Friday, May 13, 2016

This Week in Neat-O

:: 6 Insane Plot Points Marvel Movies Refuse To Delve Into. I usually don't care for stuff like this, but #3 is particularly interesting to think about.

:: These Letters Between C.S. Lewis And J.R.R. Tolkien Shed Light On One Of The Greatest Literary Friendships Of All Time. Parody, but it made me laugh with its absurdity.

:: After The Birdcage, Hollywood shoved gay comedies back in the closet. I really didn't like this movie 20 years ago; disappointing, because La Cage aux Folles is one of my all time favorite films. I'll have to see it again. (Also, get it together, Hollywood. Don't go out of your way to make movies less gay-, female-, and POC-friendly and then rend your garments about how not enough people go see movies anymore.)

:: Obama embraces retirement in spoof video

:: The Collapse of the Middle-Class Job

:: What “Taking the Country back” means for the rest of us.

:: Nerve looks kinda dumb-fun. Into the Forest is intrigueresting. And I really hope The Neon Demon (NSFW red band trailer) is as good as it looks to me.

:: In 1988, McDonald’s released a maddening “$1,000,000 Menu Song”

:: Everything I love is being canceled. I was disappointed but unsurprised that The Muppets got canceled. Still... blurgh. I'm very, very pissed to be losing Agent Carter. I just read that the Darth Vader comic book has been canceled. Man, Gareth Edwards isn't even going to direct the too-long-awaited Godzilla 2. At least Supergirl is changing networks... I hope it keeps its cast, because I adore that show.

Such is choosing to watch TV.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

THE UNINVITED (2009)
They should have called this movie The Uninspired. Emily Browning returns home to her family a year after witnessing her mother's tragic death. Dad (David Strathairn) has now taken up with mom's old nurse (Elizabeth Banks), who may not be what she seems. Browning and her sister (a very cute Arielle Kebbel) soon set about trying to uncover the truth of their mother's death and their would-be stepmother. It's a nice-looking, well-shot and well-acted movie, but all of its turns are telegraphed a mile away, and it steers right into the cliches as though they were guardrails. It has the effect of being a movie that wants you to gasp at its very straightforwardness. Then there's a twist at the end that is supposed to re-contextualize everything but which doesn't really work and, worse, falls into the "people react to genuine trauma by becoming psycho killers" trope that I am very, very sick of. **

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016)
The newest high point of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As I said about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it's impressive that a film with this many characters and plotlines remains clear and compelling for its entire running time, even when we're taking side trips. By far my favorite thing about this movie is Chadwick Boseman's performance as T'Challa, the Black Panther, whose solo movie I truly can't wait for. Everyone gets a chance to shine here, with cameos galore, and the introduction of Spider-Man is fun as hell, but I was impressed with how it was first and foremost a Captain America movie, a sequel to The Winter Soldier's political complexity and the ongoing story of Cap's need to rehabilitate his friend Bucky. It's a thrilling movie with some of the MCU's best performances, and it nicely services its continuing character arcs. What I also like is that it ends in a place where our regular heroes are probably going to have to take a breather, which gives phase three an opportunity to focus on some new characters. It's going to be a long wait for Black Panther, but what a great portrayal. I need more. And I'll stop here, because this is the kind of movie I think is so fun I just start gushing instead of saying anything interesting. ****

L'AVVENTURA (1960)
I'm glad I didn't see this classic Antonioni film until I was older. I think younger me wouldn't have quite gotten it. And, frankly, I think Roger Ebert has the better take on this depiction of ennui. I've nothing insightful to add to the body of criticism, but I'm so glad I absorbed this picture. Beautiful cinematography, fascinatingly compelling film. ****

Monday, May 09, 2016

Muppet Monday

Today in 1955, Kermit made his first appearance on Sam and Friends, which means today is Mr. the Frog's 61st birthday. To celebrate, here's one of his signature tunes: the identity-affirming "This Frog," written by Sam Pottle and David Axlerod (the frequent Sesame Street lyricist, not political operative David Axelrod). This song first appeared on a 1977 episode of Sesame Street. Happy birthday to my favorite frog!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Song of the Week: "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"

I listened to the Pet Shop Boys album Actually a hundred times or so in 1987. My Mom had the cassette and I just really dug it. This song, one of their big hits, featured Dusty Springfield. I didn't really know who she was back when I was 11. Anyway, I associate this song with my Mom because she just loved it so much and played it over and over again, so since it's Mother's Day, here's something I have a good association with about my Mom.