Women in Comics: Bitch Planet
I can’t tell you how many girl crush #’s I’ve used to say that I love Kelly Sue DeConnick. But here I go again. Let me add gratuitously to the pile of praise heaped on to Image Comic’s intersectional feminist baby: Bitch Planet!
I’ve read the first 3 issues and it’s a self-aware Quentin Terantino-style retro women-in-prison exploitation series but set in the near future… In SPACE!!! (Terantino XXX and Girls in Prison from our extensive Movie T-shirts library.) The things that make BP so good are twofold: 1) Its use of diverse female characters to tell actual women’s stories of alienation, personal discovery and fighting the Patriarchy are as relevant as they are fun (and violent!). 2) After the first 2 issues setting up the setting and cast, each issue is using a special guest artist to highlight and tell a character’s personal story, interwoven into the larger narrative. This starts in issue #3, “The Secret History of Penny Rolle”, my personal favorite of the trio. In it, Big, bold and BAD Penny is taken from her loving home at a young age because her grandmother (and assumedly also mother) is a single, black, morbidly obese woman, which in this near-future dystopia is enough to make her considered “Non-Compliant” in the eyes of the state and nation: you don’t look like you should look or act like society wants you to act, you go to jail.
Still, Penny is my hero because when forced to look through a magic-tech mirror (SPOILERS!) to see her most idealized self, she sees exactly who she is already: a big, angry, woman of color fighting to be free even in her cage. Because God don’t make no junk, and honey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So, ladies, gentlemen, friends all across the gender spectrum, are you ready to party like it’s your last night before being shipped to Bitch Planet? Are you mad about the status quo? Are you ready to be Non-Compliant?
Michael Keaton and Me Part Two: RoboCop
Unlike most of my generation, I didn’t grow up with Robocop in my nostalgia filter. I only saw the original 1987 film for the first time last year, around the same time the remake was coming out, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Joel Kinnaman, Omar from the Wire and Rorschach, plus of course, Michael Keaton. Notice something missing from that amazing cast? There are no women in it. In the original Robocop film, there were two important female leads: Robocop’s partner (who was replaced by Michael K. Williams) and Robocop’s Doctor (replaced by Gary Oldman). I love those actors and the new movie was available on Netflix, so I gave it a shot.
(Robocop Detroit Map T-Shirt from our vast Movie T-Shirt catalog.)
What made the original a classic and the remake suck? It’s certainly not the cast, as Michael Keaton gives a subtle but slimy performance as the corporate bad-guy and the lead, Joel who plays Murphy actually reminds me of a young Michael Bhein more than a young Peter Weller (not a bad thing, either way). If anything, they wasted a perfectly good cast.
The two problems I had with the structure of the remake were evident in the opening of it: there is no protagonist to root for (we meet Sam Jackson’s horrible TV personality first) and instead of focusing on a gang and drug war torn Detroit, we see a stereotypical depiction of war torn Middle East needing the US to save the day. Worst of all sins however is just the new Robocop is boring. It’s shiny plastic PG-13 crap with no blood, no bite and no wit. The Paul Verhoven headed original was an epic blood-caked parable of Christ in a drug apocalypse interwoven with scathing gallows humor and sly satire of commercialism, indoctrination and addiction. The new one had… Black armor and some sloppy, semi-racist talk about police militarization and privatization.
Just watch DREDD for the 1000th time instead.
Supernatural, Slash, And Subtext: Part 5
No show has been more often accused of blatant queer-baiting than Supernatural, and for good reason. I know many straight male fans of the show who watch it now, hoping that Dean and his favorite angel get together in the end. That seems to be where the show has been and is heading, despite writers and show-runners unable to agree on anything or even make up their own minds as to whether they support the relationship as romantic or not.
I personally think that they’ve written themselves into several dark corners, because they now have a larger queer (or queer-friendly) audience than a straight, conservative one, and because they might feel as writers that the show would lose its edge or jump the shark if the guys actually got together, or even implied a true romantic or sexual connection. After all, Moonlighting and the X-Files were ruined by their leads getting together and they didn’t have homophobic backlash as an excuse.
All that is besides the fact that Dean and Castiel weren’t ever meant to be the stars of the show; it was originally for more than 4 seasons a show about two brothers hunting monsters and saving the world in a cool car with awesome music. (More like the Blues Brothers, with gore instead of singing, “Mission From God” pic from our Movie T Shirts collection.) If Destiel becomes cannon, who or what do the writers do with poor lonesome Sam (Jared Padalecki)?
15 Fictional Characters I wish were real life friends of mine: 6 of 15
10. Marla Singer from Fight Club
At first I was just going to go with Tyler Durden but when you think about it he’s kind of dangerous to hang around with. Sure he delivers amazing monologs but how long before he has you fighting Meatloaf or trying to blow up a Starbucks? Those sorts of things can get you killed, whereas just watching Marla function is a class of entertainment beyond the pale. She says outrageous things, is hot in that crazy slutty sort of way, and apparently will eventually get bored and sleep with anything with a pulse and Y chromosome (or so I like to think). You might be exacerbated by her (driving her to rehab, listening to her try to shock you and all your friends, having her pass out and die choking on her own vomit) but you will never, ever be bored by her. Plus if she goes really bugnuts crazy you can probably just lose her number and never worry about it again.
Also I imaging the actual sex must by amazing.
Why would she want to be friends with me? Well, in spite of my many dating problems and massive ego I am actually a really good friend for a girl to have. I am a great listener, am handy when it come time to move furniture or tote bales, and if things ever got creepy with any of her boyfriends have been known to intimidate the heck out of people. Obviously that would have no effect on Tyler Durden but anyone not in a fight club tends to avoid me when I have my game face on.
The Fight Club poster comes from the movie t shirt category. Very cool IMO.
15 Fictional Characters I wish were real life friends of mine: 8 of 15
8. The T100 Terminator from T2
This could possibly be the best friend I ever had if he were programmed to like me. Loyal, super strong, lethal, can drive or shoot anything, nearly indestructible, can see in the dark, and wears cool shades. Plus everyone needs one friend who can help fix your car. I honestly can’t even change my oil. Plus he was trying hard to be more human and gain a sense of humor which in it’s own way better then most humans trying to be more robot like and having no sense of humor. Also who knows what else he could do? Perhaps pick up a guitar and become the worlds greatest folk singer. I kind of see him owning a car repair shop and we hang out in the office watching YouTube clips.
Why would he want to be my friend? That’s the best part! I would have programmed him to like me before sending him back in time to save the human race. He would have no choice, which would go a long way towards alleviating my rampant abandonment issues. I sincerely wish more people were programmable (or at least more women).
Arnold image courtesy of the movie t shirt category.
If I Stay Review #IfIStay
The perfect movies for girls who wish all boys were anatomically Ken dolls (and the guys who agree with them).
Ho hum. We are now in the dregs of the season movie wise. Too late to be a summer blockbuster, too early to be a Christmas release. This is where movies that the studios know don’t have the chops to compete in with the big boys surface like a bloated corpse in a dank bog. The movies that really couldn’t deal with going to school like a regular kid but hopes they can be the coolest kids on the short bus. You know, big fish in the little pond.
If I Stay is a perfect example of that, as well as a few other lame movie phenomena. It is another attempt to capitalize on the Young Adult book market (I keep seeing other reviewers abbreviate this to YA, which I find infuriating, but will use as long as I can follow it with “, it was a crappy movie”) only without any of the gravitas or imagination that makes other YA book/movies (BMs?) successful (eww. I just implied that Twilight has some imagination. Time to go flagellate myself for an hour (and if you think I just said something dirty you need to go back to high school)). Not that the more successful YA BMs are particularly imaginative (being almost all rip offs of other, better stories or just lore) but at least there was the hint of something interesting in vampires glowing in the light.
No so this film. It rips off pretty much every mediocre ghost/invisible story ever and merges it with a really dumb young love plot. However if you are in the market to see a dull movie I will say this film is particularily economical: for the price of a single boring movie you actually get three! It is a boring ghost story, a really boring teenage love/angst story, and an astounding exciting story about a girl learning to play cello (I hope your sarcasm detectors are working). Such a value!
The Expendables 3 Review
A little less expendable than the last one.
In my bizarre form of personal narcissism I naturally assume that everyone I meet knows who I am and is familiar with me and my life. In particular I assume everyone has at least read my blog (if that were true then according to my tracking data California has a population of about 87 people). Of course my rational brain understands this is tremendously far from the truth and most people I meet assume I am some kind of mover, truck driver, or thug in the employ of the local criminal element. However when I let my blog fantasies write themselves in my head I see all of Hollywood eagerly reading each review, rejoicing at each crumb of praise and bemoaning each gentle criticism (“I really don’t want to hate it and him on all levels (even subatomically) but he just makes it so, so very easy” – recent Transformers review) and taking in my feedback to the betterment of their craft or at least committing ritual seppuku.
(classic Expendables poster from the movie t-shirt category)
The point is it almost feels like the producers of the Expendables 3 read my Expendables 2 review and took out 70% of the stuff that really bugged the hell out of me. They cut back on the classic action star deluge to a manageable level and didn’t have them popping out of the scenery like heavily armed prairie dogs. They got rid of the horribly invasive plot devices to include all of them. They had a story that didn’t suck (and was almost coherent). The non-classic action movie actors they hired could deliver a line with more nuance and emotion than an Animatronic buccaneer from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The plot advanced organically and didn’t leave giant plot holes in its wake like massive road apples. The film felt adequately long at 126 minutes. There was no completely unnecessary and annoying romantic love interest. The comic relief was actually pretty cool and fitted in well. In general a true improvement over the last film.
What, then, about the remaining 30% that annoyed me you ask? Well, unfortunately nothing was done to improve most of that. In fact it got tragically worse. The biggest problem this movies suffers from is the fact that they went in for a PG-13 rating. I have talked about PG-13 draping over other action films like a wet blanket but in this film it is like an ocean container full of wet blankets landing on the screen and flattening it out. They tried to push the PG-13 boundary as far as they could and took full advantage of the one per film allowable S-word and F-bomb but were I a witness in court and was asked if I had actually seen any of the several hundred peopled killed in this film die I would have to answer “I don’t know”. For all I know they were all stunned with rubber bullets fired by a completely different team never shown on screen.
The Giver Review
I wish this movie had given me more to care about.
So when I first heard about this film I made the immediate and completely logical assumption that it was an attempt to launch another of the interminable Twilightesque teenie bopper franchises. It had all the warning signs: two hot young boys who look like girls in a slightly futuristic fantasy society that oppresses their love and emotions while centered on a hot but bland young girl based on a novel that is supposed to be popular with young people. However at that point all of my friends who were in middle school in the 90’s told me it’s a classic that is taught in schools for some reason and is really good.
Then I saw it and found it to be another bland teen-centric romance in set in a future society bent on oppressing young love so I guess my first instincts were right? What sucks is the source material is supposed to be better than most but thanks to this bomb I am more inclined to read Star Trek fan fiction than anything by Lois Lowry. She may just be a brilliant writer but to me she looks and sounds like another half assed author who thinks all you need to be science fiction is some hovering robots and everyone wearing the same jumpsuits.
The point is it is exactly the same as any other teenage disposable income vacuums and not as well done as most of them. Sure it’s better than the Host or Mortal Instruments but the producers of the Hunger Games and Divergent would be well within their rights to spit on this film as they walk by. It does have Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep in it but honestly they weren’t enough to save the picture.
Most of Hollywood should dream of one day making a movie this good.
My life, much like this movie, is a study in contrasts. My last review was the new Transformers movie by Michael Bay, the Dr. Mengele of movie directors. This week I am doing Snowpiercer, a movie that is to 99% of science fiction movies what those movie are to swimming in an open sewer for 165 minutes (still preferable to most Bay flicks IMO). I was pretty well astounded at how this South Korean film could hit the mark so well and so perfectly.
Over the past few years I have become a fan of Korean film. Some is good, some is bad, but a lot of it is brilliant. This one falls into the last category and then sets up base camp to travel to other peaks of brilliance. Really, really good. In what can laughingly be called my movie reviewing career I have only once given a film all stars and no black holes (Argo, if you are curious) and unless I have a brain transplant in the hour and a half that it takes me to write this I will have my second.
Then of course there is the massive controversy between visionary director Joon-ho Boon and heavy handed studio executive Harvey Weinstien. Harvey didn’t like this film and wanted to cut 20 minutes off. He also (I did research this) wanted a voice over narration at the beginning and end that would have been totally unnecessary (and would have most earned a black hole from me). Has he never seen the difference between the theatrical release of Blade Runner, where the narration sits on the film like an 800 lb cat sitting on your face, and the Directors Cut where the film flows naturally and the director assumes that his audience is more intelligent than the dinosaurs who died to make his film? The simplification of a movie story is a sure sign that the director and/or executives have sneering contempt for their audience and think we spend all day eating, mating, and throwing feces at each other (for me it’s certainly not ALL day).
Star Trek Retrospective: Episode 38 I, Mudd
All good things in entertainment go their start in Star Trek (at least in my mind) and in this episode we see the origin of the recurring villain (I know, Doctor Who probably did it first but throw me a bone here people). Yes, the great Harcourt Fenton Mudd (and no, I did not have to look up his whole name. I’m too big a fan for that. Challenge me with something hard, like what are TOS space outposts along the Nuetral Zone made of? (Cast rodinium)) resurfaces to once again plague the crew of the Enterprise.
I’m going to give this episode an A++ for continuity in that everyone from the ship recognized Harry EXCEPT Chekov. Why not Chekov you ask? Because he did not join the Enterprise until Season 2 and Mudd’s Women was Season 1. This is the kind of fact checking and professionalism I long for in modern entertainment writing. It’s almost like they knew 50 years in the future loser nerds such as myself would have nothing better to do than analyze and notice things like this (what’s that you say? Kironide? Psycho-tricorder? Yangs? Gary Seven? You just reminded me of something important-shut up).
I have to say this is also one of the most fun episodes ever. Mudd is great, and the way Spock and the crew foil the androids is pure Star Trek brilliance. Plus the punishment Kirk thought up with for Harry was awesome (“Stella, dear”. Again, no need for me to look up her name. Am I not awesome? Hot female Trek fans should be throwing themselves at me, unless this is Mirror Earth again. I couldn’t find an image I liked for this post from Star Trek but this Weyland-Yutani android logo from Aliens seems to fit in with the androids from Mudds world. I pulled it from the movie t shirt category).
Speaking of quality writing over the last couple years I have gotten a certain amount of heat from my fellow nerds (I refuse to call them Star Trek fans) for my brutal and unforgiving review of the last awful, awful JJ Abrams space fiasco (I also refuse to call it a Star Trek film). Well, I was very gratified to come across this very accurate Star Trek Into Darkness Honest trailer by the good people at Screen Junkies. If you have always felt like there was something wrong with that film but couldn’t put your finger on it (and are too busy to read the 3,833 words I wrote on it in my own Into Darkness Review) watching this will shed a lot of light on your puzzlement.
the Infamous Dave Inman