About Those Iron Fist Reviews

I’m still on the fence about this one. I’m just really dubious about watching this. It’s not that I hate the idea. It’s the awful reviews this show has gotten, along with the distinctly lackluster trailers I’ve been seeing.

Don’t get me wrong, I will be watching Iron Fist, as I don’t have to work this weekend, so I’m  free, but when I think about watching it, I  cringe. Normally, I wouldn’t pay much attention to what critics feel about something. I like to make up my own mind and critics have hated plenty of things I absolutely adored, like Suicide Squad, and the current movies of M. Night Shyamalan, but then again, they sometimes get things right. I was bored out of my head with Batman vs Superman, for example.

I think I may skip over some episodes though, and start with the third or fourth one. I don’t think I want to  binge the show straight through. Nevertheless, I do promise to try really hard not to hate-watch this show, and lay out its good and bad points. I do not however promise not to be snarky. It’s one of my skillz. I’m also going to try really hard not to compare it to my favorite Martial Arts show, Into the Badlands, which is airing this weekend, right after The Walking Dead. I’m not promising anything. I’m just gonna try.

<It does not help matters that Finn Jones is just as much of a clueless dick as his character is rumored to be.>

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/iron-fist-review-marvel-netlfix-dud-luke-cage-daredevil-jessica-jones-a7634361.html

http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2017/03/iron-fist-marketing-issues

http://www.gq.com/story/netflix-iron-fist-review

 

*And IGN is reviewing each episode as they watch. There are plenty of spoilers and the reviews are pretty evenhanded.

http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/03/17/marvels-iron-fist-season-1-review

 

*And in the spirit of hte occasion,  here’s a hilarious  video  of Tony Jaa kicking and punching everyday objects!

http://video.gq.com/watch/tony-jaa-kicks-and-punches-everyday-objects

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A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky


I’ve never read any of Polansky’s other books, but I have heard of his Lowtown series and have much respect for his efforts. A City Dreaming is not part of the Lowtown series, as far as I can tell. It’s a new Urban Fantasy novel, with an unnamed protagonist that we  simply call M, a man of  very long and indeterminate age. Since M is not described in the book, (most of the characters aren’t), I was free to imagine all of them however I pleased. I imagined M (short for Man With No Name, although I suppose that does count as a name), as a British Black man, who looked like Idris Elba, or Chewitel Ejiofor, depending on my mood.

The book is easily read, but more a little confusing, in that it has the barest bones of a plot. Most of the book consists of M, who happens to have minor magical abilities, getting into adventures with his friends, drinking, doing drugs and looking for sex. 

There’s no plot as far as I can tell, but that doesn’t stop the book from being enjoyable. M has some pretty funny and amazing adventures. His friends are not as interesting as him, but when they show up, it usually means there’s some problem needs solving, and it’s M who has to figure it out. I love the dialogue, which is wonderful. The book is very easy to read, although the only really great character is M, who sort of reminds me of Constantine, able to talk his way into, or out of, various magical dilemmas, using mostly wit and an an ability to lie a lot, but with less death.

Where the book really captured me was the adventures he had. It’s sort of like taking a grand tour of multiple Earths. A kind of “Day In The Life Of M”  series of activities, that he encounters after returning to NY, from some not quite detailed hiatus abroad. The first time we meet him, he’s trying to save his friend, Boy, from the Pirates of the Gowanus Canal, a group of people so enamored of the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”, that they have willed into existence a  pocket universe, “pirate lifestyle” in the middle of the city. This entire scene is hilarious. Later, he gets caught in a feud between the two Queens of NY, talks some sort of coffee God out of taking over the earth, takes a train trip to the crossroads of reality via Hell, and gets stranded in a steampunk version of Victorian NY. At no point during the book do you get the impression that M’s life is at all in danger, though, which  made this a fun, pleasant,  read for me.

I found M’s ruminations on his life and friends, his jaunts, and activities, pretty funny. My favorite is when he crashes a posh, uptown party and upon finding  that the waitstaff are all zombies, disrupts the spell that makes them compliant. The zombies break free and immediately begin eating the party-goers. The wizard who bespelled them only compounds that problem by summoning something much worse.

So yeah, it’s an enjoyable read if you can get past the serial nature of the rather barebones plot. It’s mostly M’s descriptions that hold everything down, and keeps you reading, but you’re  just moving from adventure to adventure, in each chapter. The downside is that it gives the book an unfinished feel, as if maybe the author forgot to add those details that would tie all these events together, as  most of the adventures remain unrelated to each other, except that M and his friends are  involved in them. Polansky has so many wonderful ideas for settings. There were a few I wanted developed in greater detail, so I could spend more time there, before moving  on to the next outing. Some readers might become frustrated at these little tidbits of a much larger universe.

I kept waiting for all these events, and people, to come together, for some kind of big blowout at the end, but that’s not really what happens, and the end was a little underwhelming because there are so many other world saving events throughout the book.

This was worth reading because it’s Summer, and  I like zany adventures, with snarky heroes. If you approach this book like a series of short shorts, you will find it worth reading, too. 

A City Dreaming will be available on Kindle, Hardcover, and Audio, on October 4th. Thanks to  Netgalley for this pre-release copy in exchange for a review.

Coming Next Week

 

 

Reviews of:

Season Finale of The Walking Dead (I’m gonna need a minute for that one, while I catch my breath, so maybe more than a week.)

The last two episodes of Sleepy Hollow (possibly more than a week.)

The next episode of Supernatural

The Pilot for the Rush Hour series

The last five episodes of season two of  Daredevil

“Futamono” from season two of Hannibal

 

What’s in my draft queue for April and May?

The Redemption of  Mad Max on the Fury Road

The rest of season two of Hannibal

Fright Night vs. Fright Night

The Blob (1958) vs The Blob (1988)

Reviews of :

The Nutty Professor (1963)

Rock and Rule (1983)

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Eight Legged Freaks

Jeepers Creepers

The Hidden (1987)

I was going to do a review of Ash vs. The Evil Dead but all of the episodes were inexplicably erased from my DVR before I could watch them, (Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you Tay). So now I have to find  some time to stream them online.

And at some point in the future:

It Follows

The Signal

 

 

 

 

And So It Begins

I’m going to start off my Fall viewing season by trying to cover as many shows as I can. I’ve already given a rundown in a previous post about which shows I was most interested in, which shows are just “meh” and which ones I was flat-out not looking at. Nevertheless,  I’ve probably forgotten by now  which ones ones I said I would cover, anyway.

This one is a little late but we’ll start with:

Bastard Executioner:

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I like this show. It looks good and it’s got some great actors in it. I didn’t pay much attention to the plot and I don’t know how much cultural accuracy is involved in its particular version of the Middle Ages. But here’s what I was thinking as I watched the premiere: Boy! are these people dirty. There’s dirt everywhere and on everyone, even the people you would think wouldn’t be dirty, the members of the nobility. At the very least, these people are engaging in living with some powerful odors.

The show opens with people fighting and fucking and at no point do we see people bathe, even  though they were just engaged in some sweaty and dirty activities. Bathing is discussed fairly often, so theoretically, it does exist in this world, but no one seems to want to take the time to do it, and I found this very distracting. Hell, people didn’t even wipe themselves with warm cloths, or do that thing where they splash their faces with water, out of those water bowls people always seem to have in historical dramas.

This show is by the same creators of Sons of Anarchy, so I expect lots and lots of intrigue. I paid just enough attention to the plot to recognize Bill the Vampire as a schemer of the first order, so I hope he lasts a good long while, and that Brattle needs a personality donation. I do understand that his wife and family got fridged on his behalf but, really dude! It’s okay to change facial expressions. I think I saw Katie Segal, but she wasn’t wearing any makeup, so it was really hard to tell it was her. She plays a witch on the show and I kept staring at the actress’ face, trying to see Katie in it, and getting frustrating glimpses.

I think I glimpsed some Black people in the background of one scene, which I found heartening. I like that the writers remember that Black people had been invented by the Middle Ages and had been engaged in  something besides slavery. You know, sometimes, we just hung out with people and farmed or something.

I’m going to keep watching this one, despite the distraction of “dirt”. I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to it though, and if nothing else, this show really makes me appreciate indoor plumbing.

Let’s move on to:

Gotham

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I wasn’t greatly interested in watching the second season of this, as I was not impressed with the first. Also I had some difficulties watching it, which I will get into in a short moment.

I’m a Black woman, who lives in the U.S. Gotham was released last year, right during the height of media reporting of police brutality incidents, against African Americans. Every report left me an emotional wreck. This was true of a lot of people I know.

I, sort of, liked the show. Well, at least I didn’t hate it.  I enjoyed watching Fish Mooney tearing up the scenery and I liked how batshit some of the plots and characters were, but I had to stop watching the show, not just just because the series kept getting worse but because I could no longer watch police misconduct on television, without having severe anxiety attacks and comparing it to real life. It’s called escapist TV for a reason and this wasn’t escapist for me. I couldn’t watch the corrupt Gotham PD beat up suspects, railroad people into prison, accept graft, lying and engage in bribery and consider it entertainment.

I still can’t.

So, I was more than a little reluctant to watch this season of the show, but wanted to try again. As a general rule, I avoid cop shows anyway, mostly because they’re all alike, but I had an especially difficult time watching any of them since last year. Every time a police officer shot someone, I had severe anxiety and had to stop watching. Whenever an officer refused to shoot someone, I had severe anxiety and had to turn the channel. It was best to just stay the Hell away from such shows altogether , as I could no longer approach these shows as entertainment, and could only think of them as an indictment against real police officers, no matter how fantastical the show.

The first few minutes of this season’s premiere had me wanting to turn the channel, again. The only reason I got past Gordon being unwilling to shoot some crazy in the street, is because he had already been established as largely uncorruptable, during season one. But it did get increasingly difficult to watch as Gordon kept getting further enmeshed in the villains schemes. He ultimately chose not to, so I still have faith that he will try to remain a good guy, despite the temptations around him.

That said, I am still not impressed with this episode. I’m still not greatly interested in any of the characters. I hate Selina Kyle. I just hate that actress.  Bruce Wayne is less than lackluster as a character, although, I like Alfred. The women are all paradoxically annoying and characterless, which is an amazing feat of engineering, especially Barbara Keene. I don’t think the writers have a single damn clue what to do with her. This is a character flailing around in search of a plot. I’m still into watching the villains scheme and I may keep watching the show because it says it’s specifically about them this season,  but my question is, considering how awful the GPD is, what makes that different from last season?

Oh,  and the guy who plays the Joker, is just fucking annoying. He’s trying too damn hard to be Joker-ish and it seriously got on my nerves. Like he’s trying to channel both Cesar Romero and Heath Ledger and it’s just not working. I think it’s because he’s just not the great an actor. He simply doesn’t have enough depth to accurately portray the complexity of the Joker, who is technically, not insane, but is insane. But t’s just the premiere. Maybe he’ll develop depth later on, I hope.

I won’t be reviewing this show again unless I see something extraordinary or have something especially poignant to say.

Next we will tackle:

Minority Report

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I  was very looking forward to watching the pilot, even though I wasn’t especially interested in the trailer. I’m one of the few people on earth willing to openly admit to being a Tom Cruise fan, so yeah, I actually enjoyed the movie a lot, and I was interested in seeing how the show would handle the movie’s basic plot line.

The show doesn’t start on a good note. The narrator chronicles the history of the pre-cogs, and the children portraying them are awful. I know the scene is supposed to be all tragic and shit but I just thought it was funny. Thankfully, it gets a little better after that.

This world is very clean and modern and run by machines and I enjoyed looking at it. It’s not utopian, although I don’t like the idea of ads that detect when you’re feeling stressed, so you can be offered drugs to calm down. None of the police dress like service professionals. They all dress like they came off some avant garde runway and they talk like teenagers, so it’s hard to take them seriously.

I do like that the creators have a Black woman in the lead. They  are probably trying to capture some of that Sleepy Hollow magic, although this show mostly reminds me of Almost a Human, a show I really enjoyed and wish this one was, instead. And although the actress isn’t bad, she’s less than compelling in this episode but she tries, though. Maybe she’ll develop more personality later. And yes, I was horribly distracted by those tiny gloves she wears. Really, people! Ya’ll couldn’t find some gloves that fit?  I was also distracted by the makeup on that one Asian woman. It’s stupid and I kept laughing at it. She doesn’t look like a professional anything. She looks like she’s going to a rave. Vega is really cute and we get to see her in a lot of really tight clothes, but I keep unfavorably comparing her to the lead from Sleepy Hollow. I know that’s not fair but I couldn’t help it.

The year is 2065, and there are PoC all over this show, so the writers have been paying attention, not just to things like the future of technology but to future social and population trends, as well, and I liked that.  I liked seeing Hispanics in the future. It’s nice to know they’re still around, unlike the TV shows of the past where PoC had all disappeared to their own planet or alternate dimension or something. The movie was really good at trying to predict technology and neglected the social and people angles of the future. I liked that the show didn’t turn the presence of PoC into Hallmark moments. They’re just regular people, working jobs and shit.

I liked that even though Vega (yes, its a dumb name) believes Dash is a precog and is willing to accept his crime predictions, she keeps refusing to believe any of his other, smaller  predictions, like where she should stand or what she’ll be having for dinner. It’s also nice to see she has a family, although that felt kind of tacked on. Her Mom is, like 65, and she has a tiny brother, who I already don’t like. I also didn’t like the cheesy music that was orchestrated to make the viewer feel excitement, but maybe that gets better later.

Dash is the pre-cog who allies himself with her as a way to prevent the murders he sees but doesn’t have the resources to stop. I have a little trouble accepting the premise of crimes you can stop before they happen, as traditionally, that’s not actually what the police do. I mean, they do sort of, but not really. Mostly they engage in the cleanup of crimes that have already been committed, and capturing the perpetrator of those, is what stops future crimes by that person, I guess.

At one point Dash has a seizure in a restaurant and says that phrase from the movie and I know it’s suppposed to be a serious moment, but I laughed at it. Does that make me a bad person? At another moment, they question an old guy who runs away, and Vega chases him, (because there has to be an obligatory chase scene,) and I couldn’t help thinking that this looks like an investigation run by amateurs, or the writers really don’t know about police investigations, and are just making shit up as they go. Anyone who has ever watched the show 48 Hours, knows that detectives don’t operate like this. This is pure TV show detectiving.

I did feel  a little better when the actor from the movie, the one who took care of the precogs, showed up with some tech that allowed Vega to see what Dash sees, while trying to prevent the murder of a businessman’s wife by some diseased birds. I automatically suspected the husband as the perpetrator, so I wasn’t really invested in that part of the plot, which is kind of silly.

Dash’s sister, Agatha, does put in an appearance and she asks Dash some very pertinent questions, which he is very vague about, and she has a few dire predictions,too. His brother shows up to and is a dick. I had those same questions Agatha did, though, and they were not answered to my satisfaction.

I’m probably going to keep watching it, despite that it’s not a compelling show, because Wilmer Valderama is in it and that man is Hawtness Incarnate. I could watch him all day, and I have…in From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series, where he plays a really hawt Mexican vampire. I don’t love this show yet because it could be improved by having Valderama bite somebody.

Lastly, we’ll discuss:

Blindspot

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I had no intention of watching this but it was on and I was reviewing, so it wasn’t out of my way or anything. I’m not really into espionage shows and this one looked like a cross between The Bourne Identity and Memento, and I enjoyed both those movies.

Let me be frank in stating that I have no idea who the Hell Jaime Alexander is. She looks vaguely familiar, so she must have starred adjacent to a show I liked, but not actually in one of them. I really like her, though and I’m going to keep watching this.

Jane Doe is a really interesting character. There’s an intriguing mystery and Jaime really sells the despair, confusion and bewilderment, which was giving me all kinds of feels and the episode really seemed very like The Bourne Identity, only this particular episode had a clearer purpose, in which she and Agent Weller  try to stop a Chinese terrorist attack on New York City.

I didn’t buy the FBI’s excuse for letting her tag along with them on a case, though. Those guys are some fairly dense and stubborn MFs, and once they get an idea in their heads, there’s no talking them out of it, I don’t care how angry or determined you act. The real FBI cannot be swayed by temper tantrums or appeals to civility or logic. But it’s a TV show, so I do realize, if she doesn’t tag along on their cases, there will be no show. Agent Weller does seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to persuade  her to stay in the car, while he investigates, until she throws some logic at him, about why he’s wrong, and then  he relents.

I did enjoy the scenes where she  kicks some ass. That was kind of fun although I do have to say, watching White people beat up people of color also so makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. Apparently, I like my violence to be intraracial. I don’t know why.

I liked some of the other characters in the show. There are several women and PoC, both men and women, but, once again, we get a lack of Hispanic representation, even though it’s set in NY,  and you’ve got a bad Asian guy. Actually there are several bad Asian guys. I get that this was in Chinatown and that’s where bad Asian guys would probably be found but I still didn’t like it. It didn’t  seem like an international thing, though. Just a disgruntled guy, in a desperate situation. But the whole Yellow Peril thing, in action shows, is getting tired, which is why I’m hoping the series Rush Hour will do better, on that front.

I like that the other characters on the show have a little personality of their own, are quietly snarky to Weller, have some  skills of their own, and some of them get a little mystery attached to them, although we spend most of our time with Weller and Doe.

Weller, whose name is prominently tattooed on Jane’s back, doesn’t have a whole lot of personality himself, beyond squinting and determination, but Jane has attached herself to him as her anchor, nevertheless. She keeps hugging him, and you can see the discomfort on his face as she clings to him, as the only semi-known factor in her life.  I only hope that they remain just friends and the series doesn’t do the whole “will they or won’t they” bullshit, because that’s a very tired trope, and  I’m heartily sick of seeing it.

I really liked the show, though. I didn’t  think I would. I will tune in next week, for it.  I like to plan my viewing habits but sometimes that planning gets broadsided by a really intriguing show and the shows I thought I would love, turn out to be a bust.  I hope this one sticks around and becomes as good as Person of Interest, which I also fell into by accident.

Geeking Out About : Dog Soldiers (2002)

Dog Soldiers is rarely shown on cable and it’s not on Netflix. (It’s on Amazon but you have to pay for it.) Ironically enough, you can watch it on Youtube for free. Go figure!

This is one of the few, (well-made), occult military movies out there. There are other movies, in the same vein, but I think I can say, with a certain amount of confidence, that when measured against Dog Soldiers, they all suck and I am unanimous in this belief.

I love werewolf movies but this movie isn’t so much about werewolves as it is the soldiers. Its a siege film, where you basically have “ten little indians in the woods”. Instead of a final girl, you get a final guy.

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You are alerted to just what type of film you will be dealing and with and what type of werewolves, right at the opening of the film, when we watch a couple of campers get eaten. I liked this couple, in just the handful of minutes they were introduced, and mistakenly thought they’d play a larger role in the movie. The two of them are dispatched with little ceremony. One of the most chilling moments is watching as one of the werewolves slowly unzips their tent, while it is quite obvious to them, what they’re hearing outside of it, is a dog. The film begins as it means to go on. Characters you think are going to be heroic or play larger roles, die, and the werewolves keep engaging in disturbingly human activities.

Next, there’s a dog that’s killed, purely to showcase the villainy of the villain, Captain Ryan. I dislike animals coming to harm in movies, and I usually skip this scene.The movie also sets up our hero, Private Cooper, who when given the order to kill the dog, by Captain Ryan, refuses. This is to let us know what a fine upstanding man he is compared to Captain Ryan. So basically, the dog is sacrificed to outline what type of characters we’re dealing with and even though the movie is full of gore, I have a hard time watching that particular scene.

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Captain Ryan, because he’s got a major hard-on for Cooper, chooses Cooper’s squad to bait the werewolves, on the pretense that they are just having training exercises, (in the same woods, where the couple had been killed.) To that end, they are all given fake ammunition, while unbeknownst to them, the other training group, led by Captain Ryan, is given live ammunition.

They soon have to trade up for the real stuff,  when they come across the dismembered bodies of the other soldiers, and an injured Captain Ryan. The soldiers were so overwhelmed by the attack, they never even got a chance to fire any of their weapons.

And its extremely fortunate that they find all this dead, but heavily armed, meat because not long afterward, Cooper’s squad is attacked, as well. About half the members are killed and Sgt. Wells, played by one of my favorite actors, Sean Pertwee, (now playing Alfred on Gotham), is injured and infected.The rest of them are rescued by a young journalist, named Megan, who takes them to a seemingly abandoned farmhouse. (Before the movie is over, ask yourself why the house is empty.)

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There proceeds a long siege encounter with the werewolves, which look more wolf-man than wolf,(they are about 7 to 8 feet tall and very powerful looking creatures), attacking the house and trying to get inside, with the soldiers repelling the monsters and trying to come up with tactics to get out of the woods.

The werewolves are not mindless animals. They are sort of like people, and reasonably intelligent and come up with counter-tactics of their own against the soldiers. We’re not given any particular psychology about them. But they do have a very specific reason for wanting to get back in the house (and I believe this is Megan’s fault.) What they think or feel, beyond that, is  unimportant and the creators of the film are not interested in making them sympathetic creatures. Once the film is over you may understand their motives, but they are monsters, pure and simple. Think of this movie as a recreation of one of the best scenes in Aliens.

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While all of this is going on, the unit  gets info-dumped by Megan, who has a surprise of her own, and they try to glean information from an uncooperative Captain Ryan, who is also infected and becomes a werewolf, that they then have some trouble putting down. Its a great scene, all done with practical effects.

But the real draw of this movie, is the companionship of the soldiers. If you listen to the DVD commentary, the actors discuss how they got into their various roles, and what it was like pretending to be British soldiers, for the weeks prior to the shooting of the film. And their hard work pays off on screen. The film is very effective in getting you to like these characters, in just the first twenty minutes, before the shit goes down. They all have great chemistry together. You can tell that these men are friends, who have served together for a very long time, so unlike a lot of movies, where one roots for the monsters because the victims are so unlikable, its heartbreaking to watch these guys get killed. The music during their death scenes, really help to sell the tragedy of it. And while their deaths are very brutal, they do give as well as they get. They are, all of them,  every bit as bad as they think they are.

Most especially Sgt. Wells. The most enjoyable character, he gets some of the best lines, while  doing nothing more than writhing around on a bed, in excruciating pain.This is how good an actor Pertwee is. He and Private Cooper have great chemistry together. It becomes obvious that the two care deeply for each other, from long acquaintance, and that Cooper thinks of Wells as a father figure.

One of the reasons there are no good, frightening, monster movies about vampires and werewolves being made today is that filmmakers are too caught up in the idea of making the monsters sympathetic or likable. I don’t mind such movies, as they have their place, but movies like that are also not scary.

There’s only one woman in the film, but general male dickishness is kept to a minimum, and after a couple of awkward moments, Megan is treated with, more or less, the same level of respect as the other soldiers. After all, she did save their lives. It would have been very easy to make the character bitchy or a damsel, or for her to act like she was in a different movie, but the writers manage to avoid doing that. She’s no one’s love interest. She’s sassy and doesn’t allow herself to be bullied by any of the men in the film. At no point does she come across as helpless, the soldiers begin to accept her a s a member of their team, and this is why her betrayal of them, later in the movie, evokes a feeling of sadness, rather than anger.There’s a sad backstory in there, that makes it difficult to hate her.

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The special effects are occasionally dodgy, (the werewolves look like men in suits, and of course they are, but that’s not a huge concern) but  are never cheap and there’s no CGI. If there was, it was invisible, the way it’s meant to be.There’s also  plenty of gore and shooting.

The current spate of  werewolf movies: Battledogs, Skinwalkers, Wolves, aren’t in the same league as this movie and suffer from a lot of the problems that this movie manages to deftly avoid.

You could do far worse than spending an evening watching Sean Pertwee cussing and  shooting at giant werewolves.

Multiple Geekery: Jurassic World (SPOILER ALERT)

So we went to see this movie called Jurassic World, last week. You may have heard of it. I went with my niece, hereinafter referred to as The Potato and my Mom, hereinafter referred to as, Mom. This is only the second time I’ve managed to get her to see a movie with me. Not that she doesn’t like movies. She loves them,  but movies where people are being eaten by monsters are kind of rare. She was actually kind of hyped to see this one after I showed her the trailer.

(Incidentally, if anyone can be blamed for my being a nerd, it’s definitely my Mom. My earliest memories are of watching some rather questionable movies with her, and encouraging my watching of really bad TV shows, just because Louis Gossett Jr. was in them.)

Well,  anyway, we had a great time. The audience wasn’t full of jerks, the three of us ate a Bucket O’ Corn and I drank, what is quite possibly, the worst Sweet Tea ever made.

Right away, our first question was why would you build something worse than the T-Rex? Aren’t those awful enough?

We hated the teenage boy who acted like he was going off to rescue some POWs from the Germans, instead of just going on vacation. We liked the younger boy though. The older boy spent the entire movie pining after his girlfriend, when he wasn’t eyeballing other nubile young women, and lying to his little brother.

Hated him!

Chris Pratts scenes with the Raptors  are awesome. When I talked to my niece about the recent findings that birds are dinosaurs, she told me she was already on that. Apparently, they teach this at her school. With all the Creationism mess in the news, it made me very happy to know that she’s being taught actual Science.

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My mom recognized Vincent D’onofrio from CSI and said he was very obviously the bad guy. I think she thought he’d be eaten first.  She was not impressed at the first glimpse of the I-Rex. She wasn’t impressed until she saw it take out the Ingen Jungle Swat Team.

The first action scene, where Chris saves one of the park workers by controlling the Raptors, was very suspenseful. Unlike a lot of people I was not offended by this character. He behaves exactly the way one would expect someone, who dresses like Indiana Jones, to behave.

And this is why it doesn’t pay to get outraged at clips from movies. Better to wait for the movie to come out and then get mad. Everyone was angry at the sexist way he treated Bryce’s character in that clip but in context, we find out that the two of them were in a previous relationship. So yeah, people act like jerks to their former lovers, sometimes.

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I’m also noticing among the Social Justice set, a disturbing tendency to conflate character attitudes and opinions with those of the writers. Just because a protagonist engages in some objectionable behavior doesn’t mean the writer is in complete agreement with his creation. Sometimes the point of such characters is that they have objectionable qualities, such as being jerks to women.

I don’t know how my Mom and The Potato felt but I hated the sister/mom character. I wanted to slap her silly for her remark about  Bryce’s character having kids. I’ve been on the receiving end of such conversations and I don’t have any patience for it, no matter where I hear it. Also, I didn’t care much for Bryce’s character being portrayed as a “cold fish”.

On the other hand, her ability to run in those heels really impressed the three of us. We thought it was hilarious. Not once, did she fall down and have to be picked up and there was no hand holding by Pratt.  She even gets to save Chris’ life a couple of times during the movie. Not that this is some kind of feminist manifesto for that.

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However, I think it can be said that she is the worst babysitter in the history of babysitting.

Of course, my Mom loves the Mosasaurus.

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I’m happy she’s happy.

She had a little trouble with the Hamster ball scene, though. It struck her as deeply unsafe. In her words, “What could they have possibly been thinking?” When the rides close and the Hamster Ball keeps rolling I really had some deep eyeball rolling to get done.  Had there been fail safes built into those things, they would shut down and automatically return to base. No matter what the riders do, they would not have been able to ignore that the rides were shut down, or be able to go off road in them. That is just dumb Jurassic wordbuilding cuz they should have learned that lesson from the first film.

I am also not happy with watching kids in horrible danger, in movies. It’s the reason I can’t watch The Hunger Games. It bothers me.

This movie seems  a little more gruesome than the other, somewhat bloodless Jurassic films. We watch the I-Rex eat people and it just looks and sounds especially disgusting. We’ve been watching the Jurassic Trilogy all week so we know this. Never let it be said my Mom has no taste. She hated the third movie, too.

I tried following the Jurassic science in this movie and mostly came to the conclusion that these are just some deeply stupid scientists,who all need some short sharp slaps, to return them to their  logical, science brains.

The funniest moment is  Bryce’s character fixes her clothes while Chris stares intently at her boobs. I think he thinks she’s about to take off her clothes or kiss him or something. He’s baffled at what that was all about when she just stands there. This, after he insults her ridiculous heels.

Due to a series of events that just get worse and worse, the Pteradactyls or Pteranodons or whatever, get loose and wreak havoc all over the park. Yeah, we spotted that guy with the Margaritas in his hands, that the internet has been talking about. That man is a hero for saving those poor drinks.

What? They weren’t going to save themselves.

That poor sublet babysitter gets snatched by the Pteradactyls, dumped in the giant pool, nearly drowned as they play tag with her body, and finally eaten, along with one of the Dactyls that grabbed her, by the Mosasaurus. That’s an exceptionally nasty way to be killed. I wonder if the writers thought that shit was funny.

It was not. Nobody in the audience laughed at that.

Coolest moment in the movie, Chris riding his motorcycle with the Raptors, while hunting the I-Rex.

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D’onofrio’s character tries to get the dinosaur eggs off the Island. This must happen in every movie. People just don’t learn. Mistakenly thinking that he can tame a Raptor by speaking nicely to it, gets his arm bitten off. Just because you admire someone’s ability to do something does not mean you get their superpower.

Second coolest moment, the Raptors turn on Chris to follow the I-Rex, cuz it’s bigger than him, I guess. Even the dinosaurs are given character arcs, in this movie, but seriously, what’s their motivation? How did they get into their role as traitors? Another cool moment, this is the same T-Rex from the first movie, apparently. He’s like the old man of this movie. You can just see him shaking his head at the young whippersnapper, I-Rex, right before he kicks her ass.

Third coolest moment in the whole movie:Yay! The only Black guy in the whole movie gets to live! There were two Asian guys in this movie,  so of course, one of them had to be eaten. It’s some kind of law that when you have extra PoC, there can be “Only One”, by the end of the movie.

For some reason there are no Latinos in this movie, even though it all takes place “down south”. Why?

Fourth coolest moment in the entire movie, the final all out dinosaur battle. We got Rexes, Raptors and a surprise cameo from the Mosasaurus. Whoop whoop!

My mom thinks the movie should have continued beyond the final dinosaur battle. She’s a completist. Im glad it stopped where it did.

Chris’ reward for surviving Dinosaur Island, is Bryce, I guess. Just dont ever leave her alone with any children they may have. She will let them get kidnapped by dinosaurs.

ETA: Apparently the T.rex featured in this movie IS the T.rex from the first movie, which makes her a female. So really what you have, is a bunch of female dinosaurs, the Raptors, the Rex and the Mosasaurus, all kicking each others asses at the end of the movie. AWESOME! Since all the dinosaurs in the movie are female,, who all have names and some of them do talk to each other during the film, does the movie pass the Bechdel Test? Does that make this a Feminist film like Mad Max Fury Road?

Talk amongst yourselves.

Geeking Out: Daredevil ( Netflix)

(Note: this is Part One of a Two Part Geeking Out on This Series.)

My very first image of Daredevil, was from a comic book, in the public library. Daredevil was  lying across the arms of a statue, in a callback to Michaelangelo’s Pieta, an image I recognized from my Art History classes and I wondered why it was being used in a comic book. I had tremendous respect for the artist ,who seemed to be putting his Art History knowledge to good use. (Do you know how many times that imagery has been used on comic book covers? Hundreds of times.)

This was when I became a fan. I stopped reading the comics sometime after Matt finally defeated Wilson Fisk, been exposed as Daredevil and taken over The Hand.

I remember I was very excited about the movie back in 2003, but that was because I’d never seen Ben Affleck in inaction before, having avoided his movies up til then. I, very distinctly, remember feeling somewhat dubious about him in the role, having never associated his name with action movies.

What’s sad is, I don’t even think it was a bad film. I can see the seeds of a great film inside the mess that got released. It had a lot of fun moments, but they all clashed with  each other, as if they belonged to different movies and Colin Farrell should simply not be allowed to star in any action films, ever. I have been burned by that man too many times.  He should just stick to Horror and Drama, as he makes a great vampire and  has good angst-face. (It’s the eyebrows!)

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So, you can guess that I would be a little dubious, at the idea of a Daredevil television show. I didn’t want to get too excited because I still had trauma from the movie.

But I am geeking out about the show. I love the show.

All of the characters and episodes are excellent. By limiting it to thirteen episodes, it keeps the story lean and mean, without a lot of unnecessary filler episodes and people, which I feel is one of the drawbacks to most episodic television. I’m very glad that Cable TV has started breaking this model. It also has the added value of deepening a story that cannot be told in two and half hours.

The writers are excellent. The plot and  dialogue is on point and the fight scenes are impactful and meaningful because they also help sell the story. In a lot of American action  films, the fighting is just “we need an action scene, here”, to break up the monotony of people talking. Daredevil has opted for the Eastern Martial Arts style, of fight scenes that tell a story, based on who is fighting and why.

Bey Logan once said, that fight scenes in Chinese action movies are not actually fights, but representative of clashing view points and that the winner of the fight is also the prevailing idea that they represent. That the fight scenes themselves, are a story.(We will go into this philosophy a little more, during the second part of this piece.) They have a beginning, a middle and an end, often reiterate the basic plot of the film and also outline a character, or present a point of view, something that a lot of American action movies have not learned to do.

In part one of my posts on Daredevil, I’m going to discuss my top favorite characters and one outlier.

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Matt Murdock

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I like Charlie Cox. He’s very handsome and  a much better actor than Ben Affleck. My only drawback is that it can be difficult watching Matt Murdock on screen because he’s such a passive character, unlike his alter-ego, who is violently confrontational. But since almost nothing is left to chance in this show, I will assume that this was an intentional acting choice, on Cox’s part.  Matt Murdock seems to be lacking in personality because almost all of his energy is reserved for beating the crap out of people when he’s  Daredevil. He simply doesnt have much left over for being himself.

Incidentally, I have never understood the superhero tendency to lie about their secret identities to the people closest to them. Is it because of plausible deniability? This is a trope that needs to die. I believe most superhero narratives only adhere to it to provide some overwrought, emotional drama at some later point in the narrative.  Now, I understand one probably would not want to cry their superhero identity to the rooftops, but telling your SO, or your parents, or Hell, your legal partner, is well within those boundaries. The only reason you probably wouldn’t is if you just know that person can’t keep their mouth shut.

The show manages not to annoy me with this too much because of the manner in which it’s done, providing insight into Foggy and Matts early relationship. This is why this trope works here. There’s a plausible reason for Foggy’s reaction and an equally plausible excuse within the narrative,  for them to make up.

Karen Page

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Is Debora Ann Woll, who was last seen as a vampire in True blood and  is a much better actress than I previously thought. She begins the series as a typical damsel in distress, and I really didn’t think she’d grow much beyond that. So it was a very pleasant surprise to see this character become more outspoken and assertive as the series progressed.

She starts making choices that affect the plot and affect the other characters and that’s a refreshing change, even though the show has fallen into the trap of having multiple women in the show, who never speak to each other, even when they’re in the same scene.

Karen also keeps making the mistake of running off alone, even though she knows there are people trying to kill her or frame her or something and having to be rescued by various men in the cast, until episode 11: The Path of the Righteous, where her storyline  takes a dramatic shift.

Wilson Fisk

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As portrayed by Vincent D’onofrio, is an intriguing character. Where the movie version of Kingpin was rather one-note, this Fisk has layers, motivations and a tragic back story. He is extremely dedicated to his city, which is a commendable sentiment, except for his method of showing that love, which seems to involve victimizing the already helpless. But that is understandable as, according to his flashbacks, he never developed what I’d call, a great deal of “fellow feeling”.  He seems to care more about “the city” than the actual human lives that live in it. How does this make him different from Loki, who just wants to be “in charge”?

I would respect his motivations a lot more, except he’s gotten into bed with the worse sort of hardened criminals, and then has the nerve to act surprised, when they betray him. It is constantly being argued, in the show, that his love for Vanessa makes him weak, but I disagree. I think his fetish for “his city”, something I find unfathomable, makes him blind to the people closest to him, and there lies his downfall.

Claire Temple

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It’s Rosario Dawson as the Night Nurse, people! C’mon! She’s like the “Superhero Doctor”. Like Edna Mode from The Incredibles, only less curmudgeonly.

I love this actress. I will watch anything she is in. I couldn’t develop much deep analysis of her character except to say she’s outspoken and very brave. She loves her city too, but shows that love through service to its citizens, not control of them. This is a big difference between an authoritarian personality and a humanist one.  The big difference between her and Fisk. Matt is somewhere else on that spectrum.

And how awesome is it that she gets to be Matt’s love interest?

Stick

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This is my second favorite character in the show after Daredevil.  Stick, who is only in one episode, manages to have many layers. This is how good the writers are, people! After having been Matt’s mentor,  showing him how  to fight and exist in the world as a man,whose only abilities are having super senses, he takes his own advice about not forming emotional attachments and abruptly abandons Matt, when Matt starts to grow fond of him. Naturally, this causes no small amount of resentment in Matt.

And this is what I mean about the fighting in Daredevil telling a story and having meaning. Their fight is about their relationship and it’s told in a very specific way, where Matt starts out with a kind of boxing style, in a callback to his father, Battling Jack Murdock, and he  is getting his ass kicked, until he starts fighting in the style Stick taught him, after which he wins, and Stick accedes that his student has surpassed him. This fight was very long in the making, (and it’s set up by the flashbacks just why it needs to happen), and is built on Matt’s  resentment of Stick’s abandonment of him. It represents two differing points of view. Matt’s  point of view is the one that prevails.

You also get the distinct impression that Stick was grooming Matt for some greater purpose and that his underlying reason for fighting him was to assess whether or not  he’s ready for this purpose. (The Hand?) That all his advice about emotional distance  was not just for that purpose but also  to protect himself from getting too close to a child who desperately needed a father figure or might have to sacrifice later, if Matt doesn’t do what’s expected of him.

Vanessa

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Now we come to the character I liked the least. Not because she’s a bad character, although I think she’s badly written and probably badly acted. It’s difficult to tell. I say that because this character and her motivations are a complete mystery to me.

I don’t understand anything about her, her feelings for Fisk, what she wants, why she stays with him after she’s attacked by his enemies. Nothing. Supposedly these two are having some grand love affair but I’m just not feeling it.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see why someone would be attracted to Fisk and his antiquated, Harlequin Romance version  of love, and I can see, that initially, she’s somewhat conflicted about getting involved with him, but after he confesses his history of violence and she has reached the suspicion that he is involved in some grand criminal activities, she still decides to cling to him and that’s just puzzling to me.

Is  it because she’s fascinated by the danger? The drama? The excitement? His money? Is it fear of him? I must confess, I barely remember her from the comics. I know she’s in them but remember almost nothing about her. This is the one character in the show I couldn’t get any sense of and had no feeling for.

Part Two: The Episodes

Supernatural: Halt and Catch Fire

It’s been a while since we had a ghost episode. And tonight’s episode is supposed to be funny so…

In Spencer, Iowa, a young man and woman, are driving the noisiest truck on television, when their online navigator starts telling them the wrong directions and acting bitchy. It tells the girl to get out of the truck, takes over the vehicle and drives it over an embankment, killing the young man.

Dean is eating a croiss-ookie. At least I think that’s how you spell it. Now, I want one. Sam thinks Cas may have information about where Cain might be, but Dean is not optimistic about it. This time, it’s Dean who presents them with a case.

To the Batcave!

imagePosing as Federal Agents, they confront a young woman named Janet, she repeats her story of the night before. The brothers do their usual ghost investigating techniques of asking weird questions of the victims and then head off to the car lot. They find ectoplasm on the truck and think they have the solution. I don’t think so, or this will be the shortest episode  of Supernatural, ever. They burn the truck. It’s a beautiful moment.

A young woman Julie, gets strangled by her computer’s electrical cord after receiving the message 810.

Sam and Dean show up, find ghost radiation, and question the dead girl’s roommate, Delilah. More ghost questions, without actually mentioning ghosts.

Dean has procured a massive amount of food in the school’s self-serving cafeteria. He is definitely giving in to  his appetites.  Sam searches through the victim’s social media accounts. They figure that  810 is an address. Staking out that address, they find a young woman clearing a roadside memorial. Corey says her husband died nine months ago and someone keeps leaving flowers at that site. She describes Delilah.

Now, they have to figure out what connects the victims with the dead man. While they do this, Dean is eating, yet another, massive meal. No. Really, it’s huge. I can’t even guess what’s going on in  his head.

Delilah and her friend Kyle, are arguing about what they should tell people. Kyle tells her to keep her mouth shut. What do you want to bet Kyle will be next? Kyle’s stereo goes haywire and explodes his head. Dying, to such a crappy soundtrack, is a truly horrific experience, for all of us, too.

imageSam and Dean confront Delilah about the 810 reference, and she spills the beans on the not so accidental accident, that killed Andrew, the Angry Ghost.  The four of them didn’t call for help and fled the scene, leaving their victim to burn to death, when power lines landed on the vehicle. Then they all tried to cover it up, because Billy was driving on a suspended license.

The brothers have to figure out how to get rid of the ghost, as it’s not tied to anything. Delilah talks with Dean about what happened, telling him that she has nightmares. Dean can surely understand regrettables.He says whiskey, denial, and trying to make things right, is  his way of coping, but he tells her she needs to confess and deal, not bury her troubles, the way he does. If only he’d take his own advice. But then Dean has always been great at giving it. Not so much, the following it.

imageSam goes to the site of the accident and figures out that Andrew is using WiFi, to do his travelling. Dean says they need to kill the Internet, but how? Sam has an idea. Dean breaks all the wireless electronics in the room, while Sam speaks to Corey. Dean and Delilah run to the basement because there’s shitty reception there.  Corey says Andrew  started contacting her online, after the accident. It was nice at first, then he became vengeful, but she didn’t want to lose him, so she said nothing. She refused to let him go, so his attachment is to her.

Andrew shows up to kill Delilah because someone has hidden a phone, in the couch, in the basement.

Dean tries to talk Andrew down, by appealing to his humanity, while calling Sam, and the ghost attacks Dean instead. Sam puts Corey on FaceTime and she manages to reach him. He disperses when she lets him go.

The brothers drop Delilah off at Corey’s  home. She wants to confess.

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Dean says he plans to take his own advice. He’s finished with trying to find a cure for the Mark. Sam disagrees. He thinks Dean is just going to give up. Dean says he’s  going to fight it’s influence by being as good a man as he can, and that he chooses to be at peace about it.

Finally! WooHoo!

Okay, not a great episode because I found the plot kind of boring and it wasn’t really all that funny. Just the usual quiet chuckles at Dean’s  behavior and the two brothers teasing each other about tech stuff. But I liked the ending. What Dean said sounded really positive. He talked a lot about making peace with the past and letting stuff go, this evening.  Unfortunately, Cain shows up next week and completely undoes all of Dean’s emotional progress.

It’s gonna be wild. So, stay tuned, people.

ETA: What Dean is eating, at the top of the episode, is called a Crookie. A croissant with cookies in it or so it appears. Okay, that’s going on my Bucket List. Judging by the looks of it, that will probably be the last thing I do.

The Walking Dead: What Happened and What’s Going On

Tonight’s episode is pretty much all in the title. We review what happened last year, before the shows hiatus and ease into the second half of the season, with what’s happening now. The show picks up in the aftermath of Beth’s death in the hospital. Beth, arguably one of the most innocent characters on the show, died to save the life of Noah and as penance for the moral compromises she made during her stay there.

Tonights episode could’ve simply been titled “Loss”.

–—————————————————Spoilers Ahead—————————————–

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The group discuss how to get Noah home to Virginia, while Judith looks contemplative. Tyreese and Noah talk about the situation on the way there. It’s interesting to see two Men of Color discussing something in a mainstream genre show that does not involve race. And just like that, quietly and non-dramatically, the show passes the Bechdel Test for PoC. Now to get Michonne and Sasha to make friends.

They reach Noah’s home only to find everyone gone, the homes burnt out and what else…Walkers. Tyreese consoles Noah with his story of how he dealt with his own loss and how he chose to live. Noah runs off to his house.

I’m wondering what the Hell happened because the evidence makes no sense. They weren’t invaded by another group. The gates are still locked. There are Walkers and debris everywhere, as if people were looting and fighting.

Tyreese finds  a member of Noah’s family and gets bitten by Noah’s little brother. Noah destroys the Walker and leaves to tell the others what happened.  No matter, how many times this happens , every time someone is bitten,  I still hope maybe there’s a way they’ll get to live. I should stop hoping but I like Tyreese and I can’t help it.

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Michonne argues that they can rebuild and stay. When even Michonne is tired of being on the road, you’ve got to admit, you have been running around in the woods too long. After discovering that the community is indefensible, she then argues going to Washington. Logically, its  the only place that would have any infrastructure left. Hearing Noah’s screams, they find him being attacked by Walkers. They save him and then go to Tyreese’s aid. They take the drastic measure of cutting off his arm and I’m insanely hopeful, yet again, even though I shouldn’t be, that Tyreese will live.

The group fights it’s way out, carrying Tyreese and speeding away in the car.

Tyreese, who is being visited by all the dead he thinks he failed to save. Beth. Bob. Lizzie. Mika.

They don’t make it.

Tonight’s episode was a meditation on loss and grief. It was  a very emotionally heavy episode, interspersed with snippets of song, the voices of the dead and gone, scenes of abandonment and nature reclaiming the world.  I don’t often cry during a show but Tyreese’s death, coming so closely after Beth’s, was simply,  devastating.

How do you cope in a world where everyone left alive has lost everything and are so damaged, that they are willing to do anything?

When everything that exists is the last that will ever be created. They’ll be no new songs, TV shows, paintings, novels. Not for a long damn time.

How could anyone watching this show experience more grief or pain after watching the destruction of the entire world? And how can there be people, in this world who can wish for such a thing to happen, just so they can add to the destruction? Or just because they want a do-over for being failures in this world? This world is full of awful things. Racism. ISIS. Crime. Torture. Lies and Decpetion. None of these things can ever be fixed by the addition of yet more loss and pain and tragedy, or the wholesale destruction of so much life.

What does the life of one man or woman matter, when all the rest of the world is dead? Is there a limit on the amount of emotional pain that can be felt before you just go numb.

Maybe we could ask Rick Grimes that question, or the people from Terminus or The Governor.

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ETA:  During the show The Talking Dead, Greg Nicotero clearly states that the community depicted in the show was invaded by another, worse, group of people and that tonight’s episode was written as a love letter to Tyreese.

The Little Shop Of Horrors

I was just watching the 1980’s version of this movie with my niece and I was struck by quite a number of things, I felt I had to explain to her. She’s nine and will hereby be referred to as The Potato.

As the movie began, we started out discussing carnivorous plants and had to interrupt our film viewing to look at videos of Venus Flytraps, while I tried to explain to her that the plant in the movie was from Venus and it was supposed to be funny.

There were other things in the movie that weren’t so funny. I’m sure somewhere on the internet, someone has written a review or analysis of this movie’s various themes. I’m pretty sure they haven’t written an analysis of how to talk to their kids about it.

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The second topic we discussed was the names of the young chorus girls in the movie. I explained to her about the Greek Chorus but she finally got it when I referenced the Greek Chorus in the  Disney version of Hercules that we’d watched a couple of years ago. I explained the names of the girls were the names of  singing girl groups from the fifties. The Ronettes, The Chiffons, and The Crystals, and promised her I’d play some of their music some day.  For the record, Alan Menken relied far too much on the idea of the Black Backup singer. Why is that a law?

Then she had questions about Audrey getting beat up by her dentist boyfriend, and that’s when I started to think, maybe this is not the film we should be watching. But I didn’t shirk from this. We talked about how her boyfriend beat her up and she was scared to leave him – if he hurts her when he likes her, what might he do if he ever got mad.  Audrey insisted she had to have a man in her life, and I wanted to explain to The Peanut that’s not a good reason to have one, but it’s hard to explain such things to prepubescents.

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When Audrey sang about her fantasy Ozzie and Harriet life, The Peanut thought it was beautiful and the way she said it, made me realize, she has fantasies about her idyllic future, too. Possibly involving a white picket fence, I guess. Far be it from me to begrudge her such thoughts.

She dutifully hated The Dentist, though. Didn’t think it the slightest bit funny or romantic when he was on screen. There’s a scene where he slaps Audrey. It’s in silhouette, so not graphic and I lightly suggested beforehand that she might not want to watch it, out of consideration of our personal history with domestic violence, but she seemed unfazed by it. She cheered for the Dentist’s death afterwards though. I’m not sure I like her being bloodthirsty but there’s no possible way I could talk about compassion for all human life when we just watched him slap the Hell out of his girlfriend.  We’ve watched a lot of monster movies together but human violence is much harder to explain.

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I think she seemed mostly puzzled by Audrey II. At one point, she asked if Audrey II was male or female. I had to explain to her that plants weren’t just all one gender and it was possible for Audrey to have little Audreys. But it’s a Venusian alien and has the voice of Levi Stubbs, so it’s hard to say the plant isn’t male. It’s certainly coded as male but the presence of the little mini-Audrey’s kind of threw her for  a bit. I have no idea how to explain plants and gender coding to a nine yr. old. Had no idea I’d have to when I began watching this movie. The things you don’t see coming.

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She did laugh when the Dentist died from sucking his own laughing gas. It was impossible for me to explain Bill Murray’s character to her, without condemnation.  I quietly, and without hysteria, tried to  explain to her that he was a very odd man and was made very  happy by strange things and that it was supposed to be funny. She didn’t laugh once during that scene and that was as close as I could get to explaining sadomasochism. I wasn’t even going to go there.

She did have questions about Audrey II, though. How did he learn to use the phone and shoot a gun? She had no questions about his assault on Audrey I, which looks and sounds a lot like a sexual assault, right down to  touching Audrey I’s body without her consent.  I could see The Peanut thinking about it, though. She wouldn’t know that the language Audrey II used is the kind of  language that all rapists use, but I recognized it, very well, and I  just cringed.

This is one of my favorite films. I know every song and camera move and most of the dialogue. I love that Levi Stubbs was  chosen to play Audrey II in the film, but hesitate to consider what the creators of this movie were trying to say, in light of what I just said about his assault on a pretty White girl. That scene has always disturbed me, but it isn’t until I was watching it with The Peanut, that I realized that the makers of the movie, very deliberately, chose to film Audrey’s seduction as a sexual assault. And since I don’t like to think Alan Menken or Jim Henson had ill intention, in doing so….well, there it is.

Audrey gets horribly abused by the males in this movie. Her boyfriend beats her, Audrey II assaults her, her boss, played by Vincent Gardenia, while not indifferent, is helpless to stop her abuse. The only person who doesn’t abuse her is Seymour, and he saves her from Audrey II and I wished Audrey had had the wherewithal to save herself. From her crappy job, her helpless boss, and her series of abusive relationships, if not the plant.

Yeah I finally got that this isn’t a female friendly movie. I’m not going to stop watching it.  I’m just not going to be watching this with her again unless she specifically asks for it.

But man! That music is the shizznit, though.

Constantine: Non Est Asylum

This Constantine,  starring Matt Ryan and Harold Perrineau is a damn sight better than the Keanu Reeves movie. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the movie and Keanu is cool and all but that movie wasn’t Constantine.

At Ravenscar in Northern England , John Constantine  is about to receive some shock treatment. His voice-over states his name and his profession, Exorcist. His therapist, of course doesn’t believe in demons and the best line of the show is John’s remark, that he’s a petty dabbler who hates to put on airs. Needless to say, his therapy is going no and where. He is wracked with guilt over a little girl named Astra, whose exorcism he botched and damned  to Hell.

During a group session, a swarm of bugs leads him to a painting studio, where a woman is painting on the  wall of bugs. She is  possessed and John reluctantly starts an exorcism. The reaction is explosive and destroys the entire studio, but he succeeds in dispatching the spirit, which  was there to give him the message that’s it’s time to leave. He’s got work to do.

imageWe meet a nice young girl at an office park. Our everywoman, Liv, is about to encounter the paranormal in the parking lot. The ground shakes and buckles and a crater opens under her feet. John, conveniently, shows up in a taxi to explain she’s being hunted by a demon and that she’ll be dead by morning. He gives her his card which says:  Master of the Dark Arts. That’s a lot of paranormal to be meeting on such short notice.

While investigating the crater, John meets an Angel named Manny, (the lovely Harold Perrineau , who is wearing bright yellow contacts and  who was just in Z Nation, wearing his regular eyeballs. How many shows is he going to star in this year?) He claims he’s there to watch over John. We get more recriminations about John’s failed exorcism, his pending damnation and a warning that something is coming.

imageAnd this is just the first ten minutes of the show.

Liv goes home, where she  receives cryptic messages about John in her fortune cookies. Later that same night, her next door neighbor is killed and a strange symbol is found on the door, but the neighbor isn’t quite as dead as she seems and one of the  EMTs finds that out the hard way. (Black guy, emergency worker, random side character…the grand trifecta of death, right there. I should’ve seen it coming.)

The next day the police drop Liv  at work, where John is waiting for her. It turns out that the Eye of Horus was carved on her door, to keep her alive, by none other than Chaz,  a mysterious taxi driver, who is not much of a talker. John says he knew her father, Jasper Winters, and that she’s special. Jasper died last year and left her a mcguffin…err, I mean pendant. She  gets attacked again in the middle of their conversation. This time by a van driven by the assumed to be dead but possessed neighbor. John questions the demon but gets nothing.

Okay, now we get some mother/daughter drama with Liv trying to act dramatic, I guess. I’d like to tune it out but this conversation may be important later. Or not.  Apparently, the pendant allows Liv to see trapped souls and spectral trains. I don’t care for this actress. She’s too young and trying too hard to act. A friend of mine calls this “Schmacting” The special effects, on the other hand, are  cool beans.

And…Road Trip! with John and some more exposition and angst which, thankfully, is cut short when the taxi is broadsided by yet another truck. This demon isn’t even trying for subtle, I guess. John gets thrown from the vehicle and  loses consciousness. He flashbacks to the little girl whose soul he lost during his last exorcism and  I’m starting to  sense a theme, maybe.  He wakes just in time to stop another assassination attempt on Liv via electrical line. He saves her but Chaz gets zapped.

John explains that they need to find the demon that wants her dead. They visit a safe house, full of objects of the occult. John explains scrying and some of Liv’s blood marks a spot on a special map. John decides to use her as bait for his next scheme. Now, that’s the John we know and love.

imageJohn goes out to finish his plans and meets  Manny. They argue about his past, his purpose and his future. Manny suggests it may not be too late for John to save his soul. A beautiful special effects sequence involving raindrops ensues, taking us all completely out of the story to admire it. Literally! The show stops just for this one scene. And no, it was not my pause button.

John is on his way to visit Ritchie  Simpson, PhD, who is not happy to see John. He claims he needs Ritchie’s help. More mentions of Astra and the events at Newcastle. Must everyone mention this event? Ritchie has the most incredible hair. It looks like sharp spikes sticking out of his head. That guy needs some product.

Chaz shows up again. Neither John nor he explain what Chaz is or how he and the taxi came back uninjured and intact. John’s  next scheme involves rooftops, Enochian script and summoning the demon that’s trying to kill Liv. She wants to have a heartfelt conversation instead. Her timing is incredible. John tells her about a dead mother,  an abusive father and how he got into the occult. The man has got some serious issues.

imageThe demon shows up and he and John face off. Some spell casting from John only results in some shape shifting from the demon, who confronts John with his future demonic self. And some lightning. John counters with a citywide blackout, attempting to deprive the demon of power. The demon strikes a low blow by summoning Astra, the little girl John damned  to Hell,and uses her to bait him. But John is totally badass and  and throws some more spell casting at the demon until it goes back home or something. I got so caught up in the special effects, that I still have no idea why the demon was after Liv, in the first place.

John wins this fight and sends Liz home. On the way back, they stop at the street that was marked earlier on the  map at the safe house. Liv sees yet another bad death and decides she’s retiring to somewhere else. She leaves town. Later, John confesses to Manny that he set it up for her to see the crime scene, to scare her away and makes a pledge to Manny to help his side.

CODA: An artist sits in a darkened room, drawing endless pictures of John.

MY TWO CENTS:

I really liked this episode, but I’m not a fan yet. It went by so fast and a lot of exposition gets thrown at you. You feel like you have to pay close attention but it turns out that a lot of it is just repeated conversations and once you’ve heard what’s said, it’s not important to the plot anymore. Outside of a couple of special effects scenes, the show didn’t WOW me. It’s definitely more faithful to the books than the movie ever was, right down to the story of how John damned his soul, which the movie thoroughly botched.  And the most important thing, Shia The Beef is not in it.

Matt Ryan must have read these books because the attitude, accent, and appearance are spot on right down to the trenchcoat and that last shot of John standing in an alley with his hands on fire, was one of my favorite moments. Classic trickster move by John. ( And yeah, I get why he doesn’t smoke. I don’t actually miss that part.) The writers need to hone the snark a bit, give it much sharper edge, but the show gets a pass because it’s just the pilot.

And this is NBC. I don’t expect it to get too edgy, so as not to cause any pearl clutching among any of  the geriatric set, who may happen across it during their evening channel surfing.

I do expect  better in the future, though. And some Papa Midnight too.