Thangs I Looked At: Movie Mini Reviews

Here are three films I watched in February. For the record, although I had some mild criticisms, I generally liked them, and  I especially enjoyed the Terminator film, which I wasn’t entirely certain I would, since no one was talking about it.

Terminator: Dark Fate

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I was initially very excited when I saw the trailer for this movie, but ultimately didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters. After that, I didn’t hear much about it. I dont normally get too worked up about films, that I think are going to be popular, bombing at the box office, because there are at least half a dozen reasons I won’t   see it, no mater how excited I am about it. I figured that’s probably much the case with a lot of films that bomb. In other words, films bomb for a whole variety of reasons, that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the film’s quality.

And the quality of this latest entry in the Terminator franchise is very excellent. You should really check it out when you get a chance. I liked it every bit as much as I thought I would, ,and you will remember I was very excited about the trailer. It even did a couple of things I wasn’t expecting as far as plot and characters.

The basic plot sort of parallels the Sarah Connor plot from the first movie, but is much more personal. Dani isn’t the savior of the world, she is the savior of one person in particular, and Sarah comes along for the ride. The Terminator is very interesting, combining both elements of the original T-800, and the Liquid version from T2.

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What was surprising about the movie is how female-centric it was, while touching on a lot of themes. Nearly all the characters are women, and they control the plot points in this movie. Sarah’s character reminded me  of Laurie Strode, from the most recent Halloween movie, in that she is a broken and horribly traumatized woman. I always find it interesting when female characters are deliberately written to be unlikable, and that is  the case here. Sarah is kind of an asshole, who butts heads with everyone. She is mean, and bitter, the sneer never leaves her face, and this is acceptable to the viewer, because she is  definitely hurting, and broken, because of an event that happened after she and John saved the world’s future. The movie is as much about her trauma as it is about saving Dani. It is a heavy movie, with the only comic relief provided by an old school Terminator, played by Schwarzeneggar, as a drapery salesman named Carl, who is married to a woman he doesn’t have sex with, and doesn’t know what he is! Once you  wrap your head around all that, the movie is an action fest every bit as good as Fury Road, only  less zany.

The movie takes place largely in Mexico, and at one point, Dani, and the others must sneak into the US, but get locked up in one of the Border camps, so the movie went there, which was interesting, because I didn’t think it would. While no one says anything outright, the framing of those scenes show strong disapproval of what’s happening there, as the Terminator bursts in and slaughters half the border guards, and steals a helicopter.

The Terminator is played by one of my favorite actors, Gabriel Luna, who I got a kick out of watching in the SHIELD series, as the Ghost Rider. His technology isn’t just a blend of the two styles of Terminator we’ve seen, but so is his demeanor, which is especially chilling, because he seems very, innocuous, normal, and friendly, right up until you die.

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The stand out character for me though was Grace, who is awesome. I’m saving a special place in my personal pantheon for Grace, (as not too many white women, Ellen Ripley and Furiosa being the only two,  manage to get into it), who can definitely carry an action scene. The last time I saw that particular actress, she was playing a replicant, in Bladerunner 2049, and here she is playing another half human character. Grace is much like her name, moving and fighting in exactly the manner you’d expect of a technologically enhanced human being, and some of the most exhilarating scenes, are watching her go toe to toe with the Terminator, and matching him hit for hit. She doesn’t actually defeat him, but she is his equal.

The ending of the movie is bittersweet, but I liked it. I liked the entire film. There are no slow moments. Nothing is wasted, and I liked the love/hate dynamics between the female characters, which felt organic, and not just thrown in for drama’s sake. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should check it out, just to watch Schwarzeneggar’s role as Carl, and here him complain about people’s bad taste in draperies, in his usual  monotone.

 

 

 

Spider-Man: Far From Home

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Despite a couple of hiccups, I genuinely liked this movie. I don’t think it’s as good as the first film, but that one had some  novelty behind it in being Tom Hollands first full length term as Spiderman. This one is okay. Its not great. I wouldn’t put it anywhere near Maguire’s Spiderman 2, but its fun and watchable. The teenagers act like teens ,and the love story between Pete and MJ is really cute. This is funnier than the first film, and a  genuine comedy, until it gets near the end, when things get a bit more serious. As with most comedies your mileage may vary. I thought a few of the jokes landed badly, but mostly of them hit their mark, at least for me.

The most annoying part of the movie however,  is the continuing attachment of Tony Stark to Peter’s storyline. He’s still cleaning up Stark’s messes, even after he’s dead. I suspect that will be going on in the MCU for some time, since one of Tony’s major superpowers was  pissing off powerful creatures and/or people. Probably half the villains in the MCU can be traced back to something Tony said or did to some hapless supplicant, and that is the origin story behind Mysterio.

I also found it annoying that everyone assumes Peter wants to take up Tony Stark’s mantle, and do what he did, only as Spiderman. Just let the child be himself ffs! Why does anyone have to step into Tony’s shoes? On the other hand, the movie does mention (rather roughly) some of the issues that happened in the aftermath of  the Snap and the Return, (in this movie its called the Blip), and how much society was upheaved by both those events. I thought it was an intriguing idea  that the world was just as upset by everyone’s return, after five years, as it was by the trauma of their disappearance.

Well, anyway the movie is still fun, and full of lots of humorous moments, regardless of Tony’s ghost hanging around this movie, and I have watched it a couple of times, since its release. Like the first movie, it doesn’t have a whole lot of depth, until the end, when Peter directly goes up against Mysterio.

I liked this just fine. Its not great. Its not even as good as Homecoming, but it’s a well spent Saturday afternoon or evening.

 

 

 

John Wick 3: Parabellum

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Wow! This movie was a wild ride from start to finish. I don’t even know where to begin, I want to call this a hot ass mess, but that would imply I didn’t like it. In fact, I loved it! But yes, it is a hot ass, but very enjoyable, cray-cray mess. its like a Jason Statham, Fast and Furious movie, only with a real budget, if you catch my meaning.

Like the last movie, it picks up where it left off, with Wick being hunted by the Assassin’s guild which he used to be a member of. He’s got to find some old colleagues to help him stay alive, and they of curse come immediately into danger. One of those old friends, Sofia,  is played by Halle Berry, who owns a couple of  Belgian Mallinois, that she has specifically trained to kick ass, on her command, and that part of the movie is lots of fun to watch. I don’t get to watch Halle kick ass too often, so watching this fifty plus year old Black woman throwing  hands was a real treat.

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Another treat was watching Mark Dacascos chew the scenery, and get some genuinely funny lines, as a major villain who just wants to take John down, and supplant him as the boogeyman of assassins. I hadn’t seen Mark in a while, so it was fun to watch this professional ass-kicker throw down, even if the bald head was kind of jarring.

In the meantime, while John is trying to get his shit together there’s an actual assassins cabal, that oversees the assassin’s guild. Since John was “excommunicated”, he’s gotten help from a few friends, including Lawrence Fishburne, as the King of New York, and all their lives are put in danger, because one of the rules is that if you are a member of the guild in good standing, you have to turn in those who are excommunicated.

So the plot becomes a lot more complex, along with all the stuntwork. The John Wick movies are not especially deep, but they are great fun, even though they’re incredibly violent. Part of the reason people don’t mind the violence, quite so much, is that it’s de-mystified by the extras and behind the scenes videos, that show how are the stuntwork gets done, and watching the behind the scenes videos are just as much fun as watching

Accents in Movies: Depicting Class

In the 1991 Jonathan Demme film, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter, in one of the film’s most cringeworthy scenes,  properly deduces that Clarice Starling is “poor white trash”. Working from his own collection of  stereotypes, the observation of her good bag, cheap shoes, and Appalachian mountains accent, he correctly guesses that she’s not more than one generation out of the coal mines. Clarice’s accent, as much as her womanhood, marks her as “other”.

Everything about her, from the opening running scene, in which she is ogled by a pair of classmates, to the elevator scene where the height differential between herself and her classmates makes her stand out, to the soft Southern accent, with which she replies to her supervisor, it is shown that Clarice does not belong there. Although later, Clarice uses her accent to gain the trust and compliance of a roomful of rural professionals, who are suspicious of her presence, as a woman in an all male environment, and as a member of the Federal government. She uses her accent to show that she is actually one of them, from the culture in which the idea of the Wise (or Conjure) Woman is important, and respected.

When you watch that scene again, take note of the strength of the accent, and her use of words. She says to the men, “We’ll take care of her. Just go on now. We’ll take care of her.” And they unquestioningly obey her request, much as they would, if their mothers, or grandmothers had said it. She has successfully conveyed to the men, that she is one of them, a member of their social class, who knows how these things are done.

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Clarice is a pretender to social class, which is a nice parallel to the film’s antagonist, Jame Gumb, who pretends at being a transgender woman. The only person who is not fooled by Clarice’s  pretense at urban sophistication, is  Lecter, who has a distinct, upper class, European accent, reminiscent of the Lithuanian nobility, from which he came. To  less discerning characters, like Chilton, or the room full of cops that she orders around, Clarice can pass as a member of the middle class. The moment she speaks, people assume she isn’t, but to someone like Lecter, her lack of breeding is clearly evident. Both her, and Gumb’s, (his is Southern Californian), accents mark them as outside the mainstream. Except for the three primary characters, Lecter, Gumb, and Starling, all of the other characters in the film, including Clarice’s Black roommate, played by Kasi Lemmons, all have the  Standard American accent.

The American Standard is the king of American accents, it is the default, so common it goes unnoticed, and the most well favored. It’s also called the Central Midwestern accent, used in places like Northeastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan to the far north, Iowa, New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and is the accent most often heard from news anchors, public announcers, and even AI programs like Siri, and Alexa. There are other accents in those regions, that coexist along side it, but the American Standard is the one which is preferred.

 

https://www.stagemilk.com/american-accent-guide/

It is also somewhat of a constructed concept. What I mean by that is that nobody grew up in Standard America. The sound we’re talking about is what is called a prestige dialect. Most countries (and most languages) have a prestige dialect which is exactly what it sounds like: the speech sounds most commonly identified with status within a given society. Linguistically it’s not simply status but also clarity, intelligence, socioeconomic influence and general power. 

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Unlike Clarice, I have this privilege. I call this Accent Privilege, in the sense that my regular speaking voice doesn’t have an accent that is noticeably different from that of the mainstream, Midwestern accent. This happened by sheer luck. I just happened to be born into one of the regions where this is the most prevalent accent. People often judge others on how they speak, and if you have no noticeable accent,  that judgment is favorable most of the time. My accent marks me to others as being intelligent, educated, and/or middle class. My words are treated with either trust or suspicion, based on who I’m talking to. White people consider me “safe”, and are reassured by my ability to be clear and articulate, but I was often asked by my Black classmates, why I spoke like a white person, as the Midwestern accent is heavily associated with Whiteness. I did not grow up as a member of the middle class. Like Clarice Starling, I’m pretending to a social class I was not born into, but which people assumed I did, and my accent helped to sell it, because, like her, I’m barely one generation away from the cotton fields.

But I do also engage in what is known as “Code Switching”, where people from other cultures, or just different regions of the country, speak differently, in different spaces, often “switching” back and forth, between their normal speaking voice, and American Standard.  Why? Because many people are often uncomfortable with, and disrespectful, and suspicious of other languages, and vernacular English, like AAVE (African American Vernacular English). When I’m in my home, I speak the way my family speaks, and since the majority of them are from rural Mississippi, we speak AAVE, but I don’t speak at work that way. For one thing, my job involves answering phones, and a certain mode of professional speaking is required for that type of job. It would be considered “unprofessional”, and in the minds of some people, low class, for me to answer the business phone, as if I were at home. I don’t talk to my supervisors, the way I talk to my mother, for example, (and neither do most people, regardless of whether or not they have accents.

Now, when I’m talking about accents, for the purposes of this post, I mean the entirety of a person’s manner of speaking, including word usage, because only certain types of accents are associated with the use of certain types of words, for example, the use of the word, “y’all”.

 The mainstream Midwestern accent is the default accent used in almost all of American television, and movies. Having a Midwestern accent means a person gets treated as trustworthy, their words are given more weight,  given the benefit of the doubt,  assumed to be educated,  to have a good job,  and to be non-violent. In America, sounding like an American, means having  “no accent”, but that wasn’t always the case.

In the early part of the 20th century, the Mid-Atlantic accent was what was used, until it fell out of favor, in the fifties, for a more “natural” sounding speech pattern.

 

Of course this is an accent, too, in the same way that “White” is a race, but this “lack” of accent (just like whiteness) is so ubiquitous, that most people don’t  notice it.

The way someone pronounces their words, is used in movies and shows, not just to reinforce stereotypes, but as a  form of shorthand, to show a person’s character, and social class. Filmmakers use accents to show audiences that a character is good,  evil,  smart, gullible, suspicious, or trustworthy.  Turn on any American TV show, watch any movie, and chances are, those with Midwestern accents will be the majority of the characters, and probably  will be  the protagonists, heroes, or in positions of authority. They will also almost always be White.

You will not find  a lot of characters in mainstream media with deep Southern accents, Western twangs,  Texas Drawls, Valley Girl speech, Arabic, Southeast Indian, or Caribbean  accents, unless they are also shown as poor, incompetent, corrupt, or played for comic relief. In other words, characters never just have accents. There is always a reason for the accent, and some  point about that person is being made.

For example, the accent, in mainstream media, is used to indicate if someone is considered an American citizen. For the past twenty plus years, the Simpsons,  has had the running gag of an immigrant named Apu, a stereotypical character from India, who has  a strong accent,  is the father of a small multitude of babies, and runs a convenience store. This character is meant to be funny because of how he speaks, not necessarily because of anything he does, as his very existence in Springfield, (the setting of The Simpsons), is meant to be comedic. His accent also paints him as a perpetual foreigner. Asian Americans are especially susceptible to this stereotype, as no matter how many generations they’ve lived in America, they are often still assumed to be from somewhere else. And if they have an accent then doubly so.

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

The perpetual foreigner stereotype is a racialized form of nativist xenophobia in which naturalized and even native-born citizens (including families which have lived in the country for generations) are perceived as foreign because they belong to minority groups.

I spoke, in an earlier post, about the use of accents in the movies of the Coen Brothers, where everyone’s speech patterns and accents are used as indicators of people’s socio-economic status, the status they aspire to be, or simply framed as comedic.  In The Ladykillers, Tom Hanks broad Southern  accent is associated with television conmen, corrupt religious authority, and the Antebellum era of Georgia.  His accent gives the audience ideas about the  type of man he is. The audience doesn’t know he is a grifter and conman by his deeds. We know this by the long association, that has been made in mainstream media, between his accent, and untrustworthiness. All we  need is to hear is his caricature of a Southern accent, to understand that he is unreliable, and also that  the movie is meant to be a comedy.

 

In Raising Arizona, Hi, a criminal recidivist,  his two  best  friends, both prison escapees, and a murderous biker, all talk in what I call “downspeak”, where they talk as if they were  college educated, but with the Southern twang that is meant to indicate their social class, and criminal status. This is what I meant by the association of word use and accent. The humor comes from the incongruity of Hi, and his companions, using words not normally associated with their accents. Not only that, but Hi’s word use can also be seen as aspirational. He talks the way he wishes to be seen by others, which is smart, educated, middle-class, and therefore a reliable narrator, but we  laugh at the way Hi speaks, because his accent marks him as a member of the trailer park class, no matter what words he uses.

Accents are especially interesting  when it comes to Black characters. Blackness, throughout most of film history, has been  almost always associated with buffoonery, poverty, criminality, and a lack of education.  So  it is interesting that even though the largest population of Black people in the US, live in the South, Black people in Popular media, rarely have Southern, Californian, or even Texan accents, and those times when they have  a Southern accent, it represents childlike helplessness, that they have wisdom above their station, or in the case of Black women, that they are deeply religious.

In the 1986 movie, Crossroads, starring Ralph Macchio, and Joe Seneca, we can contrast Willie Brown’s poor, Mississippi Delta accent, with Eugene Martone’s middle-class, New York accent, something which Willie never lets Eugene forget throughout the film. They’re both musicians who specialize in playing the guitar, but one of them was born into poverty and plays the Blues, a style of music that is dismissed as “primitive” by Eugene’s music teachers, and the other was born in one of world’s most cosmopolitan cities, and plays Western European Classical music, which is sneered at by Willie, as not being “real music, that comes from the heart”. In this movie, it is Eugene who is out of place, as his accent is commented on by the other characters in the film, and marks him as being from a different socio-economic class.

The Northern Blaccent, where a person speaks AAVE, but speaks it with a Midwestern accent, is often representative of  the “thug”, or gang banger stereotype, and appears to be a universal Black accent,  not closely associated  with any particular region of the US, which means that no matter where the movie or show is set, the accents of Black characters in Popular media, tend to remain consistently Midwestern. Once again, this is not a hard and fast rule, as exceptions can be found, but it is a pattern, and the idea that Blackness alone, is so associated with criminality, violence, and unreliability, to such a degree, that none of those qualities need be further indicated by a strong accent, is disturbing.

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When a Black character speaks SAE (Standard American English) onscreen, without an accent, then it connotes all the same qualities that it does in the real world, respectability, and safety. A decade after the demise of the Mid-Atlantic accent, used by White actors, Black characters were still using it. The use of AAVE in movies and shows, did not reach full use by Black characters until the mid seventies, after which it became associated with Black youth culture, and the Blacksploitation movies of that era. The use of AAVE, in mainstream media, came about as a result of the resurgence in Black Pride, when young Black people dismissed respectability politics, in favor of more natural manners of speaking.

Actors like Sidney Poitier, and other actors during, and after, the Civil rights Era, had a distinct, clipped, educated,  Mid-Atlantic accent, which was meant to show that he was a fine, upstanding Black man, to be respected. The purpose of this manner of speaking was meant to counteract the “Coon” manner of speaking that had been heard in most mainstream films, featuring Black characters. His tone, and speech, are meant to convey authority. This was a man who could be liked and trusted, and  this was illustrated in the 1967 movie, In the Heat of the Night, in which a Black Philadelphia cop, Virgil Tibbs, is sent to a small town in Mississippi,  and works with the town sheriff to solve a murder.

Poitier’s voice is deep, firm, and commanding, because sometimes, the tone and timbre of a person’s voice are important, as well. In this scene, notice the difference in his voice, compared to that of the white sheriff, whose voice is of a higher register, and a more casual tone. The Sheriff’s accent is a soft Southern drawl, his tone holds just a touch of ambiguity, because while he is assured of his own authority, he is uncertain of Tibbs, but like the plot of every cop film of the 80s,  the two men begin  to respect each other, as they are forced to work together.

 

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In Hollywood films, the accent that receives the most negative depictions, outside of the Northern Blaccent, is the  Southern Twang. White people with Southern twangs from places  like Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and the Appalachians, are often depicted in films as toothless, criminal, incestuous,  “rednecks”, “trailer trash”, and “hillbillies”. They are often shown as uneducated, overly religious, violent, poor, and gullible members of the lower classes, (they often populate Horror movies set in rural America, like The Texas Chainsaw massacre, and Deliverance, which is something I’ll be speaking about in a later post.) We are meant to laugh at them, disdain them, be afraid of them, or disgusted by them. The audience is almost never meant to think of such individuals as their equals. Contrast this attitude with that of earlier in the twentieth century, before television, when such people were often held up as admirable examples of Americans, who were the “salt of the Earth”. They weren’t respected, but at least were not blatantly denigrated in most media depictions of them. They were shown as ignorant, but level headed, uneducated, but sensible. Over time, with the advent of television, which was aimed at a middle class audience, the depiction of white poverty became almost entirely negative.

Also on The Simpsons, there is another recurring character named Cletus, The Slack Jawed Yokel, and his theme song and  vignettes are every stereotype of rural poverty, which pretty much sums up how this character is meant to be seen, but because this is a white character, no one thinks of it as being especially mean-spirited, despite the fact that the people writing the show, don’t share the socio-economic background of the character. We are meant to laugh at him, and his antics, not sympathize with him. (TBH, many of The Simpson’s recurring characters are  collections of various tropes.)

We can more clearly see this stereotyping at work, in the 1993 movie, Kalifornia, between  two couples who share almost nothing in common, beyond having white skin. The don’t share income levels, background, or education. Early and his girlfriend, Adele, both speak with a Twang which, outside of their dress and demeanor, indicates their low social and economic status, compared to Brian and Carrie, who speak with the “accentless” accents of the Midwest. Brian and Carrie are both urbane, educated, middle class, and look down on, and mock Adele and Early as “poor white trash”. When the two couples meet,  Carrie expresses reservations about Early and Adele, and finds them funny. Throughout the movie, she regularly expresses disgust, and embarrassment, for the couple’s mannerisms, speech, and lack of boundaries.

Early is a murderer, with a long criminal background, and  on parole, while he and Adele inhabit a trailer, they cannot afford. Adele, while sweet, and good-natured, is also  dimwitted,  gullible, and easily manipulated by Early, who is physically abusive towards her. Adele is  more open with her sexuality. She isn’t slut-shamed in the film, but her manner and dress is distinctly different from the cool, modestly dressed, and sexually aloof Carrie, who Early covets as being beyond his ability to acquire. Carrie’s hair, makeup, and clothing, all indicate that she is a member of the middle class, while Adele’s childlike hairstyles, and lack of makeup, indicate her lack of sophistication. This is actually pretty typical of Hollywood versions of White people with strong Southern accents, but there are at least two exceptions to this, as well.

 

The Texas Drawl, for example, which is commonly given to hyper-masculine, and  heroic White men, like John Wayne, and the Southern Belle, a white woman of at least middle class status, who is  depicted as either  a simpering, or  fiery, damsel in distress, like Scarlett O’Hara.

In genre movies that take place in Fantasy and Science Fiction settings, the Midwestern accent is still dominant, even if there is no reason why a story set in Medieval England, or Outer Space is filled with Midwestern American speaking people, outside of being the actors hired for those roles. Most of the lead characters in Game of Thrones have either staunch Midwestern, or upper class British accents, when there is no reason for such a class station to be alluded to at all, in such a setting. If the characters in a world based on Medieval European history, can have modern British and Midwestern accents, and not be argued as historically inaccurate, than why not any of the many twangs, drawls, Indigenous, Asian, or even Eastern European accents? Why are posh British accents always used to denote the upper classes and nobility even in fantasy settings?

In the Lord of the Rings movie franchise, Viggo Mortensen is a multilingual actor, of Danish heritage, who speaks with a pronounced American accent in the movie. Of all the accents he could have chosen to use, why use that one? The Hobbits all use a variety of English, and Midwestern accents, that are meant to sound casual, but are still “low class” English, or Midwestern standard (and sometimes both in the same character). Although the movies are shot in New Zealand, none of the primary actors have Kiwi accents, which for the Hobbits would be just as valid as the English and Midwestern accents they’re using.

All of the members of the nobility, for example, including the fantasy creatures, regardless of the region of Middle-Earth, or the culture they’re from, like the elves, and dwarves, have English accents. Now I do understand that many of these accents are the natural voices of the actors hired for the roles, but what is never taken into account by audiences is that, that too, is a choice the creators made. The creators of the movies took the time to have the actors speak invented languages, and they could have easily taken the time to make up accents, but chose not to, which probably means, just like the audience, they didn’t hear it either. They could have taken the time to use different accents, for different cultures, or regions of Middle Earth, but didn’t.

Contrast that decision with the accents used in the movie Black Panther. Yes, the accents are all over the place, but according to some of the countries referenced by dress and custom in the movie, the actors accents are not the real accents of any particular region, or tribe, and as a result, many Africans found the accents funny. The Wakandans do speak something like the real language called Xhosa. The bottom line is someone thought about how the characters should sound, and made a deliberate choice that all the members of the fictional nation of Wakanda, would have a certain accent, while it seems no particular thought was given to the accents of the characters from Lord of the Rings. The actors just all used their natural voices there.

When The TV series The Witcher was announced, there was a great deal of argument about adding people of color to the cast, saying that they didn’t belong in a story based in  Polish folklore, because that would not be “Historically Accurate”. This is an argument I’m getting especially tired of hearing,for stories set in Fantasy settings, that involve elves, dragons, and magic, especially since none of those same  people complained about any of the characters lack of Medieval Polish accents, or the lack of any of the languages of Poland. It’s not accurate for any of the characters to have either American or British accents, but no one complained about them. No one complained, because they are not meant to notice that the  “accentless” accent, of Midwestern America, is actually a very specific, and just as contrived,  accent, aimed at a specific audience the films.

Would we take any of these films as seriously as we do, if all the characters spoke like Cletus, from The Simpsons?

In Star Wars, most of the characters (even robots) have either British or Midwestern accents, as well, and there is no particular reason why no one has a Blaccent, or speaks like they’re from Georgia, Pakistan, or Indonesia, although in Science Fiction, this is changing, as in some of the films, most notably in Rogue One, the actors of color all kept their original accents, from places like Mexico (Diego Luna), and China (Donnie Yen).  At least part of the reason we don’t often hear other types of accents in genre films is those types of actors are rarely chosen for those roles,  the disrespect and mockery of accents outside of the Midwestern standard, and  the fact that British accents are the only accents that generally don’t receive mockery in American culture, (although men with such accents are sometimes coded as villainous gays.)

Asian accents on television and in movies are often subject to ridicule and satire. Starting with Mr. Yunioshi, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to Long Duk Dong, in Sixteen Candles, Hollywood has a long, and sordid, history of mocking Asian accents, often using White actors. Asian characters may be stereotyped as  smart, or  “model minorities” in comparison to Black characters, but they are still shown as being less American, through depictions of broken English, ignorance of American culture, and mock languages, like the sing-song noises directed at Asian Americans, even if they were born in America.

Any non-American accents will receive mockery though, no matter what the the race or culture. I’ve caught myself mocking the Australian accent of Steve Irwin, Michael Caine’s Cockney accent, or laughing at fake Irish and Scottish accents. All accents that are considered by mainstream media to be comedic, or just of the “lower classes”.

All this means is that all accents are unworthy, and that the only one that should be respected (or just never noticed at all) is the accentless accent of the Midwest. And let’s be absolutely honest, not even all Midwestern accents are considered equal. The Northern Midwest has its own distinct sound, and is often used in movies as a form of comedy relief.

Here, Amy Walker talks about some of the more common American regional accents.

 

Essentially, the Midwestern accent  is as  ubiquitous, and invisible as whiteness. It is an accent without an accent, it is everywhere, and because its so pervasive, no one can hear it.

Hi Everyone!

I am currently, like a lot of people, in a lockdown city, here in the US, due to the C- 19 pandemic, and I’m not working. Unfortunately, now is also the wrong fucking time to have either the flu, or allergies, both of which are currently kicking my ass, but I am otherwise okay. I live in a predominantly Black neighborhood and although we rarely panic about anything, yes, people are buying lots of toilet paper.

My Mom and I went shopping this weekend, and while there was a very mild air of excitement, kinda like what’s felt before a National holiday, most people were quite calm, and polite. I saw only one woman wearing a face mask, and one guy with rubber gloves. The handful of white People I saw had amassed lots of toilet paper, while the Black customers seemed like they were just buying food for their unexpectedly early, out of school children. Schools will be closed here to the end of the school year, but the kids are still going to be fed, because otherwise the school lunches, that were bought in advance would go to waste, so that’s good. Voting has been postponed til Summer, movie theaters are closed, and I have no idea when I’ll be back to work, although thankfully, I’m one of those people with fully paid leave.

I’m thinking of donating to people without paid leave, so if anyone knows any organizations that will do that, then please hit me up on Tumblr with the details.

I have no intention of talking about the pandemic on this blog, mostly because reliable information can be found everywhere else, and I really don’t have strong feelings about what’s happening. It is what it is, I’m gonna roll with whatever happens, and my white noise about it isn’t going to be helpful. I’m going to continue to post what’s in my queue, talk about movies and shows, and try to be entertaining, with an occasional deep thought.

Lkeke35’s Hot Takes – Weekend Reading

I have a Tumblr blog where I follow certain people and conversations. I’m not on Twitter or Facebook ,as Twitter eats up far too much time, and Facebook is largley useless to me, for talking about issues. I talk about different things on Tumblr than I do here, and I noticed my manner there is more blunt and direct than here. I feel like when I’m on there I need to say what I need to say as fast and with as much clarity as possible, not like here on my own blog, where I can take my time to make my point.

On Tumblr, I can send some quick missives off into the ether, and maybe I’ll get  some feedback, maybe not but its a good way to dash off some thoughts about something before  forget what was being talked about. Here’s a few (largely unedited) hot takes I made in response to whatever issues were being talked about on my dashboard.

Tired Of Superheroes

Image result for superhero gifs

These are just the thoughts that occurred to me after I had a conversation with a friend of mine (who is white, btw), and she and I got into a discussion about why she feels anytihng at all about movies she has no plans to ever see, and doesn’t care about. I’m genuinely baffled at the idea of people being angry about  certain types of movies getting released. My friend knows nothing about comic books, or superheroes, so I get her disinterest. If she said she didn’t care for the quality of such films, I would understand, but that’s not what she said.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday,and she proclaimed that she was getting really tired of superhero movies, and that they should start making other films. I had to get on her case about that, because I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know how she sounds. Hollywood does make other kinds of movies, but people don’t go see those. She certainly doesn’t go see them. Maybe if she went to see the other kinds of  movies Hollywood makes, they would make more of those types of movies.

First of all how are you going to be mad about Hollywood making movies that you don’t ever go see, and are not particularly interested in? I mean how does it work that you’re upset that other people are making certain types of films popular. I also told her that these kinds of movies are still a relatively new thing, especially since the technology has caught up with out ability to imagine absolutely anything. Its really only been about ten years that this has really been kicking off, and that’s mostly due to the MCU.

Hollywood is going to keep making superhero movies as long as we keep giving them money and making them blockbusters. Now I happen to like superhero movies. I like their action, colors, and inventiveness. I prefer the comedies, and the straight up actioners, and I just enjoy watching the onscreen version of characters I’ve always only ever read about in books, and you know what? I simply don’t pay any attention to movies I’m not interested in. I hate watching Rom Coms, and Hollywood keeps making those, but I’m not angry they are making movies I don’t like. I just don’t go see those films. How you gonna be mad that other people are excited about movies you’re not interested in seeing? I’ve never understand that kind of thinking.

I also think it’s mighty funny that I’ve been hearing this refrain a lot more often, now that women, and poc are starting to get superhero movies made about their favorite characters. I’m not saying people who make such statements are racist, but it doesn’t look good, that the only time I hear so many people talking about how they need to quit making so many superhero movies, is when poc and women start to get theirs. When it was just white men, I heard this complaint a little bit, but not as much as I did after Black Panther was released. Now suddenly after Captain Marvel, and BP, Hollywood needs to stop making these types of movies.. That’s just an interesting observation.

 

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https://fangirlish.com/2020/02/04/queerly-not-straight-prioritizing-white-queer-couples-over-those-of-color/

 

White Feminism in Fandom

Image result for black women in movies

This is part of the continuing conversation to be had on Tumblr where we discuss intersectional feminism in movies and shows.This time it was about the treatment of Uhura, specifically her relationship with Spock, in fandom. Black women on Tumblr are forever trying to get white female fans to understand that the way Women of color are traditionally treated onscreen, is not the same as white women’s treatment,  and how the treatment of black female characters in fandom is often full of racist tropes. As white women you cannot demand the same things of Black female characters that you can of white ones.

What white feminists want is for black Woman to be”strong and not need no man”. Uhura is just supposed to be unloved and single, like she was in the original series, like every black woman in genre narratives. I’ve been watching the original series since I was a little girl.

Don’t get me wrong. I grew up on Spirk, I read a lot of Spirk, and that was my thing for two decades because I knew no one was ever gonna let Uhura be loved, but when I saw that JJ had went there in the new movie, I stood and I applauded.

As a little girl I used to dream about being as beautiful and elegant as Uhura, and I was sure I was gonna marry Spock when I grew up, and I finally got that representation at my old age, but I guess the dreams of little black girls don’t mean shit to white women who just want, yet another, after another, after another, mlm ship, in yet another show!

Teen Wolf, The Flash, Walking Dead, in every single show where there is a black female love interest with the white male lead, white women fans always show their whole duplicitous asses, about the black woman not being worthy of their white male love, and how she should be replaced with any compatible white woman, any same age white male he’s ever locked eyes with more than once, and even the villains who have tried to kill him, and his love interest, multiple times. We’re not talking about your individual ship, or attacking you personally. We’re telling you you need to examine why you need yet another mlm ship in yet another show or movie when fandom has dozens of such examples, all of that while ignoring canon male interracial ships, at that!

Why do all the ships need to be white!

This is a pattern across multiple genres, for more than two decades! This is racism!

Fandom is not the same for black women as it is for white women. The stereotypes for black women are the opposite compared to white women, though the objective of those stereotypes may be the same. Where white women get damseled, we don’t. We get to be strong onscreen, white women don’t. White women in movies get to be brides, while WoC only get to be side pieces, and murder victims.

Ship what you want, but be mindful of what you’re doing. Be mindful of how it looks to black women. Be mindful of what you say in defense of your ship when someone says something to you about. Our biggest issue isn’t always with the shipping you do, it’s the deceitful and racist manner in which y’all defend said ships that piss us the f*ck off!

(Spirk= Spock +Kirk; mlm = men loving men)

 

 

Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond in "Joker."

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/lets-talk-about-the-black-women-in-joker_n_5d9605dae4b0da7f6622abc7

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Image result for birds of prey gifs

This was said during a discussion about how the failure of BoP at the box office,(which is not a compete failure, but that’s another discussion), is being spun by the “manosphere” to say that movies that include feminist thoughts and ideas, are all going to be failures. I think this is once again just part of white men’s agenda to only have films made that center them and their needs.

One of the  biggest complaints about BoP before its release was that none of the female characters were sexy. That said, the movie is unapologetically femme! So, the answer to that was “not sexy according to white men, no.” Now that the movie has under performed at the box office, these same men are using that to say that if the movie had given in to their demands to make the female characters sexier for men to look at, it would have done better.

Birds of Prey and Quality Films

 

 

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This was a response to some white guy on Tumblr who was upset about Black people not wanting to interact with white people, calling it racist to not trust them. This sounds exactly like men who are upset that women have difficulty trusting that men won’t hurt them and refusing to interact with them, because as men, they are individual,, special beings, that women  should be able to tell, just by looking, that they would never hurt anyone.

Habitual Foot Steppers

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Every day, PoC in this country have negative, sometimes even violent, interactions with white people. Hell, they probably often have such interactions with members of their own culture, but it’s only white people, especially those who control mainstream public messaging through media, who are constantly advocating that white people are individuals who don’t represent their group, and need to be forgiven for those negative interactions, without a single one of them making any effort to bring those types of interactions to a halt.

In fact, many of them will simultaneously argue that not only should such actions be constantly forgiven, overlooked, or gotten over, they will also insist those interactions don’t happen at all. It’s the equivalent of people stepping on your foot every time they see you, and when you complain, or tell them to stop it, them telling you they didn’t do it, to prove they didn’t step on your foot, and it didn’t happen because they didn’t notice it, or intend to do it. You would naturally be well within your right to not only avoid that people in the future, and probably be more than a little pissed that they didn’t listen to you when you told them they hurt you.

All these different people, from the same cultural group, insist on stepping on your feet, while proclaiming loudly to their audience that not only didn’t they intend to do it, that it’s not hurting you, they didn’t actually do it, and you’re too sensitive and should get over it. And when you get angry about it and avoid them and express resent,ent over their behavior, they call you a racist, for not trusting them, and deciding to protect your feet by avoiding them.

 

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These are some of the hot takes I left on Medium.com. This one was about men who think, if they pursue a woman hard enough, long enough, she will eventually give in to his desires, and this is an idea that is prevalent in Pop culture media.

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Stalking for Love

One of the reasons some men are like this is because they are socialized to do so, from the moment they start consuming the culture. Songs after song, books upon books, movie after movie, and TV shows after show, are really good at imparting one major message. That women are prizes given to them for persistence, correct behavior, owning the right car, shoes, house, and sometimes just for having a penis!

They have been shown again and again, that if they pursue a woman hard enough, stalk her long enough, just keep asking, and asking, and asking, they will eventually wear her down, she will reach enlightenment, and of course, dispense her charms. “No”, in Pop culture, really just means, “Not right now.” or “Keep trying!” This is what they’ve been sold, and you can tell which ones have fully bought it, because they are the ones who get enraged when women go off-script.

They are behaving exactly the way they’ve been taught to behave, having fully, and uncritically, drank the Kool-aid, that persistence wins the girl. Almost nothing in our culture tells men they need to have the correct character, or hold certain virtues. Too much of Pop culture teaches men that they don’t have to be genuinely good, or kind, or gentle men, to attract women. They are taught that women are fickle creatures that need to be tricked, or hounded into wanting them.

This is not a hard and fast rule because there are plenty of men who have, somehow, managed to avoid this kind of thinking, but it is definitely an element in the thinking of these kind of men. I don’t think there is a causality, so much as a life long influence.

 

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White Fragility

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These responses I wrote as comments on Medium.com.

Both of these responses ended up being tangentially related to each other. The first  was a response to an article about White people’s hypocrisy in calling PoC racist, whenever we express any form of unhappiness (or sarcasm) at the existence of White people in a public sphere. I  remember that Asian woman who lost her journalism job over tweets she made years ago, where she joked about white people. It is important to keep in mind that these people are reacting to things that progressives have been doing, and its been the tactic recently of marginalized people not  just to  talk back to the kinds of people who victimize us on social media, and in public, but to see that such people be ostracized by society, by contacting their families and employers.

This particular article was about a young African American woman, who made a public statement about there being too many white people in her college’s Multicultural Center, and white (mostly men) opinionators in the news media, having a full on meltdown,  and calling her a racist. For the record, I think what she said was kind of stupid, but it doesn’t make her a racist. It just makes her very young and silly.

Since reactionaries have a tendency to lack imagination, they have this nasty thing where they appropriate the tactics that have traditionally been used by marginalized people to fight their oppression. Its especially galling when such people use those same tactics against, not just the people who invented the tactics, but whom they have traditionally bullied. Marginalized people invented the tactics out of desperation, to teach a lesson, or to make the harm  they cause have consequences, but what reactionaries are doing (as so much of their behavior is often motivated)  out of pure spite.

1.

I definitely think this is a backlash against white people being called out for everything they’ve gotten wrong for centuries. They’ve  been calling everyone who isn’t white, straight, or a man, nasty slurs, since the invention of American English. They still do that on the regular today, and these same people are the ones who like to argue about saying the N*word, but let some anonymous black girl make a dubious statement, and they lose the entirety of their shit! I’d be angrier, except it’s amazing to behold.

But then: Never, in the history of this country, have white people been spoken back to, and challenged, by marginalized people, in such great numbers, as much as they have, since the invention of the internet.

(Every time they say anything, they are reminded that white people have caused an incredible amount of damage to other people, and are still doing it. No one likes to be called out for behavior they have always known is wrong, but are  reluctant to change, because they derive  emotional benefits that they are unwilling to acknowledge, what Du Bois called “the psychological wages of whiteness.”)

And this isn’t like before, where your garden variety white person was largely unaware of all this “talking back”, and could simply quash any talking back, they encountered by screaming, and extreme violence. Now its impossible to not know how marginalized people feel, and our pushback against oppression, and injustice, is often immediate, and intense. They are working desperately to reestablish their equilibrium, by upholding the status quo. But someone once said to me, that’s what Conservative means: to conserve. To keep things as they were.

They’re so used to simply ignoring any form of oppression, but now it’s constantly being thrown in their face. They can’t ignore it anymore. (This is mass white fragility (rather than individual).

2.

Talking About Stuff On The Interwebz

On Watchmen

I had so much love for this show! Too bad its not going to get a second season, at least not according to the showrunner, which makes me only mildly upset, because really, its better to go out on top, then to dribble off in shame. Lindhelof says that what we saw is all of the story, and he doesn’t have any ideas for a second season, although he has given HBO his blessing to continue the show without him. I would prefer that the show simply end now, to  introducing a new and mediocre showrunner, for the second season anyway, which is the problem that American Gods has run into.

American Gods  should have just stopped at season one, with Bryan Fuller who, no matter which shows he works on, is just really hard to top. The same thing happened with ST:Discovery. On the other hand, if HBO  wanted to bring in Fuller, for a second season of Watchmen, I would be totally on board with that. The show is so rich, I just know he’d do some awesome work with it, but as it stands HBO isn’t looking at a second season right now, and the show has not been renewed.

Related image

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/09/the-incendiary-aims-of-hbos-watchmen

 

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/hbo-watchmen-hooded-justice-costume/

https://www.slashfilm.com/watchmen-and-race/

https://themuse.jezebel.com/god-is-black-and-nobody-batted-an-eye-1840460304

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On Black Film

The first link is a list of 84 films that starred or were directed by women of color.

The second link is an article about why Black art and film criticism requires diversity. Because really the only people who can cogently discuss aspects of the culture that are represented in art, are Black people. Its not that white people don’t have opinions, its just their opinions carry less weight because most of them just don’t know enough about Black culture, to be able to speak on it, with any clarity.

And finally, a video on why we need to make more movies about Black people just being happy, and living our lives, without some criminal or racial crisis involved.

Image result for black joy

https://www.indiewire.com/t/directors/

https://wearyourvoicemag.com/entertainment-culture/all-black-art-deserves-valid-critique

 

http://blackyouthproject.com/waiting-wakanda-black-joy-film-epic-resistance/

 

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On Horror

Here are a number of opinion posts from The Artifice, on the subject of Horror and its themes. I’m going to urge everyone to visit the site, as it contains some of the best film writing and criticism on the internet. There’s not a lot of diversity, the people there pretty much stay in their lane, and are not professional writers for the most part, but its far better than a lot of the Bro’tube videos about pop culture.

https://the-artifice.com/wrong-turn-2003/

 

https://the-artifice.com/maternal-horror-films-dysfunctional-mother/

 

https://the-artifice.com/silence-horror/

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And from Medium.com

I can’t link to Medium articles here ,but here are some titles and authors to look for, should you give the place a visit. And be sure to check out my last post about Horror movies set in the suburbs.

Recently, Stephen King weighed in on the issue of diversity at the Oscars. (There isn’t any.) Considering that this is the same man who insisted on putting at least one magical negro in every single one of his earlier novels, (and a couple of his more recent ones, too), he really should have just kept his opinion to himself. In all fairness though, after he had the situation explained to him, he did backtrack a little bit on his statement.

Stephen King Needs More Black Friends

As decades of his Black characters show, one tone-deaf tweet is the least of his problems
Also:
One thing that is deeply funny about this topic, at least for me, is that I actually have met, what I like to call, “Magical Negroes” in my own life. Several times, Black people have shown up to help me with some issue, and then afterwards they disappeared for me to never see or hear from them ever again.
I was practicing for my driving test one day, in an empty parking lot near my house, and some guy (who was, as King would probably say, “four sheets to the wind”) came along to teach me how to parallel park, and how to back into a parking space. This went on for a while, and he was incredibly helpful, for someone who was very probably drunk. I went home afterward, but I never saw that man in my neighborhood again, although to be honest, I’d never seen him before the event either, and I’m reasonably familiar with the people in my neighborhood. This has happened to me several times in my life. Strangers who show up, help me do something, and then disappear, and well… I have questions!

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On this subject, I said in another post, that this is what fandom has devolved to, at this point, where media consumers have become so toxic, that they think they can just harass the actors they don’t like, off social media, since it worked in a few cases. But I have to ask, what do any of these campaigns gain from  this? Although such people are incredibly loud, there simply aren’t enough of them, in population size, to affect the bottom lines of any of the corporations these actors work for. Their fleeting victories, sending actors off social media, and downvoting movies on Rotten Tomatoes, and Netflix, are just that. Fleeting, and ultimately unimportant.
Not only have they engaged in harassing movie actors, they have harassed other fans who simply don’t agree with them, (which is separate from the racism and misogyny that normally goes on in fandom). The vast majority of people (and this is just the ones who watch these movies), know nothing about what’s going on, what these people have been doing (beyond what’s been reported in mainstream media), or even why its being done.
These “fans” have accomplished nothing, but have become so used to bullying actors off the internet, that they were really surprised that Boyega didn’t leave, and they most certainly believe they are more influential than they actually are. In fact, like the strong Black man he claimed to be, he stood his ground, took no shit, and clapped right back at them, so that now the White women who started this beef with him, by personally @ing him, on his Twitter account, are  now whining that he is hurting them, somehow! It’s all perfectly batshit, and also completely useless. He still has a career. He’s still going to be working, and now that he no longer under contract with Disney, he can say what he wants on social media, with a freedom he didn’t have before.
I asked Nicole (the writer) if I could have her permission to post an excerpt from her Tumblr blog here, and she kindly gave consent. If you’re not familiar with the complete White Feminism Racefail of 2020,  here’s a decent rundown of those events.

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John Boyega and the Racism of Fandom

A look into the harassment John Boyega has faced at the hands of rabid Star Wars fans

Everything came to a head not just with John’s post about how he felt about Reylo, but he posted a video on his Instagram. In the video, it shows Boyega responding to his harassment by attacking the responses. Instead of realizing they were wrong, many Reylos started to accuse him of bullying them. It didn’t matter if they were the ones who replied to John with racist, degrading comments and it also didn’t matter that the comments they made were public: they couldn’t be held responsible. it’s John’s fault for not taking abuse silently. Some people are so upset about this, they’re already planning smear campaigns for his upcoming movies.

The State of the Union: Black Film Entertainment 2010-2020

Film

This is not a comprehensive list of movies released in the past ten years, that featured a Black cast, or had Black directors, or writers. This is just a list of movies, listed by year, that I thought were the most influential, that I actually watched, liked, or know other people really loved, for that particular year. There have been a lot more released than what’s on this list, but 2018 was a record year for the number of Black films released, and/or nominated for awards.

In my mind, the past ten years has been one of the Blackest decades in film, since the 90s, not just because of the number of movies released, but the quality of the films, and  the attention and writing  surrounding them, thanks to social media. Black Panther, and Get Out were probably two of the most written about Black films in cinema. There is an encyclopedic number of writings on these films, examining everything from the plot, themes, and  characters,  to wardrobe, and  hairstyles. In fact, writing about Black films has almost become an industry in itself.

 

2010

For Colored Girls – an adaptation of the book by Ntozake Shange, and written and directed by Tyler Perry.

*Book Of Eli –  Denzel Washington stars as a blind man, traveling through an apocalyptic landscape, carrying precious cargo.

Lottery Ticket – Not one of my favorite films, since I’m not a huge fan of such broad humor, but it is a reminder that Black comedies, in the tradition of Friday, are alive and well.

 

2011

*The Help – Again, this is not one of my favorites but I’m putting this movie here because it is often in attendance at conversations about the White Savior trope in movies.

Madea’s Big Happy Family – Madea is the  only Tyler Perry character I can stand to watch, but it greatly appeals to people with a certain form of humor that  I don’t particularly share, and it helped make Tyler Perry one of the wealthiest Black men in Hollywood.

 

 

2012

*Beasts of the Southern Wild – The story about a little girl growing up in a dysfunctional family in Louisiana.

*Django Unchained – A cathartic fantasy Western starring Jamie Foxx.

 

2013

12 Years  A Slave – Oscar nominated film directed by Steve McQueen, and based on the autobiography by Solomon Northup.

*Belle – One of my favorite historical films, because historical films about Black women, that don’t prominently feature slavery, are kind of rare.

*After Earth – I’m one of the few people who actually loved this depiction of a Black father and son’s relationship, set in the far future.

Fruitvale Station – Ryan Coogler’s Oscar nominated film before Creed, based on the true story of the shooting of a young Black man in a NY subway station.

 

2014

Dear White People – About a Black student who runs a radio program at a White college.

*Ride Along – An action film, in the vein of Bad Boys, starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.

*Selma – One of the first Oscar nominated films directed  by a Black woman, Ava Duverney, and based on the true life story of MLK.

 

2015

Beasts of No Nation – A movie starring Idris Elba about child soldiers in an unnamed African country.

*Creed – Ryan Coogler’s second film after Fruitvale Station starring Slyvester Stallone and Michael. B. Jordan.

Dope – The coming of age story of a Black boy in California

*Chocolate City – Black cinema’s answer to the male stripper movie, Magic Mike

Straight Outta Compton – The backstory of the Rap group N.W.A.

 

2016

Fences – Based on the play of the same name, by August Wilson, and starring Denzel Washington, and Viola Davis

*Hidden Figures – Based on the real life stories of the Black women involved in the US Space program

*Magnificent Seven – A remake of the 1960 movie with the same name, and starrring Denzel Washington in a diverse cast.

*Moonlight – Oscar winning movie about the early life of a young gay Balck man in California.

Queen of Katwe – About a young female chess player in Uganda, starring Lupita Nyongo, and directed by Mira Nair

 

2017

All Eyez On Me- The stardom story of the rap artist Tupac Shakur

*Get Out – Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is a horror movie about white racist bodysnatchers.

**Girls Trip – A comedy starring an all Black female cast, including Queen Latifah,  and one of the top comedies of the year.

Marshall – A legal drama about Thurgood Marshall, directed by Reginald Hudlin

*Sleight – A superhero origin story of a young Black man who builds a device which gives him magnetic powers.

 

2018

BlackKlansman – Award nominated film by Spike Lee about a Black undercover agent infiltrating the KKK.

*Black Panther – Award nominated superhero movie about the King of a fictional African country called Wakanda, and part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

**First Purge – The fourth film in The Purge franchise, focusing on the original purpose of The Purge, and set in a Black neighborhood.

The Hate U Give – A drama based on the book by Angie Thomas, about a young girl dealing with the aftermath of witnessing the police shooting of her friend.

If Beale Street Could Talk – Based on the book by James Baldwin, a young woman is under pressure to prove her lover’s innocence before the birth of their child.

*Sorry to Bother You – Award nominated film about a telemarketer who discovers he has magical voice powers.

*Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse – Oscar winning animated film about the Afro-Latino Spiderman, Miles Morales.

Widows – An action thriller staring Viola Davis. A group of widows pick up where their husbands left off after they get killed in a bank heist.

*A Wrinkle In Time – A film  based on the young adult novel by Madleine L’engle, and directed by Ava Duverney.

 

2019

*Us – Jordan Peele’s second horror movie, about a family terrorized by a group of doppelgangers, while vacationing with friends.

21 Bridges – A cop thriller starring Chadwick Boseman.

**Black and Blue – A Black female cop witnesses a murder by her fellow officers, who along with a neighborhood gang, set after her in pursuit, before she can become an informant.

*Fast Color – About three generations of Black women, with super abilities, who have a family reckoning, after one of them becomes a person of interest to the American government.

*Dolemite is My Name – an award nominated biographical comedy about the Blaxploitation director Rudy Ray Moore, starring Eddie Murphy.

Harriet – The semi-biographical story of Harriet Tubman

*Little – A comedy about a mean Black woman who wakes up one morning as a little girl. The movie has an all female cast, and was produced by the 14 year old Marsai Martin.

Queen and Slim – A young Black couple goes on the run, becoming folk heroes, after they kill a police officer who threatened their lives.

 

The past ten years was seemingly a record for the number of movies released that had Black casts,  contained Black themes, or had Black writers and directors, which reached mainstream audiences, or won critical acclaim. Of all the films I listed, twenty of them were either nominated, or won, mainstream awards.

These movies were also rich in their variety, and I have to give credit for that. We have a full roster of comedies, superhero movies, thrillers, and even horror, and I hope this is a trend that continues. It’s not just that we need more films with Black artists, we also need more variety in the films that get made, instead of an emphasis on only crime or  historical misery.

 

Forthcoming in 2020:

**Antebellum – A historical genre bending mystery starring Janelle Monae

Bad Boys For Life – Action movie sequel starring Will Smith

**Tenet – Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending mystery thriller starring John David Washington

**Respect – An Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson

Soul – Animated film from Pixar, about a Black jazz player navigating the afterlife

Coming 2 America – Sequel to the 90s comedy starring Eddie Murphy

**Candyman  – A remake of the original 90s classic, directed by Jordan Peele

Trial of the Chicago Seven  

The Photograph

**No Time To Die – Starring one of the first Back female agents in the franchise who takes over the 007 title.May be Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond.

**Bloodshot – an action sci-fi thriller starring Vin Diesel

The Lovebirds – A romantic comedy thriller starring Issa Rae.

The Banker 

**John Henry – Action drama starring Terry Crews

 

*Indicates that I’ve actually watched a movie.

**Most anticipated

 

Tumblr Hot Takes

I’ve been on Tumblr for a while now, and I’m still not tired of it. Here are a few hot takes about various subjects.

On Acting

Image result for mediocrity

sc*rjo made more than 2 facial expressions for the first time in her career and got a leading actress nomination meanwhile lupita played 2 entirely different people in the same movie and got snubbed.. shut it down

 

People in the comments are missing the entire picture.

It’s not as simple as ScarJo getting nominated and Lupita not and it’s not about our “fave” vs your “fave”.

Scarjo was nominated for playing a normal, regular woman whose relationship breaks down. Haven’t we seen this before? I think it was Revolutionary Road with Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio. Before that it was The War Of the Roses with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, before that it was Kramer vs. Kramer with Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman, all of which were nominated for various awards from the Bafta’s to the Golden Globes to the Oscars… the point being, we’ve seen this role over and over again, the actress just changes.

Lupita literally played TWO SEPERATE PEOPLE in the MOST ORIGINAL MOVIE OF 2019 and was shafted. A very limited group of actresses could have pulled off what Lupita did in Us. Horror or not, she put on a better performance than Scarjo did in A Marriage Story. Horror or not, Us made $250 million dollars on a $20 milllion dollar budget mostly because of HER performance and she got squat.

One role could have literally been played by any actress.

The other required skill.

But guess who got nominated? Let’s stop celebrating mediocrity.

 

***************

On Life

 

********************

On Experiencing The New

Gonna tell y’all what I can hear now that I got my hearing aids

Birds! They chirp and it’s so beautiful.

 

Far away cow moos

 

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My friend has this is his back yard and to say I cried is an understatement.

 

My best friends singing voice

 

Chickens: *chicken noise*

Me, sobbing:

The filter for my fish tank! Bubble bubble bubble

 

I sit in the bass section in band. Today I could clearly hear the flutes up at the front! They’re not great, but I can finally hear them!

 

The sound of walking in sand.

Soft but kinda crunchy? Very nice sound 10/10

 

Me playing guitar for the first time. Took the hearing aids out. Not a very good sound… yet

 

Tree leaves in the wind. I got a little spooked at first because it’s 1 am and I’m alone in the park but it’s a real good sound.

 

Bees

Let me say, it was really fucking terrifying walking past the flowering tree in my backyard and hearing zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz coming from it.

 

“sunlight” by Hozier

I sat in my car alone while listening to it. I knew it would be special but wow, that was a religious experience.

 

image
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Their hooves make sounds in the grass but they are completely silent. Beautiful creatures. Beautiful sound

 

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Pine needles and pine cones make crunchy sounds!!! Oh my! Very nice

 

Colored pencils make a real nice scratch noise when I’m drawing. I didn’t know they did that

 

*******************

On White Culture

*****************

On The White Savior Trope 

 

 

********************

On Gay Sarcasm 

Image result for gay men

fellas is it gay to be gay

 

according to historians? no

 

Ugh, why can’t you just let friends be friends? Like where does all the friendphobia stop, I just wanna know. So sick of the societal pressure to bone a bro just cuz he’s sitting less than five feet away from you in the hot tub.

I mean for real, what I wouldn’t give to live in a time like Alexander the Great. When two fellas could just have such a deep and abiding bond of friendship – like, just pure platonic beefcake buddies with No Homo additives, not a single one, not even a vibe – that the King Bro almost bankrupt his kingdom throwing his best bud the funeral to end all funerals. And he owed to never take another bro, so long as he lived.

Like, that’s the dream. Just two dudes being dudes and doing dude things together. Just the two of them. No group hangs. Table for two only.

Both on Earth and in the afterlife, forever after.

Together.

Eternally.

*A moment of silence for the bro-ships of the days of yore, when polishing another dude’s staff of manliness after battle was just like, what a good friend does. Out of respect for his, y’know, battle prowess. And masculinity. And like. His muscles and stuff.*

….But then you guys had to go and make everything gay. Like wtf. That’s so gay, dudes.

 

****************

On Canada

petition to rename the usa ‘south canada’

 

what about alaska

are we then normal canada

 

canada a bit to the left

 

moniker-padacklyte 

What about South America? Is that just America? Or South South Canada?

winchesterwolves 
image

 

 

 

*********************

 

From: Lkeke35

On Villains and Fans

This was my hot take on the discussion of fandom sympathizing and excusing pop media villains. I wondered if some of the reason some fans do that is because they identify with the villain, but villains are bad, and associated that villainy with themselves. If that is the case I wanted to reassure them that liking a villain in a movie doesn’t necessarily say anything, in particular, about your morals.

Image result for villains

Somebody needs to let them understand that not only is it okay to like problematic shit, as long as you own it, it’s okay to like the villains. It doesn’t really say anything about you if you like a charismatic villain, but spinning up a bunch of bullshit philosophies about the villain because you feel ashamed to like them is the problem. And trying to cover up your racism (and sexism) by making up bullshit stories about the only PoC in the narrative is what’s our problem.

Nobody cares if you like Kylo, or Loki, but you DO NOT need to hate on the other characters to like them. You don’t need to make your liking of those characters sound like the most progressive thing one can do, by making up bullshit character traits for them that are not remotely evident in canon! We dislike the people who are showing their ass over liking a fictional character. That’s the problem.

I’ve liked plenty of villains over the years. I acknowledge the fact that they are charismatic villains, and I own that shit. That they are darkly seductive or whatever. I liked Darth Vader but I didn’t need to hate Lando Calrissian to do that. Hell I actually love Loki exactly for who he is, an emotionally messed up spirit of utter chaos, who is something of an asshole. I liked Hannibal from the tv series, but I didn’t need to hate Jack Crawford to do that! It says nothing about my character or morality that I find him enjoyable to watch, while condemning his actions. And it’s perfectly okay to like both the good guy and the bad guy simultaneously. Sometimes villains are created for the purpose of inducing such feelings in the audience. They’re handsome, or charismatic or sympathetic.

Plenty of black people loved and sympathized with Killmonger from the movie Black Panther. In fact that’s exactly why he was written the way he was written, to reflect certain thoughts and feelings of the audience, and we didn’t need to shit on T’challa to like him. I really wish these people would understand it’s okay to like the villain.

Unless, of course, your real goal is to express your racial resentment of other characters, and you’re using your love of the villain as a shield to do so…

 

On Getting Old and Tired

My hot take about not getting too excited to watch the latest movie, about Black people, showing how strong they are, by experiencing pain.

Image result for getting old

I’ve been a comic book, sci-fi, and film geek my whole life. I just love good stories, but now I’ve reached the point where if I haven’t read (name some famous black author), it ain’t gonna happen. Not saying I have no need for inspiration, or that such writing isn’t useful, and you do what you have to do, but I’m out.

I’m just damn tired of reading about black pain and misery. I don’t care what the reason is for, or how uplifting someone else thinks it is. It’s a phase I went through when I was younger, but I’m over it, now.

The only thing I wanna read about, and even watch now, is Black  bravery, courage, and joy. Now that I’ve had access to those kind of  stories, I’m spoiled. I want black love, black heroes, and black fantasies. I wanna see us in the future living our best lives. I wanna see us in alternate worlds bringing that black joy. I wanna see us defeating monsters, rescuing Excalibur, and flying rocket ships. I had so little of this growing up, I’m starving for it now.

I’m running up on fifty years old now, and that’s long enough to have traveled painful roads. And I’m really fucking tired. This world makes me shed enough tears. I don’t want tears in my fiction too.

 

On Cash Grabs and Disney

Image result for cash grab

I’m just saying, it looks really, really, suspicious when the argument about Disney doing nothing but a cash grab only seems to pop up ,from certain corners of the internet, whenever they announce some form of diversity in their latest movies.

To be absolutely fair, there are people who have been making that argument since the beginning of the MCU phase, and I don’t begrudge them their opinion, because yeah, it’s a fucking cash grab. But my counter argument to that is nobody who goes to see these movies gives a flying fuck about how they get representation. They only care that they are getting some representation in some manner. And yeah, it’s a cash grab, because Hollywood is a fucking bizness, which only now, after a hundred years, is starting to realize which side of the bread their butter is on, and the butter is on the side with diversity (and possibly China!) Yeah, PoC are all well aware of Disney’s racist past! You ain’t whitesplaining anything PoC don’t already know. What we have decided is we don’t give a fuck if we get a Black Ariel, a new Blade movie, or the next Black Panther, cuz it’s what we been fucking asking for the past twenty years!

This argument however, doesn’t ever seem to make its way across my dash when Disney announces its latest iteration of “Chris-Somebody Blows Shit Up Real Good!” But as soon as Disney announces that anybody black, or female, or gay, is working in one of their movies, then suddenly people wanna complain about a business trying to maximize its business! What the fuck they suppose to do, appeal to the smallest possible fragment of the American public and go out of business?

 

Generic White Fandom

My hot take on racial issues in pop culture:

Image result for generic white guy

What I’ve observed, is that it’s not white gay men writing any of these characters. I’ve read erotica written by gay men and it is very distinct from fiction written by women. The primary writers of these all these characters are straight white women, (there, I’ve said it!)and there have long been conversations in the lgbtq community about straight women fetishizing white gay men in shipping! None of these fandoms, and we are speaking in the aggregate here, are even half as progressive as they want us to believe and like to hide their toxicity behind a faux-reverence for progressivism! In fact, it’s gotten to the point where I am automatically suspicious of any meta written by white women as I feel certain it will be their ex use to express their resentment of female characters who don’t look like them and any characters of color.

Absolute Fan wanking has finally hit the big f*cking time!

Another one of my biggest pet peeves, however, is the utter sameness of the characters being written, as the poster above says. It’s like these women, whose only knowledge of how men are actually like, comes from reading other stories exactly like the ones they write themselves, or the heteronormative relationships they are in, which they then pretend to sneer at in the source material, and only know three or four templates from which to cull their character’s traits, and they use these traits regardless of what any of these characters are like in canon.

On the other hand, I do like to try to give peope an out. And it’s this: White audiences have no f*cking idea what to do with characters of color. Since they’ve only ever been socialized by a racist pop cultural paradigm which centers white men, they can only ever villainize, or sideline, or make servile, characters of color, since those are the ONLY examples they’ve ever been given, and let’s face it, these people aren’t as imaginative as they like to think they are. Doing nothing more than reproducing the same dynamic that one has seen in decades of the source material, which sidelined characters of color, is not progressive or imaginative at all. And they really have no real examples to work from, either, Especially if their tastes in source material, are as white-centered, and/or truncated, as their ability to write fiction. Writing and thinking in a non-racist, non-sexist manner, requires active thought, and participation, and not simply the use of popular buzzwords!

Now put all that together with racial resentment, misogynoir, misogyny, homo- and transphobia, and their complete and utter inability to acknowledge their own personal insecurities, and you end up with thousands of white women writing a delusional toxic stew of all evil darkies, conniving and/or dumb white women, sassy and servile black women, and white gay men with as much character range as blocks of wood.

…And Then It Imploded!

All four of these huge racial implosions happened in the space of a year:

 

Star Wars

This one started in December, just after the release of the last film in the Skywalker trilogy.

In the latest news on racism, we have John Boyega, now that he is free of Disney, which means he is also free of any promotional obligations to them, is lowkey stating what every Black person has felt about the Star Wars fandom, since he first encountered its most toxic members nearly six years ago: F*ck you arseholes!

For the past two weeks he has been trending on Twitter and certain members of the fandom are mad as hell! Here’s an overall  assessment of the situation from Youtube’s Clownfish TV.

This entire thing is so long and convoluted that I cannot possibly go into everything wrong with this fandom. So here’s some links, most of which are all kinds of fun as John speaks in his own words, on his own terms, and let’s  toxic fans have it.

I have long observed that you do not come for British actors and comedians on social media. They are a class of entertainer who have absolutely zero f*cks to give as regards American’s delicate feelings, and tolerate no nonsense from us. Yes, it is primarily Americans who are acting a damn fool about all of this. Americans are so used to throwing their weight around in other countries, that I’m not surprised we try the same shit on social media, and then act surprised when people from other countries push back.

https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2486615/john-boyega-get-candid-about-stupid-star-wars-fan-conflicts

https://www.cbr.com/star-wars-john-boyega-toxic-fandom/

Incidentally, both Kelly Marie Tran, and Oscar Isaac, both pulled a Mark Hamill, and have made it clear they are through with this particular  Disney franchise, and were dissatisfied with how their characters were mistreated in the story. This entire thing must have been especially trying for Kelly Marie, who started out in the franchise as a sweet and bubbly newby, who was excited by her new role, was having a lot of fun, and looking forward to an illustrious career, and look what the so called “fans”  did to her.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-persecution-of-kelly-marie-tran-how-star-wars-fandom-became-overrun-by-alt-right-trolls

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/star-wars-actress-kelly-marie-tran-reveals-how-she-coped-with-internet-trolls-after-casting-201413884.html

Tran, Boyega, and Ridley have endured years of trolling and bullying from a virulently toxic fandom. (Daisy, less so since, as she isn’t on social media.)

 

American Gods

This happened in the fall of last year:

In October and November of last year, one of my favorite actors, Orlando Jones, found out he’s been fired from the cast of American Gods. where he played Anansi, and African Trickster god. Here’s the timeline of the event from Orlando’s viewpoint. According to Orlando, it’s a complete, racist,  wtf*ery…

Image result for orlando jones

Here are Jones’ comments on his departure from American Gods.

September tenth, 2018, I was fired from American Gods. There will be no more Mr. Nancy. Don’t let these motherfuckers tell you they love Mr. Nancy—they don’t. I’m not going to name names, but the new season three showrunner is Connecticut-born and Yale-educated, so he’s very smart. And he thinks that Mr. Nancy’s angry get-shit-done is the wrong message for black America. That’s right, this white man sits in that decision-making chair, and I’m sure he has many black BFFs who are his advisors, and made it clear to him that if they did not get rid of that angry god Mr. Nancy, he’d start a Denmark Vesey uprising in this country. I mean, what else could it be?

To the wonderful Neil Gaiman, thank you for allowing me to play this role, for writing this wonderful book, for opening the door for me to become a writer/producer on season two of American Gods, thank you, sir. To the magnificent Bryan Fuller and the incredible Michael Green, thank you for creating this series and for allowing me also to become Mr. Nancy. I hope the fans enjoyed it, because really this is about you. I hope you loved it as much as I loved doing it, and, you know, we’ll see each other again real…

https://slate.com/culture/2019/12/orlando-jones-fired-american-gods-mr-nancy-charles-eglee-starz-gaiman.html

I have no plans at this time to watch the third season. The showrunner for hte first season was Bryan Fuller who is an exemplary showrunner, and out gay man, and has no problems with writing complex, and sometimes, controversial shows. The second season saw new showrunners, and while the season wasn’t a bad season, the drop in cohesion and quality was noticeable. I expect it to drop even further wit hthe ousting of Orlando, and a writer’s room that doesn’t want to be bothered writing its Black characters.

That some of it held together at all, is apparently due to Orlando Jones stepping in to help write not just his own character, but many of the of the characters of color  on the show, as the writers couldn’t bring themselves to be bothered to do it, and for which he received no producer credit. They also did not announce his firing in a timely enough manner for him to audition for a new position in an another show.

Here’s what Orlando stated, in his interview with TVLine:

I showed up in Season 2 of American Gods, and they hadn’t written for my character at all. They certainly knew I was coming. That was literally the studio’s job. And they didn’t do that job. And I wasn’t the only person: They didn’t do it for all of the characters of color. So if you really care about these characters of color, then why don’t you write for them? So, I found myself in a very odd situation, because Neil Gaiman was the one who asked me to write a [character] Bible for Mr. Nancy [at the start of Season 2]. I didn’t jump into the writing process and throw my weight around. I was invited by Neil Gaiman. And when I wrote that character Bible and sent it to him, I got back a message I wasn’t expecting. As a fan of the human and, you know, as a writer myself, I was overjoyed. It was all caps the email, you know, “I F–KING LOVE IT. Spread it around.” …I spread around that character Bible. And I suddenly found myself writing, not just Mr. Nancy, but Ibis and Salim and the Jinn and Sam Black Crow and Shadow Moon and all of the characters of color who weren’t written.

Not only did the creators of the show fire Orlando Jones, but they also got rid of the Jinn and Salim, the only MENA actors in the series, and the only openly gay couple (which the show was too chickenshit to show last season), that I’ve ever seen on TV.

I don’t think the creators on these shows realize what a massive fanbase some actors of color have, and Orlando has a huge Black fanbase on Twitter, with whom he regularly interacts. They are incredibly loyal, and vocal about their love for him, and producers and creators of these shows do not understand how much we certain Black actors, They need to recognize that it is that fanbase that’s tuning in to watch these shows. Celebrities like Orlando, Viola Davis, and Gabrielle Union, have a huge cache of good will in our communities, and to dismiss or disregard it, is sheer stupidity.

What has happened since is that about half the main cast has vacated the show. Mr. World. The Jinn, Salim, and New Media.

 

******

What happened here is not that much different from what happened on Sleepy Hollow. A show that was based on a Black female character got new showrunners, who mistreated the lead actress, and decided to focus more of their writing on the White characters in the show to the point where the original lead actress was simply written out of her own show (and replaced by a lighter skinned actress, btw). Not because of anything she’d done, but because the writers either didn’t want to focus on her,  didn’t know what to do with her character, or were too lazy to write a woman of color.

I say let this new season of American Gods go the same way as Sleepy Hollow. its not a good look when a successful show keeps cycling through more and more mediocre (and cheaper) showrunners. I won’t be watching the new season, and believe we should ignore it until it goes off the air. Don’t talk about it, don’t tweet about it. Let the third season be its last.

https://wearyourvoicemag.com/entertainment-culture/the-sleepy-hollow-ing-of-american-gods

Last week, Jones went public on Twitter about being let go from American Gods, citing that Eglee did not think the “angry” message was the right one to send to Black America and that he would know since he writes from “a Black male perspective”. 

What we are witnessing, once again is “whitening” of a show. Every time Hollywood creates a show aimed at a Black audience, they consider that audience to be expendable once the show gets good ratings. They then try to reset the show to appeal to whiter audiences, instead, get rid of everything that drew us to the original story-line (watching characters of color in a fantastic setting), and  considerably “lighten” the characters each season thereafter.

The decline of American Gods and its once sharp-as-nails grasp of the concept of race in America mirrors such issues, with the departure of Mr. Nancy bringing the casting of Herizen Guardiola as Yoruba goddess Oshun back into question. Oshun, sans her appearance in Lemonade, has always been depicted as a beautiful, darkskinned goddess. And it takes a specific type of toffetry and caucasity to assume the opposite and also assume that there cannot be two darkskinned goddesses onscreen at the same time (re: Bilquis).

*****

Image result for gabrielle union agt timeline

But the producers of American Gods aren’t just in trouble for this issue. Fremantle Media, an Australian based company, that usually produces Reality TV shows, is being investigated for the firing of Gabrielle Union, a Black actress from America’s Got Talent.

https://www.kingofreads.com/a-complete-timeline-of-the-gabrielle-union-americas-got-talent-saga/

The Romance Writers of America

Most of this happened in December of last year, and continues to now:

Image result for romance writers

Last year, I published a link to an article on the lack of diversity n romantic fiction, and how women of color were fighting to be included:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/04/fifty-shades-of-white-romance-novels-racism-ritas-rwa

********

NOW:

The Romance Writers guild imploded earlier this month ,in a series of vents which has culminated in the mass exodus of at least a third of its members. Here’s a timeline of the events, as we understand them:

https://www.claireryanauthor.com/blog/2019/12/27/the-implosion-of-the-rwa

********

a summary of my understanding of the situation

  • courtney milan is a chinese-american romance author and was the chair of the romance writers of america ethics committee
  • she wrote a twitter post where she called a book by kathryn lynn davis ‘a fucking racist mess’ (because it was)
  • davis and suzan tisdale file a complaint because How Dare She
image
  • are you guys seeing this because oh my fucking god ARE YOU SEEING THIS
  • “it was the nineties and she did a lot of research into chinese people, you’re just racist against white people”
  • they kicked courtney off the board because of this
  • immediately people started resigning because that’s horseshit
  • so many people resigned
  • SO MANY
  • it turned out the people resigning were some of the only people keeping the absolute bugfuckery of the people in charge at bay
  • the decision was rescinded like “oh whoops our bad” but like?? too late????
  • all the dirty laundry is coming out on twitter
image
  • there are petitions to get the president, president-elect, and executive director of rwa recalled because they’re clearly fuckups
  • either the rwa is going to need to go through some big changes, or a lot of authors (particularly queer authors and authors of color) are going to have to make their own org
  • the founder of rwa was a black woman so bigots taking over is especially fucking galling
  • courtney milan is also the reason we have dinosaur emojis
  • that’s not really relevant except who the fuck steps to the woman who got us dinosaur emojis

 

  • Courtney Milan is not only a great author and the person who gave us dinosaur emojis.
  • She is also a lawyer who clerked for Federal Judge Alex Kozinski.
  • In 2017 she spoke the WaPo and exposed Kozinski’s pattern of sexual harassment, also shedding light on how the clerking system’s confidentiality rules created an environment in which it was effectively impossible to make complaints about the judge one served under.
  • This is a massive clusterfuck from the ground up, but particularly because Milan is just about the worst possible person to fuck with in a situation like this.
  • The Board also took on the Case of the White Lady Publishers Who Don’t Like WoC Pointing Out Racism on Twitter, but has this same week refused to speak on Dreamspinner Press not paying authors.
  • So that’s a look at the priorities of what is *supposed to be* an authors’ advocacy professional org.

courtney milan managed to do a TON of good while she was on the board by taking neither prisoners nor shit, and being very vocal about calling out fuckery in the community, but now it’s looking like there were people within the rwa looking for excuses to get rid of her for exactly those reasons

hopefully they’ll be able to get the org back into good hands, because otherwise that’s a lot of resources that are going to go to waste (think: millions of dollars) while good people have to start over

 

******

*This entire timeline has resulted in the  canceling of their annual awards event.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/01/08/romance-writers-america-cancels-awards-program-writer-racism-controversy/

 

 

The Knitting Community

This began around this same time last year, and wound up in the Summer months:

Image result for knitting

Since this event began Ravelry has banned any form of support for Trump from its website. You can still be a conservative and discuss politics, you’re just not allowed to openly express any support for him, or his administration, on the site.

We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry.

This includes support in the form of forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles, and all other content. Note that your project data will never be deleted. We will never delete your Ravelry project data for any reason and if a project needs to be removed from the site, we will make sure that you have access to your data. Even if you are permanently banned from Ravelry, you will still be able to access any patterns that you purchased. Also, we will make sure that you receive a copy of your data.

We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.

The Community Guidelines have been updated with the following language: “Note that support of President Trump, his administration, or individual policies that harm marginalized groups, all constitute hate speech.”

Policy notes:

  • You can still participate if you do in fact support the administration, you just can’t talk about it here.
  • We are not endorsing the Democrats nor banning Republicans.
  • We are definitely not banning conservative politics. Hate groups and intolerance are different from other types of political positions.
  • We are not banning people for past support.
  • Do not try to weaponize this policy by entrapping people who do support the Trump administration into voicing their support.
  • Similarly, antagonizing conservative members for their unstated positions is not acceptable.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xwnp4a/the-real-reason-ravelrys-ban-on-white-supremacy-is-surprising

 

 

Hi! Have Some New Movie Trailers!

Hi! Here is a small list of movies that I’m interested in this year. Okay, partially interested in. Some of them I’m not exactly too keen on, but decided to add them here, in the interests of fake fairness.

 

*Quiet Place II 

I kinda like apocalypse movies, so I’m looking forward to this sequel. I may as well put it on my watch list for Summer, because I’m pretty sure my Mom (my movie buddy) is going to mess up my whole movie watching schedule for the Summer, by requesting to see Horror movies. A couple of times, I had to put my foot down and tell her that no we were not going to see the Annabelle movies!

I’m generally not real big on seeing Horror movies in the theater, because its easier to walk out on them when you’re at home, but I kinda know what type of scares to expect, having seen the first movie, so we will probably go see this one.

 

 

New Mutants

I started reading  the New Mutants during its first run waaay back in the 80s, and the primary story was about an Indigenous girl, named Danielle Moonstar, who was haunted by a  demonic bear. She had the ability to create realistic illusions in the minds of the people around her, and the bear had the ability to turn anyone it touched into a kind of demon minion.

I haven’t read that particular comic in decades, but I still vividly remember the images drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz (Sink-o-wits), who  became one of my all-time favorite comic book artists. I also thought the story was pretty scary too, so The New Mutants movie comes by its horror trappings very honestly.

The team consists of Illyana Rasputin, who is the sister of Colossus (from Deadpool) in the comic books. She is a kind of  half demon, who wields a soul sword. Rayne is a werewolf from Ireland. Sam is known as Cannonball, and is capable of flight, and Sunspot is ,well he’s complicated, and scary as f*ck, when you think about his powers. This trailer looks a lot more interesting than that first one we saw which really didn’t excite me very much. This new trailer makes the movie look as if it were worth paying money to see.

All that said, I’m not too keen on seeing this movie because of its overwhelming whiteness. Not a single one of these characters look anything like they have in the comic books for the past thirty years, and I just find that deeply annoying, along with not wanting to watch a bunch of teenagers, and their merely adequate acting skills. But hey, the trailer is cool.

 

 

 

John Henry

I’m really excited to see this one, (even though I still have issues about Black people constantly being associated with criminal activity in movies.) John Henry is one of those folk tales I heard when I was a little girl. I’m not clear if he was a real person or not, (I suspect he was), but he is basically an African American Folk Hero, like our version of Superman.

When Superman died in the comic books, back in the 90′, ,a bunch of different people tried to fill his shoes, and one of them was Steel, (who carries a giant hammer) who was based on John Henry.

Henry even has his own song, which I also learned as a kid. It’s basically a superhero story about a man who raced a steam drill, to tear a hole in a mountain. This was animated by Disney a few years ago, for the movie Legends. (This is not the original music for this short.)

 

This is the first live action version I’ve ever heard of, set in the modern day, and I cannot think of a better person to play this character than Terry Crews.

 

 

Tenet

Yes, yes, yes!!! I am very excited about this. i don’t know that I’ll get chance to see it in the theater, as I did The Dark Knight, but I am eagerly looking forward to Christopher Nolan’s latest thriller, which stars the son of Denzel Washington. Look for the little “time loops” in the trailer! There are several.

Tenet, described as “an action epic evolving from the world of international espionage,” seems to exist in the same complex cinematic conversation as Inception (if not the same universe) — in terms of how it dabbles in both the sci-fi and spy genre, and in regard to its futuristic-yet-grounded world filled with futuristic-yet-grounded technology.

The sequence centers around a terror crisis, and both the law enforcement members and a group of spies who respond to it, with seemingly different motivations. This plays into the specifics of the film’s spy world, as John David Washington’s character even sounds as though he’s speaking in code at one point.

It also contains a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment that seemingly showcases the film’s time-warping technology in action, which helps to communicate the sci-fi twist. After the sequence wraps up, the prologue dives into a trailer-like montage, which contains the reversed car flip from the online trailer.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/tenet-imax-prologue-shows-a-time-bending-mission-1264421

https://youtu.be/-BplPeKclvw

 

 

 

Black Widow

Some movies, I’m instantly excited about, whether or not I see a trailer. Black Widow was not one of those movies. I heard they were gonna make it, and my mood was pretty, “Meh, I’m over her.”(It does not help matters that  Scarlett Johannson insists on walking around with her foot firmly planted in her mouth, and its hard to act that way.)

But most people don’t know about her social media gaffes, and, this trailer actually looks like a helluva lot of fun, and this trailer does make me want to see it. A little dose of humor goes a long way with me, because that first trailer was horrible. This one is a lot better, so I predict this is gonna be pretty big, and more than enough to tide people over, until Wonder Woman is released (another movie I don’t particularly care to see, not because I hate the movie, but because I just can’t dredge up enough energy to care about it.)

I really only have one question: When are they gonna make that Kamala Khan movie?

 

 

Free Guy

I like Ryan Reynolds and this just looks like goofy fun. I will not be seeing this in the theater however, because i generally avoid films that involved video games, and while Ryan and his wife have great onscreen presences, their personal life decisions are for shit. I really need to stop reading anything about celebrities. A lot of them suck as people.

 

 

Bloodshot

I probably will not see this in the theater, although I am a fan of the comic books, which it seems there’s like a thousand of them. The action scenes look cool as f*ck though, (I’m cussing, so you know I’m excited about this!), and despite Vin Diesel’s questionable acting skills, and the mediocre plot of having his wife get fridged as a motivator for vengeance, I kinda want to see this. I’ve been spoiled by some really good, smart action films for the past ten years, and while this looks like it has a nice mental twist, it doesn’t look as if it will captivate me, in a theater, for two hours. We’ll see!

 

 

 

The King’s Man

I like this one but probably won’t see this in the theater because I wont be able to get anyone else interested in going to see it with me. Now this movie is a prequel to The Kingsman franchise, is set in a different time period, and boasts a much weightier cast. I don’t know. This movie is giving me Indiana Jones feels, and that’s a good thing, since I like those movies.

 

Honorable Mentions

*Birds of Prey – A Harley Quinn movies, which looks interesting.

Mulan – A live action movie based on the original Chinese story of a young woman who disguises herself as a man to take her father’s place in the military.

*The Lovebirds – This one stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, whose good-natured humor has built them a large fan base, so I expect this movie to do well.

*Candyman – A remake of the original 90s movie by Jordan peel, and featuring cameos from the original cast.

*Morbius – I like a good vampire movie, and this is from the same people who made Venom, which I also liked. Morbius is part of the Spiderman universe, and is one of his deadliest villains. He basically eats spider-people. I would have preferred an animated version of this in the style of Into the Spiderverse, but we got Jared Leto instead. Whaddya gonna do?

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard – I just really like this stupid title.

Last Night in Soho – I got two words for ya’. Edgar Wright!

*Snakeeyes – This is one of my favorite characters from the G I Joe universe, so I’m looking forward to seeing this. I guess its gonna be an action movie year.

*Halloween Kills – I was one of the few people who seemed to actually enjoy the previous Halloween movie, so I guess I’ll be sitting all alone in the theater, for this sequel.

Eternals – I don’t know what to think about this yet. Its part of the newest phase of the MCU universe. I’m withholding my opinion until i see a trailer.

*Dune – I  like this director, Denis Villenueve, and liked his interpretation of Bladerunner, so I’m looking forward to his version of Dune. I’ve read Dune every couple of years, or so, and I actually enjoy the original film, despite its inaccuracies.

One drawback though is that he doesn’t feature any Black people in his movies that either aren’t criminals, or getting horribly killed. I looked at the casting for this movie, and there is only one Black man in the entire cast (on what is supposedly a desert planet where everyone appears to be lily-White). He plays the character of Jamis, one of the first people killed by Paul when he joins the Fremen. Even though the Fremen are canonically based on Middle eastern tribes, there’s not one MENA person in the cast. Zendaya is in the cast, and I like her a lot, but she is light-skinned, so she is one of those people a director casts, when they want someone of ambiguous ancestry.

I’m starting to give Villenueve a heavy side-eye on his depictions of characters of color. I’m not saying Villenueve is a racist. What I’m saying is that like a lot of White directors,he has never thought about race at all, and so continues to reproduce the same tired, worn, stereotypes of Black and Brown criminals, who need to be punished in the story.

Most Beautiful Horror Movies

October is long over, but I’m never going to get tired of discussing Horror movies, so you’ll  just have to bear with me.

As a visual artist, movies are very important to me.  It’s part of the reason I love most of the movies I love regardless of their other qualities. I especially love movies that dazzle my  eyes. I chose Horror movies for this post. Horror, and Scifi are the two  genres that are most free to imagine, while breaking the rules of costuming, and makeup, and people really don’t give them enough credit for their beauty.

 

Bride of Frankenstein – The Bride (1935)

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The Monster’s Bride’s makeup and hair are iconic. Anytime its referenced in another movie, and everyone who sees the costume, who knows movies at all, knows where this look is from, the name of it, and the actress who wore it, Elsa Lanchester. The Bride is one of the first female monsters to ever appear on film, with the exception of the 1932 Vampyr, (which featured the first onscreen female vampire, Carmilla).

Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale, and this movie is heavily referenced in the 1998 movie, Gods and Monsters, where we see Whale, (played by  Ian McKellen), get reunited with his monsters, Karloff and Lanchester.

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Us – The Tethered (2019)

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The costumes in this movie are not especially beautiful, but they do have a lot of wealth of meaning, as related to the plot. Here, the costumer, Kym Barrett, and the director, Jordan Peele,  discuss the meaning of the costumes from Us.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/03/us-meaning-costumes-kym-barrett-interview-red-jumpsuit/585793/

https://fashionista.com/2019/03/jordan-peele-us-movie-costumes

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It- Pennywise (2019)

Pennywise’s costume is just a tiny bit uncommon because it  is loosely based on Pedrolino, a sort of generic, French clown from the  Italian commedia dell’arte. At any rate, clowns being scary has a very loooong history. The 2019 version of Pennywise (Skarsgaard), in his white costume and distinct, Pagliacci style,  makeup, is very different in looks, from the television mini-series version, played by Tim Curry, who looked much more traditionally American. The costume designer, Luis Sequeira, is also known for his work on The Shape of Water, (which got him nominated for an Oscar in 2017.)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/warner-home-video/why-is-pennywise-so-scary/

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https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-history-and-psychology-of-clowns-being-scary-20394516/

You aren’t alone in your fear of makeup-clad entertainers; people have been frightened by clowns for centuries

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Legend- Darkness (1985

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This movie is known for Tim Curry’s portrayal of a Satanic figure, Darkness, who tempts an innocent young virgin to be her worst self. Mia Sara and Tom Cruise star as a pair of star crossed lovers, who run afoul of Curry’s Demon King after Sara’s encounter with a unicorn gets it killed. He uses her guilt at having lured the unicorn to its death to try to turn her into a demon as well. This is  the most underrated straight  Fantasy movie of the 80s, and probably because of the presence of Tom Cruise, that people dismiss it.

This was Ridley Scott’s next big film after Bladerunner, and it has all of his usual markers, in that it is gorgeous, lush, surprisingly sexy, and has a point to make, about good vs. evil, and fate vs. choice. The standout visuals, and the best lines, all belong to Tim Curry. The makeup was designed by Rob Bottin, fresh off his stints on The Howling, and The Thing. The  soundtrack was composed by Tangerine Dream and the costume designer was Charles Knode, who was also responsible for the costumes for Bladerunner.

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Queen of the Damned – Akasha (2002)

i already talked about Akasha, the Egyptian adjacent Queen of the vampires, from Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned.

https://wordpress.com/post/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/80911

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Beetlejuice- Lydia Deetz (1988)

Lydia Deetz, is one of Tim Burton’s most iconic characters, and is also the most well dressed emo, Goth-girl in cinema. Wynona Ryder is  probably the only teenager in America that could pull off wearing a black veil, when not in actual mourning. She remains true to her style, and her nature, even after her parents decide to forgo civilization, and movie to the boonies. It only makes sense that their new house would be haunted by the ghosts of the gentle couple that lived there before them, (along with that rascally scoundrel, and  ne’er do-well, Beetlejuice.)

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The Cell (2000)

The Cell is one of the most beautiful horror movies ever made. A psychologist played by Jenifer Lopez, goes into the dreaming mind of a serial killer, to find the whereabouts of his latest victim, before her time runs out.  Tarsem, the director, who got his start in music videos, was heavily influenced by the some of the more  avante-garde artists who came before him. The costumes for this movie were also designed by Eiko Ishioka, the costumer for 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Artistic Influences

Some of the scenes in The Cell are inspired by works of art. A scene in which a horse is split into sections by falling glass panels was inspired by the works of British artist Damien Hirst. The film also includes scenes based on the work of other late 20th century artists, including Odd NerdrumH. R. Giger and the Brothers Quay.[3] Tarsem—who began his career directing music videos such as En Vogue‘s “Hold On” and R.E.M.‘s “Losing My Religion“—drew upon such imagery for Stargher’s dream sequences. In particular, he was influenced by videos directed by Mark Romanek, such as “Closer” and “The Perfect Drug” by Nine Inch Nails, “Bedtime Story” by Madonna,[4] and the many videos that Floria Sigismondi directed for Marilyn Manson. During a scene, Jennifer Lopez falls asleep watching a film; the film is Fantastic Planet.

In the scene where Catherine talks with Carl while he is “cleaning” his first victim, the scenery resembles the music video “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.. The scene where Peter Novak first enters the mind of Carl Stargher, and is confronted by three women with open mouths to the sky is based on the painting Dawn by Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum. The scene when Catherine Deane is chasing Carl through a stone hallway, right before she enters the room with the horse, is based on a painting by H. R. Giger called “Schacht”.

                      —– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cell#Artistic_influences

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Hellraiser- Pinhead (1988)

Pinhead, as played by the origianl, Doug Bradley,  (although no name was given for the character in either the book or movie), is an iconic horror figure. Even people who have never seen Hellraiser know him. Inspired by Dante, Faust, and  BDSM gear, the silhouette, the headgear, the “its just business” attitude, has itself inspired a line of streetwear.

 

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Bran Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

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Although Francis Ford Coppola was confident enough in his interpretation of this classic story to put Bram Stoker’s name on it, there are some significant differences from the original source material, and one of  them is  Dracula is shown as a much more romantic figure. The movie is essentially a love story, whereas in the book, Dracula is much more a figure of horror, and the emphasis is more on his symbolism as a  disease, since at that time, England was very much concerned with the influx of European immigrants. At the time, Eastern Europeans were not considered White, and were said to be of impure blood, and polluting England’s shores.

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Dracula is shown here to be a studly studmuffin in the form of Gary Oldman, who is not normally considered very hawt, but manages to pull it off very well. This movie has some of the most beautiful costuming I’ve ever seen in a horror movie, and it put the designer, Eiko Ishioka, on the map, as the go-to person for freaky/sexy, historical dress.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/eiko-ishioka-japanese-costume-designer-google-doodle-bram-stokers-dracula-gary-oldman-winona-ryder-a7836536.html

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

This movie is a beautiful mashup of historical inaccuracy,  Kung Fu, and steampunk  Monsters!

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The Birds

Tipi Hedren is the epitome of a hip, urban, fashionista of the 60s.

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The Hunger

Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie as modern day, urban, vampires.

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The Company of Wolves

This classic fairy tale got the 1980s makeover treatment with high fashion and werewolves, courtesy of Neil Jordan, the director of 1992’s Interview with the Vampire.

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Some Favorite Comedies

I wouldn’t call myself a film comedy fan, whatever that means, (although I have and will, watch plenty of TV comedies), nevertheless, I have watched a large number of them in the past four decades. Some of them have been more impressive than others, and by impressive I mean that I actually laughed at them, or  watched them  multiple times, “… and it keeps getting funnier, every single time I see it!!!”

I have a strange relationship with humor. I don’t often find funny what other people find to be funny, is much so, that I used to think something was wrong with me (but it turns out I’m, most likely, somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum). I’m often unimpressed with the kinds of movies other people think are hilarious. I’ve been told, from time to time, that I’m pretty funny myself, and while I like to say silly things to strangers to break the ice, I don’t really think of myself as a particularly funny person.

I have noticed a pattern to what I find funny. My sense of humor is tends to be childlike,  just straight up silliness, solely for its own sake, and the movie usually has to be mixed with some other genre. Of all the movies on this list, The Nutty Professor is the probably the only movie which I would say was made solely for comedy’s sake, as its really not mixed with some other genre, (maybe sci-fi, since it’s a parody of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and yeah, I am including the 1963 Jerry Lewis’ version. But most of these are Western, or Horror, or SciFi Comedy.

So here, in no particular order, are just some of my favorite comedies. I have several more favorites that, for whatever reason, didn’t make it onto this list, but hey, I can always so another post, right?

 

Galaxy Quest 

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There is no such thing as the comedy to end all comedies, but if there were, Galaxy Quest would be the parody to end all SciFi parodies. After this movie got made, no more need be said on the subject.

I absolutely love the fuck out of this movie, taking every opportunity to watch it when it airs on TV, and here are only five of the reasons why:

  1. Its a Star Trek parody, and I am an Old School Star Trek fan. Name a character, or play some music from the original series, and I can tell you the title and plot! I wanted to be Lt. Uhura when I was a little girl, and I would of course, marry Spock!

2.  Sigourney Weaver, the queen of my other favorite movie franchise, Alien. Sigourney gets nearly every great line in this movie,  and is only rivaled in the amount of great lines she gets by:

3.  Sam Rockwell, as Guy Fleegman, a redshirt nobody who is convinced that because his character has no last name, and is the head of security, that  he is going to die on whatever adventure they are having.

4. This movie contains one of my all-time, favorite, movie tropes, featured in films like The Three Amigos, Tropic Thunder, and A Bug’s Life, where a group of actors mistake a plea for help, from some unsophisticated victims, to be a request to do a show. The actors sign up to do a show, which  turns out to be the  real thing, and they have to now become actual heroes. This plot trope is also  a parody based on The Magnificent Seven, and The Seven Samurai.

5. Alan Rickman’s Dr. Lazarus, who is a loose parody of a conflation of the character, Spock, and  any number of Shakespearean English actors,  like Patrick Stewart, whose makeup becomes more, and more disheveled, the further we get into the movie, until its time to say that one line of dialogue that he absolutely hates, (but for real this time), during which his makeup becomes perfect.

Its not that Tim Allen’s character isn’t funny. He has his moments, but he is also the only character willing to take everything seriously, while all the other characters are like: WTF?!!! Especially Tony Shalhoub’s character,  Fred Kwan, who I think, spends the entire movie high as a f*cking kite, and still manages, somehow, to keep his game on point, and get the girl. I don’t think he actually believes that any of the shit that’s happening is real, and is able to just totally roll with whatever happens, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s probably a great way to get through most of the world’s minor tribulations.

One day, I have to do an entire post on this film, talk about why I love this so much, what tropes the film is parodying, the whole thing.

 

Raising Arizona

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/speaking-of-crime-raising-arizona-1987/

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Before, Raising Arizona, I was not much of a movie comedy person. I watched most comedies on TV, and that was where I stayed. I grew up watching the Three Stooges,, The Little Rascals, and Looney Tunes, and moved on to more adult comedies like Mary Tyler Moore, Barney Miller, and WKRP in Cincinnati, and  comedians like Robin Williams from Mork and MIndy, or George Carlin, and Jonathan Winters, especially if they showed up on the late night TV shows I wasn’t supposed to be up watching.  Sometimes I would watch a Scifi comedy, or a Horror comedy, but I didn’t often watch comedic movies that were just whatever they were.

I mentioned in an earlier post how this movie came to resonate with me, and played a big part in my memories of college life. Everything about this movie strikes my funny bone, from Hi and his  friend’s highfalutin’  manner of speaking, despite that all of them are lowlifes, to the plot,  the music, and cartoonish action scenes. This is the only movie I will watch, (besides, Ravenous, and  Mars Attacks!), that prominently features yodeling.

 

Tucker and Dale Vs Evil 

I gave a review of this movie here:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/geeking-out-about-tucker-and-dale-vs-evil-2010/

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My favorite scene in the entire movie is Tucker being chased by bees, while wielding a chainsaw. I just lose it every single time, and you have to watch the movie, just to put that scene in context. This  movie is utterly ridiculous and knows it.

 

 

Best in Show

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The great thing about this movie, isn’t the situation, although I do like Dog Shows, its the complete silliness of the characters. The Director is none other than the maker of This is Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest, an alumni from Saturday Night Live, who wrote the script with Eugene Levy, who has become another favorite of mine. They specialize in the kind of smug, off brand, humor that a relies on subtly, weird characters, and puns, and which is often called pretentious.

These are not laugh out loud, guffawing type movies. The humor goes much deeper than that, to tickle waaay down in your stomach. The characters are not necessarily doing obviously funny things, there is little  slapstick, and most of the humor relies on dialogue. In some cases, you are actually laughing at the characters, while others you laugh with, and this is some exceptional writing, when you can have multiple characters like this in the same movie. But what I love the most about this movie is no matter how funny the character’s are, none of it is mean spirited. Guest loves his characters, and doesn’t  humiliate them, just for the enjoyment of it. They are always either clueless, or hapless, people who mean well, but just, for whatever reason, can’t.

The movie follows three different couples as they navigate their way through a dog show. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara play John and Cookie Fleck, a lower middle class couple, the owners of a Norwich Terrrier, who are out of their league at such a prestigious event as the American Kennel Club Dog Show. Cookie has a sordid past as the town futon, who is constantly running into old lovers, while Eugene is her hapless, two left-footed, husband.

Meg and Hamilton Swan are a pretentious, and neurotic, yuppie couple, who you are probably meant to laugh at, as they wax nostalgic about meeting each other at competing Starbucks, and freak out over their completely unperturbed Wiemeraner. Scott and Stephan are a gay couple, who are the charming, funny, and the gracious, highlight of the movie, and the sweetly pretentious dogfathers of a pair of tiny Shih Tzus.

The singletons are Mrs. Cabot, a trophy wife, who has an interesting relationship with Christy Cummings, played by  Jane Lynch, as a famous, over-competitive dog trainer of a poodle. And Christopher Guest himself rounds out the cast as an overly hopeful Basset Hound owner, who is totally out of his comfort zone, named Harlan Pepper. The most silly character in the film is the Dog Show announcer who embarrasses his fellow announcer by  making dumb, loud, and off-color jokes.

All of the characters are deepened with interesting side stories, and little quirks of personality that make them more likable than annoying. Guest is the type of humorist who doesn’t try to be edgy, or shocking, to the viewer. You can tell he likes these characters, even the Swans. He’s not trying to humiliate them just for shits and giggles, and most of them get positive, if not happy, endings. This is also one of my favorite movies about dogs.

(Yes, we have two dogs in the house, our dignified elder statesman, Sargent, a Rat Terrier, who has a bobbed tail. I like to call him Capt. Wiggle-Bottom, and our smalle, and  faster, back up model, named Rusty, a redheaded Yorkie, I like to refer to as The Squeaker, and  however you just pictured them, is exactly how they behave.)

 

 

 

Tropic Thunder

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Okay, I know that I am probably not supposed to find this movie as funny as I do, filled as it is with Blackface, Black stereotypes, Asian stereotypes, Jewish stereotypes, and  its use of the R word, but I just cannot help myself. I just love this movie, and that is due almost entirely to Robert Downey Jr’s character, a White Australian actor, who spends  the entire movie masquerading as a Black man, while working next to  an actual Black man, and lecturing another White man on how that man went too far in portraying a marginalized character. I think what’s really the movie’s  saving grace for me, is the ACTUAL Black man, played by Brandon Jackson, who calls Downey’s character out at every opportunity. The people who made this film knew that everything they were doing was wrong, and still went there with it!

Tropic Thunder is meant to be a satire on war movies, and actor’s careers. Jeff Portnoy is meant to poke fun at Eddie Murphy. The makeup artist for this film, Rick Baker, also did the makeup for Murphy’s Nutty Professor movies. Tug Speedman is a play on Tom Cruise, who also has a cameo in the movie, (and almost steals the whole damn thing, even when you don’t recognize him!), and Robert Downey’s character, named Kirk Lazarus, was a statement about Australian and British actors who make it big in Hollywood, by playing chameleon-like roles.

As the film progresses, and the events that were only being faked on a movie set before, become more and more real, Lazarus’ makeup starts to wear off, and you can see his real face, as he becomes a White man,  with an incongruous, 70’s Blaxploitation accent. I remember when I first saw the trailer, I kept looking for Downey,, because I was told he was in it, and not finding him. It wasn’t until after the movie’s release that I realized I’d been looking at him the entire time. His makeup is so incredibly convincing that he looked like my late uncle, something which struck me as incredibly funny. Even after knowing it was Downey, I still kept seeing my uncle, (probably because he says a number of things that are exactly how my uncle would have reacted, under the same circumstances).

Some of my favorite moments aren’t even in the movie, like the DVD commentary, where Downey does a ridiculous Blaccent, the entire time, because  as Kirk Lazarus states,  he doesn’t break character until the DVD commentary. It is hands down one of THE funniest DVD commentaries I’ve ever listened to, as Jack Black is a natural born cusser, and, very probably, drunk during the whole thing.

 

The Nutty Professor (1963)

This is the original movie on which Eddie Murphy’s 1996 version was based. This is the one I grew up watching, along with a bunch of other Jerry Lewis films. It does differ significantly from the remake, but the basic plot is the same, a kindhearted, nebbishy, teacher transforms himself into the ultimate masculine man, to attract the attention of the beautiful woman he has a crush on. But the differences are interesting too, and not just the race of the characters. The original film is also a musical with a number of setpieces written by Walter Scharf, and performed by Jerry Lewis himself.

Jerry Lewis plays Julius Kelp, a nerdy, science teacher ,who has fallen in love with one of his students, Stella Purdy, who is played by the lovely Stella Stevens. To win her love he transforms himself with a potion, (ala Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) into an obnoxious character, named Buddy Love. Just as in the remake though, the potion doesn’t last, and his true self gets revealed for all to see.

From the opening scene, to the final act, the movie is filled with a lot of great physical comedy, but the highlight of the movie, at least for me, were the two musical performances by Lewis, and performed with maximum chill, called Old Black Magic, and my personal favorite, We’ve Got A World That Swings. But the movie is filled with some great little character moments, like the one below, where Dr. Kelp gets carried away by the song being performed by Les Brown’s Band of Reknown. He is truly among the world’s worst dancers! The dialogue is smooth and funny, with  Kelp and Buddy as very distinct characters. The most popular moment, for most viewers, is the introduction of Buddy Love, but Stella also gets her due, and her man. She may not be the star of the film, but she is always treated with respect, by the writers, and the other characters.

 

 

The Nutty Professor (1996)

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The best comedies don’t just make you laugh while watching them, they make  you laugh while  thinking about them later. The 1996 Nutty Professor is a remake of the 1963 version of the Jerry Lewis film, only instead of a nerd scientist, made cool by chemistry, you get an obese man, turned into Eddie Murphy, at his most obnoxious, through the use of chemicals. The remake makes more evident, what the original only sort of played around with, that Buddy Love is a horrible person, who is not meant to be admired. This is done by contrasting him against Sherman’s sweet and gentle nature, as they both pursue a  romance with the beautiful Miss Purdy, played by Jada Pinkett.

I think most people who love this movie will agree, that the dining scene, which  happens somewhere in the middle of this movie and illustrates both the love and   shame that Sherman feels about his over sized family, is without a doubt, one of the funniest scenes ever. Eddie Murphy plays four different characters who all interact with one another, but its his Grandma who gets all the best lines, that people are still repeating to each other, over twenty years later. Even my mother loves this movie, and is just the right age, (apporaching 70), to get away with telling someone, “C’mon Cletus!”, while shaking  her cane at people, and have that shit be funny as hell!

 

 

The Blues Brothers

Here’s another comedy that’s also a musical. I was a big fan of John Belushi, mostly for his SNL parodies of Toshiro Mifune’s character from Seven Samurai, called Samurai Delicatessen, Samurai Stockbroker, Samurai TV Repairman, Samurai Night Fever, and Samurai Hotel, bearing in mind that, at that age, I had never seen Seven Samurai.

I was not a huge fan of Dan Ackroyd, but I was willing to tolerate him, for the sake of John, and in a delightful surprise, Aretha Franklin, performing Think, and Ray Charles, performing, Shake A Tail-feather. The movie has never struck me as especially deep. It doesn’t seem like its trying to make a point, and its not really all that laugh out loud funny, but what it is, is  pure, goofy fun because Jake and Elwood are the best possible brothers.
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Evil Dead II

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I remember watching the first movie a little while before I went to see this sequel. I remember I was not particularly impressed with the first film. I remember seeing this one at a theater downtown on a double bill with Robocop. I do remember those as some very enjoyable hours.

In hindsight, I cannot imagine why I was against seeing Raising Arizona, when I was in college, because that movie has some of the same ridiculous type of humor as this one, and I thought, (heck, I still do), that this is one of the funniest horror movies I’ve ever seen.

Have you ever watched anything so over the top, ridiculously stupid, that you have no choice but to laugh at it? That pretty much describes this entire film, from the image of a rotting corpse, dancing with its own severed head,  to a demon possessed hand, that’s trying to kill its owner, Sam Raimi just gave full vent  to his silliness, for which I will always respect that man. The movie cemented my love for Bruce Campbell, whose career I’ve been following ever since.

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Kung Fu Hustle

I wrote about my love for Kung Fu Hustle here:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/geeking-out-about-kung-fu-hustle/

This is another one of those movies, that is just so over the top ridiculous, that its hard not to like it. I love both Looney Toons, and martial arts films, and this movie is the perfect mashup.

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Honorable Mentions:

Blazing Saddles – This is the scene, that caught me, right here:

 

The Birdcage – One of the thee funniest movies Robin Williams ever made, and what’s so hilarious about that is, he was the straight man in this duo, while Nathan Lane got all the best lines:

 

 

A Bug’s Life – I love the bloopers and outtakes scenes at the ends of the early Pixar movies. The creators didn’t have to do that, and I love that the writers went a little out of their way. But my favorite line in the entire film is in the bar scene: “Waiter, I’m in my soup!” 

 

 

What We Do In the Shadows – Who hasn’t Wanted to finish some “dark bidding” on Ebay?

 

 

Beetlejuice – The Wedding Scene

Viewing List – November Edition

These are the reviews from things I watched in October and November. I will try to make these as short as possible, but y’all know I’m good at blabbing about TV shows, so wish me luck with that.

 

Dolemite is My Name

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I was kinda excited about seeing this, nevertheless i was surprised by how much I liked this movie, and I can think of no better actor to play Rudy Ray Moore than Eddie Murphy, a comedian I have  always had tremendous respect for, and who really doesn’t get enough credit for all the work he’s done, in the past 30 years.

Now, I have to give a little bit of background here. I grew up in the time period in which this movie is set. I would have been 2 maybe three years old at the beginning of the movie, but I have very distinct memories of grownups being really excited about Moore, and Yes, I did encounter a couple of those racy album covers in my mom’s collection, but I don’t think she knows I remember she was a Rudy Ray Moore fan.

I have a very clear memory of mom, and her then boyfriend, taking us to the Drive-in to watch The Human Tornado, which came out in 1975, and was a sequel to Dolemite.  I would have been five, and my brothers would have been 3 and 4. She would have had the assurance that, since we were babies, we would all be asleep by the opening credits. I don’t think she knows I was wide awake No, I wasn’t scarred for life or anything, but I definitely  remember parts of  the movie, and even some  it’s theme song. I know this is a genuine memory because I have never seen the movie as an adult.

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Anyway, all this to say that this definitely brought back some memories. There are some things about Black culture that only Black people know. I’m gonna let y’all in on a little secret.

Black people have our own stories, which seem to parallel stories from other cultures. Most of them you’ve probably never heard of,  unless you grew up in the culture, or have parents of a certain age, like my Mom. My mom used to tell us stories about the Signifyin’ Monkey, the lion, and the elephant, (only without all the cursing, and never the whole story, since its fairly raunchy.) Probably not the sort of things one would tell one’s kids today, but things were different back, then, and my Mom was kinda weird. It has a pretty long history, too. If you have ever  read American Gods, Anansi tells a story that is directly based on the folklore tale , titled How the Monkey Got the Tiger’s Balls:

Numerous songs and narratives concern the signifying monkey and his interactions with his friends, the Lion and the Elephant. In general, the stories depict the signifying monkey insulting the Lion, but claiming that he is only repeating the Elephant’s words. The Lion then confronts the Elephant, who physically assaults the Lion. The Lion later realizes that the Monkey has been signifyin(g) and has duped him and returns angrily to castrate the monkey, rendering him unable to reproduce.[3]

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

http://mogley.tripod.com/monkey.html  

The Signifyin’ Monkey is part of the Dolemite theme song. Since this is a Rudy Ray Moore biopic, there’s a lot of cursin’, and some mild nudity. Its not half as raunchy as the actual Moore, but I think he’d be satisfied with what was shown in this movie.

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I also enjoyed it outside of the nostalgia factor. There’s a scene, in the early part of the movie, where Rudy encounters a plus size woman whom he recruits into his comedy troupe. This woman later  became known as  Queen Bee, who was every bit as raunchy in her style of comedy as Rudy. The story is arranged in such a way that you’re meant to cheer Rudy as a driven, hard working man, who triumphs against the small minds of others. Needless to say, most comedians probably couldn’t get away with most of the comedy routines, in this movie. The seventies featured a lot of new culture, that we take for granted now, and one of those things was raunchy Black comedians.

There were plenty of Black comedians before Rudy, who said some fairly racy stuff, but they mostly worked what was known then as The Chitlin’ Circuit, which were a collection of venues where only only Blacks could perform, since they still, even in the seventies,  considered too raunchy to play in the mainstream (i.e. White ) circuits. Rudy was one of the first of these type of comedians to go (sort of) mainstream, in that even White people heard about him, although he still would never have been invited on The Johnny Carson Show. So, the movie is one of those low key inspirational films, about overcoming racism in Hollywood. The first half of the movie is very caught up in people telling Rudy “no” , telling him what he can’t do, or making fun of him for wanting certain things, and Rudy going off to do those things anyway.

I have since learned that Eddie Murphy has received a Golden Globe nomination for this role. but I don’t think he will win. He does some great work here, but its not the best work he’s done, and really, I thought it was a walk in the park for him. He can play this type of role in his sleep. But I did enjoy watching him, because his charm makes the occasionally cringey plot, very watchable.

 

The Mandolorian

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I am loving The Mandolorian, and not just for the Baby Yoda scenes. (No, that isn’t actually Yoda, but some distant descendant, since this series is set after Return of the Jedi.) This series is full of some of the classic themes we expect from Star Wars. George Lucas has said the original Star Wars was based on the works of Japanese film Director Akira Kurosawa, most specifically, Seven Smaurai, and you can see some of the influence here.

In fact the series heavily reminds me of the Japanese Manga called Lone Wolf and Cub, in which an itinerant samurai, a ronin, wanders the Japanese landscape, with his tiny son, searching for vengeance, and  getting into various adventures. The only differences between that, and The Mandolorian, is the son doesn’t have force powers, isn’t on anybody’s wanted list, and isn’t half as cute as Baby Yoda. The show takes care to focus on the relationship between Mando and Baby Yoda, too. There are a lot of really cute moments between them, and the public seem to have really taken a shine to the little guy, much the same as his adoptive Dad.

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Its also a classic story about a character’s personal growth.  Mando starts out as a bounty hunter, who is just there for the work, so he can buy some new armor, but makes the decision to take the baby and run, rather than deliver him/her to his clients. There are larger mysteries which haven’t been answered yet, like who exactly is the Mandolorian, why does everyone want the baby, and where did this baby come from.

The production values, the costumes, acting, and special effects, are all top notch. It really does have the look and  feel of one of the movies, which makes it very easy to watch, although this luxury comes at the expense of the episode running times, which never get beyond 45 minutes. I can live with that, especially since the action scenes are the highlight of the series. In one of the earlier episodes, there is a full on fight between a team of Mandolorians and the various ne’er do wells, and criminals, on the planet on which they’ve all been hiding out. When CG is used, its mostly for the creatures, and action scenes, and is largely invisible, as its supposed to be.

 

 

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War of the Worlds – BBC Version

 

There have been umpteen different versions of this show. A book, a radio program that, as it is rumored, gave some people the shits back in the thirties, as they thought it was real, several movies from the fifties to the nineties, one of which starred Tom Cruise, another TV show, and now this.

Its a three part miniseries from the BBC, and so far I’m really liking it. Its got some nice production values. You can see where the money went in this one. The special effects are well done, and not that usual cheap TV stuff you sometimes get in big idea shows, and the show, quite frankly, looks gorgeous. The acting is acceptable,  although the only actor I truly recognize is Robert Carlisle.

And this show is not fucking around with its theme. H.G.Wells wrote the novel as a reaction to the British annexation of the Congo, and the atrocities that were being committed during the colonization of India. He wrote a book about the violent colonization of England by a superior technological force, as a condemnation of the British Empire’s activities, and the show makes this connection loud and clear, right in the opening credits. In the first fifteen minutes of the show, you hear characters having conversations about the might of the British Empire, and how wonderful it is to live in such a powerful country. By the end of the first episode though, the Martians have shut that talk down.

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There’s also some melodrama involving the two stars of the show, Rafe Spall, the brother of Timothy Spall, as a fellow named George, and Eleanor Tomlinson as his paramour, Amy. The two  are madly in love, but cannot be together, because George’s  wife refuses to divorce him, She hates him, and wants to remain married to him just to spite him. The family is scandalized, his older brother,  is outraged, and the  the rest of the community don’t know how to think of this thing, where the two of them are living together, unmarried. Plus Amy is pregnant.

I was not initially interested in the melodramatic aspect of the show, but the show does this thing, where it flashes back and forth to the future, after the alien invasion has been conquered, but the Earth is a literal hot mess, because the aliens weren’t just there to invade, they were terrraforming. Amy is wandering through the red deserts of what used to be England, with her young son. She has been separated from George for a long time, but still holds out hope of finding him. I didn’t care, at first, but I decided that I liked the characters. At least, I liked Amy, and that seems to be enough for me to start to care the rest of it.

The show opens with her and George witnessing the launch of the ships from Mars. Its a little different from the movies, because the ships look like meteors as they land, and that’s hat people think they are. They look like black globes that float off the ground, and are capable of setting people on fire from a distance. The tripods break out of the ground after the globes explode, and start their rampage, although the tripods aren’t so much interested in annihilating people, as they seem to be in seeding the planet with various gasses and chemicals. Like I said, this is not an invasion, exactly. They are transforming Earth into another version of Mars, and if you look at the flash forwards, their mission seems successful.

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I did have some criticism about characters doing stupid things, but this is only because this is one of those situations where the audience knows more about what’s going to happen than the characters do, so there were a lot of instances where people are standing around looking at things, while I yell things like ,” Get the fuck out of there!!!!’, and, “Run!” There are  various government officials who act like the mayor from Jaws, and simply bluster uselessly at the reports they’re getting from other parts of the country, about the annihilation of entire towns, even though the city is filling up with refugees from those areas. The British are so full of themselves about the initial events, that I have to admit, it was a bit satisfying watching them get their asses handed to them by the Martians, which point the show is trying to make. Basically, the show is saying that the British “ain’t all that!”

There are lots of closeups of boiling ant colonies, along with images of English people living their best lives, not unlike the ants, walking the streets of their mighty London, and looking quite busy, and the tripods themselves look very insect like, such that there is a connection being made between the idea of  invasive species, and the colonizing aliens, and that what is being done to England by the Martians, England is currently  doing to other countries, and been quite proud of themselves for it. We know the English are proud of their activities, but we don’t get any idea how the aliens feel, though. There are scenes where people touch the black globes that have dropped to Earth, and see smeary lingering images of their hands and faces, in the glossy sheen of the alien device, in a very,  “We have met the alien, and they is us.” type moment. So yeah, the show ain’t being  coy regarding its critique of British empiricism.

The setting for the various iterations is England, at the height of the British Empire, when it was engaged in the violent colonization of different countries. The English were largely brought low after WW2, (look up London Blitz), so its interesting that the first American version showed up in the fifties, (1953), when America, having won some victories during the war, (and starting to feel itself to be the shit) began engaging in its own world dominance behavior. (Before the War, America pursued an isolationist stance.) The 1953 version, (and subsequent invasion movies, like Strange Invaders, and Independence Day), were not about the humbling of America, so much as they were  America conquering some  great enemy, against all odds.. The 2005 version is a response to 9/11, where its made clear that the alien invasion is a stand-in for the terrorists, and America doesn’t triumph, so much as get lucky.

Not all alien invasion movies are violent. Some of them are enlightening, like 2001, and/or  hopeful, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This series is in the truest spirit of the book, however, which was a rebuke to British hubris.

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* https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/movies/2012/06/13/Behind-the-fiction-lie-factual-themes-in-alien-movies/stories/201206130200

Once they were analogies of the Cold War or Vietnam. Sometimes the underlying theme is corporate greed, environmental destruction or fears of technology supplanting humans. The movies feed on public fear of enemies from abroad, which in today’s world, he said, could even include mortgage bankers.

The Irishman (Netflix)

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*****Here Be Spoilers****

 

Let’s  get something out of the way first.

Yes, I’m aware of what Scorsese has said about the current crop of superhero movies, and yes, I was offended, until he clarified his statements in a recent Vanity Fair article. I’m glad he did, because I was prepared to stay mad at one of my all-time, favorite directors. Well, I’m not as angry, but he is not wrong. He’s not right though, mostly because I don’t think its fair to compare the two types of movies. They serve very different purposes for their audiences in that one type of film consists of exciting power fantasies (like the first half of the movie Goodfellas), and righting wrongs, and Scorsese’s films seem to be about the consequences of that amount of unchecked power,  and what it actually gets you. Superhero movies make no claims of depth.  They are not dramas, although movies like The Dark Knight, The Winter Soldier, and Logan come very close.

The Irishman had a brief theatrical run, of about a week or two, before it settled on Netflix, which is where I viewed it, with a great deal of anticipation. There’s a lot of backstory about why the movie is airing on Netflix, but I’m not covering that here. Like a lot of people, I went into this expecting something similar to Goodfellas, and Casino, since Scorsese seems to have some sort of lock on the depiction of  White men in the mafia life. The movie is definitely about gangsters, and appears to be having some kind of dialogue with the other two films. It would be interesting to watch all three of these movies back to back, to see what they are saying to, and about, each other.

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I loved this movie, and I wasn’t expecting that. Everyone involved is at the top of their game. I didn’t think Scorsese had a lot more to say about the mafia life, that he hadn’t already said, but he does.

Like the other two films in this trilogy, it’s a meditation on crime and regret. I think a lot of people have had a  very wrong takeaway from Scorsese’s movies. Although he seems both fascinated with , and terrified of, this lifestyle, he definitely does not approve. These are the kinds of people he knew growing up, and he seemed to have kept, in the forefront of his mind, that they were not good people, no matter what their claims of nobility, or  how fascinating their lives were.

These films are not a glorification of their lifestyle.  Henry Hill, in the last third of Goodfellas, just flat out states this. Scorsese has never sugarcoated who and what these people are. The violence in these films is always  sudden, and brutal.  Hill spoke on the topic in Goodfellas, but here its just shown. Scorsese always  has  his characters realize, by the end, the horror of the decisions they’ve made. Every participant ends up  dead, or regretful, and there is a an onscreen commentary, on the fate of each one of the character’s introduced, in the film. The bottom line is, if you choose the mobster life, because you have romanticized notions about it, it will end badly.

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I knew a young Italian man, in college, who told me that his father met some people in the life, but he also told me that one of the key things is never to invite them into your life. Don’t ask them for favors, don’t hang out with them in their places, don’t befriend them. They’re like vampires. You have to let them in.

A classic example, is the restaurant owner from Goodfellas, who allows Tommy, and his friends, to frequent his restaurant. Just like Henry did as a child, he thinks its exciting to be associated with these men. He admires the life, and believes he is friends with them, until the time comes for Tommy to pay the massive bill he’s run up on his tab. These guys are just taking advantage of him, but he is still too enamored of their life to see that. In an effort to get Tommy to pay his bill, the restaurant owner goes to Paulie, (Tommy’s boss), and makes Paulie a partner, in exchange for taking care of Tommy’s bill. Paulie takes advantage of him too, until he  goes out of business, as they steal  him blind, eventually the restaurant gets burned down for the insurance. The owner romanticized their lifestyle. He failed to see them as the unprincipled thieves they were. He invited them in, and he lost everything. The same thing goes for the character of Spider, a mirror of the young Henry, who romanticizes their lifestyle, and gets killed by Tommy, for standing up for himself, with not a single tear shed by any of the witnesses.

The Irishman  follows another low grade member of a mafia crew, a hitman named Frank Sheeran, (Robert DeNiro), as he befriends various mobsters, and paints houses (carries out mob hits). Most of the movie is about his friendship with Jimmy Hoffa, (Al Pacino), and his confession that he killed him, after being assigned to do so by his then bosses, one of which is also a close friend, Russell Bufalino, played by Joe Pesci. The movie is based on a book by Charles Brandt titled “I Heard You Paint Houses?”, which is the line in the movie said by Pacino, when he and Frank first meet over the phone. So once again, you have someone who invites these people into his life. Hoffa knows who, and what, these people are, but he romanticizes the life, and has an outsized sense of his worth to them.

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Right away, the mood and setting are very different than the other two movies, (Goodfellas and Casino), which open with exciting scenes of violence, (and interestingly, with men in cars). This movie is reflective and melancholy. The opening scene is a quiet shot of Frank, in a senior citizen’s home, reminiscing about his past, to his lawyers. The movie is a flashback, but unlike Henry Hill”s story, Frank has no misty-eyed remembrances for the things he’s done. He joined the mob because he was a soldier who needed to do something with his life, after he came back from the war. He didn’t join because he loved the life, or glorified its denizens, and this is probably why he survived, although that’s no consolation, either. He is an old man filled with regret, and we come to have some amount of sympathy for him, although Scorsese never lets us think, for a moment, that he is a good guy. Nor does he show Frank as vicious or evil, for its own sake, although the things he does, are indeed,  vicious, and evil. Scorsese presents him as just a guy, who made the best choices he could, in the circumstances presented to him.

Deniro definitely deserves some form of recognition for his role here, but the two major highlights of the movie, for me, was Al Pacino’s Jimmy Hoffa, and Joe Pesci’s much quieter turn, as Russell Bufalino. You want to be reminded of his role as Tommy in Goodfellas, but this character is wholly unlike him. Bufalino is smarter, and more calculating, with a cool menace that the hotheaded, showboating, Tommy lacked. He and Frank become friends, and get to be quite close, but Frank, (and hence the audience), never forgets the power dynamic between them. Russell is his boss, and should Frank prove to be a threat, or an inconvenience, Russell could have him killed, and it would be just business.

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This was the most interesting part of the movie for me. Y’all know me. I love to watch different types of  characters interact. It’s interesting because movie audiences don’t often get to watch the  process of two grown men, who have been steeped in pride and machismo, their entire lives, put themselves in the vulnerable position of trusting a stranger, while navigating the power and violence of their positions,  to  become friends. You can see them feeling the other out, trying to reach a place of comfort. I found myself totally caught up in the moment. The faint distrust, and the questions they ask of each other, without actually asking them: What do you want from me? Are you a stand up guy? Will you give me straight answers? Can you be trusted?

Frank’s relationship with Hoffa is covered just as deeply. The most  fascinating part, is comparing how trust is shown between Frank and Hoffa, and Frank and Russell. Scorsese doesn’t fall into the trap of having the characters make grand declarations of how much they love and trust each other. There are scenes with Frank and Russell hanging out with each other’s families, or having dinner together. Some scenes with Frank and Hoffa are just them talking in Hoffa’s bedroom, before he goes to sleep. At one point, Hoffa nods off while talking to Frank, he trusts Frank so completely, and Frank just quietly sits there for a while, watching him sleep, and glancing out the window, and that scene is unexpectedly moving. It’s hard to know what Frank is thinking during that scene. The specter of violence hangs over everything he does, and that scene is even more tragic, when you know what happens between them later.

There are not a lot of women in this movie, and none of the men have any moral standing. The moral center of this film is Frank’s daughter, Peggy, (Anna Paquin) who sees her father beat a man on her behalf, when she is a child, and this impacts her relationship with him, for the rest of their lives. She gets probably three lines in the entire movie, but Scorsese sets her up, by giving us long closeups of her face, and her disapproval, and fear, of her father, (and by association, Russell), is apparent. We don’t need a loud, dramatic shouting match between them, to know that she has seen what kind of man he is, and  will never love him. Frank tries to reconcile with her before his death, but she will have none of him.

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Frank doesn’t just regret the things he did when he was younger, but all the familial relationships he let fall by the wayside, while prioritizing his relationships with the men he worked for, all of whom are now dead. He has to pay for his own funeral, buying his own tombstone. There’s no one alive, who would come to his funeral, anyway. The movie ends with Frank, alone in his room. He is the last one left of that old life, and he has nothing to show for it. Once again, Scorsese presents the mobster lifestyle as empty and meaningless. If you don’t die horribly, at the hands of someone you trusted, then you die alone, with no one to care.

There’s a lot of the movie I didn’t talk about, like the cinematography, and music, which are pretty standard for a Scorsese film, with some upbeat sixties songs, the most prominent song being, In the Still of the Night, by The Five Satins, which bookends the movie. There are two opening scenes, one with Frank beginning his story in the nursing home, and the other, the beginning of the story, which features him and Russell, taking a road trip, with their wives. The movie starts out really cute, with the wives fussing with their husbands in the car. Everyone is very comfortable with each other, at first, but as the trip continues, the tension begins to mount, as we overhear increasingly nervous phone calls between Russell, Frank, and Hoffa, finally culminating, in the last third of the movie, in Russell’s order to Frank.

The cinematography is superb ,as usual, but there are a few uncanny valley moments in the film as Deniro, Pesci, and Pacino had to be de-aged in a few of the scenes. The de-aged faces aren’t as emotive as their actual faces, so I kept getting jarred out of the story, by wondering every now and then, how the actors got de-aged for their roles, but this doesn’t happen a lot, and is easily ignored. If you’re not a fan of Scorsese’s mobster films, this still may be worth a look for you, because its very different in tone, but I do have to warn you,  that just like in the other movies, the violence is flat, graphic, and unforgiving. When it comes to acts of violence, Scorsese does not fuck around, or wince. People get beaten and shot, and there’s a harrowing scene where Frank shoots up a restaurant full of people. I have become a lot more squeamish, as I’ve gotten older, and these scenes were hard for even me to watch.

Despite its three hour run time, the movie didn’t make me feel restless at all. I sat through the entire three hours, and never missed them, or a moment of dialogue. The movie simply pulled me right in. It was moving, with moments of sheer horror, and is a testament to Scorsese’s skill as a director, as nothing is explicitly stated by any of the characters, yet its message is loud, and clear. I don’t know if this movie will be nominated for an Oscar. It, and everyone involved, should.

The Irishman is the best movie I’ve seen this year.

New Movie Trailers (November 2019)

 

Birds of Prey 

Well, I like the trailer for this, but then again I liked the trailer for Suicide Squad, and everyone hated that movie, (while I happen to like Suicide Squad, one of only five human beings to ever make such an outrageous claim). I have developed an appreciation for Margot Robbie, one of only a very small handful of White actresses whose work I actually seek out, and whose career I’m following. I really liked her in I, Tonya, and Mary Queen of Scots.

 

 

Call of the Wild

I read this book a lot when I was a teenager, and can probably credit it for sparking my strange fascination with the Arctic. I also think it was because I just loved dogs, and always imagined Buck  as my dog. I will not go see this in the theater, but I hope it does well, so that Hollywood will get the idea that classic stories, done well, can still do well at the box office.

 

 

Bloodshot

I’m kind of fond of the books on which this movie is based because, for some reason, I’m fascinated with nanotechnology going bad. I blame Greg Bear’s Blood Music. I’m not sure about this movie’s lackluster plot, or the fact that it stars Vin diesel. I don’t hate Vin Diesel. I actually like the guy, but he’s not an especially good actor, and I don’t know if  I want to watch him try to emote for two hours. I really have to be in a certain mood for that kind of thing, since one only needs a little bit of Vin Diesel, at any given time.

On the other hand, the books are great, if you’re a fan of adventure science fiction books, which are really just thinly veiled cover stories of superhero novels.

 

 

 

Fantasy Island

I liked the TV show this is based on, which aired from 1977 to 1984,  and if you have not watched those, I’m sure they can be streamed somewhere. Its a sappy, and sometimes very cheesy show, which rarely got above a level three on the fright-o-meter, but I remember watching it a lot with my mom, who had a crush on Ricardo Montalban. This looks interesting, despite the fact that it heavily reminds me of that failed revival, that happened in the late 90’s.

 

 

 

 

Invisible Man

Yeah, I’m not gonna go see this. I think I’ve had enough Invisible Man horror movies to last a few lifetimes. I think invisibility is probably a fairly useless superpower anyway, since one can only really get up to mischief with it.

 

 

The Irishman

I plan to watch this. I don’t normally watch gangster movies, but it has an all star cast, and marks Scorcese’s first foray into made for TV movies. Despite what Scorcese said about superhero movies, and the fact that he seems ot have staked out this gangster drama genre, I still love his work, and I don’t have to pay extra to see it in a theater, which is cool. We’ll see how good it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Scathing Critique of the Disney Monopoly

“[If they] want to bitch about movies, that’s certainly their right… are you telling me Ryan Coogler, making Black Panther, is doing something… ‘less than’ what [they] have ever done… come on. There. I said it.”

By invoking Coogler’s name in response to criticism, Iger positioned BLACK PANTHER as representative of a pattern instead of an outlier in Marvel’s track record.  Out of 23 male directors hired leading up to ENDGAME, 21 are white men; the studio’s ratios of non-white male screenwriters and producers are likewise bleak.  It’s also reflected in ENDGAME’s condescending, slapdash battlefield moment featuring all-female characters— largely interchangeable and with negligible prior interaction —and co-director Joe Russo’s small cameo as a gay man—a demeaning footnote to a parade of heteronormality, with its ad nauseam “no homo” inserts of nuclear families meant to symbolize a return to normalcy.  Superficial inclusion means nothing if the underlying message is ignorant.

http://cinemalogue.com/2019/11/18/the-marvel-juggernaut-with-great-power-comes-zero-responsibility/

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Let’s set aside for now the film’s internal time-travel “logic”–of which even the directors and writers cannot agree–or the film’s aggressive heteronormativity, and the bizarre lack of closure to the Steve Rogers’ life-defining friendship with Bucky Barnes.  Other publications sufficiently explore these themes:

GameSpot: Avengers Endgame: Captain America’s Ending Totally Ruins The Movie

The Daily Dot: How the straight agenda ruined ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Fansided: Avengers: Endgame: A lack of closure at the end of the line

At the conclusion of Endgame, Rogers struggles for five years with the aftereffects of living in a post-apocalyptic world.  A veteran of World War II, frozen for 70 years, almost every event in his life since receiving Doctor Erskine’s serum accumulates shock and trauma.  He’s left with a litany of unaddressed mental health issues (including depression and PTSD), never truly acknowledged by the franchise.

http://cinemalogue.com/2019/05/20/avengers-endgame-male-entitlement-undermines-steve-rogers-core-characterization-and-story-arc/

 

Things Are Gonna Be Fun II: Electric Bugaloo

I wrote a version of this post, earlier this year, in which I listed all the movies I was interested in watching, and I just want to offer a sequel to that post, with mini reviews of movies I, did indeed, watch, and one I didn’t get to see, even though I wanted to.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/things-are-gonna-be-fun/

I’ve noticed a pattern of saying I’m not gonna see something, because I wasn’t interested, but later I rent the movie, or watch it on cable, so obviously I’m an unreliable narrator, when it comes to determining which movies I’ll be watching in a given year. So, you can take me at my word, at your own risk. Plus my track record of movie watching has been thrown off by my mom’s insistence that we go see every killer animal movie that gets released! I don’t dislike those types of movies, but I told her she’s messin’ up my movie schedule. (Note: No, she does not care about that, and just finds the whole thing deeply funny.)

Anyway these were the movies I showed some interest for, and ended up actually watching.

Glass

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Unlike a lot of  people, who saw this,  I actually liked this movie. Yes, there was a bit of a twist n the movie, in the sense that things do not play out in any way you think they’re going to play out, but it still did have a satisfying ending. I was interested to see how David Dunn ended up in the asylum with Mr. Glass and The Beast, and I though  the team up between Glass and Beast was interesting to watch. In a lot of ways the story plays out exactly the way such stories work in comic books, and I think the twist really threw a lot of people off, especially if they were expecting the movie to go on that way to the end. About halfway through the movie, there’s  a monkey wrench thrown into the story that changes it to be about something else entirely,  and while I was initially dismayed by the change, it ultimately proved to be satisfying for me.

 

Akita Battle Angel

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I read the manga a few years ago, before the movie was announced, and it was okay, but I found this movie rather disappointing. There are a few elements in it that I liked, but ultimately I didn’t finish the movie, and it was mostly  because of the acting, which is both restrained in some places, and over the top in others. And yeah, I did have a problem with the big eyes. They were distracting, even though big eyes are not distracting in anime. I also loathe sports movies, and about halfway through this movie, this turns into one of those made-up sports movies, that’s supposed to be an analogy for revolution, or something.

Sports movies are absolutely the one genre of movie I will not happily watch. I will watch a cop movie before I sit down to watch a sports movie. On the other hand, I did enjoy the world-building, and the special effects were excellent, but ultimately, those two things were not enough to keep my interest.

 

Captain Marvel

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I liked this movie far more than I thought I would. I wasn’t greatly enthusiastic about it, preferring to see her in Avengers Endgame first, before watching this, but it turned out to be okay. I thought its messaging was a bit ham-handed, but I loved the characters most of all, especially the Rambeaus, and the cat loving Nick Fury, and it was  unexpectedly funny, and deeply emotional in some spots. Is it as good as some of my MCU favorites, that I’ve watched multiple times? Nah. This movie doesn’t even break my top ten, but it also doesn’t land in the bottom ten either. Its a good, solid, competent, middle of the road, action movie, with a feminist message, and some acceptable special effects. If I watch  it again, it will be for the character relationships and action scenes.

 

Shazam

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I wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of this movie, but it turned out to be a heckuva lot of fun. The ads for it lead you to believe the kids in the movie are kind of obnoxious, and at first the are, but they quickly grow on you, and I started to really like the lead character ,and the movie is actually pretty funny, in a cringey, covering my eyes sort of way.

I’ve always been fascinated by Billy Batson, not because I thought of him as a power fantasy for children, though. Frankly, and this is where being a PoC, and a woman, comes into me having a very different opinion about movies, I was kinda horrified by Billy’s story. This isn’t a whole lot like the TV show I watched as a child. For one thing, Billy Batson is actually a little kid in this, unlike the teenager in the show, and no kid should ever be put in that sort of position. Billy fucks up a lot, and its really frustrating, and mildly upsetting to watch the villain beat his ass because he has the physical/mental sensibilities of a child. I don’t know how to explain it, but Shazam has always struck me as more of a horror story than a fantasy.

On the other hand, despite my anxiety, this movie was a lot of fun, and I liked the other kids in it, because they were really cute, and they all defeat the villain through teamwork, and superpowers, and stuff. Its a good, lightweight, piece of fluff to watch, on some Saturday afternoon, with your nieces and nephews.

 

Hellboy

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Whoo boy! I have a lot to say about this movie, so watch for my post comparing the Del Toro movies with this version, and the graphic novels. I didn’t hate this movie like a lot of people did. In fact this movie may prove to be better liked at some later date, but I didn’t love it either. It had a lot of problems which are outweighed by how incredibly gorgeous it is.

 

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

As I said in the original post, I only know as much about Pokemon as raising my sisters would allow me to know, so I was kind of walking into this clean. I didn’t know that the various Pokemon had personalities and stuff, so I didn’t know what to expect. I knew some of the character names, and I liked the premise, and heard that Ryan Reynolds was doing the voice of Pikachu, who is, naturally, my favorite.This movie was as cute as you think it is. Its a nice, funny, piece of fluff. Its got a couple of dark moments, but is mostly safe to watch with kids, as its not that deep, so you can enjoy it without too much anxiety.

I was mostly distracted by the kind of world in which Pokemon live side by side with people. Where do the Pokemon got to  the bathroom? How do the largest Pokemon navigate through the society, and did the biggest ones I saw belong to anyone, or were they just hanging out in the city? Some of the Pokemon were pretty dangerous, so are there humans who hunt them down and exterminate them when they get out of hand? Or do they lock them in jail, like people?

Well, I had questions!

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John Wick 3: Parabellum

This movie was every bit as wild and crazy as it looks from the trailer. I’ve been watching this franchise, and really the entire thing is ridiculous, with Assassin’s guilds, mobsters, dog attacks. Its kind of unrelenting and you may need to have a rest about halfway through it. This time there’s some type of regulatory organization involved, and its purpose is to weed out everyone who helped John in the first two movies. So, not only is John still being hunted by all the top assassins in the world, (namely Mark Dacascos, who it was nice to see again), his friends are in danger too, and this all  escalated from the killing of John’s dog, left to him by his late wife, by a no-account mobster’s son.

I loved Halle’s character, with her two guard dogs. She talked in interviews about the training for the dogs, and what it was like being on set with them, and that was fascinating. In fact the entire thing is fascinating because the creators have no qualms saying the movies are just stunt showcases, with a loose plot attached to it, and going into detail about how they do everything. Its fun to watch, not just the film itself, but the making of it, as well.

Halle Berry plays a character named Sophia, who owns two Belgian Malinois. She is fifty three years old. This is a very demanding film and most of its stars are older men and women, so that’s interesting.

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Men in Black International

I was ultimately so disappointed in this movie, that I didn’t even finish it. I mean Thor and Valkyrie team up to save the world from aliens but there’s really not much of a plot, the acting was a little lackluster. It wasn’t as funny as the first two movies. it was really just lacking Will Smith.

I wouldn’t mind seeing more stories set in this universe, and Tessa and Chris were really cute, but it really does need to have the imagery and the humor, and with actually funny actors, which is something that started to go wrong in the second film. Tessa and Chris are funny, from time to time, but they are not known for their comedy, and it showed, because the writing simply wasn’t there. Its been diminishing returns on the humor ever since that second film, really, but I  expected a lot from this, because the trailer made it look like fun. The wild enthusiasm I had for several other films, that were released around the same time, wasn’t there, but I thought this would be okay. Ultimately, I’m glad I  didn’t spend money to see this in the theater.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home

I missed this one in the theater becasue I was broke around the time this movie got released, but I rented it as soon as the it started streaming ,and I was not disappointed. it has a few slow moments, or moments I didn’t particularly care for, but those moments were not enough to stop me from overall likage. Its not as good as the first film, which had that element of novelty, but its very satisfactory.

I loved a lot of things about it, but mostly it was the relationships between the characters.  I liked the cuteness between Peter ,and MJ. They really did sell the idea of them being awkward teens beginning a romantic relationship. Peter’s friends, and co-stars also get some nice story arcs, too. The action was a lot of fun and didn’t go on interminably long, which is something that always makes me start to squirm, as I get easily  distracted. I’ve watched this about three times since then, and I keep discovering new things ,and its been fun each time.

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I don’t often do sequels to my forthcoming movies posts, but I was going back through some of my older posts, and I saw that I’d watched nearly all the movies in it, and had not given even mini-reviews. so here are some of my  mini-mini-reviews.