Coming Soon!

Cloak and Dagger

I have been a long time Cloak and Dagger fan, from the comic books, and I have to admit I was more than a little dubious about them making a show about this. Cloak and Dagger is a comic book, that came out in the eighties, about a pair of teenagers who, through some drug experimentation by criminals, developed superpowers.

In the comic books, Cloak had the ability to eat people’s life energy by enveloping them in a semi-sentient cloak, and Dagger had the ability to produce light from her hands and throw it like knives. There were more than a few stereotypes involving the light and purity of Dagger, with various people coveting her, and wanting to save her from that evil and frightening black  guy she hung around with.

I’m still side-eyeing this show a little bit, because there’s so much potential to fuck it up, and the Freeform channel doesn’t really have a track record on racial issues. But I’m happy to see the trailer anyway, and I’m glad they’ve decided to go for a more wholesome looking approach to the characters, and their relationship looks really sweet, because I always felt the two characters were  too heavily sexualized.

Well, they seem to be handling the backstory a bit differently than in the comic books, updating it to the current age, and its social issues. At the time it was released, the crack epistemic was tearing through black neighborhoods, and everyone was really up in arms about that particular issue. When Cloak and Dagger got their powers, their first priority was saving kids from drug culture.

This show won’t air until 2018 on the Freeform Network.

 

 

American Gods

I am almost finished with reading the book, just in time to catch the premiere, airing this weekend. Yes, I plan to review it because I want to compare the book to the show, although the adaption looks pretty faithful to the source, as far as the various characters. This was created for TV by Bryan Fuller, the creator of the Hannibal series, and I loved what he did on that show, so much, that I’ll follow him anywhere. American Gods airs on the Starz Network, so if you don’t have cable, I think they have some kind of app.

 

Preacher

This show has been renewed for a second season on AMC. If you haven’t seen the first season,  it might help a bit to watch that, so you can have some background as to why a preacher, a black woman, and a vampire, are on a road trip. Jessie, Tulip, and Cassidy, are looking for God because they have some pressing questions for him, after Jessie received  superpowers from possession by a celestial being.

I only got a chance to review the first episode of the show, but I did watch and love the entire season. It was pretty wild. I have a hard time choosing a favorite character, but I’m leaning towards Tulip, and not just because its Ruth Negga. I would’ve probably liked Tulip no matter who the actress was because she’s like a female version of Coyote.

Anyway the second season is airing on June 19th. So, I have something good to watch in midsummer, besides re-runs.

 

Gotham

Tonight is the mid-season premiere of, of all things, Gotham, a show I stopped watching some time ago, despite the presence of Jada Pinkett-Smith. I thought the acting was just too uneven, and had a hard time getting into the characters.

Well its back!

 

Genius

I am a  science stan, so I will be watching Genius ,which is a bio of Albert Einstein, who is one of my favorite scientists. Genius airs this Tuesday, on  the National Geographic Network.

 

The Handmaids Tale

This show airs on Hulu. I remember trying to read the book when I was a teenage but was so disgusted with the worldbuilding that I had to put the book down. Its not a bad book, but I’m never going to be in the frame of mind to read it. It also has some deeply disturbing racial implications that, because some people don’t realize intersectionality is a thing, aren’t going to be writing about in all their little thinkpieces on the subject:

 

Still Star Crossed 

This show finally gets a release date of May 29th. I love Hsakespeare, and this looks like an entirely appropriate, racebent, version of Romeo and Juliet, which I’m really looking forward to. It appears to be set after theevents of the original story, so the characters are not actually Romeo and Juliet, though.

 

 

Sense8 Season Two

I watched the first season of this and rather enjoyed it. I’m not sure if I reviewed it, but I definitely liked the diversity and representation. The first season ended with the group having to save one of its members for government experimentation, and this season looks like a typical “chased by the government” type of plot, but the show is so gorgeous, and I like the premise and ideas of the show, and I liked the characters, so I’ll binge this one, when I get the chance.  This airs on Netflix May 5th.

 

 

Dear White People

Dear White People will be airing on Netflix this Weekend. I didn’t watch the movie but then I often avoid movies dealing with racial issues. Get Out is the first movie I’ve seen, in a long time, that had anything to do with race in the plot. I feel some kind of way about that, but really, its just not my go to subject matter. As a Black woman I deal enough with issues of media and race, I’m not going to watch movies about it too, that’s just too much for me. I’ll be skipping this one, but you guys might want to check it ou,t if you really liked the movie.

 

Also coming this Summer:

The midseason return of Lucifer. I dont watch this because I find hte lead actor deeply annoying, but I have it on good authority that some interesting new characters have been introduced.

The Victorian Slum airs on PBS next week, combining my favorite topics , Victorianism, and documentaries.

In June there’s Shadowhunters Season Two, Dark Matter, Wynonna EarpFear the Walking Dead, and Orphan Black.

The bottom line is, there will plenty for everyone to watch this summer, instead of re-runs of shows that are on hiatus.

Ghost in the Shell Reviews Are In

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Stuff I’m Watching

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

The Ghost Brothers (TV)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for ghostbusters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ETA:

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

 

 

Suicide Squad (2016)

Image result for suicide squad

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

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

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

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Image result for magnificent seven

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

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

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

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

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

Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Image result for legend of tarzan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miscellanea LinkSpam

*I know I said I wasnt going to say anything more about Iron Fist but hey! I’m not saying all of  this! Someone else is saying it so…

Basically Iron Fist was always a problem, and always gonna be a problem, even in the comic books. I love the character that was created in the comics but that doesn’t preclude me from acknowledging that its still the Mighty Whitey Trope. So are a host of other characters I love, from Dr. Strange, to Tarzan, to The Last Samurai. But just because I really like these characters doesn’t make them right, or that we should keep doing it. There are other stories to be told that don’t feature White men in the middle of them. And if you do use the Mighty Whitey trope, you need to at least acknowledge it or say something new about it.

http://www.refinery29.com/2017/03/145908/iron-fist-netflix-danny-white-male-privilege

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/mar/27/iron-fist-netflix-show-finn-jones-marvel-danny-rand

http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/iron-fist-gets-better-once-it-admits-danny-rand-wo-252719

https://theringer.com/iron-fist-marvel-netflix-review-485aaabd959c#.p4ymg0c0p

https://www.wired.com/2017/03/iron-fist-canon-versus-culture/

*And from Tumbr:

sanssouciavecmoi

Ir0n F*st: Eh, what? (with background Asian count)

Spoilers follow:

Episode 1: Enter the White Dude

Hi, I am Singaporean Chinese. Yes, Netflix is available here and yes, they are trying to sell this to us.

Secondly: I do read comics, but the whole “he was white in the comics” thing does not fly–see article for context. This is 2017, not 1974. 

Thirdly: the creators of Iron Fist were fetishising the heck out of kung-fu movies when they wrote the comic back in 1974. And they are crusty old relics that use the word “Orientals” even though it’s 2017 and they know it’s not the right word (but use it anyway in interviews).

Fourthly: Iron Fist is not one person–it’s a power that is passed onto people that subsequently bear the title. Only two of them have been white. However this is is not important, because they changed almost everything about Danny Rand (and 90% of his backstory and even what the Iron Fist is for) except the bit about him being white. So the less deliberately obtuse understand that this was the most important thing to the writers, directors and producers. Lewis Tan also auditioned for the same role, so most people know that they did not pick the best actor for the job–unless you think white actor = default best lead actor.

Fifth point: this show had awful writing. And that’s even without the Orientalism and pseudo Buddhism. However, this dissection will be focused on this point.

Warning(s): Death, drug overdose, needles, guns, violence (kinda slow violence but still), Orientalism, lazy writing, car crashes, mangling of Mandarin, drugging someone against their will, forced institutionalisation, ableism, plane crashes.

Opening is … eh, kung fu in slow-mo. On a mountain top. With stuff like black ink. Like Chinese calligraphy. Only without any calligraphy. Just the vague aesthetics of calligraphy. *sighs* This is going to be painful.

In the first bit, Danny Rand returns to New York and tries to get into his parents’ company’s building. It goes as well as expected. His ex-childhood buddies treat him like shit. (He doesn’t get shot for assaulting security officers–this article explains why.) He also does not know that people think he’s dead–after 15 years, who would have thought, eh? Action scene was kinda slow. His ex-childhood buddies are also greedy cynical capitalists, so they have no reason to believe him.

I have to stop to ask: Can someone please tell me why this guy is barefoot? Other than bad writing (bad characterisation and bad worldbuilding)? Shoes were invented a long time ago and while a lot of Asians take shoes off when they enter a dwelling, we understand the need to wear shoes outdoors. Someone will no doubt write a fic where Danny gives his shoes up to some other homeless person. But there is no reason why he should be barefoot in that scene.

(How did this guy get to New York anyway?)

Back to Danny Rand, trying to get back into his old place. Ah, his other skill is animal communications or something??? His ex-childhood buddy Ward was a douche way back when. Still is. It gets creepy because Joy lives in this house now, so DR looks like a stalker.

Homeless in the park with DR. Time for him to use his iPod and read a book written in … I can’t make out what language that is but I know what they want me to think it is. (Stereotyping: your mind fills in the blanks with pre-existing scripts. Lazy writing.) Unless someone can tell me that this book is significant in some way later on, I’m going to call it unnecessary window dressing for that “Asian flavour”.

image

Translation: the original comic creators were crusty old relics that wanked over the aesthetics of 70s kung fu movies and the producers and writers of this show are not much better. I kid–it could be line of poop emojis and we would never know.

In a scene that would have been much nicer without the extra window dressing, DR makes a friend. Big Al shows him Google search on an iPhone so that DR knows that people think he’s dead. His uncle is also apparently dead. The only person to be nice to him the whole day is another homeless person. Maybe we can focus on the plight of the–nope, not going that way.

The next morning, DR is very persistent. Joy feels (rightfully) harassed and calls people. That car-jumping scene was … um. Really extra. Let me try to articulate this, okay? This is 2017, people have access to decades of martial arts movies. (The Matrix was 18 years ago.) The action sequences in this show will compare very badly to those movies. So even people watching this for fight scenes will not be entertained.

First meeting with Colleen Wing, she gives him money and he mangles Mandarin without subtitles (for subtitles please look at gif set exhibit A under the link: white man polices biracial woman’s identity) and she says she hasn’t spoken it since she was a kid (rather than punching him for that). Man, if you wanted a job, you could have said so in English. Why do you suppose Colleen would know how to speak Mandarin?

image

This is so uncomfortable on so many levels. If magical K’un Lun is not of this world, then why would they speak Mandarin? If it was truly isolated in another dimension, then K’un Lun would have its own distinct dialect, like most regions in China and most countries. So DR speaking (mangling) Mandarin is also BS. (Not even talking about the yoga-like poses in the park.) This would mean so much more if it was Chinese American DR, who was never very good in Mandarin class, and Colleen Wing, who might be able to relate.

Back to the more douchy sibling and DR. Apparently DNA tests cannot be done because Danny has no living relatives. (That’s BS too, btw.) Way to be ableist, Ward. (The only thing I like is that major douches in MCU are named Ward.) However, Danny is not as peaceful as his initial appearance suggests. We get it, he’s traumatised by the deaths of his parents–why does it get expressed as him being rather violent in a car? Apparently he’s not out of touch enough to not know how guns work (or maybe all kids know how to use guns in the US or K’un Lun–I dunno).

More job-hunting in vain. It’s not like it isn’t obvious that a) she practices a totally different school of martial arts in her dojo and b) she doesn’t have the money to pay another instructor. Yes, kick him out, Colleen. That’s what he gets for trying to police a biracial woman’s identity–is he trying to flirt with her? Ew. (Colleen Wing obviously cannot afford to pay DR–her dojo is sharing space with AA meetings. But she gives him shoes. It’s almost as if everyone who is nice to DR in this show are not very well off and–yeah, it’s very unsubtle.)

Then DR gets attacked and chased into Chinatown (while Colleen Wing watches from above). Where a parade is happening. With lion dancers, dragon dancers and fire crackers and everything. But why? Is it Chinese New Year? What is the context for this? Can someone tell me why this is necessary? Or is this a way to claim that this show is diverse because there were something like 100 Asian extras in that scene? Way to endanger the lives of all the people in the parade, DR. Fight scenes are a yawn. Even though the mask DR is wearing in no way hides his curly mop of blond hair in this parade of Asian people–who do not notice the fighting at all.

image

(I feel that this scene is a metaphor for the whole show.)

On one hand, I hope the extras were paid a reasonable rate and had a good experience. On the other hand, I have a feeling that when it comes to telling the kids about how Mum/Dad/Second Aunt/your Cousin were extras on this show, it would come with the caveat that they shouldn’t try to be actors–because they’ll probably wind up as extras in a show (with not very good fight scenes) that needed a parade of Asian faces for reasons unknown. Representation matters.

(Story time: there were Chinese actors from my tiny state that tried to make it to Hollywood. Shanghai Knights was back in 2003 and Fann Wong is still mostly known as a local actress. Lau in The Dark Knight might still be Ng Chin Han’s biggest role to date in a major movie right after Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Currently, he’s got a part in Gh0st in the *hell–not sure if he gets more or less lines than in Captain America. Most parents here still don’t encourage kids to become actors because there’s so little room for them.)

Back to Ward, the more evil sibling who sends people to assassinate homeless dudes–he has reasons for being a terrible person. Reason number one being his dad (supposedly dead but still alive???)–who is probably why Ward is the nice cuddly guy he is. Wow, every baddie has a backstory. Probably affects plot in future. But is anyone interested? (I loved the art deco style building this scene supposedly took place in. Anyone know where it is?)

Remember DR’s one friend? His one friend is now dead of a drug overdose. Why? Maybe Big Al was around for for one Google search, some food and to allow DR to mouth some platitudes over his body? Or to highlight the plight of the homeless by ki–that’s really … really not good storytelling.

Security at Rand Enterprises is dreadful–DR has no problem sneaking in again. (Or maybe it’s that other thing.) Cut to Joy, the nicer sibling. Who is very calm for a woman that’s just found a strange guy in her office (again). Maybe it’s because she might believe him. Or is being swayed by his rhetoric. (”It’s a Zen saying” … gag me with a spoon.) His backstory is taking way too long … So Joy drugs him. I take everything back, she’s just as bad.

DR wakes to … a very troubling scene of forced institutionalisation at the end. As if everything else had not been bad enough.

Plot: It’s all over the place … Not sure if the writers know what DR is supposed to be. He has trauma, tries to be a pacifist but is really angry inside? What is the message here? Wall Street is evil? Problematic portrayals all over the place? The plight of the homeless and people with mental health issues? Not enough women with lines? Colleen Wing needs her own show with Misty Knight!

Orientalism: Check, aesthetics over substance, mangling of Mandarin despite the fact that DR has no reason to be speaking Mandarin, Zen sayings, yoga poses, a huge Chinese New Year-style parade in the background for reasons unknown (oooooooor they just wanted a certain type of backdrop for a not very good fight scene). One East Asian character with lines.

Asians in the background: around 100 of them perhaps, no lines, much firecrackers. Not sure if they were Chinese-American, Korean-American, Japanese American, Hmong-American … because they have no lines.

spoilers iron fist for the sensitive it has the potential to be very triggering i actually watched thisit was dreadful worse than anything the reviews prepared me for i struggled through one episodenearly yelled at the screen for colleen to just fucking punch this guy already orientalism

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*The conservative Christian boycott of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is Hypocritical

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/03/07/the-conservative-christian-boycott-of-disneys-beauty-and-the-beast-is-the-height-of-hypocrisy/

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*Tomato Lacochran just got fired from The Blaze. I had written about this no-nothing twenty something, who had the gall to wag her finger at Black people, about  subjects on which she hadn’t done her homework.

Naw! I’m still not calling her empty headed ass by her actual name.

 I also kind of thought of her as tofu. She’s the kind of person who has no real thoughts of her own, like an intellectual mimic, she just takes on the flavor of the strongest brain, in her orbit.

http://www.papermag.com/tomi-lahren-just-got-banned-from-the-blaze-and-the-internet-is-living–2331280605.html

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*On  representation in fandom:

http://uncannymagazine.com/finding-yourself-in-fandom/

*I am loving this analysis of The Hobbits from Lord of the Rings:

6) Tolkien’s hero was average, and needed help, and failed.

This is the place where most fantasy authors, who love to simultaneously call themselves Tolkien’s heirs and blame him for a lot of what’s wrong with modern fantasy, err the worst. It’s hard to look at Frodo and see him as someone extra-special. The hints in the books that a higher power did choose him are so quiet as to be unnoticeable. And he wouldn’t have made it as far as he did without his companions. And he doesn’t keep from falling into temptation.

A lot of modern fantasy heroes are completely opposite from this. They start out extraordinary, and they stay that way. Other characters are there to train them, or be shallow antagonists and love interests and worshippers, not actually help them. And they don’t fail. (Damn it, I want to see more corrupted fantasy heroes.) It’s not fair to blame Tolkien for the disease that fantasy writers have inflicted on themselves. […]

Fantasy could use more ordinary people who are afraid and don’t know what the hell they’re doing, but volunteer for the Quest anyway.

It’s misinterpretation of Tolkien that’s the problem, not Tolkien himself.

“Tolkien Cliches,” Limyaael

(via mithtransdir)

The whole point of The Lord Of The Rings… like, the WHOLE POINT… is that it is ultimately the hobbits who save the world. The small, vulnerable, ordinary people who aren’t great warriors or heroes.

Specifically, Sam. Sam saves the world. All of it. The ultimate success of the great quest is 100% due to a fat little gardener who likes to cook and never wanted to go on an adventure but who did it because he wasn’t going to let his beloved Frodo go off alone. Frodo is the only one truly able to handle the ring long enough to get it into Mordor – and it nearly kills him and permanently emotionally damages him – but Sam is the one who takes care of Frodo that whole time. Who makes him eat. Who finds him water. Who watches over him while he sleeps.

Sam is the one who fights off Shelob.

Sam is the one who takes the Ring when he thinks Frodo is dead.

Sam is the one who strolls into Orc Central and saves Frodo by sheer determination and killing any orc who crosses him. (SAM THE GARDENER GOES AND KILLS AN ACTUAL ORC TO GET FRODO SOME CLOTHES LET’S JUST THINK ABOUT THAT). And then Sam just takes off the Ring and gives it back which is supposed to be freaking impossible and he barely even hesitates.

Sam literally carries Frodo on the last leg of the journey. On his back. He’s half-starved, dying slowly of dehydration, but he carries Frodo up the goddamn mountain and Gollum may get credit for accidentally destroying the ring but Sam was the one who got them all there.

Sam saved the world.

And let’s not forget Pippin and Merry, who get damselled out of the story (the orcs have carried them off! We must make a Heroic Run To Save Them!) and then rescue themselves, recruit the Terrifying Ancient Powers through being genuinely nice and sincere, and overthrow Saruman before the ‘real’ heroes even get there.

Let’s not forget Pippin single-handedly saving what’s left of Gondor – and Faramir – by understanding that there is a time for obeying orders and a time for realizing that the boss is bugfuck nuts and we need to get help right now.

Let’s not forget Merry sticking his sword into the terrifying, profoundly evil horror that has chased him all over his world because his friend is fighting it and he’s gonna help, dammit and that’s how the most powerful Ringwraith goes down to a suicidally depressed woman and a scared little hobbit.

Everything the others do, the kings and princes and great heroes and all? They buy time.  They distract the bad guys. They keep the armies occupied. That is what kings and great leaders are for – they do the big picture stuff.

But it is ultimately the hobbits who bring down every villain. Every one. And I believe that that is 100% on purpose. Tolkien was a soldier in WWI. His son fought in WWII. (And a lot of The Lord Of The Rings was written in letters to him while he did it.)

And hey, look, The Lord Of The Rings is about ordinary people – farmers, scholars, and so on – who get pulled into a war not of their making but who have to fight not only because their own home is in danger but so is everyone’s. And they’re small and scared but they do the best they can for as long as they can and that is what actually saves the world. Not great heroes and pre-destined kings. Ordinary people, doing extraordinary things because they want the world to be safe for ordinary people, the ones they know and the ones they don’t.

Ordinary people matter. They can save the world without being great heroes or kings or whatever. And that is really important and I get so upset when people miss that because Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli and Gandalf and all the others are great characters and all but they are ultimately a hobbit delivery system.

It is ordinary people doing their best who really change the world, and continue doing so after the war is over because they have to go home and rebuild and they do.

If nothing else, I have to reblog this for the phrase “hobbit delivery system.” So accurate it hurts.

(via elenilote)

What I love too is how even the foretold king and the assorted great heroes themselves all come to recognize that their main (and by the end, only) role is to distract Sauron. To the point that by the end they’re all gathered up before the black gates of Mordor in order to keep his attention focused on them, with only the hope – not the certainty – that they can buy Frodo whatever remaining time he needs, if he’s even still alive.

One thing the movies left out but has always been such a key part of the books for me was how when the hobbits returned home, they found that home had been changed too. The war touched everywhere. Even with all they did in far-off lands to protect the Shire, the Shire had still been damaged, both property and lives destroyed, and it wasn’t an easy or simplistically happy homecoming. They had to fight yet another battle (granted a much smaller one) to save their neighbours, and then spent years in rebuilding.

(via garrusscars)

In many ways, the entire POINT is that homecoming.

A quest, an adventure, is defined by the return home, and the realization that not only have YOU changed, so has your home.

(via mymyriadmusings)

“My friends, you bow to no one.”

(via sorrelchestnut)

Even more relevant today.

notanecromancer)

lotr

 

*And on a lighter note:

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

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

Next up : Some amusing stories from Tumblr

Iron Fist Season One

I’m a long time martial arts movie fan. I have clocked a lot of hours watching people fake punching and kicking each other. If you’re that level of fan of martial arts, it’s okay. You can skip this show. There is waaaay too damn much talking in this show.

On the other hand, it’s not an awful show. It’s not half as awful as the critics would have everybody believe. It certainly could be a better show, and it doesn’t live up to any of the expectations of the trailers, as bad as they were. Let’s just say all the action you saw in the trailers, is most of the action in the show. My guess is they knew they couldn’t hook us in by showing the many, many hours of people snarking at each other in offices,and  wearing nice clothes, so decided to go with inelegant fight scenes. Think the show Suits, but with worst dialogue, and sometimes somebody gets punched.

The plot is as stated. Danny Rand flees a mystical Asian land called Kun Lun, where he is the legendary Iron Fist.He comes to NY and gets involved with Colleen, Claire Temple, and the Hand. We spend most of the show running around with this trio, from place to place, jostling with Ms. Gao, and the Hand, macking on Colleen like a creepy stalker, and trying  to avenge his parents deaths, which involves the corporation his father used to run, his father’s old partner, and that man’s children, the Meachums.

My special advice is to watch the show on your tablet or phone ,and every time you see people talking in an office, fast forward through that. I fast forwarded through almost all of that part and was still able to keep up with most of the details of the plot. I would also advise you not to listen too hard to the dialogue because you will go to sleep. Unless Claire’s on screen. She’s awesome. As always.

I was going to give some type of in depth review, but I’m not interested enough to invest that much work into the characters and plots and shit. So here. Have some links and articles that carefully explain what went wrong with this show.

Iron Fist was inspired by 1970s kung fu movies, but no one seriously expected Finn Jones to become the next Bruce Lee. The show focuses on plot over action, so it makes more sense to compare it to Daredevil. And that comparison makes Iron Fist look like total garbage.

Daredevil‘s hallway fight was praised for its stylish choreography and camera work. There’s a real weight and brutality to Daredevil’s blows, and the scene uses a long tracking shot so you can see all the necessary action.

Iron Fist paid tribute with its own hallway fight scene, utilizing a very different style of filmmaking.

 

In Iron Fist, the camera constantly cuts away before the blows connect. The editor chopped Danny’s choreography into two or three shots per move, so you don’t catch the full impact of his actions. It’s like trying to follow a ballet performance through a dozen tiny windows around the stage.

Once the fight reaches the elevator, we get a completely unnecessary split-screen view of Danny disarming an opponent. At 1:35 in the above video, the split screen actually makes it harder to see what he’s doing.

[READ MORE]

*I’m going to go one step further here. This weekend was the second season premiere of Into the Badlands. This show is everything that Iron Fist should have been. Into the Badlands is full of action and every one of its fight scenes is given the love and dedication that it should receive for an action show. Contrast this fight scene with the one from Iron Fist:

 

Oh, and here is the fight scene between Zhou Cheng and Iron Fist. Zhou Cheng is being played by Lewis Tan, an actor and model  who is half White, and was one of the most prominent contenders for AA Iron Fist.Btw, this is one of the best fights in the entire series.

 

http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/20/14988036/lewis-tan-iron-fist-casting-marvel-netflix-asian-representation

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*This critique lays out the five major criticisms of the show:

 Monday, March 20, 2017

Five Comments on Iron Fist

Marvel and Netflix’s latest series dropped this past weekend, a week and a half after the pre-air reviews pretty much savaged it, calling it the partnership’s (if not the MCU’s) first complete dud.  What I found particularly damning about Iron Fist‘s reviews was their uniformity.  When one reviewer gives you a pan, you can blame the reviewer.  When a dozen reviewers give you pans that all make exactly the same criticisms–a dull and unsympathetic lead performance, an increasing emphasis on an unappealing villain, storylines that focus too much on boardroom shenanigans, lousy fight scenes–you’ve probably got a turkey on your hands.  Having watched the entire first season of Iron Fist, my only quibble with the reviewers is that most of the flaws they ascribe to the show were also present in the second season of Daredevil, which received generally favorable notices.  In fact, it’s not so much that Iron Fist is worse than Daredevil‘s second season, as that it is more boring (it lacks, for example, a magnetic central performance in the vein of Jon Bernthal’s Punisher), and this makes it easier to notice flaws that have been present in all of the Defenders shows, albeit taken to far greater extremes here.  The boring part means that the show doesn’t really deserve a full review, but there are a few points about it that I thought were worth discussing.
http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/2017/03/five-comments-on-iron-fist.html

Continue reading “Iron Fist Season One”

Luke Cage Ep. 1: Moment of Truth

I’m not going to go too far into what Luke Cage means to me as a Black woman, but I grew up reading Power Man/Iron Fist, and I am a child of the seventies, so I remember the whole Blaxploitation era, on which Luke is based, and have a special fondness for him. He was the first Black superhero I ever read about. Before Storm, Red Falcon and Captain Marvel.

I’m not sure if people understand just how important it is for PoC to have power fantasies too, but I’ve mentioned this before. White men’s lives are full of such fantasies, in fact, almost the entire comic book/superhero industry is predicated on it, and PoC, most especially WoC, have precious few of these. So, if you can, imagine how emotional this must be for quite a few of us, especially in these turbulent racial times, to see a bulletproof Black man in a TV show, being heroic, or in some cases, just being.

I wasn’t going to do a play by play of each episode of the series but I’ve enjoyed what I’m seeing so much, that I just can’t help myself, and this is just the first episode. I enjoyed meeting all the different characters and watching them establish relationships with each other, but more importantly we get to understand Luke Cage’s relationship to his neighborhood, Harlem. Where he lives is fairly close knit. Everyone sort of knows each other. They’ve all seen each other around, even if they don’t know  each other’s names.

I grew up in a more rural Midwestern version of this environment, and its fascinating for me to see all the neighborhood nuances, speech, and body language, in a mainstream big budget TV show, that I see everyday. This show isn’t just Black because it has Black people in it. Its Black because it has BLACK people in it. Black people not filtered through a White creator’s lens.(Mostly)

Since the show’s creator is a Black man, there is a minimum of racist stereotypes in the plot. Only the usual stereotypes to be found in such an environment,  resentful fatherless teens, the barbershop banter, hanging out at the club, but done in such a way that the viewer doesn’t dwell on these things as stereotypes.

Luke, played by Mike Colter,  is one of those quiet, mystery people you always see around the ‘hood. They don’t make waves, and you don’t see them out and about too much. He just wants to live a quiet life with Pop, played by Frankie Faison. You might remember him as Barney, from Silence of the Lambs, but I remember him mostly from The Wire.

Luke works two jobs, can barely makes his rent, and is unwilling to get involved with women who give him their phone numbers, because he’s still mourning the death of his wife, which we saw in Jessica Jones. Earlier in the episode, a gorgeous, and smart, young sistah tries to invite him out for coffee, but he turns her down. Pop is the person who urges him to be more involved in living, to find a girlfriend, protect people, that sort of thing.

Eventually he does do these things. He meets Misty Knight in the Harlem Paradise, where he works part-time, as a cook or bartender. Its interesting watching the two of them flirt without giving anything away. These are two carefully guarded people trying to establish a connection, and feels almost antagonistic. Misty gives him a hard time, but he’s smart enough to keep up with her. Luke is persistent and  manages to make his interest in her evident, and she eventually responds. And yeah, this show  proves it is not PG-13, as there is a hot, sweaty love scene, between the two.

The next morning Misty lies to him about being a cop. (What is it with Luke Cage and duplicitous women?) I don’t know where the show creator is going to take this relationship but, in the comic books, Misty ends up with Iron Fist. I liked Misty, played by the lovely Simone Cook, who has just the right amount of snark ,so she doesn’t come across as the Angry Black Woman, or Sassy Black Sister.

The owner of the club (called Paradise) is similar to Daredevil’s Kingpin, only slightly less powerful, named Cottonmouth, and played by Mahershala Ali, who is every bit as badass as the snake after which he’s named. He’s so frightening that even his own female employees don’t like being alone with him. He’s engaged in some nebulous illegal activities, which I didn’t fully understand, even though I thought I was paying attention. Cottonmouth’s cousin is played by Alfre Woodard, aka Black Mariah. She’s a powerful woman in Harlem politics. In the comic books, she’s one of Luke Cage’s primary nemeses. So there are echoes of the Daredevil/Kingpin plot in this show.

Luke becomes more involved in Cottonmouth’s affairs after a young man he knows, who worked for Cottonmouth, dies when one of his co-workers steals several million dollars from his boss.  Now Cottonmouth is looking for the last remaining thief, after killing one of them. Misty, and her partner, Rafael Scarfe, (the only White guy I saw in this episode) are investigating the deaths of the two accomplices, and eyeing Luke as being involved, because he works at Cottonmouth’s club. All  of these characters are aimed right towards each other.

In the meantime, Luke gets in “game mode” by protecting his angry, loud Korean landlady, (another stereotype, which I understand why it was added, but did not appreciate in a show that’s about bucking stereotypes), from some neighborhood thugs. It’s heavily implied that Mariah has something to do with these guys little protection racket.

Its one of only three  action scenes the viewer gets in this episode, as Luke stops a bullet, fired point blank, with his hand. We often forget that Luke Cage is also prodigiously strong, as he easily tosses grown men around, like dolls. (In the comic books Luke is a direct descendant of the same Super Soldier experiments that created Captain America.)

Contrast that with the earlier scene where Luke’s friend gets shot by the thieves, which is horrifying, sad, and graphic. Luke’s scene is also very graphic, as we see bones breaking, and some small amount of gore. But the worst violence is when Cottonmouth beats a hostage to death with his bare fists,splattering blood over his own face and clothes. So yeah, this isn’t a show for young kids, really.

So, this first episode played kind of low-key for me. My minimal expectations that it be interesting were at least met and is  a typical MCU episodic formula, where the primary characters and their relationships are introduced. Its not a standout episode, nevertheless I enjoyed it very much, and I would like to go back and watch it again, catching all the cookies and eggs that I didn’t catch the first time, like Pop referring to Luke as Power Man, Raphael Saadiq singing in the club. (I love Saadiq’s music) and Cottonmouth’s painting of Biggie Smalls hanging in his office, but I need to get to the next episode.

There are comic book, and musical references, all over this episode, which can be a little distracting. I’ll discuss those in my next review.

*Edited for corrections.

He Never Died (2015)

Oh, did I mention I was a Henry Rollins fan, and that I liked him long before he starting showing up in some very interesting (and  occasionally pretty bad) films.  I’ve  been a fan since he was the lead singer in, naturally, The Rollins Band, and then he had a show called, naturally, the Henry Rollins show. He would say things I thought were pretty subversive for TV. Things that appealed to the young radical in me and I liked him for that.

You may remember him from bad movies like Jack Frost or Johnny Mnemonic. Some of his better roles were in movies like Bad Boys II, Feast, Lost Highway, and a minor role in Heat (with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino.)

18HENEVER-facebookJumbo

But now he’s doing  slightly subversive movies like He Never Died (and Gotterdamerung with, of all people, Grace Jones and Iggy Pop). Some of you Hannibal fans will like this movie.  Its about a cannibal  whose been trying to suppress the impulse to feed on people, unlike Hannibal, Rollin’s character is the total opposite of Lecter. He’s not upper-crust at all. He’s not refined,  rich, or looking for love.

Actually, he’s a pretty unhappy, mopey person. I guess you would be too if you lived forever, and had a craving for human flesh. He plays a man named Jack who has a very regular routine of visiting the local diner, and playing Bingo, at the local church. Jack doesn’t wander too far from his lane. If he sticks to this rigid routine he can avoid giving in to his craving for people. But its not to last because Jack’s life is about to be up-heaved, in the form of his daughter, Andrea, and some amateur mobsters named Steve and Short, who are looking for his “blood-dealer”,  Jerry, a nurse who owes the mob some money. There’s also  a waitress named Cara, who has a crush on him, but so far he’s been able  to ignore her.

He finds Andrea at the behest of one of his ex-girlfriends, and the two of them do some light bonding. Jack is still a gloomy-gus, but starts to come out of his shell a bit more after interacting with her. She’s no Manic Pixie Girl, though, and I like her for that. She’s snarky and pragmatic, and just her presence alone makes Jack start deviating from his set routines. They both start seeing an old man in a hat, hanging around near Jack’s routine places, though, where previously only Jack could see this person.

Thanks to Jerry though, Steve and Short are now on his trail and  trying to kill him. During one attack, Andrea witnesses him kill Short and eat his flesh. They’re both horrified but for different reasons. He’s scared he will hurt her, because the craving is back full force, and she’s just squicked out by what he’s done. Jack kicks Andrea out of his apartment, but when her mother is killed, and she gets kidnapped by the neighborhood mob boss, named Alex, Jack has to go rescue her.

he-never-died-rollins1

After a series of adventures where he keeps trying to start fights  with people who turn out to be good guys, he stumbles across a small gang and kills and eats them when they attack. He also manages to enlist the aid of Cara, the waitress, to find Andrea, by offering her a million dollars. He and Cara manage to find and save Andrea. Alex confesses to having kidnapped her because he remembers that Jack is the same man who killed his father many years ago. Jack is about to kill Alex and eat him too, when he is interrupted by the old man in the hat, who reveals that Jack is actually the Biblical Cain, and that he’s been cursed to walk the world as a man-eating monster for having killed Abel.

 

Jack curses the old man out but ultimately decides not to kill Alex. Jack doesn’t tell Alex who the old man is ( or even that he’s there) but when he leaves with Cara and Andrea, the man in the hat approaches Alex with an offer, revealing himself to be Satan.(A good sequel would be if Alex made a deal with the devil to get revenge on Cain.)

I had some clear expectations when I saw the trailer for this movie. It looked fun and funny and I enjoy watching Rollins’ nonchalant style of acting, which goes a long way towards making the movie as funny as it is. The actors are pretty good at matching his style, especially  the two amateur gangsters, who act like they’re extras from Boyz in Tha Hood, and Alex, who thinks he’s in The Godfather.I knew going in that the movie would be about Cain because I’d heard the phrase  “he never died”, in reference to to his name before, and Rollins just looks like I picture Cain might actually appear, if he were a real person. I also thought it was going to be about vampires. It’s not, but I was close enough.

The plot is not excessively complicated, and most of the humor, like the movie “What We Do In The Shadows”, comes from the characters attitudes towards what’s happening, and not the actual plot. One of my favorite moments is when Andrea asks Jack what he does for fun and he takes her to Bingo session, and she seems to find it a pleasant activity. Another is when Steve and Short try to pick one of several fights with him, and he keeps warning them not to do that.

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I liked the depiction of the two women, who are at first incredulous, but then very matter-of- fact about Jack’s invulnerability, as they start to take it in stride. There’s a kidnapping, but no beatings or rapes. Yeah, sure the daughter is the damsel in distress, but she’s atypical just in general. In fact, the women are never treated as sexy floor lamps, even thought the movie isn’t about them. They’re just regular women caught up in something very, very weird. Henry Rollins is the star of the movie and he fills most of its screentime.

 

The movie is not especially gory or even very talky, as Jack has almost nothing to say to anyone and is out of practice at being sociable. There are lots of action scenes, which the creators managed to  make pretty funny, as Jack shrugs off various attacks on his person. What I especially liked is that the Biblical storyline wasn’t offensive to me. If you’re not a believer, you won’t be offended by the plot, as you are not asked to believe anything in it, and if you are, the plot isn’t asking you to believe anything that goes against your Christian tenets, which is a thin tightrope to walk.

On the other hand if you are offended by light gore and cussing, its best to miss this one.

 

ETA:

Correction, Andrea does get hurt pretty badly in the film. I remember she’s mostly unable to walk, by the end of it, as Cara helps her to their car. I can’t exactly remember how she gets hurt though, only that it happens after her kidnapping, so if watching characters hurt women is of especial concern for you, please exercise caution at that point in the movie. I know watching women get beaten can be triggering, or bothersome, for some people, so I wanted to give fair warning that the film may have such scenes.

He Never Died is now available on Netflix.

Geeking Out About: Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (2010)

This movie was a pleasant surprise, probably because the trailers for it were somewhat misleading, designed to make you NOT want to see the movie. In the interests of full disclosure,  I do not normally watch Slasher Films. (Except when I do.) Well, I don’t watch most of the new ones because of the cliches, and the abuse and torture of women.

Also, some of these movies have taken the idea of unlikable characters to the extreme. I’m getting tired of watching movies where the victims are so unlikable, that I just root for the killers to win. I prefer the Old-School Slashers with Freddie, Jason, Michael, and victims who were only slightly annoying, rather than headache-inducingly awful.

But any movie that understands all the tropes of a genre, and then proceeds to very deliberately turn them all upside down, will definitely get my support, and Tucker and Dale did that very nicely. I knew going in that it was meant to be a comedy but I didn’t expect it to be so funny or to enjoy  it so very much. And without all the guilt of liking problematic stuff, too.

With the understanding that it was a comedy, I watched this with my niece, hereinafter referred to as The Potato, who is very used to seeing Horror- Comedies (she loved Ash Vs. The Evil Dead,  btw.) However, I have to mention that  I didn’t expect it to be so gory. If you have sensitive kids, you may not want them to watch it. The Potato, on the other hand, loved it. Its one of her favorite movies and we occasionally mention plot points to each other that we are still giggling about.

rfale

One of the reasons we enjoyed it so much is because we genuinely liked the characters. There is a serial killer in the movie, but its not who you think it is, and he is not the focus of the plot. The focus of the plot are the two ne’er-do-wells named Tucker and Dale. I call them ne’er -do-wells, not because they are bad men, but because they are two of the  absolutely most  charming men to ever star in a Slasher movie, for whom things keep going horribly wrong, through  absolutely no  fault of their own.

I think I might have fallen in love with Tyler Labine, who plays Dale. Dale is very possibly one of the nicest characters to ever appear in a horror movie. He is shy and bashful,  has a sweet and forgiving nature, and I would totally date that guy, overalls and all. I was already in love with Alan Tyduk, from the TV show Firefly,  who plays Tucker. He’s smarter than Dale, and a bit more cynical. He is a constant dispenser of advice that keeps turning out to  be the absolute wrongest responses to their situation. Nevertheless, he is always supportive of Dale, no matter what, and a great friend, who is always telling Dale that he deserves to be loved.

The two of them have grand plans for the weekend. Tucker has just bought what he’d like to think of as his new vacation home, but it’s a dump, sitting  smack-dab in the middle of  Deliverance-ville, Nowhere. Tucker wants to take a look around, see what they can do with the place, and fix it up. It looks almost exactly  like the cabin from the Evil Dead, hence the title of this movie, I’m guessing.

evildead2.png

At the same time, eight college students are going camping in the area. They immediately jump to all manner of negative conclusions about Tucker and Dale, when they meet them  at a local gas station, and Dale, encouraged by Tucker, tries unsuccessfully, to charm one of the lovely young ladies, named Allison.

Things go from bad to worse as Tucker and Dale try to clean up their new vacation home, but keep being interrupted by the college kids, who are inexplicably killing themselves, perhaps as some sort of suicide pact, as Dale ponders. The college kids, because they keep jumping to the wrong conclusions about Tucker and Dale’s intentions towards them, (they don’t actually have any), keep trying to kill them and having horrible accidents.

When the college students go skinny-dipping late at night, at the same time that T&D go fishing, hilarity ensues, as Allison falls into the water and gets a head injury. T&D rescue her and take her back to their cabin, where the other college students think she is being held hostage and/or being tortured. Believing they must kill the  dangerous hillbillies to rescue their friend, everything that can go wrong, does indeed, go wrong.

Tucker-and-Dale-vs-Evil-DI

The Potato and I are still laughing at such horribly gory incidents as the fool who falls into the wood chipper, while trying to kill Tucker, nearly giving him a heart attack in the bargain. But the  funniest moment for me, is when Tucker is attacked by bees while trying to start his chainsaw. Having caught sight of this crazed hillbilly running towards him with a chainsaw (trying to escape the bees) one of  the college students impales himself on a tree limb.This prompts a remorseful diatribe from Tucker, who has no idea these people were trying to kill him, and doesn’t understand why such young people would want to end it all. The college students, however, are now convinced that they are fighting for their very lives.

 

Allison decides to help T&D around the house, by helping them dig an outhouse, but her friends, witnessing this behavior, believe she is being made to dig her own grave. They try to save her and end up dying themselves, one of them in the aforementioned wood chipper. Allison gets knocked out again during their escape attempt and falls into the hole being dug for the outhouse.

Finally, the college students manage to reach the sheriff ,who doesn’t believe Tucker and Dale’s suicide pact story, but he ends up accidentally killing himself inside their cabin. The college student who goes inside to rescue the sheriff, has an accident with the sheriff’s gun, and dies. At no point during the course of the movie are we made to watch any of the women get naked, running and screaming through the woods, tortured, or raped. We do get to see Tucker get tortured though but not because he had sex with anyone. When Dale goes off to rescue Tucker from the college student torturing him, two students sneak into the cabin, in an attempt to rescue Allison.

tucker-dale-vs-evil-5

This entire business could be resolved by people sitting down and talking to each other, but the college students are set on the idea that Tucker and Dale mean them harm, and when Allison tries to explain the situation, they accuse her of having Stockholm Syndrome, because of course, one of them is working on a psychology degree.

After Tucker and Dale return to the cabin, you think the entire situation is about to be resolved, as Allison tries to lead a calm discussion of the facts, but the cabin catches fire and all but one of the college students dies. The lone student left alive, now insane and covered with burn scars, vows revenge on Tucker and Dale, his arch-nemesis. He kidnaps Allison, after Tucker’s car crashes, when  they try to get Tucker to a hospital.

Dale catches up to Allison and her kidnapper at the  local sawmill, where the killer has her strapped to an electric saw (because,yeah!). Dale frees Allison, defeating her kidnapper by throwing a box of chamomile tea at him, to which he has an allergic reaction, and falls out of the sawmill window. When the news media arrives, they announce that the many bodies scattered all over the woods, were the result of a suicide pact, but the kidnapper’s body isn’t found, suggesting he might still be alive.

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The movie turns expectations upside down because the college kids aren’t actually unlikable. They’re dumb and clueless but only one of them is  actually evil. You know they’re not all bad because Allison, the young lady that Dale is enamored with, says they are good people though, and actually tries to help them all understand that Tucker and Dale are the good guys.

Dale does get the girl in the end, but I like how this is  done, as its made clear that Allison is not his reward for DOING good. Allison chooses to be with Dale because he IS good.

Yes, this is the most ridiculous plot of a film, EVER! And yes! I laughed my ass off!

Despite the level of gore, my niece and I were able to suss out  several lessons we learned watching the movie, about making assumptions, being supportive of one’s friends, giving people  chances to be friends before jumping to conclusions, and issues of trust.

Tucker and Dale has become one of our all-time favorite comedies, and an excellent vehicle for teaching critical  thinking about  the media we all consume, which is especially important for budding young film critics, like my Potato.

 

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is available on Netflix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Virgin/Whore of Color (Part II)

For those of you who liked the first article, you may be interested in reading the follow-up on Daredevil and its problematic depiction of Women in the MCU (when any women in the MCU are depicted at all.) I think perhaps the only show that escapes this dynamic is Jessica Jones but only because WoC, are entirely erased from that particular narrative.

And that’s without getting  into the movies, with their lone woman narrative, that results in Black Widow having to be all things to all women. Seriously, I love Black Widow, but she needs some friends or something.

Most of these are related to WoC depictions in media:

Race and Romance in Daredevil Season Two

http://www.alternet.org/truth-behind-strong-black-woman-stereotype

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/09/AR2005060901729.html

http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ899418.pdf

 

And in my ongoing series of posts featuring issues of interest on Tumblr, here are some posts discussing media representation of sex workers:

 

 

 

blackfemalescientist:

lierdumoa:

Can we talk about how the Deadpool movie, which the media has largely referred to (in so many words) as a fuckboy’s wetdream, not only gives a female sex worker an empathetic role, but treats her and her work more respectfully than about 99% of so called feminist media?

.

At no point does the movie imply that Vanessa is tainted because she is a sex worker. At no point does the movie imply that Vanessa is unworthy of love because she is a sex worker.

At no point is Vanessa portrayed as “broken.”

At no point does the movie imply that being a sex worker makes Vanessa a bad girlfriend. At no point does Deadpool ask or expect Vanessa to sacrifice her job for their relationship.

At no point is Vanessa slut-shamed for her job, by either protagonists or villains.

Think about that.

Denigrating sex workers is so taboo within the Deadpool movieverse that even the villains won’t do it.

We know that Vanessa experienced sexual abuse, and that it’s shaped the person she’s become and influenced the choices she’s made. The movie clearly acknowledges that sexual abuse is real, and that it is damaging, and that people who experience sexual abuse struggle to lead “normal” lives and get “normal” jobs.

But the movie never hands sexual abusers the mic.

There is no sexual abuse porn in this movie. There are no voyeuristic rape flashbacks. There are no misogynist monologues. The audience learns about Vanessa’s abusive past from Vanessa, on Vanessa’s terms, through Vanessa’s own words.

This seems like the bare minimum of dignity any female character should be granted, yet so much media fails to meet this extremely low bar.

The movie makes it very clear that Vanessa has a life outside of sex work. She does not live on a stripper pole. Sex work is something Vanessa does. Sex work is not who Vanessa is. She has an apartment. She wears pajamas. What other fictional universe can say the same? I can think of one tv show, but that’s about it, and that show’s viewership is nothing compared to Deadpool’s.

Now on the one hand, I’m not necessarily happy that Vanessa’s character arc revolves almost entirely around her romantic relationship with the lead male protagonist. But on the other hand, I find it very refreshing to see a sex worker in the media whose character arc does not revolve entirely around the fact that she is a sex worker. Hate to say it, but for sex workers in the media, being relegated to the role of love interest is actually a step up.

Most feminist media would rather pretend sex workers don’t exist than write storylines of any kind for them.

I also thought it was nice that she was a sex worker and a damsel in distress. Like, you don’t often see people going out of the way to save sex workers. If they are shown in danger (rather than as dead bodies for the main character to analyze) then no one is looking for them. Its only when the villain threatens the non sex worker that the main characters mobilize to stop whatever villain is threatening. Its nice and sadly refreshing for the rescue to center on someone who hasn’t “earned” it with her “purity”.

(via christel-thoughts)

 

More Scarlett Johansson stuff:

iterativeimprovement:

triplehamburgerjack:

lovemyths:

arkynn:

“nothing against scarlett”

why not? she the one who went out for the audition and is okay with actively participating in whitewashing. its not like she cant get work lol. why we gotta act like actors have no control over their contribution to racism??

I never understand why people say things like that. Like “no offense to *insert famous actor*”. The actor who accept the role that whitewashes is just as responsible as those who casted them. All of the blame cannot just be placed on the casting director because the actor actively accepted that role. They could’ve said no but the money that they will make is much more important than combatting racism. ScarJo could’ve said no to the role. This could be said for all the other actors who have accepted roles that have whitewashed. ScarJo isn’t scrambling for roles, she definitely isn’t have a hard time getting casted.

AND SHE NOT BROKE

I want to see an actor of Asian descent in that role as much as the next guy, but something tells me we wouldn’t be having this Outrage Of The Day conversation if Johannsen didn’t take that role. Because let’s be real, if she didn’t take the role, there’s a good chance the film wouldn’t have been greenlit at all, and we wouldn’t have anything to be mad about.

Or rather, we we wouldn’t have this particular thing to be mad about. There’s always something to get worked up over.

There’s an excellent chance the movie would have happened without Scarlet Johansson. It’s been kicking around for awhile & Rinko Kikiuchi certainly proved her chops in Pacific Rim & Kumiko. If anything the casting of ScarJo is going to ensure this movie flops. See Last Airbender, Gods Of Egypt & Exodus for recent examples of what whitewashing does for these properties.

 

And, while we’re at it, let’s bust Disney’s ass for their shit:

raptorific:

Seriously, it surprises me that people still don’t get that “whitewashing” doesn’t just mean “taking a character of color and turning them white,” but also applies to “focusing disproportionately on the stories of white people,” “glossing over or altering parts of a story to make it more palatable or make white people look better,” and “treating ‘white’ as the default race”

The fact that Disney churns out film after film after film after film about white people with a maximum of one film per ethnicity that showcases a group other than white people is whitewashing.

The fact that the story of “Pocahontas” (not her real name) has been substantially altered so that some of the white people in that story don’t look like such villains, with John Smith younger and Pocahontas significantly older, as well as recounting a popular myth of her saving John Smith from near-execution (a story John Smith made up to make himself look brave, the real Pocahontas told him to stop telling and hated him for using her to make himself look good, and he started to spread like wildfire after she died because she could no longer object) is whitewashing.

The fact that the characters on “How I Met Your Mother” are all white, and they supposedly live in New York City, but apparently associate exclusively with other white people (with the exception of Wayne Brady, who occasionally visits from out of town, and a recurring taxi driver) is whitewashing.

The fact that the Doctor has now been a white man a full twelve times in a row is whitewashing even though the character’s always been white, because the idea that there’s a character whose entire appearance can change in a matter of seconds, yet ends up white twelve times in a row by pure random chance, implies that white is a neutral default and other races are a deviation from that norm.

The fact that people get really angry at the suggestion that characters like Newt Scamander or Hermione Granger could beblack because the books never explicitly say “they are black” is whitewashing.

Because that’s the thing. People often assume that when someone’s race isn’t explicitly specified, they’re white. Peopleinsist that Katniss Everdeen must be white because it is possible for them to rationalize that idea in their head. People think of white as “raceless” and every other color or ethnicity as “raced,” and that’s what we call “eurocentrism.“

And that’s the thing about whitewashing. It’s this idea that a “person” is white, and a “person of color” is black or asian or arab or latin@ or whatever they might be.

It’s why people call John Stewart the “Black Green Lantern” but just call Hal Jordan the “Green Lantern.” It’s why Miles Morales is called “Black Spider-man” but Peter Parker is just “Spider-man.” If you want to throw gender into the mix, it’s why Jennifer Walters is the “She-Hulk” but Bruce Banner isn’t the “He-Hulk.”

People think “character” is white and “character + black” is black. There is no default race. Community did a whole episode about how a truly raceless character would look something like this monstrosity:

But there’s the tricky part: Once you stop thinking of white characters as “character” and start thinking of them as “character + white,” it becomes really overwhelming how many characters are white.

I mean, I know there’s a kerfuffle over Disney Princesses right now, so let’s look at the list of official Disney Princesses, shall we? That is, let’s look at the list and include everyone’s race, not just the princesses of color:

  • Snow White + White
  • Cinderella + White
  • Aurora + White
  • Ariel + White
  • Belle + White
  • Jasmine + Arab
  • Pocahontas + Native American
  • Mulan + Asian
  • Tiana + Black
  • Rapunzel + White
  • Merida + White
    Soon to be added:
  • Anna + White
  • Elsa + White

4 of those 13 women are women of color. All four of those women of color are different races than one another. At the moment, the number of white princesses is seven, but it’s about to go up to nine. All nine of those princesses are the same race as one another, despite a few of them being different nationalities, although most of them hail from Western Europe.

And a lot of people are saying “but they’re just accurately portraying the parts of the world those stories are set in!” First of all, the presence of a person of color has never been implausible in any part of the world, in any period of human history. Hell, a bunch of these movies were set after Shakespeare had born, lived, and died, but he still managed to write a play set centuries earlier featuring a black male lead in Italy.

Second, and most importantly, it’s not like they are being assigned a setting at random and have to accommodate it in their character designs. The people at Disney choose to set film after film after film in France and Germany and Denmark.

It’s not that those areas produce more or better fairy tales and folk tales than any of the other continents, it’s that the stories that come from those areas are the ones Disney considers universal.

In the eyes of Disney, there’s a Princess for Black little girls to look up to, a Princess for Native little girls to look up to, a Princess for Arab little girls to look up to, a Princess for Asian little girls to look up to, and nine princesses for all little girls to look up to. It’s no coincidence that in almost all promotional art featuring the “Princess Lineup,” Jasmine, Tiana, Mulan, and Pocahontas are all standing in the back, usually obscured by other whitePrincesses’ dresses, while the blonde lady brigade stands in the front.

And that is whitewashing.

(via christel-thoughts)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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