“Logan” is the best X-Men film yet, but that isn’t saying much.

“Logan” having an ‘R’ rating seems more a reaction to the success of “Deadpool” now than anything and that kind of highlights my issue with the movie. It’s not a bad movie by any stretch and it’s probably the clearest vision that anything super hero related and made by Fox has had besides “Deadpool”.

Them not really doing anything with the ‘R’ rating besides blood and gore and cursing is kind of what I expected. I honestly thought the cursing crossed over into silliness at times. There was no need for some silly sex scene in these movies and I’m glad they never went that route. There’s some nice hints about the future world “Logan” occupies. 2029 isn’t too far fetched, but it’s also just different enough. Things feel more lawless.

In the past I’ve said that it might be a strength that the mutants of Marvel have been kept away from the rest of the universe. There’s such a diverse and large number of characters from the X-Men books that they can support their entire own reality filled with super heroes in a world where genetic mutation gives someone control over the weather or portals in their eyes leading to a dimension filled with beams of concussive force.

For the first time that separation from actual Marvel hurt this movie. The world felt smaller when just mutants had been in it than the one in the Old Man Logan book. A lot of the references to Spider-Man or the parts with an older more grizzled Hawkeye would have been awesome to see, but Fox doesn’t have those properties and really it’s no one’s fault but their own. Fox is the one keeping themselves from a Sony like deal with Marvel and Disney and a chance to basically print money.

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And these things might not seem like they affect the movie, but they really do. The movie is technically good and there’s a real emotional center to all of it, but it feels weaker because they had to lean on the X-23 storyline and only on the X-Men storyline in general. When I heard they were doing an Old Man Logan style story I got really excited, but then got really sad that we couldn’t see a lot of the wonderful things.

This is one of those case where a movie really didn’t suck by any stretch and was a good watch, but it feels like it wasn’t as good as everyone has been saying it is. Honestly the X-Men series has been so wishy washy that anything this tightly plotted and competently written looks like the fucking “Magnificent Ambersons”.

Don’t think that I’m telling you to stay home or this isn’t worth it, I’m just saying not to get your hopes up too high. It’s a good movie, but it’s not surprising. X-Men had the potential to be at this level for a long time and we have Fox to thank for it not being that way.

“Get Out” Reviewed

This is spoilers light if there’s any at all. I’m mostly going to discuss my feelings about the film, the movie going experience, and the subject matter as it relates to me.

Let me pain the picture: I am running late getting my ticket because it’s raining and the only reliably fun thing to do in this city when it rains is watch a movie. San Antonio is a city built for the outdoors. The Riverwalk, outdoor malls, the downtown market area, Mexican restaurants with patio seating…

It’s our bread and butter. Even then I thought that the crowds would be seeing Logan on it’s opening weekend, but no my theater was almost sold out. I bought one of the last four seats.

Given the obvious racial overtones of the movie I expected it to be mostly black and Hispanic, but the movie was mostly a white audience. I set next to a guy who was about as good ol country boy as they come and his black girlfriend. It was a strange feeling and with the anxiety creeping back in lately I didn’t want to be in a theater full of people to begin with.

I stuck it out and the first thing I will say about this movie directly is that it’s a strange feeling to have your experiences translated to the screen in such a relatable manner. Black people and white people may work in the same buildings and share the same streets and businesses or even neighborhoods, but there’s a certain level of segregation that goes on even today. This creates situations where people don’t know how to act around other races in casual settings. It’s not always the case, but it happens.

And if you’re the only black person at a party or function you can feel like you’re on display. If you’re dating a white woman (or really any woman of another race) it’s a conversation that might come up before you meet their family or friends: “Do they know I’m black?”

Sure, the most organic way to bring this up would be a picture of the two of you. But when you open the door and let it be known you’re dating outside your race you open the door to strange shit. People warning you of things to look out for and offering up all kinds of advice that you honestly didn’t ask for.

Another strange thing that happens sometimes when you’re black around a group of white people who aren’t used to it is they’ll bend over backwards to try and prove how not racist they are. They’d vote for Obama for a third term if they could. They’re jealous of how powerful and beautiful Serena Williams is. Then they’re name dropping black artists or actors or telling you how  articulate you are.

These things aren’t malicious, at least not in the sense of intention, but they still make you feel bad and uncomfortable. They still make you feel like you don’t belong.

“Get Out” frames all of this in that sense. You feel Chris’s status as an outsider from the moment that he arrives. You have to sit through the award dinner conversation about the athleticism of the black body or hear someone wax on about how their father did so much to help blacks in the past.

And that’s the thing, in the later stages “Get Out” makes a great little bit of horror, but the early part of the film sets up the feeling of alienation and it’s shocking how well it’s done and how you could feel the dread in the entire audience.

Movies like this are important. I told a friend over the phone that I had seen movies about racism from a black perspective before  and I had seen black genre movies before, but the two are usually separate. Anything about racism is set in a historical context of slavery or some overwhelming sense of self-determination to overcome adversity. They’re never just set in just suburbia and the few that might be out there weren’t this well polished.

Media plays an important part in normalizing behavior and what people expect. There’s a lot of important stories out there that need to be told. Last year when Donald Glover’s new show “Atlanta” was set to premier he said that he had hired all black writers for the show because there was more to the black experience in America than most people had ever seen on television and that it might surprise people. I don’t know if you have to separate out the writers, but you have to be willing to listen to the experience of others and take them as valid.

And I’d say with the clapping at the end of this movie people did just that.

Outline Time

I’ve always considered outlines to be kind of artificial.

There was this glorious, wondrous idea in my head of what a real writer should be and how they should strive to preserve their vision in its purest form. It sounds like some kind of romantic period ideal when I write it out like that, but I felt that outlines boxed a writer into a set of events that might need to be changed to better fit the story.

They weren’t something bad writers did as much as they were cheating, at least in my mind.

Now without much development on the writing front I’ve started to watch a lot of videos and read a lot about other writer’s methods and Jenna Moreci said something in one of her videos that stuck with me: writer’s that outline should plan their story back to front. Start with the ending and you’ll know what leads to where. If you work on the characters in conjunction with the actual outline there’ll be less chance of you needed to make up stuff on the fly when you’re actually writing and less chance of writer’s block.

My ending is something that’s worried me. I’ve never been good at endings, though when I come up with something it fits so well. Problem is that I go back and edit all over the place to shape the story around it.

How much editing do I do? Well, my last completed novel ended up shedding three whole chapters when I went back and edited. I read three whole chapters and realized that the problem created and solved in the space of thirty double-spaced pages could be dropped with no consequence to the rest of the book.

That’s exactly the kind of thing that an outline would protect against.

The problem becomes how to even do an outline. I have bits of a story written, some of it out of order and all of it related. I need to outline the parts in between and see what still needs to stay. Outlines are something I never learned to do because even in school the teachers realized that I could keep my ideas straight and in order for five to twenty pages, but when we’re talking about two to three hundred pages things get a little harder.

So this is where we are: I have to learn how to construct an outline and plan a concrete ending. I have the idea of an ending, but I need something thematically fitting and something the events around my story build to. If I find that the events I have planned out or written out don’t fit that theme I have to cut them or repurpose them for a later project.

It’s time to get brutal with it and stop letting “I can’t” be an excuse. I would suggest that anyone who hasn’t checked her out, give Jenna Moreci a glance. Also, if you do outline any tips are welcome.

It’s Time to Stop Ignoring Our Problems

San Antonio can’t seem to decide what season it is. At a time when we should be feeling the first bits of Spring it feels like late October. The birds came back seemingly too early and people are wearing gloves, knitted caps, and long jackets.

Central and South Texas are a little dramatic when it comes to the cold and we really didn’t have time to adjust to any one kind of temperature this year. The thermostat has been all over the place–we saw the nineties in February and then that same week saw it dip into the forties. It’s inconsistent and frustrating.

And it seems to me that anyone watching would immediately see this as a sign that something is changing. People love to say it’s the volatile Texas weather, but it didn’t used to be. From about 2005 until 2013 it basically didn’t rain in this city and when I lived here last time in the early 2000s it was warm and dry or cool and dry most of the year. I remember seeing a heavy severe rain once. This past six months we’ve had very rain, hail and tornadoes.

I remember that this city seemed to have the most stagnant, predictable weather and now it doesn’t. We see unseasonable rain in California and an Oklahoma so dry the ground burns and more of those so called ‘one hundred year floods’.

Climate change used to seem like the kind of thing that we needed to study more, to me at least. I was skeptical of it, though I’m not a scientist by any stretch. Now we can see the changes and it’s probably too late or almost too late to really do anything but lessen the extent of the long term damage.

You can say that the whole climate change thing is cooked up by the Chinese or made up to make some money for the ‘clean energy industry’, but one of those doesn’t make sense and the other ignores that more powerful industries stand to benefit from lying about clean energy. We saw claims that the Prius was more harmful to the environment than a Hummer even though there’s no real source of that proof besides a right leaning British newspaper. There are the claims that there’s such a thing as clean coal, when we shouldn’t even be looking at something as primitive as coal when we have the sun and the wind. And there was some advertisement that the sun could go out or the wind could stop…well if that happens we’re all fucked anyway.

All you need to know is it was in the sixties in Antartica and it’s still technically Winter. You can’t make that shit up.