“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.

Belonging 

I went out to see Doctor Strange on Thursday night. It was supposed to be the highlight of my day. I’ve been counting down the days over the last month. There’s a tiny theater connected to my neighborhood. It also happens to be in the same building as my favorite comic book store. I’m in the place about once a week and people know me and I know the area. 

The movie had been moved to a new auditorium and was starting late, but by the time I stopped bullshitting with the guys in the comic book store I was coming into the theater after most people had taken their seats. A woman pointed to the area where my seat was and I walked down the front part of he aisle (our theater has wide aisles in front of the seats for waiters to pass along without disturbing the viewers). The seat numbering seemed off and the seats in the area where the employee had pointed me to were filled. I was in seat 13 of the row I was on and I saw a seat marked 513 and assumed it was that one. 

Suddenly a bearded man around my age or a little younger stands up from a seat a little to my right and asks “Are you sure you’re in the right theater?” He doesn’t come toward me or really move except to point. “They’re playing the Madea movie in another one.”

Oh, I get it now. That’s very clever. Black people, as we know, would only come to the theater to see the latest Madea movie or tales of triumph set during slave times. I wasn’t sure if he was going to tell me how brace I was next. It was raining, after all, and we know the blacks can’t swim. 

He laughed after that and sat back down. I figured out my error a few seconds after ignoring him. There was a second set of white painted numbers on the bottom of the upturned seats. I found my chair near the middle of the row buffeted by a man playing on his phone and a man who would continually talk to himself and push down on the empty seat between us hitting me in the leg. 

The movie was really good and I was thrilled to see it. Did the small interaction at the start ruin it for me? No. I’ve had worse said about me, although I really hate Tyler Perry movies, so this is an insult on two levels. There’s not a moral to this story unless it’s this: these kinds of things happen. I went into public to enjoy a movie and a stranger made a racist joke. I’m minding my own business and it doesn’t matter. People feel the need  to comment on my race. I’m sure if asked this guy would be one of the ones who “has black friends” and “doesn’t see race”. 

Yeah, sure. 

Firefly Season Two

Joss Whedon had already made a name for himself by 2002; Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel had been on the air several seasons. A growing community of fans were picking up comics, tie-in-novels as well as watching the shows. When the announcement for Firefly came down I wasn’t really interested. I had dropped Buffy by that time, but still watched Angel religiously (and I will go down fighting that Angel was one of the best things Whedon did on TV).

12717659_1060323854011501_7933737666942233070_nFirefly’s advertising didn’t exactly appeal to my sensibilities. I don’t like the Western genre, or at least, back then I thought I didn’t like what the Western genre was supposed to be. I didn’t know any of the actors in the show well enough to be drawn in by that and the Fox network didn’t exactly make the show easy to watch.

When it was canceled I don’t think a lot of people were even paying attention. The internet had matured into the state it has today where websites track shows that are on the tracking block and organize huge campaigns to save them. Hell, if there had been enough people to organize it might not have gotten canceled.

It wasn’t until about two years later in college when I saw the Serenity movie because a girl at I liked at the time wouldn’t stop talking about it. We don’t even talk anymore, but if it weren’t for Allison, I can safely say I would have never checked this show out. I haven’t watched a Joss Whedon show since then and only his movies have really drawn me in.

Firefly is a good show. I don’t deny that despite not being the biggest fan of its creator. My reason for this post comes next: it’s fucking 2016. In a few months this show will have aired fourteen years ago. Fox cancelled it, no one wanted to pick it up after the movie, DROP IT. 

I don’t know what made Firefly into some kind of nerd Alamo. It’s the thing you’re expected to agree with: when you’re around geeks and nerds and someone starts to bitch about what Fox did to Firefly you’re supposed to rally around this as fact like it’s some inherent evil act perpetrated by the people at Fox; like it’s the Tuskegee Experiment or Japanese Internment camps.

People are still going on about it today, even while many of the actors have found life elsewhere, one is on a show that’s lasted almost a decade, and another has become a sexist sock puppet. I don’t get why this is the hill people choose to die on. Why is this show so vital? It had potential, but there are missteps in it and we can’t assume it would have gotten better. Especially since at an anniversary special a troubling rape plot line was revealed:

“She had this magic syringe, she would take this drug and if she were, for instance, raped, the rapist would die a horrible death. The story was, she gets kidnapped by Reavers. and when Mal finally got to the ship to save her from the Reavers, he gets on the Reaver ship and all the Reavers are dead. Which would suggest a kind of really bad assault. At the end of the episode, he comes in after she’s been horribly brutalized, he comes in, he gets down on his knee and he takes her hand and he treats her like a lady.”

Just let it be. It’s a good show that people have made into some kind of rally point only because it got canceled before it made any of the colossal fuck-ups that all shows seem to stumble through on a long enough time-line. Stop acting like you were done some grave injustice because a network canceled a show that wasn’t making them enough money, that you probably weren’t watching.

Daredevil

The last month has been busy and I’m trying to think of something to write here that would seem worthwhile. And here it is.

Daredevil is the best super hero show ever.

It might top out most of the Marvel movies and other hero movies as the best super hero movie ever. To put it lightly the show hits all the right beats and has all of the feeling that was missing from the old Daredevil movie. It’s the perfect combination of action and drama with a little comedy sprinkled in there.

If you’re not already watching it, get to it.

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Can We Finally Go Ahead and Admit That the Oscars Are the Award Show Equivalent of a Circle Jerk

Thesis statement in title.

With this year’s list of nominations it seems like everyone is talking about the snubs. I don’t mean Selma, by all accounts the movie was mediocre at best and only got what it did because of the subject matter. What I’m talking about is Gone Girl  and the Lego Movie. When the latter came out it was all I heard about and all I heard was praise. People even liked the people who they hadn’t wanted to see in the movie.

In the case of Gone Girl the face that it doesn’t even appear on the list for best adaptation should tell us something. I think the main problem with the Oscars is the things they like and the things they seem to think are important. It shouldn’t matter if you like Clint Eastwood. It shouldn’t matter if someone said something off color in the press. It shouldn’t matter if some other, unrelated element of the movie was unlikable if the category its being judged for is on point.

There’s a lot of politics in award shows and this seems to be the mother-load of them all when it comes to letting that get in the way of wins. I’ve never been big on Oscars, but I’m not going to watch this shit now.

Guardians of the Galaxy was…fun?

Okay, so that title might be one of those things that looks sarcastic. Bear with me here, because this concept might be a little foreign to movie-goers. This movie was just pure fun. Sure there was some drama here and there, but the set pieces, the characters, the plot—it all worked really well to create a fun atmosphere and I think that I heard more laughter in this auditorium than I have in any movie I’ve been to in a long while.

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That includes comedies.

If there’s one thing that I can say about Marvel in the positive it’s that they’re bold. So bold. They put out a comic book movie about a title that isn’t considered mainstream the way your Spiderman or Iron Man types are and they made it look like something watchable. They got star power behind it and sold it. They didn’t shy away from the fact that there’s very little human or familiar in these worlds. They didn’t try to water down the story.

The start of this movie is a little jarring and for the first few scenes it skips around and it’s hard to get a good footing, but once you catch up to where the movies going (maybe about twenty minutes in) it’s just pure fun. I’ve read the comic this book is based on and the characters are pretty much spot on. The snark and the witty banter is well-written and effective. It’s not the Whedon-esque humor that seems to pepper the other Marvel movies and the characters all seem to speak through themselves and be funny on their own merit. No one sounds exactly like anyone else and even in the two hours or so with them you get a definite sense of voice.

I want to keep this short, but go see this movie. Go see it right now if you can. If I had to rank this as opposed to other Marvel films. Like I said, it takes itself a lot less seriously even though the thread is far greater. There’s no political commentary or anything of that sort, but not serious doesn’t mean bad. Captain America 2 was my favorite of the Marvel movies up until this point, but I think this one might be even with it.

Again, go see this movie.

Complaining About Meyers [The Unexpected]

Twilight-Saga-Breaking-Dawn_-jewelry_by_Swarovski_Long time no see. It’s nearing March and my birthday and I’m still writing and working and reading and all of that fun stuff. Hopefully I can remember to update at regular intervals. My home internet is currently on the fritz again and I’m having to make this post using the magic of the Mobile Hot Spot through my cellphone. Because of that I’ll keep this quick and dirty.

I was reading up on the idea of succubi in fiction (I can’t decide if I like that plural or just keeping the word like deer where it’s both singular and plural) and I came across this little excerpt from an article on Wikipedia.

  • In the 2008 novel Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, the three original sisters of the Denali coven (Tanya, Kate, and Irina) were revealed to be the originators of the myth of the succubus, as they would seduce men and drain them of blood following intercourse. The three sisters also appear in the Breaking Dawn films, but their history as succubi is not mentioned.

When I read that I was instantly thinking that sounds like a damn good idea for a story or even a movie. Why is it that all of Meyers’s interesting characters and situations are NOT the focus of the stuff she writes? I know I have been dismissive of the people who spend more time downplaying her than actually working.

But if anything can be said there’s not an issue with her making interesting characters. There’s a problem with her focusing on the interesting characters. I don’t get how that happens.

Mediums

anime-girl-and-dragon-skeleton-2560x1600-wide-wallpapers.net_I remember thinking that television and movies were enough for me to learn to write. I wanted to conduct my stories based on what these mediums had given me. There’s nothing inherently wrong with movies and TV. Hell, there is some great plotting and awesome characters running around on TV on almost a weekly basis. And movies too, but perhaps with less frequency.

There’s nothing wrong with adapting a few ideas here and there for books. A lot of plot points come from the other stories we’ve experienced throughout our lives. That mixes in with our imagination to create a story. The thing is that we can’t let other things be the sole way that we form stories.

Recently I’ve come across a lot of people writing who seem to have taken all of their cues from anime. Anime isn’t always terrible, but because it depends on different things for story telling than novel writing would it can lead to some bad behaviors being formed. Anime, comics, movies and television are visual mediums and there can be a lot gathered just by examining the frames of the picture as presented to you.

In writing the author is required to weave those details into the story and talking about the flashiness of someone’s clothes or moves can bog down the pacing and wear on the reader if they have to let the action stop for each fluttering coat and flourishing pose.

If you’re describing an outfit and how cool it is, it’s not going to be the same kind of thing and really it might just come off as dead page space.

We have to treat writing like what it is. And we’re not always at a disadvantage. We have something that those other mediums don’t have. The reader’s imagination. There’s no worrying over studio budgets or the need for permits of space. The ability to draw or play music to convey a point won’t drag us down. Use the strengths. Leave everything else behind.

Because the second you get sucked into those mentalities your writing suffers.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

MV5BMTk4MDQ1NzE3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjA0MDkzNw@@._V1._SX509_SY755_Still in San Antonio and watching Seeking a Friend for the End of the World with two of my friends…I have to say that I really don’t like Keira Knightley. I’m finding that she kind of ruins films for me. Not sure what it is about her. I just find her pretty obnoxious, though I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about her.

I was kind of enjoying the a movie at first, but then she showed up. I had hoped that another actress would be the lead. I forget her name, but she’s from Two and A Half Men.

Planning on finishing this out, but at the same time I am starting to see why it has a 6.7 on IMDB.