The Greatest Cinematic Moments On My TV This Year

(Even If Some of Them Were Not Movies)

Rather than do the typical Best of or Top Ten Movies of the Year list I’ve decided to talk about some of the greatest images that graced my TV this year (because I didn’t go to the movies much this year).

If you are a film and TV fanatic like me, then by the time you’re my age you will have amassed a ton of images that will sit with you and affect you for your entire life. I can’t list the number of movie and television scenes and images that have emotionally affected me in ways I’m still assessing today, and this year added another bunch of images that made me laugh, brought me to tears, terrified me, changed my thinking about the world and the people in it, or were sometimes just plain fun!

Last year, my mother (a devoted Horror movie fanatic) passed away in hospice at the age of 71. Every image of every movie that she carried with her is gone but I can still feel close to her through the movies she watched. I have always used stories (in books, movies, and songs), as therapy and this past year was exceptionally therapeutic for me in dealing with my grief. What I was going through didn’t feel quite so bad because I didn’t feel as if I was going through some singular event that other people had not experienced. I was able to process my feelings while watching some pretty intense cinema or alleviate my anxiety with laughter, and I was able to share these feelings with you guys by writing about them in this space.

This year was an incredible year of cinematic (and musical) healing for me.

May the next year be even better!

Keep Moving Forward

1.Moon Knight (Season 1: Episode 6)

This is my all-time favorite television series for this year (with Interview with the Vampire being almost a tie). This series is full of some great moments that are just plain fun, like the moment when Stephen, having stumbled upon his own version of being the Moon Knight gets into a final battle with the show’s primary antagonist. Stephen’s clueless version of Moon Knight wears an actual 3 piece suit. In the middle of the final boss fight, Stephen and Mark are expertly switching control of their shared body between them. Stephen gets knocked down, immediately hops back up, and brushes the dirt off his still immaculately white suit!

That there is what’s known as “swag”, or “attitude”.

I identified with Mark and Stephen’s journey of personal unification because I’ve been on that journey myself. When I was little, being on the autism spectrum meant there was a clear division between my intellect and my emotions. Like Mark and Stephen, I’ve spent my life attempting to unify the two sides of my personality, to join them together to work for each other. This is not a journey I’m ever going to finish, I think, but I have made enormous headway, and one of the greatest cathartic moments in the series was when Mark and Stephen finally did so, thus proving that the whole really is greater than the parts.

All of the fight scenes in this show are fire, and change and evolve as the relationship between Mark and Stephen evolves, to reflect their characters. I can fault Disney for a lot of things, but stinting on Action scenes isn’t one of them. I can always count on the MCU to bring me the very best ultra-violence. The choreography for their shows and movies is insane and watching heroes kick ass (and doing so with style) has always been a cathartic experience for me. I can identify with the hero and express my badassery in a perfectly safe environment while in my bunny slippers, and this series was awesome for that.

2.Everything Everywhere All At Once

I can’t say watching this was a mistake because I had no idea what I was getting into when I first watched it. EEAAO is very one of the most profoundly moving, touching, and hilarious movies in a year full of great films. It stars Michelle Yeoh, so I suspected there might be some Kung Fu, but the movie has a wealth of lovely surprises. It is about the frayed relationship between an overworked first-generation immigrant named Evelyn, who runs a dry cleaner with her annoyingly upbeat husband Waymond, and their nihilistic disaffected daughter Joy, all while undergoing a tax audit, planning a work party, and hosting her disapproving father.

One of the greatest treats of this movie was the re-emergence of Ke Huy Quan, from his decades-long retirement from acting, and who I fondly remember as Short Round from the second Indiana Jones movie (and Data from The Goonies). I don’t even begin to understand why but Short Round was always one of my favorite childhood characters and his name just stuck with me over the years until eventually, it became a nickname for my Mom, who was a whole inch shorter than me, which made me obnoxiously smug. I cannot explain why I had so much joy at seeing him alive and well, and being happy about this role.

That said, despite identifying with all the characters, my absolute favorite is Ke Huy Quan’s Waymond, and it is his philosophy of life that neatly cleaved my brain because he explains so much about how I try to approach the world, and why, despite this being one of those mother/daughter relationship movies you would think I’d be overcome by (and I was) it is Waymond who most easily resonates with me. Where Joy has fallen into despair and wants to end it all, it is Waymond’s philosophy, the exact opposite, that ends up saving Joy and the rest of the world from the annihilation that is the Everything Bagel:

 Waymond: When I choose to see the good side of things, I’m not being naive. It is strategic and necessary. It’s how I’ve learned to survive through everything.

This is a philosophy I adopted because, like Joy, I’ve seen the opposite end of that spectrum and it’s not a philosophy that’s survivable. There were a lot of moments in this movie that made me cry because they just happened to hit me at the right time to affect me, like the conversations between Evelyn and Joy, but it was Evelyn’s conversation with an alternate universe Waymond that opened the floodgates and allowed me to mourn in a way I had not been able to in the wake of my mother’s death, (because I was still mostly in shock). This movie just showed up when I needed it.

Like all good mothers, my mom never liked seeing her children in distress, and I think she would be proud of how well I’m doing right now.

This is one of those movies that changes or reaffirms your thinking about the world, the people around you, and how you approach life.

Yeah, it’s one of those.

3.Men

I think a lot of people avoided watching this movie because of the title, but things are not as they seem. The title is provocative, but the movie isn’t about castigating men. It’s about one woman (Harper Marlowe) dealing with the particularly harrowing loss of just one man, and I’m convinced that most of it takes place solely within her own mind. In other words, the movie is a lot deeper than it looks.

One of the most interesting images is the only other actor in the movie, Rory Kinnear, has his face creepily (and sometimes unconvincingly) superimposed onto the bodies of all the other men in the movie, signifying that what’s being critiqued here are certain types of men and their behavior. That at base all of their behavior comes from one source, and are really just different manifestations of only one issue – misogyny.

There’s the husband who threatens suicide if she divorces him, and then hits her, the priest who blames her for his death, then makes a pass at her, the child who calls her a stupid bitch when she refuses what he wants, the cop who dismisses her concerns and later tries to assault her, and there’s the naked man who is symbolic of natural masculinity in the form of the mythic Green Man, who keeps trying to get into her house to do…what exactly? All of this is tied into images of the Green Man, the Earth Mother, Christianity, the cycles of nature, and the lies patriarchy has created about women.

My favorite scene however is just a touching and beautiful moment about a woman literally discovering her voice. Harper takes a walk in the countryside and comes to a large open tunnel. She spends a minute or two singing into the tunnel and listening as her voice boomerangs back to her. Her voice is high and pure and she takes an almost childlike delight in just making as much noise as she wants, in a public place, in a free and uninhibited manner. It just looked like she was having so muchf un, and every time I watch that scene I feel the urge to sing along with her.

The entire movie stops to accommodate this moment and I was as thoroughly delighted by it as Harper!

4.Thor: Love and Thunder

Sometimes, I love movies that everyone else likes to hate on, and you know what? I’m good with that. I love what I love for my own reasons, not theirs, and I stand by and will back up my reasons why I do, even though sometimes my reasons are just because I do. I know a lot of people hated this movie. I do not particularly care if they did or why because this movie just brought out the feels and the kid in me, and I needed that. I’ve watched this on Disney + multiple times and it brings out both the pathos and delight in me each time.

One of the more interesting aspects of this phase of the MCU is that much of it deals with mourning the deaths of loved ones and people’s response to mourning. From dealing with death badly in WandaVision, to how humanity dealt with the aftermath of The Blip in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, to the aftermath of Tony Stark’s death in Spiderman No Way Home to the death of Chadwick Boseman in Wakanda Forever, to this: Thor, mourning the loss of his entire family and homeworld and finding new love and purpose, against an antagonist who dealt with his loss through anger and revenge. Thor and Gor the Godslayer are mirror images of one another and each of them deals with loss in a way that heals or harms other people. Thor chooses to love while Gor chooses to kill.

But my favorite scene has nothing to do with that part of the plot, and it was difficult choosing between this scene and any scene that involved Thor’s screaming goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. There’s a scene in the movie where Thor is able to pass his powers to a group of frightened children to help them defeat the shadow enemies invoked by Gor, and that entire scene just gave me life! My favorite of all the children turned out to be the young Black boy who happens to be the son of Heimdall, The Bifrost Guardian. He has at least some of his father’s powers, but what was most admirable to me was his ability to step into a leadership role for the other children in the absence of the adults. I’m not normally into watching little kids engaging in acts of ultra-violence but Taika Waititi has a knack for making things that seem mildly subversive look like a great deal of fun. It doesn’t hurt that all the kids in the movie were the children of the staff on the set!

Oh, and the little girl with the laser-eye death bunny is the mood I’m carrying into 2023!

5. Interview With the Vampire (Season 1: Episode 7; The Thing Lay Still)

Interview with the Vampire was just voted by Vanity Fair as one of the best series on TV this year and I am here for it. This also showed up on my favorite TV series list too, because the show is simply wild. It’s crazy and beautiful, and sexy, and campy, gory, bloody, and brutal, but also deeply hilarious. Just when we thought the year was ending and there were no more high notes to be had, AMC handed us this beautiful gem of a series and we are all smitten.

Yes, they race-swapped Louis De Pont Du Lac from the books. He is now being played by Jacob Anderson (Greyworm in Game of Thrones), and he is (literally) killing it in this role. Anne Rice signed off on all this before she passed and her son Christopher (who is openly gay) also signed off on the rest, and those gay sensibilities show in the plot and themes. By changing the race of the character and making his sexuality explicit the writers have deepened the story considerably. Even moving the timeline to the early 1900s has made certain elements of the plot more interesting, since it’s now set during the Jazz age of the Jim Crow South. Also, changing Louis’s race has seemingly attracted a few straight Black male fans, which is not the demographic I first thought of when I heard this was getting made. They seem to really be enjoying the show too and good for them.

Sam Reid is also literally killing it as Lestat. In fact, he is so good he almost makes me forget the Tom Cruise version from the 1994 film. Almost. Reid so embodies this character though that fans are saying he is possessed by the spirit of Lestat, and when he and Jacob are onscreen together it’s like lightning, their chemistry is just that good. (It doesn’t hurt that they’re friends in real life.) Bailey Bass is an aged-up Claudia, and all those people who thought an older version of Claudia wouldn’t carry the same dramatic weight as someone much younger (in the books Claudia is about 6, which would be a logistical nightmare to film) well, those people were wrong. Claudia brings all the drama and hysteria of a teenage vampire to this role and she is great in it. And let’s not forget the award-winning playwright Eric Bogosian as Daniel, an older, less patient, and curmudgeonly version of the Daniel from the books, since this series is set 50 years after his first interview with Louis, which was never published.

For all the things that were changed, some things remain the same and that is the tumultuous relationship between Louis and Lestat. I’d say my favorite episode was the very first one in which the very closeted Louis meets and is successfully seduced by Lestat into becoming a vampire, but my favorite scene is the culmination of Louis’ season-long character arc in the final episode. He goes from being a deeply closeted gay Black man, unwilling to acknowledge it even to himself, to an out and proud gay Black man, and Lestat’s lover, at a grand New Orleans Ball, sharing a passionate kiss after inviting Lestat to a waltz, and something which thoroughly scandalizes their guests. It is one of the most beautiful scenes of the entire season, followed by one of the nastiest, goriest bloodbaths of the season.

This show was renewed for a second season before the first episode even aired, and I just don’t know what I’m going to do until it starts. The show is just really juicy and you have some idea of what’s coming in the future if you’ve read the books. The writers are doing everything right here. The writing is messy and florid and overdramatic, just like Anne Rice’s writing, and a lot of the dialogue is kept intact from her books. I hope the series lasts at least as long as Buffy, and it will be a miracle if it lasts as long as The Walking Dead, and I want to be right there until the end.

6. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is one of the few Horror/Superhero movies out there and I loved it, especially since it’s directed by one of my all-time favorite directors, Sam Raimi, who included more than a few moments of sheer terror in his Spiderman trilogy of ten years ago. He kept that same energy here and there are more than a few of his favorite Horror movie tropes included in the imagery of this film, including a scene of The Scarlet Witch climbing out of a mirror, a multi-handed zombie version of Doctor Strange, and a scene where two wizards attack each other using musical notes. (Sam Raimi loves musicals so you know there was going to be a musical scene in here).

But above is one of my favorite scenes of Doctor Strange along with the young girl he’s trying to save getting blasted through multiple portals through other universes, paralleling a scene from the first movie where Strange gets blasted through different universes by the previous Sorceror Supreme, all of which look compellingly fun or nightmarish depending on which suit your fancy. There’s a world of dinosaurs, giant human bones, and cartoons, but the prettiest one is a world made of liquid crayons, I guess. ( And in a callback to something a character once said on Buffy the Vampire Slayer I think one of those universes was full of shrimp!)

Disney is finally starting to make movies that feel different from one another and include other genres, and this movie is a great parallel to Disney’s introduction of Horror themes and Supernatural creatures into the MCU this year in shows like Werewolf by Night and Moon Knight. I’m still going to call this the first MCU Horror movie because all of the tropes are right there. There are zombies, specters, jump scares, blood and gore (within reason), chase scenes from red-eyed phantoms, giant eyeball creatures, and a child in danger! If you liked the first Spiderman trilogy, and the Evil Dead movies, then check this out.

7. Love Death and Robots Season 3: Episode 4 (Tiny Zombie Apocalypse): Night of the Living Mini-Dead

This year’s Love Death and Robots season 3 was really strong this year, with some absolutely gorgeous animation based on Scifi Horror stories from my favorite writers, like Neal Asher, Michael Swanwick, Alan Baxter, and John Scalzi, in stories that range from poetic nightmares like Bad Traveling to comedies like Mason’s Rats, to tragically beautiful stories of conquest like Jibaro. I had several favorite episodes this year.

This one episode though is, hands down, one of the most hilarious zombie apocalypses I have ever seen. Yes, it’s even funnier than Shaun of the Dead, not just because it takes place in speeded-up miniature, but because of the incredible attention to detail in its homages to Night of the Living Dead, the Dawn of the Dead remake, Train to Busan’s and Peninsula’s fast zombies and Mad Max vehicles, an Attack on Titan shoutout, and Resident Evil mutated zombies. But my all-time favorite scene is the one with the tiny monks Kung fu-ing zombie ass at a mountaintop Shaolin Temple, echoing a scene from the book World War Z. In fact, I would watch an entire full-length movie that included all the scenes from this short.

It’s truly the attention to tiny details that had me rolling though, from the opening scene of the desecration at the cemetery (and how it sounds) which awakens the zombies, to the jogger who pushes her friend at the zombies only to be eaten and revived herself, to the Popemobile spewing gunfire while donuting outside The Vatican. And I love how the zombie apocalypse just goes from bad to worse with irradiated and mutated zombies spewing green fire.

Good lord! This needs to be a full-length film! I’d watch 90 minutes of this utter mayhem!

8. The Northman

The single biggest factor in people’s attraction to this movie was the trailer and the scene where a scantily clad Alexander Skarsgard reaches up, catches a thrown spear, and lobs it back to hit the thrower. I’m not gonna lie, that was what originally attracted me to the film as well, and thankfully, the movie proved to have as much substance as style. See! Not everything I watched this year was frivolous!

The Northman is based on the Scandinavian story which inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Amleth watches as his father, a man he idolizes, is murdered by his uncle. His mother is seemingly kidnapped and he vows to avenge his father save his mother, and kill his uncle in that order. Amleth grows to adulthood, learns of his uncle’s location, and decides to implement this plan, while the audience heckles the screen to suggest that he could maybe let it go.

The movie is also about fate and destiny, and how that figures into the choices a person makes. Amleth is told several times by psychics that it is his destiny to avenge the destruction of his family but he is also challenged to give up his vendetta and settle down with his wife and children. He chooses his vendetta and although the motivation for his choice isn’t exactly wrong, at any point along his journey of revenge, he could have stopped and let his uncle live out his life in relative peace.

This movie turned out to have a surprising amount of depth. Surprising because I was expecting more flash than story, and I was expecting more of a Hamlet retread, and what I got was an exploration of the concepts of fate and destiny, and how much of a choice we have in what happens in our lives and the lives of others.

9. Nope

What can I say? This movie had all of my favorite things. ufos. blood, gore, excellent horsemanship, and two incredible lead characters, the brother and sister duo of Emerald and OJ Haywood, but my all-time favorite moment was when Emerald does this particular bike maneuver, called The Akira Slide. Since it was first seen in Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 anime film Akira this moment has been imitated and recreated in almost every animated series worth watching since!

The idea of a live-action Akira has been bruted around for over three decades and this scene is as close as we’ve come outside a few concept videos. In fact, Jordan Peele himself was slated to direct a live-action version but that fell through when he decided to devote his energy to his own projects. He said that an homage to the project he dropped seemed in order, though.

That’s it! Just a fun nostalgic moment in a great Horror movie that had me kicking up my bunny slippers!

(Note: I do not actually own a pair of bunny slippers.)

10. The Batman

I would not call this movie fun but I did enjoy it, and that kind of surprised me. I didn’t think anything was going to come close to being as good as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy but this was a nice try and I liked it. I think this is a baby Batman in his first few years in Gotham and you can kind of see that in his fighting style, but this scene is the one that I found the most compelling. This is the audience’s first sight of The Batman and I loved the sound design of this scene.

The music, the ominous sound of his footsteps just before he fades out of the shadows, and the sound of rain in the background. The whole movie sounds great, which is not something I usually pay a whole lot of attention to, but I’ve started to pay attention since Villaneuve’s Dune did it so well. This was a superb introduction to this version of Batman, who has yet to learn that it’s not enough for him to just scare Gotham’s predators. He needs to protect the innocent too, something he begins to understand during the course of the movie.

Honorable Mentions

11. Wednesday Season 1: Episode 4 – Woe What a Night

I think this particular scene is definitely going to go down in history as iconic. For context, this is Wednesday Addams getting down on the dance floor at the new High School she was exiled to after she released predatory fish into the swimming pool at her last one. There was blood. I have always liked this particular character, especially the movie versions since she always represented things I have either actually said to people (I know right?!!) or wanted to say to people. I even liked the 1960s baby-girl version of her, and if you look really close you can see Jenna reproduce baby Wednesday’s iconic dance moves from the earlier TV series. Wednesday dances like she’s challenging her partner to a duel.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this series. I was cautiously excited about it because it’s Tim Burton, who has made it clear that he feels about Black people the way I feel about finding a worm in my apple, and its teenagers being teenagers in a TV show. I’m not normally attracted to shows about teens but I will, on occasion, try them out and I actually liked this. It’s not a great show, but it is a lot of fun, not too deep, and worth a watch. The best thing about it is Jenna Ortega’s performance as Wednesday and her relationship with her bubbly roommate, Enid. From her demeanor, there is also the implication that Wednesday may also be queer, in which case people are already shipping her with Enid, and I’m cool with that. I did enjoy watching their friendship develop, since Wednesday is heavily, (and I do mean heavily), coded as autistic. She is touch averse, sensitive to bright colors, single-minded, and extremely focused, with a pronounced flattened affect, and I kind of liked that, since Autistic girls and women are rarely shown onscreen. There were a couple of times when something she said about how she sees the world resonated pretty sharply with me, and I had to pause and reflect.

But mostly the show was just good fun. I was initially put off that the only two Black characters in the series were assholes, but they were redeemed by the end of the season and turned out to be two of Wednesday’s strongest allies. I didn’t especially care for the drama between Wednesday and her mother (or the side plot that showed some of her parent’s history at the school) although I understand why it was added. Parental mismanagement of their children is a recurring theme in the series, although Luis Guzman was excellent as Gomez and the series does play up Wednesday’s Latino heritage a little bit. My favorite episode was the one where Uncle Fester comes for a visit. He is played by Fred Armisen and while he is never going to be in Christopher Lloyd’s league as Fester, he gives it a very good try. Christina Ricci also shows up as one of Wednesday’s teachers and her role is good, but not all that surprising.

This was a fun watch and I’m willing to check out the next season, especially if there is more weird dancing scenes!

The Eternals – There were so many great moments in this movie, although ultimately I feel it fell flat of what it was trying to do, I still enjoyed a lot of it. My favorite characters were, of course, Kingo and his personal valet, Karun. All of the characters had great chemistry with each other but I especially enjoyed watching these two. (Okay, The Eternals was, technically, released in 2021, but I didn’t watch it until 2022, so this counts in my book.)

Umbrella Academy – The opening dance number (The Footloose Dance Off) was one of its great highlights. I love a good dance battle! I love that the series continues this level of ridiculousness for the entire season. Another great scene was Victor coming out to his family as transgender and announcing his pronouns, and his brother’s quite unsurprised/semi-surprised reaction to having another brother.

Prey – The fight scenes in this movie were incredible. This movie was awesome, setting the Predator down in 1800s America among the Comanche People.

Black Adam – I’m an old-school Hawkman and Doctor Fate fan. I expected to like Hawkman and didn’t expect to like Pierce Brosnan’s version of this character, but he was most excellent (he predates Doctor Strange by twenty years y’all) and I hope to see more of him in some sort of prequel. I remember reading Doctor Fate’s books as a kid and I didn’t know I wanted to see this character onscreen so much until, of course, I got to see him!

The Woman King – The entire movie is simply gorgeous. The fight scenes are rigorously excellent.

Sandman – It was really hard to pick one scene from this series. Every episode had some truly gorgeous and meaningful scenes. Here, The Sandman (Dream) gets to find out what a day in the life of Death is like…

New Trailers Dropped For 2023

New trailers just dropped for movies being released next year. Later I’ll post a full list of my most hotly anticipated movies and series for next year.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

I found myself really excited by this video. I checked out of the Transformers franchise after the first two films because they just became increasingly awful to watch. Michael Bay was definitely getting on my nerves, but the franchise regained my attention with Bumblebee, consequently, that’s now my favorite character.

Admittedly, I was not there for the Beast Wars saga, so I don’t know much about it, because I was elsewhere doing other things. I heard about it, though. I know only a handful of characters in this movie (Mirage and Optimus Primal) but not who else. Still, the nostalgia factor is pretty big with this one and it was really nice to see so many grown-ass men being childishly excited about this movie on YouTube! The trailer looks really good. Hopefully, the creators can keep the momentum they began with Bumblebee. Will I go see it in the theater? Idk. It depends on what else is being released that month because June is a lot!

Yeah, Optimus Primal is being voiced by none other than Ron Perlman.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

This movie’s nostalgia factor hit me pretty hard. I probably will not go see this movie, not because I don’t love Indy but because there are three other movies coming out in June I want to see, and this one falls low on that list. I do not have limitless movie theater money, so Indie, I’m afraid, is going to lose. Sorry Indy, I will wait for it to reach streaming services.

This looks really exciting though and if you guys go see it, write something down, tell us all about it.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3

I’m really looking forward to this movie. I enjoyed the last move and the holiday special a lot, and I like spending time with this group of goofballs. There’s not really a nostalgia factor here but it will be interesting to get rocket’s backstory, and it’s nice to see Gamora (or at least an alternate-universe version of her) again. I’m still not a fan of Chris Pratt (he is after all the least likable Chris) but his acting isn’t bad, and he’s not so awful I cannot tolerate him in a film with a bunch of other great and funny characters.

Elemental

I really, really, liked this trailer which is a great introduction to this world and its rules. I’m not really into the forbidden romance angle of the story, but I do like the easy Jazz music of the teaser. Everyone who saw this trailer was quick to point out how she is the only Elemental on the train who is made of fire and noting the different interactions between the Elementals. So the creators have already set up how these characters interact, have both negative and positive effects on each other’s existences, and why the fire elementals might not be included. I’m probably not going to the theater to see this one though because…Summer.

Cocaine Bear

This is one of those ridiculous comedies that get released every few years. This one is about a bear that gets high on a stash of cocaine that some criminals lose in the woods, and I’m not going to see this but Hey, if this is your bag, go for it!

Five More Movies Too Scary For Me to Watch Again

(But I Still Like Them)

Here’s a slightly different list from the last one which mostly consisted of movies I didn’t like or didn’t finish, either because they were just bad films, or I had no patience for them. This is a list of movies I actually like. They’re perfectly acceptable and watchable movies where I liked the characters, the plot, and it looks good, but I feel no great urge to watch these again because they were emotionally exhausting, too disturbing, or genuinely too scary, at least they were for me!

Arachnophobia

Stick with me here because there’s a story that goes along with this movie. Yeah, I do have really bad arachnophobia and have had it since I was a little girl. I was the kind of person who used to look for signs of spiders in any new space I walked into. (I have since calmed down about this over the years, though.) The way my memory works I can actually recount the incident that gave me this issue ( but we not gonna talk about that). I can talk about the event that happened to me when I was in college and before this movie was released. I know it happened in that order because after I came home from college was when I saw the trailer, and my Mom would tease me about being scared to watch it. She seemed to enjoy the movie a lot, thought it was pretty funny, and wanted to share this scary movie with me, but I’m one of those (stubborn muth*fck*s is what a friend once called me) who, once she makes it up in her head to NOT do something, I don’t do it!

I was in living in a very nice house one Summer vacation. I was working at the time, but I was also in the house alone because my roommates had all gone home, and I was sitting in my room, lights and TV on, when I saw a tiny little speck near my lamp. It was not a little speck, it was a tiny spider. Yep, I had a spider egg hatch in my bedroom.

To say that I freaked the f*ck out would be an understatement! I was a hot emotional mess for a week! Luckily, I had some of the world’s greatest friends who, once they understood what the hell I was jibbering about, helped me smoke bomb my bedroom (twice) and cleaned and moved all my belongings to another part of the house. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but I was at least able to relax long enough to fall into an exhausted sleep in my own bed after two days of emotional hell. Well, my friends didn’t mock me, kept their smiling to a minimum, and seemed happy to help a damsel in distress.

Mom knew about the spider incident and understood my attitude, but she always encouraged me to move past my fears because if I didn’t at least try they would always control me. (This is from the woman who apparently had some kind of phobia about boats and New York City! What was all that about?!) Eventually, I did agree to sit down and watch it with her, with a bunch of caveats and addendums, like leaving the room if I got too scared, squealing as much as I liked, and covering my eyes if necessary. I got through the first half okay, but covered my eyes and squealed a lot for the last thirty minutes. I didn’t leave the room though, so technically speaking, I did sit through it.

And you know what? It turned out not to be a bad movie although I have not watched it again in the twenty-plus years since then, and I have no plans to watch it again in the future. Personally, I consider sitting through that movie to be one of the bravest moments in all of cinematic history!

The Void

I was not particularly weirded out by the title or the synopsis of this movie. The thumbnail of the movie on Google looked intriguing. So I sat down to watch this with the idea that it would be your typical Lovecraftian pastiche of images culled from his works and got something I wasn’t at all expecting. I more or less understood the film’s plot, and what it was trying to do, but I didn’t expect bizarre nameless cults (although I should have) body horror images (I should have expected that too), and a kind of monster siege, working the night shift sort of film, where everyone dies horribly, except when they don’t stay dead.

It’s easy enough to describe the movie, but any description you give it won’t actually resemble the movie you will be watching, but I’m gonna give it a try. There’s a bunch of people stuck in a hospital on the night shift, only a few of whom are actually medical personnel. The rest are random townsfolk who are trapped in the hospital because some oddly dressed cultists besieged the town and were killing people, so the rest ran to the hospital. There are some weird medical experiments going on in the basement that involve the birth of an infernal creature from a young girl, the opening of Hellish portals, and lots of goo, blood, guts, and some tentacles.

That was as much as I understood, but that doesn’t mean the movie is ineffective. I’ve no great urge to watch it again because it was a genuinely disturbing film whose effect lingers long after it’s over, and I don’t have to watch it again because I clearly remember how uncomfortable I felt while looking at it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because there are movies that do this that I have re-watched, and if that is the kind of mood you’re looking for, then by all means, go for it, and tell me how it worked out for you.

Imma wait over here!

Annihilation

I generally like the works of Alex Garland, someone I didn’t pay any special attention to when his career began with The Beach in 2000. I didn’t even watch The Beach. I dismissed it. But then he came out with 28 Days later and I perked up. There was a new cinematic voice in Horror, and I’ve been present for most of his movies since, like Sunshine, Dredd, and Ex Machina. I sat through most of those without issue, and they were all very good, but in 2018 Garland released Annihilation, based on the book by another of my favorite artists, Jeff Vendermeer. When I heard about the movie I decided to read the three-book series, and I enjoyed them, for the most part.

The movie combines all three books of the series into one long story with yet another Lovecraftian theme. A section of the US has been taken over by something called The Shimmer. Elena’s husband went into The Shimmer, which warps biology, and he disappeared. Except he also came back, alone. Intrigued, she and a team of 4 other women go into The Shimmer to explore its purpose, with each woman having her own agenda. Elena wants to find out what happened to her husband. Each of the women find some thing they weren’t expecting which has a profound effect on the rest of their lives.

There are some genuinely panstshittingly frightening moments in this film, like when Elena and her team are attacked by a mutated bear that screams with the voices of the people it’s killed, but beyond that the movie is just weird, and sad, and yeah, there’s that word again, disturbing. It’s not a bad film. I actually like the film. It’s also not particularly hard to watch because it contains some genuine moments of true beauty. But it is another movie where the mood and flavor of it linger long after it’s over, and I have not been in the headspace to be able to watch it.

I will likely watch this again at some point in the future, because it is an effective, thoughtful, and terrifying film, but not yet.

The Revenant

Honestly, this is a great survival horror film, and if you like those types of films you should by all means watch this, but be prepared to feel as if you’ve been emotionally defenestrated in the aftermath. This movie is exhausting on a physical level, too. I just felt wrung out after watching this.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy the movie is based on the true story of a man (DiCaprio) who was left for dead in the wilderness by his business partner, (Tom Hardy) who, after killing DiCaprio’s son, went back to the nearest town and made the claim on his half of their business dealings, only to have his partner stumble out of the wilderness several weeks later.

For some reason the most distressing movies for me seem to involve bear attacks, although I do not think I have any kind of bear phobia. DiCaprio’s character braves the worst excesses of trying to survive an environment that is inimical to human life, like snow, freezing water, wild animals, lack of food, and angry Indigenous people, just to enact vengeance on his partner.

This movie just slaps the shit out of you emotionally. Well, it did that for me, but your mileage may vary depending on how much energy reserves you possess. This is another excellent film with great acting, cinematography, and a very compelling story that I will probably never watch again. Or if I do, I’m going to need to rest up, eat my vitamins, and do my breathing first.

The Descent

Oh man was this movie hard to watch, and not because of the monsters. I don’t actually have claustrophobia but this movie might give it to you if you don’t. It’s a harrowing film. I was exhausted and saddened after watching it. The most devastating moment isn’t the deaths at the beginning of the film but something that happens midway through it that completely upends the relationships between the rest of the characters.

A team of women friends decide to go caving in a previously unexplored system after the death of the main character’s husband and child in a driving accident the previous year. The team are attacked by a race of terrifying cannibalistic mutants and taken out one by one until there’s only one of them left. There’s plenty of blood and gore, but that’s not what upset me the most, and no spoilers, but it’s about the characters, comes completely out of left field, changes everyone’s dynamic, and therefore their chances of survival.

It’s a very effective film. I don’t often mind when films do the unexpected or throw something at me out of the blue, especially when it’s as well done as it was here. I didn’t choose these movies because I disliked them. I chose them because I liked them. Some of them are great films, but were so emotionally draining I simply don’t have the emotional bandwidth to put myself through them again anytime soon.

Halloween Music Playlist

One of the great things about October is listening to some of my favorite songs that come from Horror movies. So let’s catch some of these needle drops from Horror movies, which are perfectly okay for listening to all year long.

These first two songs I discovered on YouTube. They’re not from movies, but they are entirely appropriate for Halloween, so I thought I’d put these first. I don’t know what I was looking for at the time but I found these songs by The Merkins ridiculously funny. There’s an entire album’s worth of these, each one of the characters in the group also gets a solo song, and it just tickled me that all of them are sung completely straight like this. Incidentally, “to merc” is the new slang for murder so even the group name is a joke.

Dreamer’s Paradise – The Merkins

I’ll Kill You That Way – The Merkins

This one is one of my new favorites and it comes from one of the top Horror movies this year, Jordan Peele’s NopeExuma: The Obeah Man.

I am one of five people that probably even remember this song from the 2016 Ghostbusters: Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid) by Fall Out Boy/Missy Elliott.

No One Believes Me by Kid Cudi from the 2011 Fright Night. This is one of my favorite vampire songs. I absolutely love this video and how much I wish it were a movie.

Here is a song from another Jordan Peele joint (the man has impeccable taste in music), I Got Five On It, from the movie US. I’ve always thought this song was creepy but there were no Horror movies associated with it until Peel made it explicit.

Here is The Candyman from the 2021 version of Nia Dacosta’s Candyman.

From the 1990s version of Stephen King’s The Stand: Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. This was also used in John Carpenter’s Halloween.

This is a very popular song for movies but it was very well used in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake When the Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash.

Here, using The Munster’s theme song as the foundation is Missy Elliot’s Get Your Freak On.

In case you have not had enough Jordan Peele, here is Childish Gambino’s Redbone, from the movie Get Out!

This is from one of my all-time favorite vampire movies, Joel Schumaker’s 1987 The Lost Boys, the song Cry Little Sister.

The Addams Family movies had some good songs attached to them. Here is the theme song from the first movie performed by MC Hammer, Addams Family Groove.

And for those of you who haven’t seen it in a while, A Bonus Video:

More New Trailers

Hey, we got a bunch of exciting new trailers that recently dropped so let’s check them out! Which ones are you looking forward to, and why. Let me know in the comments!

Jurassic World: Dominion

This is such a great trailer for the movie. I would watch an entire season of short snippets of people coping with dinosaurs, so I’m really excited to watch this. I hope it’s a really good movie because this was the kind of stuff I used to imagine when I was a kid and I don’t want to walk out of the theater disappointed.

Wow! I mean just think about it! What if dinosaurs existed at the same time as modern humans? We’d have to take the good (incredible images and photos) with the bad (possibly being eaten). What if you lived in a place with a dinosaur infestation? What would your insurance be like? How would you explain being late for work because there were some triceratopsians blocking the freeway? What if the local pack of herbivores showed up in your backyard and ate your flower garden? And let’s be honest here, there is a part of me that thinks watching human beings be menaced by giant predators is just deeply entertaining.

Incidentally, if you like this video there’s a trilogy of books by James David called Footprints of Thunder that has this same plot, with dinosaurs having made it into the modern world through a time rift! Not sure if it’s still in print but if you can find some copies, check them out.

As I mentioned before, my youngest niece and nephew have already decided we’re going to see this film, and I believe in shamelessly indulging their interests. My Millennial sister likes dinosaurs too, so I hope to turn this into a full family affair, (although my oldest niece may miss out because of work).

The Winchesters

Okay, I have no intention of watching this. I watched all 15 years of Supernatural and I have no more taste for their story. I stuck it out to the end, and have moved on. More than likely this is an appeal to a younger generation of supernatural fans who while they may have watched the old episodes, are probably more likely to watch this than those of us who sat through 15 seasons of the original series. The actors are all very pretty but I don’t know any of them and I don’t want to supplant any of my memories of the original with any images from this one, so I’m going to pass on it.

But I know there are some people who are greatly interested in this, so I’m giving y’all a heads up in case you hadn’t heard the news.

The Umbrella Academy

I am very excited about this series and I’m really looking forward to the season three premiere. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons, I implore you to check it out. There will be at least one character you will fall in love with. I thought the character I would love the most was Klaus, who acts like a free spirit but is mostly traumatized by his ability to speak to the dead, and so self medicates. To my surprise, my favorite character turned out to be Number Five, an old man in a child’s body (due to time mishap) and who is the smartest sibling along with being a complete badass.

But this series is notable for having Eliot Page. Eliot came out as non-binary transgender last year and everyone was wondering how the character he played on screen in seasons one and two would be treated in the story. It appears that the character has also come out as transgender since the writers changed the name of the character from Vanya to Victor. Hopefully, Victor won’t try to destroy the world again as they did in the first two seasons. See how new this is. This is something that so different from what we’re used to that I don’t even know how to talk about a fictional character. How do I talk about Vanya? Is it deadnaming to talk about her since the new character is named Victor? And is it okay because she’s fictional? Somebody help!

She Hulk

I was a huge fan of the Jim Byrne run of the She-Hulk comic series, and I love what they’re doing here with the character. They seem to have perfectly captured the sensibility and mood of the books and now I’m looking forward to this. It looks fun and funny. I love how they made her a sexual being with appetites who makes it clear that she wants what she wants. The comic book version was often sexy and sassy, with a lot of snark and attitude, and yeah, Bruce Banner is indeed her cousin.

All that aside, I do hate the CGI. It looks awful and cheap and simply not up to Disney standards. The face is just wrong, especially in her Hulked-out state, and her body looks too thin, and not very muscular, which is a real problem I have with female characters who are supposed to have super strength but whose arms look like twigs. I hope they correct all this by the time the series airs. (Note: Jane Thor and King Valkyrie have just the right amount of muscle for such characters).

Note: I read that the CGI has been upgraded to look a bit better, so I checked it out, and the trailer was improved a bit. She looks more muscular than before, but her face still looks a little bit off to me. It’s not as bad as in the original trailer though.

Sandman

I have not read the Neil Gaiman comic books on which this series is based, something I plan to correct before the series airs in August. Since I am only passingly familiar with The Endless, I don’t know enough to be really excited about this, but so far, I like what I see, and I’m looking forward to reading the books, and watching the show.

But, whether or not I watch this also depends greatly on what else will be out at the time. Sometimes I have every intention of watching some show or movie, and then I don’t, or only watch some of it, not because it’s bad or anything, not because I’m bored, but because it’s sometimes hard for me to keep up the momentum, which has been stolen by another series. But even if I don’t watch the series, I intend to refresh myself with the books, which I haven’t even glanced at since I was a young’un.

New Thor 2 Trailer

Well, I already had plans to see this. Yeah, I’m an MCU fan and no shame in that, because I go to the movies to have fun and adventures, and MCU films deliver every single time. If I’m gonna spend that much money to be entertained I want it to be worth it. (Yeah, I’m not going to pay the cost of birthing a child in the US to watch a movie about pain and tragedy, unless it’s by Martin Scorcese.)

One of the primary reasons I love Taika Waititi (the director) is his ability, almost his compulsion, to take famous characters, sometimes famously evil ones, and deconstruct them, making them human and relatable, while never denying they’re not actually good people. He did this with vampires, Hitler, pirates, and superheroes, and he’s done the same thing for Thor, and I find it a really interesting habit. I’m gonna have to talk about that some more in another post.

So, yeah I’m looking forward to his interpretation of Jane Thor, King Valkyrie, and this new villain, Ghorr the Godslayer, who is played by Christian Bale.

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning

Okay, these actors are starting to get up there in years, (except for Rebecca Ferguson, who I believe might be a vampire), but I don’t care. The Mission Impossible franchise consistently hits it out of the park in the Action genre, and you have the usual required scenes of Tom Cruise jumping onto something while clenching a woman, and running really fast somewhere. I’m probably not going to see this in the theater because it’s simply not on my list of movies to watch this Summer. My mom used to throw my whole watchlist into disarray every year, but fortunately, I can dictate to my sister’s kids, and they kinda have to go along with my tastes if they wanna eat free popcorn.

I don’t actually have much to say about this trailer except the Action doesn’t look as wild and crazy as it has in previous films, but maybe they’re just holding back on those images, and when you’re sitting in the theater you’ll get that familiar sensation of your stomach dropping down to your knees, and you’ll clench the arms of your seat in terror, and paying five thousand dollars to see it will have been worth it.

Willow

I don’t normally engage in a whole lot of nostalgia, but for this movie, I will make an exception! The original movie was released in the 80s, and when it was available for TV, I remember watching it multiple times. It’s been thirty+ years and we have a sequel television series. As soon as I heard there was a trailer for this, my mind started playing the John Williams theme from the original. Yep, I still fondly remember that.

The reason the movie was so special to me was because of Warwick Davis. He was my first exposure to a dwarf actor, and I thought he was very handsome and very charming. In the movie, he is tasked with the care of a tiny baby girl that is the “chosen one”, But the movie isn’t about her, because she’s, like, one year old and has no speaking parts, so much as the hero’s journey of Davis’ character, Willow. It’s a little bit of a remix of Snow White, and surprisingly progressive for its time, with a woman warrior character and an evil Queen.

This sequel happens many years later and the “baby” is an adult, and Willow and some companions have been called to save their world again. The original was also my first real exposure to High Fantasy that I actually liked, as I was mostly indifferent to these types of books and movies, and most of them made no impression on me. But Willow snuck in and got to me, and I’m obviously going to have to do a deep dive before this series release!

I’m looking forward to it because it looks like a lot of fun and the nostalgia factor really kicked my ass while watching this!

Resident Evil

Despite that I’ve watched almost none of the movies, I do love a good horror series with lots of monsters, so I’m looking forward to this series. I’m not enthusiastic exactly, but anytime I’m watching a trailer, and I am sitting on the edge of my seat or just nope the fuck out (the giant spider scene), it’s definitely worth checking it out. so zombies, spiders, chainsaws, Black women being included in the story? I’m in!

I am glad to see more Black girls and women being involved in fantasy and horror movies and series. For the longest time, at least since the seventies, the existence of Black women as an audience that could be pandered to was not a thing. There’s nothing wrong with being pandered to in a narrative, despite the fact that straight white male audiences want to turn it into a dirty word, which is really ironic since for the past seventy years they have been the ones being pandered to by every form of entertainment media that existed.

Creators, almost all of whom were white men, literally didn’t think about other groups of people, in fact making it expressly clear that white men, between the ages of 15 and 35, was the ideal audience they were chasing after, and there is a contingent of online assholery that actually wants to go back to a time when we were considered nothing but maids, slaves, and servants to be abused in whatever stories we were in (hence the current online trolling of Black actresses who happen to find work in these genres). I’m glad to see these creators and writers remembering that WoC watch shit too, recognize that we also have money and choices, are willing to chase after PoC for their money, and that we want to see ourselves in these narratives as heroes and villains. Putting that message out into the world is one of the primary reasons I started this blog.

So yeah, I’m excited to see a Black girl in this series who is apparently being a total bad ass.

Strange World

I am a really huge fan of Lost World type movies, and my personal favorite is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. I just love watching movies about goopy aliens, monsters, and weird environments and this looks like hella fun, plus it’s got this retro-vibe that I find aesthetically appealing. I don’t normally watch a lot of the kid’s stuff on Disney, and I don’t go to those type of movies anymore (cuz I don’t have that kind of money), but I would pay money to go see this. I think it’s just going to be on the Disney+ app though which has more than shown it’s worth in the series Wandavision, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, and a bunch of movies and documentaries.

I’m not sure how I feel about the characters, because as I said many times, it’s not just a plot or some imagery that pulls me into something. It’s got to have at least one or two characters I’m drawn to, although the characters do look really cute! I didn’t see much of their personalities in this trailer so I don’t know what to think of them yet, (and although the pilot looks appealing, it doesn’t mean I will like her) but the trailer looks like weird goopy fun, which is enough of an attraction for me, I guess. It’ll get a look-see.

The Menu

And finally there’s this gem, starring Ralph, Fiennes, and one of my favorite new actresses, who I hope will be around for a good long while, Anya Taylor-Joy! I have the feeling this movie is about one of my favorite topics, cannibalism, and I’m always up for a good humans eating humans movie, especially if it’s an “eat the rich” story. I only just heard of this movie, so I don’t have a lot of knowledge beyond the visuals, but I will probably watch this when it streams.

5 Haunting Horror Movies You Haven’t Seen…Yet!

I’ve been watching horror movies since I was a little girl ,who was supposed to be asleep at 11 o’clock at night. I went through a period, with my mother, where I think we tried to watch every horror movie that got made between 1980 and 1988, before I went off to college, so I have seen a helluva lot of movies, many of which have been forgotten, unless your’e a serious horror movie fan. I admit, not everything I watched was any good, but I found something interesting in these five movies, which have stayed in my memory even though I haven’t watched some of them in decades.

 

Don’t Look in the Basement (1973)

This move was made back in 1973 so I wouldnt go in expecting it t be enlightened about mental illness. I saw this movie when I was a teenager, and there was just something about it that I found deeply disturbing. Yes, the characters are disturbed, certainly, becasue this is an asylum, but that’s not the reason why this movie has haunted me for years. I suspect its some quality of mood, or lighting, or acting that I found mesmerizing back then.

A young nurse gets a job in a remote asylum for the mentally ill, and has a great deal of difficulty doing her work, as the director of the facility seems as deeply disturbed as her patients. You can probably guess what the twist is long before the plot spirals down into a hot mess of murder and mutilation.

 

 

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things

A troupe of method actors and their despotic director head out to Coconut Grove, Florida where, as a prank, they exhume a corpse called Orville and are subsequently horrified when his similarly deceased friends emerge from their graves to play some deadly games of their own. Filmed as America experienced its post-60s comedown, director Bob Clark’s first horror feature began a truly terrifying trilogy that continued with the powerful anti-Vietnam war statement Dead Of Night and climaxed with the classic seasonal (and subsequently re-made) scarefest Black Christmas.

You can definitely tell this movie was filmed on the cheap, but this is also one of the first zombie movies I ever saw, long before ever watched Night of the Living Dead, and of course this is nearly forgotten, except by zombie movie enthusiasts like me. The acting isn’t great, and the special effects aren’t either, but the movie has such a distinctive feel, that I’ve never forgotten it, despite having not watched it in decades.

 

 

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

I haven’t seen this movie in decades but for some reason I still remember the haunted feeling I had watching this. The plot is a little fuzzy, but I think its about a woman who moves out into the country, with her boyfriend, to recover from a nervous breakdown, and encounters strange events, and possibly ghosts and vampires.

The movie is surprisingly well acted for a horror movie from the 70’s, and the cinematography looks gorgeous. The only drawback seems to be that the plot is a bit murky, but I do remember enjoying watching this on late night TV.

 

 

Psychomania (1974)

This is another movie I remember watching as a kid, late one night, when I was supposed to be asleep. I haven’t seen it in decades, but I still remember it pretty well, although it took me some time to find the title. I remember that I started off excited about the movie because, Hey! Zombie Bikers!, but by the end I recall a distinct feeling of melancholy for the bikers, and their inability to die, and at least part of that was due to this song.

I remember thinking something along the lines of how all these characters eventually became pretty jaded by the1974 lifestyle they thought was a form of true freedom, only to be trapped in a kind of hellish living afterlife.

 

 

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

This is another movie I watched late one night, without my mother’s permission, even though she was the one who told me about it! Its more of a mystery than a horror movie, but I’m going to put this here because it does have some onscreen kills. It stars a very young Jodi Foster, who was still riding on her fame from Taxi Driver, I think, which came out the same year.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this, but I think one of my mother’s objections to this movie, is the character is a serial killer ,who genuinely regrets killing people. My guess is that my Mom was opposed to kids killing adults in movies, which is understandable, but it might also have been the pedophilia from one of the characters, which she thought I was too young to be watching.

I wanted to see it because I was under the impression, at about nine years old, that Jodi seemed to be about my age, when she was, in fact, thirteen, at the time. I have observed that little girls often gravitate to movies about other little girls, and I was no different, except I gravitated to horror movies that starred little girls.

I cannot recall if she was alone because she killed her parents, but I do remember her making up various stories for the adults who investigated her situation, as to why she was alone, and killing the ones who got too nosy, as well as a man who was trying to get too cozy with her, if y’all know what I mean.

Summer Playlist: Talkin ‘bout a Revolution

I was initially going to call this “The New Shit”, but changed my mind, after I encountered a lot of new music that was protest related.

What’s happening today, is indeed a revolution, and every revolution has a soundtrack. In the sixties, the songs revolved around the war in Vietnam, and racial civil unrest. In hindsight, I should have expected this, as there can be no revolution, without Art!

There’s a lot of songs out there, that were written by white folksingers, during the Vietnam War, but plenty of Black musicians wrote stuff, too. I tried not to choose songs that readily come to mind when considering protest songs. I tried to choose the  kind of songs that people might know, but probably don’t think of as revolutionary. 

Here’s a list of revolution songs by Black artists, both past, and present, and maybe even the future. Some of y’all might not have come across these yet, as most of these will not see radio play, and and some of them won’t be offered on conventional streaming apps, either. On the other hand, many of them are available on YouTube, but you can’t research what you don’t now, right?

 

(Say it Loud) I’m Black and I’m Proud – James Brown

This song was groundbreaking for its time. I’ve found that there’s two different types of revolution songs, songs of grief, and songs of defiance. This is definitely the template for the latter type of song. It is defiantly and unabashedly Black.

Songs like these are important, because they are declarations of worth. They remind people of why they’re fighting, and what they’re fighting for, and  if its one thing a bully hates, it’s when their victim gets back on their feet, and declares their worth!

I’m Black and I’m proud is not any different from saying Black Power, or Black Lives Matter.

 

 

F*ck the Police – NWA

This song was incredibly shocking for its time. Not only did it get banned, but it sparked a wave of censorship against Rap music, which did nothing to actually stop Rappers from speaking truth to power, but it did spur music companies to begin focusing solely on Rap music that had no consciousness to it, and only talked about Black crime and partying.

If you’re wondering why conscious Rap music fell out of favor, then the censorship wars of the mid-eighties certainly played a role. White suburban parents did not want their children listening to songs about questioning and disrespecting authority, and so they did what White parents have always done,when it came to art they didn’t want their children exposed to, like Jazz, and  Rock.

Declare it immoral, and use that as an excuse to ban it!

 

 

Redemption Song- Stevie Wonder 

Here, Stevie does a cover of the song originally written by Bob Marley. Its not that I don’t like the Marley version, but I’m a huge Stevie Wonder fan, this version has always been my favorite, and I’ve always loved when Stevie got political.

Or you could try:

You Haven’t Done Nothing

Its Wrong

Misrepresented People

Blowin’ in the Wind

Heaven Help Us All

Village Ghettoland

 

Fight The Power – Public Enemy

I thought about featuring the official song video for this selection, but decided to go with the opening credits for Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which is what launched this song into everyone’s consciousness. This was a lot of mainstream white people’s first introduction to political rap, like Public Enemy.

I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to Rap music when I was growing up. I didn’t have favorites, or closely follow certain groups, although I certainly knew who PE was. I knew about who and what was hot, because it was the music that everyone around me listened to, so it was always in the background, while I explored other musical tastes.

I’m not going to say this type of music didn’t influence my thinking, because it most certainly did, but I didn’t realize how much so until I was older.

 

 

 

Talking About a Revolution- Tracy Chapman

I talked in my last post about my regard for tracy Chapman’s music. This is another of her many political songs, which still gives me chills many years after I first heard it. This song, along with the last song I listed, is from her first, self titled, album, which was released in 1988.

You can try:

Across the Line

If Not Now, When

Freedom Now

Subcity

 

Hell You Talm ‘Bout – Janelle Monae

This song was released a few years ago, to minor acclaim. Not many people paid a whole lot of attention to it, outside of the Black community, but this song gives me chills every single time I hear it. It is, in the end, a raucous litany of the dead.

 

 

 

This Is America – Childish Gambino

This song became a nine days wonder when it was released a few summers ago, and has not lost its effectiveness. People are still puzzling about the video’s many images and their meanings.

 

https://time.com/5267890/childish-gambino-this-is-america-meaning/

“The central message is about guns and violence in America and the fact that we deal with them and consume them as part of entertainment on one hand, and on the other hand, is a part of our national conversation,” Ramsey tells TIME. “You’re not supposed to feel as if this is the standard fare opulence of the music industry. It’s about a counter-narrative and it really leaves you with chills.”

 

 

Black Excellence – Buddy

I have no idea who Buddy is, but this is one of my new favorite videos, for its celebration of Black history, and I just love to watch good dancing!

 

 

Glory – Common/John Legend

This is one of my Mom’s favorites, but mostly because she’s a big John Legend fan. This song is from the movie, Selma, by the Black female director, Ava Duvernay. I have not been able to bring myself to watch the film. I probably never will. I’ve had my complete fill of movies of Black people overcoming trauma, whose stories I already know, anyway.

The other day, my mom said something very intersting to me. She said, about the current protesters,  “At least they’re not singing We Shall Overcome. I’m sick of that song.” Remember, my mother grew up doing the civil unrest of the  fifties and sixties, and was a member of the local chapter of the Black Panthers, just before I was born. 

I get the distinct impression that  the white people who are talking about today’s issues the loudest, are 1). the kind of people who have never protested for anytihng in their lives, and have 2). not lived with this nearly their entire life. 

My mother is seventy years old. She’s been actively fighting to uplift Black people since she was a teenager! She is not unhappy to see young people picking up where she left off, after her unofficial retirement.

The other day we were talking about her mom, and how she passed just before Obama became the first Black president, and how she would have loved to have seen that. My mom said she was glad to have lived long enough to see that, and to see what’s happening today. 

So yeah, all those white people bitching and whining about the current uprising, can sit down and shut the whole hell up. They’re nattering ignorantly at a people for whom fighting for their rights is a generational lifetime profession!

 

I Just Wanna Live – Keedron Bryant

This is one of my favorite current protest songs. Its also one of the saddest because Keedron is only twelve years old.

There is almost no discussion about the levels of trauma our children are  going through, and not just police brutality, but the presidents behavior, and their constant exposure to the ignorance of online agitators, who are always quick to insist how little their lives matter.

Our kids need to see this. They need to know this. Sadly, they’re the warriors of our future. They’re  going to need to know how to fight this battle, and unfortunately, teach their kids because the battle to be treated as human beings is never going to be over.

 

 

Black Parade – Beyonce 

I want to end on a high note though. On Juneteenth of this year, Beyonce dropped one of the Blackest songs of the year. This is a song of joy, and celebration, and well, there’s definitely some bragging involved.

And then, at the end of this song, she also dropped a list of Black owned businesses. 

I love this song! I’m not the fighter/confrontational type. That doesn’t mean I won’t beat your ass, though. It just means I won’t enjoy doing it, and will be embarrassed at my loss of composure, afterwards! I don’t do things the way my mother did them, but I contribute in the way that I can, in a way that works for me,which seems to be Beyonce’s manner of approach too,  and that’s by celebrating, and uplifting, every opportunity Black people get to shine.

I’m no badass. But I can happily cheer on a badass.

Summer Nostalgia Playlist: Black Women’s Edition

 I thought for quite awhile what header to put on this intro. I thought maybe I should put some facts and figures about the women in these little song blurbs, but I finally decided, to hell with it, Im just gonna say why I love these songs, and why the music of these Black women have been an integral part of my life.

I hope you learn some new things, and most of all, ENJOY!

Oh, and:

Happy Juneteenth!

 

Big Mama Thornton

I did not hear this song until I was an adult and I heard it, in, of all places, a Tom Cruise movie. I wondered who the singer was, because I was diggin’ it,  and I’d always liked the Elvis Presley version of the song. It turns out that Big Mama is the original singer of Hound Dog. Well, now she tore it up, and as far as I’m concerned, this is the only version worth listening to.

It turns out that Elvis appropriated a lot of Black music, so now I make a point of finding out if there was an original singer, if I like one of his songs..

 

 

Sarah Vaughn

I only sort of like this kind of soft jazzy music, when I’m in a very particular mood. Kinda sweet, and melancholy, and tired, but just a tiny bit happy, too, like I just spent a whole lot of money doing something I love all day, and I’m exhausted, happy I had the experience, but sad I’m now out of money. I heard this song in some movie as a child.

What movie, I don’t know.

 

 

 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

I came across this video on YouTube a few years ago. I’d known about Rosetta through my Mom, who is also a huge Blues fan. I find  the incongruity of someone dressed like my grandma, in a church coat, riffing on an electric guitar, deeply funny.

Also, the song is hitt!

 

 

 

 

Koko Taylor

Koko is another one of my Mom’s favorite artists. I only like some of her music, but this song is one that stays on my playlist, and gets regular play. Most of the time I find her music to be like watching a soap opera. There’s a lot of romantic drama in it, that I don’t much care for, but this song is very cool.

 

 

Jessye Norman

When i was a little girl, I caught one of Jessye’s performances on TV, in what I have no idea, and decided I was going to become an opera singer. I loved to sing, I sang in school, at home, around the house, in the yard, and I wasn’t bad, but I found another madlove (drawing and painting), and eventually gave up on the idea of becoming an opera singer, when my voice changed, after I hit puberty.

 

 

Roberta Flack

I don’t know when i first heard this song. I was a child, so it must have been on the radio. A lot of people probably don’t get that, back in the day, kids just listened to whatever their parents listened to, (because the Walkman, Spotify, or MP3 players, and such didn’t exist), and then, as they got older, they branched off into their own musical tastes. So I ended up with a thorough grounding in Classic R&B, and Blues,before moving on to Rock and Techno!

Also, I’m a sucker for blatantly romantic songs like this.

 

 

The Staple Singers

The Staple Singers, headed by the great Mavis Staples, is one of my all-time favorite singing groups. I’ve loved this song sine I was a kid, but my favorite movie moment, for this particular song, was from the movie, Children of a Lesser God.

 

 

Minnie Riperton

Before Mariah Carey, there was Minnie Riperton. I feel like there’s not a lot of people who know about her, but this is probably one of her most famous songs, because of those incredible high notes she keeps hitting out ofhte park throughout the whole song. Trust me, everyone tried to hit those notes when we were young girls. It is absolutely impossible for me to hit them now.

 

 

Deniece Williams

Deniece Williams was really hot in the 80s. She had a bunch of songs, but like I said, I’m a sucker for a treacly romantic song, especially when its sung with such a beautiful voice. This song is one of my big favorites, and great for singing in the shower. Still ain’t hitting them high notes though!

 

 

 

Tracy Chapman

Here’s another deeply romantic song, from someone I discovered in the early nineties. The first song I ever heard by her was called Fast Car, which is arguably one of her most famous. After I heard it, though, I bought every one of Tracy’s albums, which were a heady mix of romantic, and socially conscious songs, that appealed to my twenty-something self.

If you have never heard of her, you need to get in on this. She sang all of her songs with this same amount of passion, and yes, she’s singing to a woman!

 

 

 

Queen Latifah

Okay, I have a confession to make. I chose this song for this list, because when I was a teenager, and this song came out, I sang it really, really loud, in the house, everyday, and just replaced her name with my own name, because our names are almost exactly alike!I have two younger brothers,and I’m not sure if they remember this phase of me telling them I’ve had it up to here, and that I was their queen! Hopefully not!

This is for those of you who, for some strange reason, do not know that Latifah was a rapper first, and an actress later, and she made the transition so effortlessly, that people barely noticed she did it. We just accepted her as a actress, without asking a single question!

 

 

 

Monica

The first song I heard from Monica was not The Boy is Mine, it was, Just One of Them Days. Yeah, I liked her right away, child that she was, but she grew into a phenomenal singer, who covered one of my favorite treacly romantic songs, Misty Blue, which was originally sung by Dorothy Moore.

 

 

Next up: This is the New Shit: Summer Playlist!

 

The Gay Anthem

Pin em Dance Party

http://socialdance.stanford.edu/syllabi/disco_lifestyle.htm

 Seventies Disco was born on Valentine’s Day 1970, when David Manusco opened The Loft in New York City, and it rapidly faded in 1980.  When the Disco movement peaked in 1978-79, the demographic was predominantly white, heterosexual, urban and suburban middle class.  But it didn’t begin that way.  For the first eight years, Disco was an underground movement.

Significantly, the discos also offered a taste of freedom and self actualization for three other subcultures during the seventies: Gays, Hispanics and African Americans.  After decades of marginalization for each of these minorities, they all found a supportive home in the discos.

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

 

Reflection: Mulan

The I want Song

When Howard Ashman came to Disney to work on The Little Mermaid, he brought his years of theatre experience with him, and he shared his expertise with the animators on the film. In an interview taken from one of his impromptu “lunchtime lectures,” Ashman described the theatrical idea of the “I Want” song:

…Early in the evening, the leading lady usually sits down on something and sings about what she wants in life — and the audience falls in love with her, and then roots for her to get it for the rest of the night.

The “I want Song” came out of musical theater, which has long been a safe haven for the LGBTQ community. Howard Ashman, along with his partner Alan Menken, wrote this particular theme song, and was the creator of many of Disney’s most well known and popular I Want songs. The I Want song is often an indicator of the primary character’s emotional goal for the rest of the film. its the “thing” they are in pursuit of, whether it be freedom, understanding, or adventure.

 

 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Judy Garland

https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20190923-why-is-judy-garland-the-ultimate-gay-icon

To many gay men, Garland is the mother of all icons. But why? While Garland was still alive, critics made ham-fisted attempts to answer this question. A 1969 review of her Palace Theatre show in Esquire Magazine reads: “Homosexuals tend to identify with suffering. They are a persecuted group and they understand suffering. And so does Garland.” 

 

 

 

I Will Survive: Gloria Gaynor

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

The lyrics of gay anthems are often marked by themes of perseverance, inner strength, acceptance, pride, and unity.[2] Ten elements were identified by the editors of the 2002 book Queer, which they claim describe themes common to many gay anthems: “big voiced divas; themes of overcoming hardship in love; “you are not alone;” themes of throwing your cares away (to party); hard won self-esteem; unashamed sexuality; the search for acceptance; torch songs for the world-weary; the theme of love conquers all; and of making no apologies for who you are.”[2]

According to Popular Music, a music journal, the song most commonly identified as a gay anthem is “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.[3] The song is described as “a classic emblem of gay culture in the post-Stonewall and AIDS eras and arguably disco’s greatest anthem.” 

 

 

 

YMCA: The Village People

https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/village-people

The disco music fad was brief, but heady for the original members of the Village People. Victor Willis, David Hodo, Felipe Rose, Alex Briley, Randy Jones, and Glenn Hughes reeled when record sales slumped in the early 1980s. “It felt like we’d been group-loved by the world, then all of a sudden group-rejected,”

 

 

It’s Raining Men: The Weather Girls

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

“It’s Raining Men” has often been perceived as gay anthem.[21] A campaign in Facebook was launched on January 19, 2014 to get the song to UK number one in response to a UKIP councillor blaming recent UK floods and adverse weather on divine retribution for the British government’s introduction of gay marriage.[22] The campaign was reported widely and The Weather Girls’ version reached number 21 on the first day of the chart week.[23] 

 

 

 

I’m Coming Out :Diana Ross

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_Coming_Out

“I’m Coming Out” has been regarded as an anthem for the LGBT community. The phrase “coming out” to describe one’s self-disclosure of sexual orientation or gender identity had been present in the gay subculture since the early 20th century,[4] analogous to a débutante‘s coming-out party or celebration of her formal presentation to society. It has also been understood as “coming out of the closet” or coming out from hiding. The song is thus interpreted as a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identity and the encouragement of self-disclosure.

 

 

Go West: The Village People 

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/the-village-people/go-west

The song’s title comes from the nineteenth century quote “Go West, young man.” The term was originated by John Babsone Lane Soule in 1851 the Terra, Haute, Indiana Express as a rallying cry to head westwards, where gold and much else could be found. 

 

 

Constant Craving: K.D.Lang

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/kd-lang/constant-craving

In an interview with the Buddhist publication The Shambala Sun, lang (a devoted Buddhist) said, “‘Constant Craving’ is all about samsara.”

Samsara, as defined within Buddhism, is the continuous cycle of birth and death while one moves within the six realms of existence. Each realm can be either physical or psychological, marked by a specific type of suffering

 

 

 

Come to My Window: Melissa Etheridge

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/melissa-etheridge/come-to-my-window

 “Come to My Window” finds Melissa Etheridge baring her soul to her lover, letting her know that she will go that she will go to great lengths just to be with her. Etheridge is imploring her to sneak in through the window (much more romantic than using the spare key) so she’ll be there when she gets home.

 

 

Honorable Mention:

Believe – Cher

All of the songwriters and producers involved with this track were men, but they crafted the song so it would appeal to a female audience. The lyrics are about moving on with confidence after a failed relationship.

 

 

 

 

Addendum:

The Anti-Disco Movement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Songs About Vampires

I’m feeling a bit of Pop Culture nostalgia this week, so here, have some of the vampire songs that are always on MY playlist!

 

Gordon Walker - Super-wiki

Black Vampires Through the Years | Black vampire, Eddie murphy ...

 

Bite Me! Top 10 Hottest Black Vampires | Vibe

I was on Tumblr, and I noticed a trend of people recommending vampire songs that 1. I didn’t recognize, and 2. Were all by white people and groups, as if PoC had never had any interest in vampires, and never made any songs about them. I really hate lists of music on there anyway. I have pretty wide ranging tastes, but these lists always seem to have the most obscure musical groups these people can find. Why these people can’t ever seem to listen to just regular songs, that maybe more than five people have heard, is a mystery! At any rate, there was one list I found, I listened to a couple of the songs and I think that person just has bad taste in music, because they were fairly bland. I mean if you’re gonna go through the trouble of making music about vampires, the least you can do is be EXTRA, like all the artists on this list.

But I’m often exasperated by the rather “twee” musical tastes of Tumblr patrons, who can be somewhat limited in their musical tastes, and helluva lot younger than me. Vampires are a global mythology, in that nearly every continent has one, so I’m also pretty sure other parts of the world have songs about them, but I’m Black, and American, so this is my focus. Maybe, at some point, I’ll do some research to find songs from other countries.

 

 

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus ( The Hunger 1983)

Cinematic Black Women Vampires | 1970's-2000's | Black vampire ...

This is the classic Gothic vampire song, used in countless movies, and shows, that feature vampires. The first time I heard it was in the 1988 movie, The Hunger, which starred Catherine Deneuve, and David Bowie, as modern day vampires. If you haven’t seen that movie than check it out, as it’s an interesting snapshot of a very specific musical period (Goth) in the early 80s. The music, fashion, cinematography, and acting are all artifacts of that particular time, and the movie was groundbreaking, in that it was a mainstream movie, that featured an openly lesbian relationship, as Deneuve’s character puts the moves on Susan Sarandon.

Remember, that in 1983, this movie was the coolest shit we’d ever seen, because American culture hadn’t yet been saturated with Gothic imagery. In fact, I blame this movie for it!

 

 

Love Song For A Vampire – Annie Lennox (Bram Stoker’s Dracula 1992)

This is one of my favorite songs, and I believe it was specifically written for the movie, in which it was featured during the end credits. I was a huge Annie Lennox fan in the 80s, otherwise I’d probably have never paid any attention to it. It helps that Annie Lennox always looked suitably vampiric since the beginning of her career, which had been going for ten years strong, by the time she made this song. It fits the film perfectly, in that it has this deep throbbing heartbeat sound, just underneath the listeners perception, the instrumentation, and singing is lushly romantic and overdone, just like the movie, and still gives me chills so many years later.

You really need to hear this with headphones to get the full effect.

 

 

Moon Over Bourbon Street – Sting (Interview With The Vampire 1994)

This song was also written in the late 80s by the newly solo lead of the British rock band, The Police. Sting wrote this after reading Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, so I was expecting this song to be in the movie that was made in the 90s, but no luck. It wasn’t in it. But this isn’t my favorite version of this song, I prefer the Wozniak Club version, which I liked to jam to in the car, on my way to work. Of course, this is exactly the type pf song that would be played in the vampire club!

 

 

No One Believes me – Kid Cudi (Fright Night 2011)

https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/African+American+Vampires

Vampires have made only infrequent appearances in African American folklore, and, similarly, African Americans have been largely absent from vampire movies and novels through the twentieth century. 

When people recommend vampire songs, everyone seems to forget that Black artists make songs about vampires, too! I came across quite a few of them when researching this. This was the feature song for the Fright Night remake made a few years ago. The remake was not especially successful, and didn’t feature this song anywhere in it, which may account for why so few people know about it, but this video was, and remains, one of my absolute favorites.

 

 

After Dark – Tito and the Tarantulas (From Dusk Til Dawn 1996)

This is the song that plays when Satanica Pandemonium does her dance, for the two brothers, at the Titty Twister bar, featured in the movie. It’s not my favorite, but I like Tito and the Tarantulas other songs, and just want to recognize that Mexican people got vampire songs.

 

 

Seduction/Surrender – Grace Jones (Vamp 1987)

Images of THE VAMPIRE BITE | Vampire bites, Vampire pictures ...

 

 

For some reason, all vampire movies must have a Club scene. We got vampires walking up in there, vampires owning clubs, dancing in clubs, hunting for a meal in the club, or all of the above. In 1987, Grace Jones owned, danced, and hunted, in the Club featured in this nearly forgotten movie. This song was specifically adapted for her strip scene.

The Hunger opens with a club scene, Interview with a Vampire has a club with actors, From Dusk til Dawn is set in a bar, Near Dark gets a bar scene, so do both Fright Nights, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, most TV shows feature clubs owned by vampires, and yes, the Blade movies have nearly famous club scenes!

 

 

Fatal – RZA (Blade 3)

20 Years Later and 'Blade' is Still Singular and Relevant | Black ...

 

As far as I’m concerned, despite the groundbreaking first film, it’s the second film, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, that’s the best of the Blade movies. This is Blade’s song, from the third, thoroughly awful, film. The song is every bit as badass as he is, and featured in the end credits, and it’s by the f*cking RZA, from Wu Tang! C’mon! How does anybody miss listing this song in any recommendations of vampire songs? On the other hand, the third film sucked, so that might have been the reason people simpy don’t remember that the RZA made a vampire song.

 

 

 

 

Cry Little Sister –  Gerard McMahon (The Lost Boys 1987)

The Lost Boys' Cast: Where Are They Now? - Biography

I’m putting this here because this is my favorite song from this movie. If you haven’t heard the soundtrack, it still holds up after some thirty years, and has a lot of great songs, including the title song.

 

 

System – Linkin Park (Queen of the Damned 2002)

Descendants of Sophia | Queen of the damned, Vampire queen ...

This is the song from the movie, where Alaska walks up in the club, and literally sets the roof on fire.

 

 

Confusion Dance Theme Remix –  New Order (Blade 1998)

This is the song from the film’s iconic opening scene, called the Blood Rave, where we’re introduced to the Blade character, and what he does for a living: killing vampires! This is very probably one of the most famous intros in vampire filmdom (is that a word?) The song itself doesn’t actually have anything to do with vampires, but every time I listen to it, this scene is what plays in my head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go Waaay Back to the 80’s

Bosom Buddies

Image result for bosom buddies

Way back in the 80’s, this little gem starred Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, and lasted for two years. I do have to admit, there is no way in hell you could get this on TV right now. In this environment, this show would be a massive mistake. But I loved the hell out of this show when I was about thirteen or so. There was just something about the goofy  humor of this show that just appealed to me, and Tom Hanks had incredible comedic timing.

The show is about two ad agency illustrators, working in New York city, who cannot afford an apartment together, so their friend Amy suggests they dress up like women to get in to the much more affordable all women’s apartment building that she lives in.They take on the personas of Buffy (Hanks) and Hildegard (Scolari), two sisters from some podunk town in the midwest.

A lot of the humor came out of the logistics of their double lives as men at work, and women in the evening, and navigating Buffy’s crush on his pretty blond neighbor down the hall. But it wasn’t all funny, sometimes the show liked to get serious by addressing the bigotry experienced by their glamorous Black neighbor, or discussing fatphobia, as Amy dealt with being a large sized woman, and along the way the guys got to know first hand what it was like to experience New York social life as women.

This show used to air on Hulu, but now the only place  can find it is on Amazon for pay. Its unlikely to experience a revival any time soon. We’ve grown in maturity, and awareness  since then, and you couldn’t do a show like this now  without making a lot of changes. This is another one of the many hundreds of shows and movies that has done the work of associating transgender women with the idea of deception, associating it with men in women’s clothing, and has helped to contribute to transphobia.

Another interesting note, is that in just about every single famous actors or comedian’s background, is a show or movie, which puts them either in drag, or has them play flamboyantly gay characters. These cross dressed characters, and flamboyant gays were ALWAYS meant to be laughed at. One of the other side effects of constantly having straight men mock lgbtq characters for laughs, is that real life lgbtq people simply didn’t get taken seriously as real people. The height of this show’s popularity was also the height of the AIDS crisis, which was ignored by the Federal government, because it was believed by them, that God was killing the correct people.

 

 

 

Knight Rider

Image result for knight rider

I never developed the great love for David Hasselhoff that Dean Winchester did from watching this show. I liked the show when I was a teenager, but I think I mostly just loved the car, and wished I had one just like it. In fact, they used to produce these as toys when I was a child, and when my brother got one as a gift, I appropriated it for myself (i.e., I stole it), to use for my Barbie dolls.

As far as I was concerned, K.I.T.T. was the star of the show, voiced by William Daniels, and quite frankly, I thought the car was smarter than uh…whoever that guy was driving it. A few years ago there was an episode of Supernatural that referenced Knight Rider by having Sam Winchester get turned into the classic car. Y’all don’t know how much that whole thing just made me giggle like a complete fool. Even the theme song is a classic. If you were a teen when the show aired, you know how hugely popular it was, even to the point of having copycat shows, that tried to have cool classic cars that solved problems.

 

 

Designing Women

Image result for designing women

 This was very probably one of the most progressive feminist shows on Tv, and one of the templates for feminist shows that came after it. A group of white women living together, with different sexual morals, and ethics, arguing about them, while working. The only drawback I had to shows like these were there were never any women of color, lesbians, or poor, or disabled women involved in them. This was First Wave Feminism, which meant it was almost exclusively about white working women. There was no intersectionalism at this point.

The two stand out characters were Julia, and Suzanne Sugarbaker, who were meant to be direct contrasts to one another, and Suzanne was every bit as regressive in her politics, as her cousin, Julia, was progressive in hers. Suzanne was open in her sexuality, but often treated everyone around her as if they were her personal servants, which gave Julia plenty of opportunities to give speeches, show disdain for her behavior, or teach her a lesson in how to be less judgmental. In fact, Julia’s, breathlessly, outraged performances, were often the highlight of an episode. A lot of the shows messages were pretty heavy handed, but it was the kind of stuff a teenage girl needed to hear.

Meshach Taylor also managed to get some good one liners and quips as a kind of business handyman, sort of like the character of Benson. He was the transportation and heavy lifter, doing the kinds of physical work that these four, upper class, Southern white women certainly weren’t going to be doing for themselves. He was often put upon by Suzanne, but most of the time, he managed to get the last word, without coming across as threatening. In fact his character was so non threatening I assumed, in my uninformed teenage mind, that he was gay! But at that age I had not reckoned with the social dynamics of the modern southern bigotry of white women interacting with black men. He had to be nonthreatening, and couldn’t possibly be depicted as any kind of sexual being in the presence of four professional white women. Nevertheless, I do remember liking his character.

This is another comedy, like Bosom Buddies, that didn’t age well. You could make a show like this today, but it would be bland, yet at the same time, polarizingly heavy handed.

 

 

Back Down Memory Lane…Again

Cleopatra 2525 (2000-2001)

Even though I watched this show for its entire two season run,  I don’t actually remember a whole lot about this show, except that it was cheesy, cheap, and starred the modern Goddess, Gina Torres, She of the Divine Facial Features. Perhaps that’s all one actually needs to know about this show to be intrigued.

This was girl-power before such a phrase existed, or rather, somewhere around the same time that it came into being. The term girl-power has been around for a very, very, long time. I remember it being mentioned on The Powerpuff Girls, when I watched that show with my baby sisters, when they were, in fact, actual babies!

Anyway, the basic plot is that the young blonde girl, whose name is actually Cleo, although she’s not important while standing next to Gina,  was an exotic dancer, who got put in a Futurama type situation, where she wakes up so far into the future, that the world has become completely unrecognizable to her. She joins these two young women who are fighting against some type of totalitarian authority that likes to use drones, cameras, and an evil clown type guy to oppress them. Its really is kind of like Tank Girl meets Futurama meets Charlie’s Angels, as there were at least some good action scenes.

Once again YouTube has full episodes of this show, so check them out and let me know what you think, unless of course, you are going to argue against the beauteous divinity of Gina Torres, in which case you can keep that shit to yourself!

 

 

Special Unit 2 (2001-2002)

Not to be confused with Special Unit, which was your standard police procedural, this is Special Unit 2, a standard police procedural starring paranormal creatures. I remember eagerly looking forward to this becasue Buffy the Vampire Slayer was airing around the same time ,and this was a cheap, funny knockoff blend of that and a cop show.

The show really didn’t take itself at all seriously, it was zany and cheesy, and actually pretty funny. Or rather, it fit my idea of deeply funny, at the time I watched it, since I was just a kitten then. I don’t know that my humor has changed all that much, but I’m about to find out, as I plan to watch it again, since a lot of the episodes are available for free, on YouTube.

The show is about Nick and Kate, two seemingly regular cops who are part of a special unit of the Chicago PD, who deal with things like dragons, unicorns, elves, and gnomes, while trying to keep these creatures a secret from the rest of society. Needless to say, a lot of lying is involved. The show really did try to mine the Buffy and X-Files shows for some of its plots, and occasionally got a little serious too, although there was a lot of it that was played for laughs, including a gnome type character who worked in the office, and specialized in being a thief. I remember really enjoying the acting on this show, which was played very tongue in cheek by both Nick and Kate, with surprisingly little of the “will they-won’t they” dynamic that seemed required of such shows.

In fact, of all the characters Kate was probably my favorite, next to the, highly irreverent Carl, the Office Gnome. The show was interesting because Kate was the show’s regular everyperson, who stumbles onto some grand secret of the world, and is the audience’s stand-in, as we learn about this world at the same time, and this was probably why I liked her, since female, audience stand-ins, are kind of rare in this genre.

 

 

Haunted

I remember really liking this show, at the time, because there really wasn’t anything else like on the air at the time, except maybe Millennium, and the X-Files, and Angel, and even those shows attempted some occasional lightheartedness. This show did none of that. It remained horribly gloomy right up until the end of its seven episode run, and the dark gloominess of it was probably why.  There was almost no color in this show, except for the presence of that one Black guy these shows had to hire, to reach compliance for diversity back then. The show starred Matthew Fox, before he became famous for starring in the show Lost. I did not understand his appeal in that show but I did get the whole brooding loner thing in Haunted.

Matt Fox is a private detective, named Frank, who once got killed by a serial killer of young boys,  who now hunts for missing people. Oh, and because he died that one time, he can now see ghosts. Specifically he is haunted by the spirit of his own missing son, whose disappearance caused the collapse of his marriage, and he can also see the spirit of  the serial killer, Simon, whose accidental  death he caused, which also cost him his job. I loved the show, and it was largely because of the presence of Matthew Fox’s acting skills, and the cinematography, because the show was gorgeous, with lots of black, grey, and rain.

I managed to find a couple of episodes on Youtube, which is where dead shows go, apparently, and I’ve actually re-enjoyed the couple I watched.

 

 

Reaper

This was another show that I remember was a lot of fun. Not so much for its first season, but in the second season the show made a  u-turn, and kicked the plot into high gear. The writing got better, and the characters were energetic and fun, unlike the first season where the actors tried to take things a little too seriously for the silliness of the plot.

It starred that guy from Tucker and Dale Vs Evil, Tyler Labine ,who was the sidekick of the lead character, Sam, a slacker who had  somehow been  coerced into collecting souls for Satan. I don’t remember liking Sam very much in the first season, but in the second season things got better when he found out the reason why he’d been chosen to be a Reaper was because he was Satan’s son, with Satan being played by the most excellent Ray Wise, who for some reason, was named Jerry. I remember thinking Wise was waaay out of league for this show, becasue he made what was otherwise simply a “meh” show, a very good one.

Despite Sam being the son of Satan, he continued to be whiny and incompetent at his job, and was most often saved by his accomplices, an ex-girlfriend from school, and Tyler’s character. Strangely, it’s often Satan who comes off looking sympathetic in this show, even while committing what are clearly evil acts, or acts that are at least deeply annoying ones for Sam. He and Sam used to have interesting discussions about the nature of Heaven and Hell, and why Satan can’t eat ice cream.

 

Witchblade

This was a very short lived series based on the comic books. I had actually been reading the comics right before the series was announced so I was very excited to see what they were going to do with the show. The trailers were intriguing and I liked the actress Yancey Butler, who I had last seen in the movie, Hard Target, years before. The show proved to be not as exciting as the trailers lead me to believe. The actng was fine, but the plot didn’t actually seem to go anywhere, and some of  had nothing to do with what I read in the comics. On the other hand, there were some hot guys in it, so there…

I feel like I need to explain what the Witchblade is to people who have never even heard of it, since this show has been off the air for almost twenty years, and has largely been forgotten except by its die-hard fans. Its a mystical gauntlet, suit of armor, that’s intelligent, chooses its wearer, and forms a partnership with them. They can hear it speaking, although I saw no evidence of this ability in the show. It was an extremely powerful McGuffin, that all of the other characters seemed to want, even though those who werent worthy of wearing it could potentially lose their arm.

Now we need to talk about the actress Yancey Butler. This is complicated because for the past twenty years, she’s had some substance abuse issues. At one point, getting arrested for passing out, and crashing her car, after which she was ordered to enter a rehabilitation program. I had to read about that on her IMDB page. She has started acting again (and is as beautiful as she ever was despite all her troubles), and is active on Twitter now, which is how I heard about her newest movie. At any rate, her problems didn’t start with the show, and I distinctly  remember reading about some of the problems she had  on set because of them.

Yancey,  like  countless women before her is a beautiful woman who developed substance abuse issues while working in Hollywood. I don’t know for sure if this was a problem before she started work as an actress, but I do know that Hollywood is a toxic place, that regularly chews up young actors, and then spits them out, severely damaged. And after #MeToo brought this knowledge into the mainstream, in a different way than before, its very difficult for me to believe that sexual assault and sexual exploitation doesn’t have at least some role to play in the massive amounts of substance abuse that we see in its participants. I sincerely hope that was not the case with Yancey, that she has gotten the help she needed, and worked past her demons.

 

 

 

 

Kindred: The Embraced

This show was loosely based on the role playing game, Vampire The Masquerade, which I never actually played, although I did read a few of the guide books, so I knew a lil’ sumthin-sumthin’ about that universe. So when I say it was loosely based on it, I mean exactly that. The show was pretty damn loose. So loose,  that all it seemed to have in common with the game, was its vocabulary. It was like someone read the books, but then  decided to base the show on a school book report about those, instead.

That said, I actually, sorta, liked the show. It was bad, yes, but it also had some really intriguing shit in it that kept me watching. Since the show only lasted 8 episodes, I guess other people felt the same way. Its not that the show was awful. It had some great characters in it, but it did have some terrible acting, and the plot became more convoluted with each episode. I guess the closest I can get to describing it is a Vampire Godfather, as it involved clashes between the various vampire clans in a city, along with their rulers, followers, and hangers-on. All of which has something to do with a renegade cop, named Frank, who stumbles across their existence when he falls in love with a female vamp.

The lead character was Julian Luna, played by Mark Frankel, who I thought was Latino, then later believed to be Italian, but turned out to actually be English. I found him interesting mostly because I thought he was pretty, and had a very nice voice. The best character was a member of Clan Nosferatu ,who are very old, deformed, and look somewhat batlike, with talons, long teeth, and pointed ears. Daedalus, as he was called, was played by one of my favorite actors, whose name I forget now, but that actor performed like he was in a Shakespearean play, while Luna acted like he was in the movie The Godfather III, and Frank the cop’s girlfriend, busily being extra, acted like she was in a Gothic soap opera. So the acting and dialogue was all over the place, but it best written for Luna and Daedalus.  I do remember the two had frequent conversations with one another, and that I looked forward to the times when they were onscreen together.

Whenever anyone else was onscreen, the dialogue and acting were cringeworthy at best. There were a couple of star struck young lovers from different clans, who were abysmal in their acting, especially, and I had to look this name up, Brigid Walsh, who played the human descendant of Julian, named Sasha Luna. Dear Jeebus! she was awful, which was not helped by her horrid dialogue. She played that role, as  someone who had perhaps heard of “acting”, by rough description, like she was playing the role of a  “professional angry-face” Model!

I would also like to offer my  apologies in advance for subjecting y’all to these images. Trigger Warning for: music video bad attitude, smirking, sniping, sarcasm, general batshittery, and horrible acting.

 

But the cancellation of this show seemed inevitable,  as soon after, or just before, that happened, Mark Frankel died in a traffic accident, while riding his motorcycle. I distinctly remember the reporting of this on the news,and  feeling some type of way about it.

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

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.