracks his back out. “I guess we’re gonna have a superhero fight.”

“Clark, sit back down.”

“Nope. Superhero fight.”

“Clark if you don’t sit the hell back down and finish your article by lunch I am going to tell Perry on you.”

Clark points at the intern. “You get off easy this time, buddy,” he says, and sits back down.

“So…” the intern says, very lost. “Uh…”

“That’s Clark,” a slightly older and more experienced intern says. “He’s Superman’s asshole twin.”

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*This is, very possibly, one of the best reviews of Fences.  Ever! Or, as clueless White people at awards shows like to call it, Hidden Fences!

Art Art by John Ueland

 

Source:
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And you know Black Twitter couldnt let that Hidden Fences comment pass:
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*And finally , I laughed too long and hard at this discussion, with Black people refusing to tell White people what “Take the L”, actually meant, and basically trolling  them.

poonpie:

dope-lore:

poonpie:

For those who don’t know, ‘take this L’ refers to the Longitude and Latitude of a map. When you have to take an L, you need to locate your Longitude and Latitude. By doing so you will discover how far out of your lane you fucking traveled.

I thought the L stood for log like logarithim cuz u gotta do a complicated problem to figure out who the fuck u think ur talkin too

You’re actually not wrong. Originally it referred to the Latin word ‘lūcidus’ which means ‘radiating light’. Therefore, when you need to take an L, you must enlighten yourself on where you got me fucked up.

Pop Culture News

And now some PopCulture News.

*I am totally squeeeing in my bunny slippers about the next season of Preacher. So, now its time to re-watch the first season!

dailypreacher:

AMC has announced that “Preacher,” the hit drama based on the Vertigo comic series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, will return for its 13-episode second season on Monday, June 19, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. That marks a move from Sunday to Monday, which has become AMC’s second night for original programming.

*Here is a partial list of cast members for the new Star Trek Discovery, produced by Brayn Fuller. I love this cast, some of whom I recognize from other favorite shows. Even if I wasn’t geeking out over Soniqua, I’d still be there for Michelle Yeoh, and Doug Jones.

Bryan Fuller is pretty good at remembering that PoC exist in the future. He used to work on Star Trek DS9, so he’s got some Trek cred. And after his interpretation of Hannibal Lecter,  I’d follow him anywhere.

I‘m told that the only way to see the intial episodes of this show, is on the streaming service called CBS All Access, which is 5.99 a month for the ads added version.

frontier001:

So I thought I’d make this to help everyone out.

This is Likely Not All of the Cast.  It is everyone who has, so far, been announced.  CBS has been announcing people two or three at a time.  Why?  No one knows!

  • We don’t know for sure who is regular cast and who is guest cast for the most part.
  • IMDB offers some info-speculation, but take it with a grain of salt.
  • CBS has never officially said Sonequa Martin-Green is aboard; but she did briefly in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that was mostly about how she can do both Discovery and The Walking Dead.  Why CBS hasn’t said anything is anyone’s guess!
  • We know we’ll have 2 (two) Starfleet Ships AND at least 1 (one) Klingon ship, though not for how long – the Klingons are all so far only listed as in 2 episodes.
  • Sarek is thus far the only previously canon character; he’s only listed in 1 episode yet.

I think all of them are on Twitter?  As are all the writers.  Though all to various degrees of activity.  If you’re interested.

Here’s hoping the next cast announced is three more women, to even things out!

Netfix is producing a movie starring Steven Yeun and Tilda Swinton titled Okja

Netflix is producing a zombie show set in medieval Korea

 

*Look for Will Smith’s new movie coming sometime soon, titled Bright. It looks like an adaption of Maurice Broaddus’ Kingmaker series, so if you like Arthurian Legends set in an Urban landscape, check out that series, too.

 

*Charlize Theron is getting her version of John Wick. It looks like a lot of fun, but I probably won’t be seeing this. I like Charize, and all, but I already saw Salt, and I’m not paying to see the same movie twice. The title is kickin’ tho’.

 

*Here are some new trailers and clips for Alien Covenant, due in April, I think. Michael Fassbender is being creepy again as a new robot.. ahem, Artificial Person, named Walter.

Enjoy!

 

*This is a kinda cool riff on the dinner scene from the original Alien, and a good way to be introduced to some obnoxious characters. 

 

*If you enjoyed Train to Busan, than Seoul Station, the animated prequel, will be available in the US this Summer. It appears to be every bit as harrowing as the live action movie.

 

Samir Chopra

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spokenblackgirl.wordpress.com/

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