Posts Tagged ‘film

14
Aug
19

Award Shows Are Bogus ver. 081419

***

I’ve been fairly certain for a while. But, now, I am convinced; award shows are complete crap, utter rubbish, excessively expensive lies designed to look glamorous at the expense of souls.

All participants…all of those members of the “foreign press”…are either naïve or devious scum. Now, some of that naïve scum could redeem itself; there’s still hope. But, those who run the machines are surely black as sin or the thickest roots in an underground railroad to decide, like some Hunger Games contest, which celebrities and “little people” (the faceless crew members who outnumber the big names and slave over the projects of those who call themselves producers) get food and care for the year and who gets to fight over the scraps and eat shit. The lucky ones get their names attached to the next box-office big ticket while the bottom of the food chain gets to show of their bodies and talk stupid in the films that come out at the end of summer, when “kids” go back to school and no one gives a flying fook what they watch.

Now, breathe. And, let me shed a little light on the shape of this crap…or, rather, what supports my stomach-turning, fury-stoking feelings.

Every year, there’s that “best picture” film that takes one big award and another…and another…and gets so much buzz from all those cracked camera-toting tabloid freak shows who put every famous and not-so-famous face on the spot with stupid questions, testing them to see if they crack and say anything different from their last interview, anything negative about the people they recently knew as part of the crew. Everybody is “amazing.” Every experience is something good for the resume, even if the person secretly loathed or struggled through it. Every director is uniquely talented. Every interview is to make sure the next job goes smoothly and to collect a check; so don’t expect anyone to answer openly and honestly, even if you’re straight-shooting, expected-to-cuss Samuel L. Jackson.

So, why do we even do interviews?! It’s not for the fans. It’s for promotion…more and more promotion. An interview is a talking movie poster which can’t say anything about what happens in the movie, due to contractual threats that pretty much shackle all who partake in making the expensive torture package that actors refuse to watch because they struggled through it; they didn’t enjoy it. An interview is just a painful showcase of faces who habitually look down when they feel the urge to lie, to hold in the vomit and glaze over what they’d like to say. Hey! Look who’s in the movie! And, they’re talking without reading a script! How amazing…like watching animals behind glass in a zoo.

If you really enjoyed making something, wouldn’t you want to look at it, again? Or, do you go crazy because you find a mistake and realize you can’t correct it? Your hard work is now someone else’s baby, and you have no control. So, all your effort amounts to what someone makes of it. That’s rather cruel punishment in its own way and not respectful to the creative soul.

And, I have sampled a number of these “amazing” films. Not one has earned 5 out of 5 stars with me; they’re all lucky if they get a 3. I saw The English Patient, Schindler’s List, The Hurt Locker and, just recently, The Shape of Water. Oh, there was SO much buzz about The Shape of Water, not too long ago. And, I remember the high praise the rare FEMALE director got for The Hurt Locker. Of all the films I just mentioned, I guess The Hurt Locker was the best…but that’s not saying much. When you put Average Joe in a pageant with four corpses beaten to a bloody pulp, of course Average Joe is going to look good and smell all the sweeter. It’s like that one girl in school who gathers a cluster of less pretty girls around her so she stands out as the pretty one; it’s like some status tactic used by schools of fish.

Now, let me come right out and say I did not see these films in the theater for a good reason; I had my doubts from the start. And, again, it took just one lousy lie of a rental to sully my belief in all the award talk. But, I keep hope alive, and I…I guess maybe I’m a little naïve, too, yet, to give these other “hits” a chance. I want to see what makes them so great.

So, let’s talk about my latest mistake, The Shape of Water. Oh, how the director got lauded with praise and looked so sweet and innocent on stage, giving his grand speech and kudos to all who let him make such a…gruesome, rude and lewd film. If I may be so frank, it’s as if he was extremely horny and hungry while watching the old Creature from the Black Lagoon, late at night, and then had the nerve to think making a remake with more nudity and foul language was a great idea. What a damn creative fool.

Sally Hawkins is the poster woman for the demure, docile, closet freak. Thank goodness she didn’t go on some murderous rampage; that would have really ruined the part. All crap aside, she gave the film an ounce of redemption…well, aside from what she had to do in the first half-hour. Seriously, del Toro, excessive nudity…excessive because it had NOTHING to do with the story. Nada. You didn’t get a close up of her scars until the one guy examined her. No; you just had her get naked, over and over, again, for your personal amusement.

And, what was with the other sex scene? Why didn’t you go one step or two steps further? Why not have the gay artist–with his foul mouth and obsessive dialogue–take advantage of the pie guy? Come on, throw in some finger this and f-that while they indulge in some gay sex. Or, why couldn’t Octavia Spencer get naked with her husband? Why can’t black and gay folks get fair sex play? Booo! No, I’m just kidding. But, really, why include any sex other than what was the focus of the film? There only had to be one sex scene, and you spoiled it before they got in the tub.

I would not be surprised if you ended up in court with all the other poor and stupid men who are getting grilled for indecent actions. I would not be surprised if something popped out of your closet. Why can’t you keep certain lewd thoughts to yourself? And, why did you have to make the film so graphic when it could have been a much nicer and just as exotic love story?

You went down some Stephen King, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino side street and drove through Frank Miller’s neighborhood. You took Splash and turned it into Sin City. Oh, sure the ending is bittersweet and finally happy; but I ate a ton of shit before I could even try to smile; so the whole experience left me queasy. You poured acid on my whipped cream sundae. You’re not the worst film maker out there…but The Shape of Water had better not be your opus. I’d like the water to wash it out of my memory so I can fantasize, again. Your “big hit” is a giant seagull dropping, not something I could comfortably watch more than once. It has little to no replay value; I’d snip off just the final ten minutes and call it a lovely short film that encompasses the best of the story…which pretty much makes the movie another Citizen Kane; just spare us the horrific two-plus hours and tell us it was your childhood sled.

You want my humble rating? Would that do anything for you? I’d give The Shape of Water 1 out of 5 stars, overall. I’d give Sally Hawkins 4 stars for being a beautiful, caring freak who thankfully didn’t do anything too gross or wrong to make me hate her; and I feel sorry for her, for having to expose herself the way she did. I’d give cinematography 3 stars, maybe 4, because the movie did have a decent colored noir quality to it; it suited a Dick Tracy sort of story. But, Octavia Spencer pretty much reprised her roll in The Help; so what can I rave about that? One black woman in an otherwise white world? And, the story? I already said; it’s The Creature from the Black Lagoon in modern 3-DUH, Dolby foul mouth, bloody Sunday whack-a-vision. You get no points for creativity other than visual artistry, period. You are just another big name with all of the latest tools in your kit, and when given the chance to build a sand castle, you played with mud pies. When you had the chance to focus on a Cinderella story, you chose to screw the docile doe in the dark room; you put the horny jerk in the same cage with the last unicorn (and thank goodness *that* didn’t happen). [And, FYI, oddities eating cats went out with Alf…and it wasn’t any funnier then, either…but it was suggested, not on camera.]

But, ya all come back now and watch my masterpiece, again, ya hear? This is a family show…not. It definitely earns its R rating, unlike some films that only get an R because of one lousy little cross of the line. I’d say The Shape of Water even edges an X rating…because there was more flashing of boob and overt sex than most R-rated films I’ve seen.

Here’s a brief lesson in the school of suggestion: Sex, nudity and gore can be veiled and still convey the message.
1) When Sally’s character takes a bath or shower, we could see her silhouette behind a shower curtain, and we’d still know she’s naked. Or, you could have her enter the bathroom and cut to her already covered in soap suds; no need to expose the actress or any body double you may have used…which would only make the whole effort even more stupid and pointless.

When I was in school, my English/writing teachers would draw red circles around portions of stories that didn’t contribute to the plot or characters and took away from the overall enjoyment. What you included (which turned me off and made me ill) was definitely not key to anything; I am sure most viewers would be aware of a person needing to get naked for a bath or having sex with a wife…or were you afraid people might think the creep’s marriage was void of sex?…hey, that might have made that other scene with the cleaning lady better; ya know?

2) A rather pointless sex scene could be conveyed with sounds and/or two flirty people slipping into a room together; ya don’t have to show the woman exposing herself and the cruel, creepy, FBI-ish, White-Collar-Bizarro guy throttling her on the bed!

[How to curb/replace the excessive foul and lewd language is another matter…I’d just omit it. It didn’t make the love story any prettier. It just lumped your enchanting crapper-piece with the likes of Superbad and…I can’t think of any other crappers at the moment…thank goodness they are washed from memory. I’ve seen movies with rape scenes that were just as creepy/unsettling but more suggestive than overt.]

3) When your feature creature wants to eat another animal… Couldn’t you have shown the creature holding the cat and then cut away to an audio clip of someone crunching celery. Then, when the owner returns, have him look down and recoil in horror…and we’d get it! We’d know why he’s horrified. Ya don’t have to show all the bits and blood. Bleh!

Can you imagine some steamy love story where the man makes the woman bleed in the you-know-what area and one or both lovers develop a scarring STD after they have their sweaty fun? [Ya know what; that just gave me a crazy idea for a sexual alien comedy that would still be far cleaner than your mess.] Would you enjoy that movie as much as a more suggestive one without the unfortunate side effects of some realities? There’s a line between realistic and horrifying reality…and you sure cross it, mister, but not for the benefit of the viewers…unless you want to scare people away from love fantasies and support eating disorders…because I could have developed one had I kept my eyes glued on the screen and not used the fast-forward button.

At this rate, I could lose my appetite for film, altogether, before I am old enough to be a cripple stuck in a wheelchair in front of some TV with a bunch of other elder folks losing their minds to medication abuse. Just think…what’s the use in going into movie-making, aspiring to create some soul-satisfying masterpiece when the whole industry is one more mine field of twisted metal, of warping your dreams into nightmares and slave labor? People are dying and committing suicide for some reason. And, it doesn’t surprise me when I try to grasp what all goes into this industry and the infuriating cover-ups that get splashed all over TV screens, even when some creative soul dies tragically.

Losing my appetite for film would be a serious crime against nature, against my creative soul. The water is so polluted, even I am having a hard time writing/creating anything spectacular; but, then again, I work alone, most of the time. I don’t have a clue what it’s like to be surrounded by teammates who can actually work together to make something run like clockwork and make people wonder what the budget must have been to create such a spectacle.

So, I must remind myself not to pay a lick of attention to award shows. Or, at least, I must go to bed before that final fifteen minutes into overtime when we viewers are supposed to be holding our breaths for the big reveal, the final envelope of crap. I must write them off and stick to the trailers that work for me.

Sell me a good trailer, and I’ll give you a chance. And, if you lie to me…..well, let’s just say my response will be…amazing, amazing crying crazy amazing. You’ll certainly find me writing you off my interest list. And, I have ways of swaying the masses. Not that it matters much when the majority seems to be losing all sense of creativity, as if they’ve become so numb from countless abusive images that they no longer have the brain cells to produce anything remotely as good as the stories they refuse to let go, stories from so long ago, they’ve been dragged behind cars for decades, tossing through one remake after another like tin cans on strings.

You know who the real losers are here (aside from creative souls)? The movie theaters and good people who appreciate them. All of the modern technology this world pushes for and all of the crappy, expensive films that get made…bump out all of the wonderful places that one could say feel like a second home. The day when someone decides to shut down the last movie theater in favor of some microscopic internet service station (ding! ding! goes the air tube keeping you couch potatoes alive), I’m sure to cry or have a considerably furious stomach upset because it will be like a nuclear bomb going off and destroying some serene tourist attraction. [Don’t get me started on the horrors of nuclear power pursuits.]

There wouldn’t be any concern for piracy if people didn’t introduce devices that could do such a thing. And, if movie theaters could afford better security without making visitors feel violated like other venues that practically X-ray you when you walk through, if people still cared, maybe thieves wouldn’t get away with what they still do, even after the days of VHS and the most primitive of camcorders. I don’t know why anyone cares about bootlegging, lately…because I am not sure what films are really worth stealing. Or, is that why so many films suck and twist the original story material?…is that why Michael Bay mangled Transformers?…because too many pirates were trying to make a buck off other people’s work? So, since the dawn of film piracy, everyone in the industry just started pumping out their worst, not their best? We settled into dependency upon whatever the latest technology is and putting up poster children as feature stars? Are we selling good stories or the latest model of movie camera you can only get at exclusive electronics stores?…on sale this week until tomorrow…flash sale!

And, breathe. I…don’t know how to wrap this up. The stench is just pouring out of me. So, I leave it as it is, like a broken garbage bag. I had to air it out, though, so I didn’t die from the stink in silence. Now, you know, and knowing is half the battle.

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30
Apr
19

Let’s Go to the Movies! Movie Poster Dreaming

*****

Another path or branch from my recent digital art…brainstorm?…led to making movie posters for stories I’ve already contemplated or written, some based on books (I’ve been pecking at), others from movies I foresee from music I hear on the radio.  I didn’t have much to work with and am just scratching the surface of my digital tool set with these.  I liked the “flash” effect and worked with it like a mandala.   It was a decent practice session.  And, I got some amusement from adding the blurbs at the bottoms.   Some day, you just might see some of these titles on your favorite bookstore shelf or movie theater wall.  Ya never know.

Whatchya think?

See if you can identify the names of the directors I “fudged” with female alternatives.

TiltheLoveRunsOut-Bond-ish-movieposter-RnBlk-flash-fab-4E-celeb-beauties-silhouette-me-anubisface_ap-CSPP-1600x2000-5wannabemovieposter-9pk-flash_ap-CSPP-1200x1500-reducedsampler-1B

Oh, and I had some fun with adding little word bubbles, too.

ColdFingers-humorousthoughts-movieposter-blue-flash-fab-3B-celeb-beauties-silhouette-me_ap-CSPP-1600x2000-1-2RoseGarden-humorousthoughts-2-movieposter-RnPk3-flash-fab-4-celeb-beauties-silhouette-me_ap-CSPP-1600x2000-7CRoseGarden-humorousthoughts-movieposter-RnPk3-flash-fab-4-celeb-beauties-silhouette-me_ap-CSPP-1600x2000-7B

18
Mar
19

Captain Marvel, 2019 Movie Review

****

Brie Larson is a dazzling and very youthful ball of fire in the latest installment in the Avengers franchise, Captain Marvel, a story that takes place some time before the previously launched films (since 2008), winking at a variety of nostalgia, including Blockbuster video rental stores, pagers and the infancy of the 1990s’ dial-up internet, as well as nods to movies like Rambo (1982-) and Top Gun (1986). [And, if I am not mistaken, Octopussy, a 1983? film.] Men in Black (1997-) wasn’t explicitly featured, but the whole Agents-of-SHIELD-discovering-aliens-on-Earth concept pretty much touched all of the same bases.

If I just weighed you down with more words about movie history than the stars and highlights of the film, that’s just what my brain was doing. I kept finding myself drifting off–similar to Carol Danvers (Larson) grasping at distorted fragments of memories–thinking about where I might have seen something before, thinking about a particular song and video game of *that time,* wondering why certain enemies were so obvious while others were…not enemies? This is a rather nostalgic movie, like a two-plus hour trip around a flea market with timely songs blaring from tabletop radios on a hot summer day.

Holy Mother Brain, true believers! Can we say live-action Samus Aran? The only thing missing from this Metroid-wannabe was Captain Mar-Vel turning into a ball and bouncing off walls. There is an original GameBoy portable game system in plain sight. And, there is a scene early in the film when “Veers” (a very clever break from Danvers, by the way) is fighting off some Skrulls with some sort of tube-like restraints over her forearms…and they glow just like the varia suit’s blaster-arm-thingy. Not to mention, Brie is practically the perfect young blonde to play Samus…AND the whole story of how she is molded into the Captain Marvel character screams Samus Aran’s origin story. [You might say Brie Larson has “the right stuff” to star in a Metroid movie.]

And, have you ever compared the black-and-yellow Ms. Marvel/Warbird costume with some Samus imagery from Super Metroid? The lightning bolt on the former has a strong resemblance to the S associated with and flashed at the end of the game. [If someone can make a decent-looking Pokemon film that isn’t purely anime, we can make an epic Metroid movie! I’m also itching to work on a Ninja Gaiden movie. Seriously, Nintendo. Get on this. And, sign me up if you want this gaming artist and super fan’s input.]

Kudos to another Stan Lee cameo, but this one was rather sad. I am fairly certain that was just a CG ghost, some…person with dots attached to their face before Stan’s likeness was molded over it (sort of like a Skrull impersonating someone…hmm), with a broken record of a voice clipping. I *did,* however like the opening Stan Lee tribute, the barrage of cameo shots, instead of the usual Marvel-Disney movie opener. As I was watching Stan appear in military uniform, I said to myself, “Now, that’s the real Captain Marvel.”

As a kid, back when a Micronaut named Marionette had plucked the strings of my young heart, I remember looking at the back of some comic book that featured a male Captain Marvel standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a blonde heroine in the same costume; and I wondered who she was. When I found out…and I am pretty sure she was called Ms. Marvel at the time…I was instantly infatuated. [And, wasn’t there a black woman called Captain Marvel who wore a white costume with a golden star on the front?] Years later, I learned she had somehow crossed paths with the X-Men and become a fiery being called Binary, after Rogue had supposedly taken her powers and Carol went through some kind of coma/trauma. When Ms. Marvel adopted the black costume, I was still drawn to her. [Ha.] But, the name Warbird rubbed me the wrong way. I never associated Carol Danvers with any airforce/military unit (didn’t know that history); I just saw her as a beautiful blonde woman who magically donned a superheroine costume that surpassed the whole Krypton family and the DC favorite of so many fans, Wonder Woman (who may have a great figure and glorious dark hair but lacks in costume design, other than working the American imagery into some sort of feminine apparel). [‘Love the mask, long gloves and boots.] So, when Coca-Cola created the Supermom commercials a few years back, you can imagine what came to mind…or who came to mind and what went through my infatuated mind.

Okay, now back to the real, core movie of this review.

The story is nothing new, in terms of superhero origins and alien-invasion tales; aliens walk among us humans, hidden from plain sight. There’s a secret policing group constantly shifting to address, control and/or attack the invaders. And, by some stroke of cosmic luck, one chosen human is blasted into super-stardom, taking out anyone she feels like blasting while we listen to a karaoke bar favorite (before she blasts the jukebox).

Let’s talk about the “bad,” first.

You see a pattern there? A lot of blasting? I totally get the makers of this film were putting all of their marbles into portraying a petite-yet-fierce young woman who can take on the universe. But, there was a fair amount of shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later, not the most intelligent “guardian of the galaxy.” But, maybe we can excuse this, due to her messed-up brain not knowing who to call the enemy.

And, yet, when there is another opportunity to show-off, the heroine chooses to display her ability to heat water. That wrinkled my brow a bit. Why couldn’t she have spared the jukebox and just heated a cup of water to prove her power/point? [Which, by the way, is a lame reason to claim she isn’t an enemy, when the naive Nicholas Fury has no clue what anyone not from Earth could do, anyway.] Why I am concerned about a jukebox? I don’t know. But, so many movies do stupid things to earn “blockbuster” status; it’s as if they fear people won’t laugh or cheer unless you destroy X-number of vehicles and commit Y-amount of property damage, even if you have to drag the women you’re now trying to elevate into the messes. [While some found it amusing to see the Hulk randomly hit his fellow heroes in the first Avengers movie, I thought that was stupid humor.]

Another brow-wrinkler was this Marvel-movie trend’s latest attempt to modernize everything, taking the heroine out of Earth’s picture for a mere six years while giving the SHIELD agents a sort of 1970s appearance/feel to them, as if they were working the Roswell alien case. It’s hard to gauge how emotional people should be after what–to me–feels like a short departure. I don’t know much about Captain/Ms. Marvel (aka Warbird aka Binary), but I would have figured she would be missing, at least, a decade to have any sort of separation tension/confusion upon returning. Friends not seeing each other for six years is like going to different colleges and then meeting up in New York to catch up. It’s not quite the same as Captain America being separated from his beloved Agent Carter by a wartime deep freeze. [I’m just glad they didn’t try to place Captain America’s latest origin story in the Gulf War.] I also wasn’t sure how to feel about “Veers” shifting between being very alien to “planet C-53” one minute and then talking “chummy” with SHIELD agents and a former airforce buddy the next. [Couldn’t she have asked to use a “payphone” or “walkie talkie” or to speak with some former CO if she was only gone a few years? Yet, she can hotwire a video game system to call her team in deep space, like E.T. (1982) phoning home.]

And–spoiler alert–why does “Nicholas Fury” not have a clue sooner about his boss? How can he work with this guy for so long and then suddenly be thrown when the boss calls him a different name in the elevator? [Or, did I miss a body swap somewhere? And, if so, where/when does the real boss disappear?]

Also, Danvers (Larson) brings a hint of a childlike “Disney magic” (which is probably why they cast and molded her into this role, like a Kree) to her part, practically dancing and humming to herself as she flits from scene to scene. She even has a kid help her pick a “new” costume the touch of a button (maaagic). [Her youth is one reason I was skeptical of seeing this movie; I’ve come to know a more seasoned, weathered, alcoholic Carol Danvers from my limited exposure to her in comic books. But, I totally get attracting a younger audience and the potential for starting the story when Carol is still “fresh out of the package.”] If she’s not kicking butt, she’s waltzing around threats. The way she learns to fly seems a tad lame and senseless, when she could have figured it out sooner and/or under different conditions; it’s as if the movie makers just drew the moment out to make people gasp. In short, everything comes a tad easy to one given such cosmic power (not unlike just about any member of the Skywalker family taking out large portions of an enemy army/race). What she chooses to do with the “responsibility” of that power is a bit of a gray area.

[And, as I write this, I am having another one of my strong bouts with deja vu…]

Probably the biggest stink of the film is a combination of its predictability and gray areas. [I had a similar issue with Ant Man and the Wasp, not knowing how to classify the “villain” and, thus, not knowing how to feel about the heroics.] If this was just a reproduction of the genuine origin story, I am okay with that; I’d rather see a comic book come to life than have someone warp the story entirely and have fans wondering what happened to their beloved heroine. But, other than some questionable actions taken, the “gray” villains and one small…er, big…creature feature, I kinda saw what was coming, even without knowing all of the origin story’s details.

I wasn’t as dazzled by the fight scenes and big explosions as I was by Brie’s lovely, glowing face. [And, she doesn’t need cosmic power or CG fire in her already fiery eyes to glow, either. Me-Yow.] There was no one who could truly stand up to Captain Marvel; “they” tried to restrain her, but that fell flat/short before there was nothing but fluffy fireworks. [There’s no Red Skull to counter the Captain. Or, if there is, he’s no Red Skull. Heh.]

While, yes, there was a slight surprise regarding who to call the enemy (when I think about who has been an enemy in a number of Marvel Comics projects), one particular actor–whose name I won’t mention though he is PERPETUALLY cast as the sneaky villain–could not hide his true intentions/nature from the start. And, that is a casting shame. I don’t like seeing actors pigeon-holed (type-cast) this way. But, honestly, casting agency, try a little harder when picking someone who masks his allegiance. The guy might be willing to take every gig he can get; but come on!

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing–if Carol’s history only needed to be a photograph–but…was there any airforce content other than images of pilots in various outfits and that repeating boot camp scene? I am asking this solely because I saw some promotional snippet that featured Brie riding in a fighter jet, as if she was doing some serious character research. But, now I am thinking that was just Marilyn Monroe visiting the boys at the air base. There was more airforce content in the 2008 Iron Man film. I don’t recall even an ounce of pilot terminology; I might have blacked out when they were playing the recording from the “black box.” So…was this some subtle promotion for women to enlist in the armed forces? Yvan eht nioj? [I tend to look at these things the way Carol looks at Maria’s neighbor in the movie.]

And, the good?

I think the best part of this movie is a combination of artistry and Brie’s fiery expressions (her “heart”). [Though, I felt she could have benefitted from a few more ounces of emotional “oomph.” Sure, people messed with her head and put restraints on her; but she wasn’t a slave. I never saw her take any serious punishment. All of her “struggle” was kind of a brief blur.]

This is a well-composed film, in terms of costume/wardrobe, music, special effects and background (back story). The Captain Marvel costume–aside from the odd mohawk factor they tried to salvage from the comic’s history…and the do-everything-including-short-circuiting wrist computer–was stylish and not so far-fetched that you had to wonder how it came to be. And, “grunge”/”Top Gun” fighter pilot Carol Danvers isn’t hard on the eyes, either. [She’s like Elisabeth Shue in Adventures in Babysitting (1987).] There was a decent story for most aspects of the main character, including her name…er, namesss. [The dog-tag bits were especially slick.] The overall feel of the movie’s nostalgia and composition is good, similar to how I felt about Black Panther’s soundtrack keeping me grooving throughout the movie…and how the second Guardians of the Galaxy made me want to dig out an old audio cassette player and dance to disco music.

[One costume detail I somewhat missed was the Ms. Marvel scarf/sash (though I realize there is a new Middle Eastern and teenage Miss Marvel now who has a very clever ethnic scarf as part of her costume). And, seeing the little girl give a pilot jacket back to Carol, I was thinking…why couldn’t the girl give Carol a scarf she made for good luck and have that be the origin of the scarf/sash. Or, the scarf could have belonged to Annette Bening’s character.]

There’s a good amount of sci-fi action. But, this is not a Jack Kirby epic, a man known for putting the “wallop” in cosmic superhero comics like Thor and Silver Surfer. Certain camera angles/shots could have been more dynamic. A few more shots of nebulas, stars and planets might have brought the artistry up a notch and impressed me the way the rainbow bridges did in the first Thor film.

So, while, looking back, I feel the deck is stacked against this film…and I am slightly toting a grudge against Disney for having anything to do with Marvel Comics…I cannot say Captain Marvel is a bad addition to the current string of S.L.J. (Samuel L. Jackson as Fury) movies. I would watch it, again, but, probably, just because I am so partial to Brie Larson. [It’s a crutch.]

A major–minor spoiler alert–question: Why is Earth where the Kree think they can create a machine to stop a war? [Was the time-and-space cube-thingy, the “tesseract,” already on Earth when the Kree first landed; did they come expecting to find/use it? And, refresh my memory, how many “infinity stones” have been found on Earth…and why all on one planet we know? And, what is the origin of the tesseract (which contains a secret from another movie in this series); how did it become a cube?]

Captain Marvel doesn’t wow or amuse me as much as Robert Downey, Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man, but is it any worse than seeing “Pepper” escape an exploding reactor as Iron Man faces his nemesis? No. [Or, wait, is the current audience too young to remember 2008? Ya never know, these days.]

On that note, DO NOT show little ones this film. This may be made by Disney (and what’s left of Marvel Studios)…and it may be light on responsibility… but…well…you know what some say about watching Bambi. I had some tots in the audience with me, and they could not contain their emotions during a few brief intense moments, as if they knew the violence was/felt wrong. You need to be, at least, a teenager to go on this ride. And, even a teenager is likely to feel lost unless an adult who has lived the 1990s can fill them in on some details. It’s crazy to me when I try to think of explaining the 1990s the way I’d want my grandparents to explain the WWI and/or WWII days.

I give Captain Marvel (2019) 3 out of 5 stars and will let it slide as a rental because there isn’t anything that requires the big screen (unless there are small details that might have otherwise been…that I might have…missed). [I don’t care what Jimmy Fallon says about every film released in 3D; it’s clearly not worth it in this one.] It doesn’t grab me like Spider-Man swinging across New York City to save M.J. (back when MJ was a vibrant redhead who purred when she called Peter Parker “Tiger”); but it’s enough to keep me buzzing and smiling…most of the time. Two of those three stars go to Brie Larson’s eyes…or, rather, they were always there. The third is on her costume.

If you feel like taking a leisurely (versus engrossing) road trip through the 1980s and 1990s…or if you’re only happy when it rains…give Captain Marvel a try. And, if Brie can’t put a smile on your face, blame the film makers.

03
Apr
17

White or Right, My Views on “Whitewashing”

*****
So, there’s this bad odor going around called “whitewashing.” If you are oblivious to the concept, it basically refers to…well, it has a few uses, already. One being Caucasian people being cast in roles originally set for other nationalities. And, that is what tops my peeve list at the moment. Namely, a certain typically blonde actress being cast to play a raven-haired and distinctly Asian character from a “popular” anime about a female cyborg cop.

[Note I have omitted names and titles lest giving them more specific attention only add to the theory that bad press still adds to ticket sales. For the purposes of this editorial and my own amusement, I will refer to the cast actress as “Red Role-playing Hood” and the movie as “Robocop 4: Turning Japanese.”]

Some say “Red Role-playing Hood” sells movie tickets and that this is enough justification to cast her. Others plain and simple object to her being cast in this particular role, regardless of justification.

According to an article I read, one of the artists behind the original story says the character has lost her original human name and identity, thus she could be just about anybody of any race.

If that is the case, I’d have made a different film. I’d have designed the film as a spinoff of the original story, having “Red Role-playing Hood” play a similar cyborg who looks different. Heck, the protagonist could have any body or hair color she wants if she’s not the original character. The story could have remained the same or similar with some minor changes. There’s a whole series of Resident Evil movies out there now that aren’t exactly about the original game cast, focusing on some lab creation, instead.

Another article states the actress has said she would not take a role she felt would be viewed as offensive…buuuut she IS taking the role; and some find her choice offensive, or, at least, infuriating. Myself included.

I think she, like many, will take just about any role she can get. So, if someone handed “Red Role-playing Hood” the script, I doubt she would have turned it down, considering she is open to expanding her options and likes to play odd roles that may not suit her, roles other actresses would more likely turn down to avoid being judged “weird” or being asked to play more roles like this one instead of roles in other genres they prefer. Months or years from now, one of those actresses that passed on the film will speak out at some interview for another project and admit they passed on the role while subtly praising “Red Role-playing Hood” for being an “amazing” person with whom she worked or met at an awards show.

I say the whole notion of “Red Role-playing Hood” making better ticket sales than an actual Asian, or more specifically Japanese, actress–possibly a “nobody”–is hogwash. Even if “Red Role-playing Hood” draws a certain crowd, it’s as likely the crowd comes to see HER, not the character she portrays. And, considering she looks like a clown in some green-screen body suit and wig, I feel she should NOT be playing this part.

[I am asking would-be film makers.] Would a character written as an African woman be cast/rewritten as a white woman in disguise, as well? And, if the character did not look one bit like Thandie N., would you still cast Thandie N. to play the part because she’s the only dark-skinned actress you could get to take the part? Or, would you go out of your way to find a more perfect match for the character? Is it really so important to put a movie out before all the pieces properly fit? Or, are you so lustful for profits and jumping at any dog that barks that you’ll rush to blow a budget on a lesser prize?

Why was the Thing shorter than the rest of the Fantastic Four in the first films, featuring Jessica A. as the Invisible Woman? Was Michael C. cast because of ticket sales, because he fit the role…or maybe because no one else wanted the role and/or the costume designers couldn’t make him appear bigger…even if they have the technology to fake such things?

I didn’t care for Charlize T. playing Aeon Flux, either. Some people you just get used to seeing with a certain hair color and look. And, throwing them into some character that is completely different without proper blending of appearance just makes the whole image a joke. I don’t want to see a parody of the original story. Thus, I don’t want to boost ticket sales for this film. I’ll give it a try another way, as the modern world provides. And, all ticket sale crap can just fly out the window. It’s bullshit that can be skewed, anyway. [And, I throw all the award show nonsense into the same pot. Such a waste of time and resources with little regard for the source material.] It boils down to what you choose to believe.

[On the flip side, Hugh J. was so compelling as Wolverine, I put up with him being taller than most other X-Men, even though the character was fairly short in the comics.  He also wasn’t a “clown” in a costume.  He was authentically crass, fierce and embittered.]

I believe this instance is a form of “whitewashing.” And, an Asian “nobody” would have befitted the role better, regardless of popularity or anticipated profits. I would pay to see better casting, to see an Asian beauty play this part. And, ever since I started watching films like “The Curse of the Golden Flower” and even “Rush Hour 2,” I think Hollywood can find a few. Or, maybe, such films should be made by people closer to the source material; and, if Americans are so lucky, the film will be dubbed into English, and they will learn to like it.

A “blockbuster” can never smell as sweet as it would with the right cast. Why do you think certain “franchises” got “reboots” so fast? If casting didn’t matter, why was there a reboot, anyway?

Years from now, people won’t look back and, when thinking of this blonde in a black Asian wig, say, “Gosh, she was so perfect for that role.” They WILL say, “Gosh, she sure made lots of movies.” The actress will be regarded like a Marilyn Monroe. And, only fans who concede to give up their cultural roots–including all Asian folks who try to look “American”–will not care who played what part and just be happy a film about that cartoon was made.

It doesn’t matter who is turning what characters into their own nationality. It’s Caucasian Americans and British folks, today. Tomorrow, it could be Mexicans or dark-skinned Africans altering Caucasian characters.

Some if not most movie makers are just too concerned with budget and ticket sales to consider the impact and value of proper casting (and story writing). I may be surprised to see a film pitched poorly play well. But, I will not be steered into accepting poor casting.

26
Jan
17

The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun, 2015/2016 Movie Review

****

Call me a cab and find a shrink. I may need some help sorting out my feelings about “The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun,” a French film starring Scottish actress Freya Mavor, and the mad people behind it. I am as much aroused and intrigued as I am puzzled and disgusted…which–from my understanding of the director’s explanation–seems on par with French cinema.

[NOTE: This film is either closely or loosely based on a novel I have not read, a novel the director claims is “insane” (though he loves it) and about a woman raised by a nun who still speaks to her as a conscience. My views are based solely on the DVD film and the interview I watched subsequently. And, I’d recommend watching both at least twice to have any chance of grasping every detail…unless you are just so damn observant that you miss nothing the first time through.]

The story seems to take place in the mid-1970s, resembling the TV series Mad Men. Dany, a tall, timid and short-sighted secretary (a 23-year-old Catholic school girl version of Donna from “That 70s Show”) is asked by her ad agency boss to type up his rough rewrite of some fifty-page “report” by the end of the day. Concealing her sexual fantasies, she is willing to tackle the task but confesses to a lack of typing speed. The boss offers her a chance to complete the work at a house shared by his wife and young daughter, provided she tells no one. Dany quickly begins to imagine him leaving his wife and child to toy with her. On top of being a daydreamer, she has a bad habit of “complicating” matters with questions which quickly get on the nerves of the boss and Anita (the wife and Dany’s former secretary school rival who may have “fooled around” with her “ages ago” which is actually a little over three years before the story begins).

When the report is finished, the boss makes one more request of his most trusted secretary. Accompanying the family to the airport, Dany is left with a teal Thunderbird and the “simple” chore of driving it back to the family’s Paris home. While the boss and his family are away, Dany decides to play, motivated by a tempting voice in her head. She takes the car south, in hopes of spending a few hours at the beach, but soon finds herself running into people who claim to have seen her earlier, a flirtatious stalker and amassing evidence that may convict her of murder. Whether or not the ending is a happy one remains debatable.

Though fairly brilliant in terms of cinematography (aside from maybe one or two poorly lit scenes), casting and music, the intentionally “trippy” and disorienting short story is not unlike something Quentin Tarantino would devise, except, thankfully, lacking his usual excess of gore. It has many of the touches I long to put in a similar movie: the fashions (though some, including the frequently featured “dress,” are a bit revealing), the moody lighting and music, the variety of camera shots, the comic book panels (without being panels), the bookish beauty with hidden sides to her personality and a backstory (though not flushed out in the movie) to explain her behavior, the scandalous/suspicious encounters, the well-devised plot of the villains played out (not perfectly) in the background, etc. There’s a somewhat magical flow to the whole product which some have said is a 95-minute music video. I prefer to think of it as a daring perfume ad (which could be ironic, considering the protagonist works for an advertising agency).

Even after two viewings, I have some questions. One, why can’t a half-dozen auto mechanics catch a man either entering or exiting a restroom at their gas station/cafe? Two, why would a religious young secretary hook up with a guy who admits to disabling her (borrowed) car and daringly climbs inside with her before she knows his name (considering she aspires to hooking up with her boss, unless both men are nothing more than a night of fun to her)? How does she stay so calm with the guy when he’s obviously dangerous in more than one scene? How does such a damsel in distress get from the wilderness to a truck stop, track down a missing car and then walk some unknown distance down a seaside road alone to find said missing car? Where were the parents of the boy at the beach? And, why would he want to climb in the car of a strange older woman when he knows something is amiss with the trunk?

While I can accept the nudity and sex as typical of adult films and more commonly accepted in non-American films (which is a bit surprising, considering the general impression I get of Americans being comfortable with casual sex and rape), the amount presented in the film was still more than I care to see. I also didn’t care for a young actress consistently playing with a religious necklace between her sexually daring exploits. [This may have been included to reflect the character’s childhood in the care of a nun (if the movie is sticking true to what the director says of the novel). But, viewing the film without such knowledge, I felt the necklace was unnecessary and misused. If it provided moments of conscience, I question Dany’s morals.]

The “naught bits” justify what some have said of the director. Or, at least, I assume what the director said of those who question his work is true and agree with the sentiments. He says people accuse him of “getting off” on his actresses and abusing certain camera shots. Well, despite his claims to the opposite, he DOES seem to play with women in a manner I’d say is either erotic or pornographic. He prefers the term “fetish.” His little collection of paintings and admission to designing pornographic comic books–the former displayed in his enclosed interview for the film–do not depict him as an entirely honest man, either.

Let me pause right here to address more about the interview portion of the DVD. Why is it certain (if not all) French “artists” speak with contradicting thoughts? Why is something “utterly useless” obviously valued by the person? Why is trash worth discussing at any length? Why build something just to tear it apart? And, why does the explanation for one idea spring off in some other direction that seems completely unrelated? [I have tried drumming up an example–without jotting down every word the guy says–but it just gives me a headache.] Is this simply some attempt at being modest (versus boasting)? Am I right in being puzzled? Or, is someone doing a poor job of translating the interview?

Just as I fuss and fume over some of Tarantino’s work, this little tale *directed* by Joann Sfar is a steamy pot of artistic potential. It’s not utter trash…nor is it a blissful masterpiece. But, with a little more editing, I’d be inclined to describe it as the latter. [Why do some artists poop on their creations?]

This is a DVD I’d keep on hand for reference material but would have a bit of a hard time watching regularly/casually (particularly with anyone who is not a lover). And, I’d consider working with those responsible for the camera shots/editing, provided they can cope with making some changes to their “routine.” While I might share some of the same fetishes, I would do more to keep the nudity, sex and violence blurred/veiled or–better yet–suggested (versus “in-your-face”).

[And, as I often say, if I am going to dabble in nude artwork, I’d keep such pieces private between me and my lover. It feels wrong to paint (or draw) nude and/or provocative images of someone working with me who is not (my lover). It is inexcusable to claim you are protecting actresses while displaying nude and/or scandalous images of them on publicly released material.]

“The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun” (2015/2016)
Directed by Joann Sfar
Editted by Maryline Monthieux and Christophe Pinel
Original “opera” music by Agnes Olier

30
Dec
15

Back From the Dark Side…of the Theater

*****

Put away the zit cremes and Ovaltine. Take a deep breath. And, get ready to go geek-to-geek with one more lengthy, nit-picking but honest assessment of the latest “blockbuster” movie.

Okay. I saw it, the big spectacle of 2015, the film so many have been waiting for with some trinket of a past generation clutched nervously between their sweaty hands, the movie seasoned adults are supposed to inject into their inexperienced kids so they will continue to pick sides and wage wars between dark and light, the epic 38 years in the making handed over to the Disney Empire and the guy who put together LOST.

**********
The Good:

If you miss Luke, Leia, Han and the rest of the heroes who survived the 70s/80s films, they’re ALL back. The only characters who have not returned are the ghosts, the desert people, the Cantina regulars and a few members of the Sith/Empire. [But, it looks like one of the old crew wanted to nip this thing in the can by taking the big plunge. Shh!]

The visuals are spectacular. The 3D isn’t throwing much in your face, but the depth perception tricks are used well, including some intense spaceship fight scenes which make you feel like you’re living through a video game. Just about every environment is covered from desert to forest to snowy mountains. But, when you have Disney money backing your enterprise… Well, as the founder of Jurassic Park says, “Spare no expense.” I’d expect no less with all the modern technology and countless technicians/artists at one’s disposal. I imagine a massive army of stormtroopers sitting at drawing tables and beside film-processing mach–er, computers.

Lupita cannot lose. After being spotlighted for playing a slave, she becomes the red carpet fashion plate who rarely if ever misses with all of her stunning and trendsetting outfits. Now, she’s my favorite new character in the latest installment of this series. [I was semi-hoping she’d be cast as a Jedi with some sort of tribal face paint and eggplant robe.] You would miss her if you did not know her voice. No big spoiler here; she’s the yellow Yoda of the story. [I love you, Lupita/Maz.]

Daisy Ridley is a lovely heroine (even if she resembles the younger prequel Anakin crossed with Padme). But, what do you expect from the female lead? Everyone loved Leia (even if some criticized the “bun” hairdo). I loved Padme (but not all of her outfits). And, she uses her natural voice (which is refreshing when I think of all the Brits and Aussies using American accents in films). [I am guessing she gets the accent from her mother?]

Boyega’s Finn is a complicated man. No, he’s not Samuel L. Jackson (nor Richard Roundtree) but a good stormtrooper…er, bad stormtrooper turned good. …He’s with the Rebellion! Anyway, he’s a nice addition to the cast/story. [I like him slightly better than Lando. You know, Finn’s dad. Shh!]

Racial diversity is more apparent. And, women, well, two women, are added for more powerful roles…though one doesn’t do much. But, it’s a slight improvement on the original trilogy. [What about the “prequels?” There was a female bounty hunter in one of those, and she was badass.]

The whining I hated with the two previous trilogies is gone! Well…not exactly. There’s still a little whining and tantrum throwing by the Dark Side. It’s just restricted/sent to a private space sans rubber walls where the villain can slash the place apart. [It’s not like anyone is ever going to use those computers again, anyway.]

The star Jedi is NOT the one to strike the big, successful blow against the enemy! That’s right, it’s one of the smaller potatoes…who just happens to be the best pilot with dark hair.

A new R2 is used well. The little rolling ball of excited chatter is more likable than Number 5 from Short Circuit. [If you don’t know who that is, you’re obviously a prequel baby.] He’s sure to spawn a whole line of toys, speakers, other gadgets and remote control replicas.

—————
Is it just me or does the good list weaken as it reaches its end? Well, let’s get to the rest of it.
—————

**********
The Bad:

In seven words, it’s Star Wars, the Vader saga, revisited. If you watch the Darth Vader trilogy and the new film together, you’ll pick up on matching character looks/types and repeated dialogue.

In five words, there is no new story. Well, that’s not entirely true. There are a few small surprises, tiny kernels of continuation forty years after Darth Vader falls. But, you’d think more would have changed. And, as they say in the movie, the Empire is gone. So…why are there still stormtroopers running amok under new leadership which looks EXACTLY like the old leadership? [Then again, what changed between World War one and two other than who started the fight and why?]

In three words, too much recycling. I think the crew (including the director) were so scared to try anything new after the barrage of hate mail flew at the “prequels” that they went a VERY safe route to please everyone. [I guess furry little creatures were too dangerous because there are none.]

Unfortunately, this hit rock bottom when the big surprise weapon was revealed. At that moment, my smile wilted. If you are following my train of thought, you can guess what awaits our heroes and devastates worlds. It’s been done! And, I am tired of this constant upgrade of power which only falls the same way the old power did, anyway!

I mean, seriously, J. J.! You put a toaster over the Tatooine lizard’s head. Some of the stellar visuals are reused…though perhaps at new angles or with new computer enhancements. Even the big surprise from The Empire Strikes Back is essentially given a face-lift with new characters in the scene. And, you killed one of my favorite characters!

If you’re going to kill one of my favorite characters, why not get rid of the stormtroopers, too? If anyone wants to use force, it’s me, using physical force to knock some sense into your head. [Don’t worry too much, you’re still better than the guy who ruined Transformers and who is probably raping the Ninja Turtles before a sequel to that remake as I speak.]

If you want the truth, J. J., I think you do better sticking with the revised Star Trek franchise. [I have only seen trailers and interviews, but it looks good.] I take no enjoyment from being a member of the hate police. But, I am rather sick of all the Star Wars “swag” and undeserved domination of science-fiction interest. And, even if you’re tired of hearing it, you slowly lost me on LOST. You spent all those years not telling people they were watching the Twilight Zone.

It’s still too quick and easy for the good guys to find the fatal flaw in the enemy’s plans (even if the enemy does some serious destruction first…and just as quickly/easily). Apparently, we come into the “story” at the moment when the “aha moment” hits. Again, that’s been used in the previous films. It smells of lacking plot to fill the space between “Here are your new cast members.” and “Here is how the enemy falls.”

The very first Star Wars to be made was the “best” chunk of a lengthy story possibly too big for Lucas’ mind to handle. He didn’t want to bore people to tears with a long, ongoing war. So, he cut it down to a highlight reel to sell tickets and save people from cardiac arrest (from too many hours planted in theater seats which were not as luxurious as they are now). Still, people felt the need to sell toys and related kids’ bedroom items before Christmas, stoking the fire of future collecting/hoarding/resale crazes. Then the story grew; it continued with a new stage of the same war waged on the snowy side of some planet and a third in a jungle occupied by little teddy bears with spears and rocks. And, in the end, the Empire’s emperor fell.

This is not the first rodeo for the “guardians of the galaxy.” [Yea, I used a Marvel title, also purchased by Disney.] Get on with the story. Write something new while properly representing the old; show progression. Or, tell fans you are remaking the originally released film with new effects/technology and let them decide how to feel about that. Me? I’d be looking for a red lightsaber if I saw another remake (though I do respect the effort to improve upon what may have been limited by technology at the time if it is closer to the artist’s vision and given his/her consent).

With a good writing team, this “story” could have spanned three films and saved the big explosion for the third (using a DIFF-ER-ENT weapon as the ultimate target). But, no, this is now Disney’s battle cruiser; and we know Disney has been recycling/rewriting old tales since Snow White. So, as I said, you get Star Wars in a new, shiny package with plenty of the old trilogy squeezed into one film for the old generation to pass onto the new. Heck, why watch the original films when Disney will repack them for you? I expect another “big weapon” to appear in the third repackaged film of this new series. Surprise me with something different. I dare ya.

**********
The Ugly…er, my final rating?

Out of 5 stars, I give this one 2 1/2, average. 5 star visuals with a 1-2 star story. Even 2 stars is generous for the recycling. And, as many already know, this isn’t the end of it. There are two more sequels to round out another trilogy. Knowing Disney, there are spin-offs in the works, probably throwing some more kid-friendly TV shows and movies to surpass what was once Droids and Ewoks. And, with that is sure to come even MORE merchandising which has already been insane. It’s enough to make you hate Christmas. And, we sure don’t need that.

One question for those who have seen the film: [Don’t read this if you have not seen it.] Why doesn’t Leia sense Luke’s presence when he contacts R2-D2 (if she can feel what happens to Han and is able to feel Luke throughout the original trilogy)?

If I could:

1) I would erase four of the previous six films, removing the bits from A New Hope that repeat in The Force Awakens and salvaging the good parts primarily from The Empire Strikes Back with traces of Return of the Jedi to complete the chapter. You could squeeze six weak stories into two good films or spread the pursuit of bringing down the enemy over three stronger than weak films.

2) And, yea, I’ll say it, I’d cast someone else as or rewrite Luke’s script so he doesn’t seem so whiny and naive with unbelievable luck. If there’s one character in the first trilogy to be made that bothers me the most, it’s Luke. [I’d love the films if the focus was on the relationship between Han and Leia.] C3-PO is a close second. He’s the robotic equivalent to Donkey in the Shrek films. I’d say he’s as bad as some think of…

3) I’d keep Jar Jar Binks in the prequels. Not because I want to further anger those who hate him but because he’s perfect for Disney who created Goofy and now holds the keys to the whole shabang. Cheers to Lucas on ensuring a luxurious retirement!

4) I’d keep the pod race but remove the lucky shot from The Phantom Menace.

5) I’d strip the Clone Wars down to the bare bones, re-purposing the sickly General Grievous (who was a bit of a disappointment), saving Count Dooku (who is just about as good as the actor was in the Lord of the Rings films) and sparing viewers the madness that is the excess of troopers along with the dragging factory and arena showdown scenes (except for the bit when Mace Windu chops off Jango Fett’s head).

**********

In short, see the new film to enjoy the ride. Just don’t invest much in it. Don’t hate the “prequels.” But, why are they considered such a failure?…for being different from the future? Is it possible the first three chapters of the six-part saga were changed to once again hopefully please more fans than they originally would have? At least, J. J. won’t be called a TRAITOR! [I’m just throwing in a word repeated in a few of Boyega’s scenes for whatever reason, not calling anyone a traitor, presently.]

And, for those of you who have had no interest in the Star Wars movies whatsoever, bless your hearts. You might have the last semblance of imagination to create new stories that span the stars. May the creative force, divine inspiration, be with all who read these words and use it wisely.

 

17
Dec
15

What Sells a Certain Sci-Fi Franchise?

*****

If I mention a certain series of sci-fi films that have literally canvassed the globe in heaps of stuff, you might get excited.  [Please, don’t wet yourself…or me.]  Or, you might complain how everyone else seems excited but you.  Some of you may be a little divided.  And, rightly so.  I am, too.

And, as another tide of the hype hits me from television media, I ask myself…what sells the movies?

1- Is it the story? 

What IS the story?  How much of a plot is there?  And, how much is just visual fluff and audio hypnosis?

If I give it serious thought, stripping away the sounds and light shows, I am not sure there is much of a story.  At least, it’s not very deep in detail.  I might have to put on reading glasses to find a plot.  It’s more like a slide show of a war in progress with some splashes of stopping to gab or clash with peers.  More “Hold onto your seat!” and “Great shot, kid!” than “We’re family?”

When a film ends, we think there was a story because it all flowed with the wash transition effects.  If there’s anything that confuses us, we dismiss it in favor of the colorful pictures imprinted in our retinas.  I know I walk away asking more questions than I have answers.  And, if the new director’s other notable TV project with a title of four letters says anything about his future projects, I can expect more of the same, becoming LOST in the fantasy imagery and flashes of emotion.

If there’s one grain of serious story in the films, it has to be the father-son relationship and the impact of genetics/evolution upon life.  There’s also the rise of good and bad powers in deceptive clothing and the occasional changing of sides.  So, there is some story…but it might be like chunks of cereal floating in a sea of milky spectacle and merchandise.  [More on the latter later.]

2- Is it the acting, the cast? 

Can I really say any actor stands out for a stellar performance?  Well, I can think of two actors in the films that stand out for me.  One hated how she was “forced” to look.  As a little green puppet would say, “Bad costumes lead to anger.  Anger leads to hatred.  Hatred leads to drunken and verbally explosive behavior laced with expletives.”

The other, a male secondary character/actor, has had more films with meatier parts and gone through some small changes over the decades.  In some ways, he should have been the lead.  But, not if it meant he had to be a whiny youth with all the luck…except for losing limbs and turning evil.  [“Stop whining, already!  Don’t make me turn this spaceship around, mister!  No one’s destroying an empire today with that attitude!”]   Then, I guess, being second billing isn’t all bad.  I might even prefer to be a chatty orange creature with big, flapping ears in Goofy clothing.  [That’s right.  That annoying chatterbox was a pre-Disney takeover Goofy wannabe.]

There are some serious creature haters out there.  Some question the use of little people in teddy bear costumes.  I call those audience assemblers.  The films broaden the audience base by changing the original conceptions for the story.  A slasher samurai story becomes a dazzling display of both serious and silly characters.  It’s a Muppet show!  Everyone can come…even if you are too young to process the heavy stuff.  Bring the family!  Buy more tickets!  Spend more on snacks to appease the restless ones!

3-Is it the music/sound effects? 

A very likely possibility.  There is definitely a sound buffet that dazzled ears when they first heard it.  Thank the orchestra and sound effect technicians.  There are iconic sounds that people will echo when the titles come to mind.  So, that much sticks with many if not most viewers.  You might pay twice to hear them, again.  [Or, you could seek the purchase of a soundtrack.]

4-Is it the visuals, the special effects and cinematography?

As I like to say, if you have the resources, anything is possible.  We’ve already highlighted the orchestra which could get pricey.  What does it cost to film on lavishly decorated sets, create countless models and mold goofy yet innovative costumes?  How much does a growing, glowing light sword cost?  Could someone with less or more money have done the same or better?

5-Is it the merchandising?

Well, you tell me.  How much of the “stuff” have you already bought?  How much do you enjoy it?  And, how much sits on a shelf, hoping to not get scratched, dinged or dusty?  I worry about those who feel the need to collect nearly everything if not everything ever made for a film.

There has been WAY too much merchandising for the latest installment.  I cannot express that enough.  It’s sick.  It does not bode well for the environment nor mental health.  What it DOES do well is guarantee more kids will have plenty and not go “starving” for what another kid has.  It spares envy and jealousy.  But, does every kid really need a stiff plastic replica of a guy supposed to be the most evil thing in the universe?…at least, until someone replaces him.

But, if merchandising blindsides the story, what sense is that?  If you care more about the stuff because you saw it displayed in a commercial window.  Look, I have the guy on the screen!  Are you really enjoying the stories/films or clinging to material things?  Shouldn’t the story sell itself?  Aren’t there other films you like as much that have no toys to go with them?  Aren’t you just as happy without the stuff?

So, even if merchandise boosts ticket sales, it seems excessive and misdirecting.  It smells like people trying to milk something for all it’s not even worth instead of being content with smiles for a good show.  I guess there’s nothing wrong with getting a sale while the selling is good…until I think of all the packaging and impulse/erroneous holiday shopping that leads to second-hand and dumpster madness.  When is enough enough?   And, what monstrous behavior are we encouraging with all this production?

[And, let me just say this.  It’s probably the merchandising that bothers me most of all.  It may be the reason I feel compelled to write such a post.  That and one empire swallowing another just to become more ridiculous.  The films write the story of their own demise.]

6-Is it the “hype?”

I think that’s obvious.  I like how an article I recently read puts it.  Empty interviews with people who have not even seen the film(s).  Let’s get the cast on camera as much as possible with people who have no clue to promote, package, sell it every way possible until all parties are puking swag and over-tired….until everyone looks at what should be a delight as just another job in which we augment our bodies to fit a part for someone’s amusement.

Who is amused?  Not those who make the films other than the few golden moments of fan appreciation that get washed away by financial dealings and the next project on a star’s radar.  How many actors actually see their own films…and like them?  “Thanks, everyone, but I need to focus on changing my body for the next role…I DO have another role coming up; don’t I?   Where’s my agent?  Don’t pigeonhole me.  Send money.”  How many ways or times can an actor be asked how a film “changed their lives” or “changed the world” with some bleached smile in their face?  How many B.S. answers must be given on camera to appease the masses that are driven by hype-mongers?

MOOOO-vies!  Get along, lil couch potatoes!  Yah!  Buy more stuff!  Throw it away and buy even more!  Yah!  Then, it’s onto the next one.  Yah!   So what if you have ten thousand little people in white suits of plastic armor, some missing limbs or burnt to a crisp because you felt you had the luxury to torture the excessive supply in your play room.  [That’s right.  I veered back toward merchandising.  Because it’s everywhere.]

So, in conclusion, yea, I will likely see the latest film.  But, I won’t fully enjoy it because I am so frustrated with the negative points.  I might have been a more loyal fan if the leads in the films didn’t annoy me so much and if there wasn’t such competition over the old stuff and excess of the new…which looks a lot like the old.  You can paint a soldier a dozen different ways.  But, he still smells the same.  New packaging, same product.  Still…well, you decide if its a winner or a loser.

May good conscience and judgement be with you.  With tremendous power comes tremendous concern for how one uses it.

[Damn it, Stan!  Why did you have to sell your empire off to Disney?   There.  I said it.]

 




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