Tag: movies

5 Types of Horror Villains That Don’t Disappoint

The undead are notoriously difficult to manage. It’s why they’re such tempting subjects to explore creatively.

There are tons of horror movies — many depicting creatures from other worlds, but most focusing on our own dead, back to harm us.

The sad thing about all these movies is that most of them are fucking terrible.

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5 (Non-Spoiler) Thoughts I Had While Watching Split

I don’t want to post any spoilers, but I am happy to announce that M Night Shyamalan has finally released a film that isn’t crap.

Which is awesome, because I feel like Shyamalan has so many great ideas… that never quite pan out in real-movie plot situations. I want Shymalan to succeed. He just… usually doesn’t for me.

Split stars James McAvoy (Professor X in the X-Men prequels) as a man with multiple personalities who kidnaps three teenage girls. Can they escape?

As I was watching this movie, I had the following 5 (non-spoiler) thoughts:

1. Apparently there’s nothing that can keep me from crushing on James McAvoy.

His character’s personalities include a pederast with OCD, a 9-year-old-boy, a gay fashion designer, and a very prim woman (above).

As each horror the character committed unfolded — and he’s definitely the antagonist — I thought “is this the final straw?”

It was never the final straw. The final straw may not exist.

2. Is Split Personality Disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder) really a thing?

I couldn’t remember. Turns out no one’s 100% sure, and it’s, for the most part, not taken very seriously. This article does a nice job of talking about it. [Above graphic by Diana Dihaze.]

3. Teenage girls are the worst.

The protagonist (foreground) spends time locked in a room with two girls from her class (background). Their stupidity is profoundly well-written. They have this chipper “we can fix it!” gung-ho attitude toward their abduction that feels like an Oprah episode. Don’t worry: the main character tells them to stuff a sock in it.

4. Was The Happening really a thing?

It’s a movie about plants emitting a deadly toxin — then abruptly stopping for no reason.

How could the same writer/director make such varying films?

5. What’s the consensus on Shyamalan now? Am I going to get judged for liking this movie?

Split was interesting, surprising, and oddly funny. Definitely my favorite of his movies since 6th Sense — which was almost 2 decades ago.

Is he setting me up for more disappointment, or has he gotten his groove back?

Did any of you see the movie, Internet?

5 Movies I’m Looking Forward To This Year, Chronologically

I almost never miss $5 Movie Night.

Because this special runs at my theater every Tuesday, I watch a lot of filler movies. Action flicks like Tarzan and Underworld: Blood Wars. Horror flicks like Don’t Breathe and Lights Out. And basically every cartoon about animals.

In between total rubbish, I enjoy plenty of good films. Here’s what’s on my docket for Tuesdays in 2017.

^ Lego Batman movie (February 10th). When you think about it, what Bruce Wayne really needs is some therapy. If he can’t have that, we’ll just have to settle for giggling at him in Lego form.

^ A Cure for Wellness (February 17th). Is there an evil secret lurking in this fancy spa? Probably, otherwise they wouldn’t make a movie about it. Oooh, I hope the secret is something really heinous.

^ The Circle (April 28th). Imagine if Google and Facebook merged into one super-company with a fondness for complete surveillance of everyone, all the time. Emma Watson is playing the protagonist, if that helps stoke your enthusiasm. Read the book or hit up the trailer.

Read More 5 Movies I’m Looking Forward To This Year, Chronologically

Jewish Wizards & Inclusiveness in Jo Rowling & Tim Burton’s worlds

The new Harry Potter prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, has a character named Porpentina Goldstein with brown eyes, thick brows, and curly hair hair.

We never see Goldstein go to synagogue, or eat challah, or drop Yiddish. But we have a pretty good idea of what demographic this girl probably represents.

And you know what it felt like to see her on screen? For lack of a better word: magical. She has my hair and my eyebrows. She acts like me. For once, I get to be part of the wizarding world.

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This, I hope/imagine, is what it felt like to people of color when they cast a black woman as Hermione in The Cursed Child. A feeling of finally getting to join the wizards.

Of course, anyone can identify with anyone on screen. I identify with male characters, people of color, cartoons, etc, on-screen all the time.

But it’s not the same as seeing someone who looks like you. Especially if you never see people who look like you up there. It can be lonely.

The recent casting choices are a huge leap forward.

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I just wish Rowling didn’t try to take credit for them as something she’d meant all along. “Well, I never said she was white,” is a bit silly, seeing as she had a huge hand in the creation & casting of the movies.

If she wanted a black Hermione from the beginning, she should have led her illustrator and casting director in that direction back in 2000 when they were making the first movie (released in 2001). The movies are, at this point, just as much “canon” as the books.

Which is why I’m a little miffed about the “Dumbledore is gay!” revelation. He’s not gay in the books or the movies. If she meant for him to be gay, maybe it should have been in the work itself.

She has an opportunity, in the prequels, to actually depict him as a well-rounded gay man, and I hope she does so. Because then it’s canon, and not just empty words about gayness.

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Tim Burton, in contrast to Jo Rowling’s half-hearted ret-con, doesn’t even try at inclusivity in the slightest. His most recent film, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, has one black character — who’s the villain.

Burton could have said something like “well, I prefer to cast Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter exclusively in literally everything, and they happen to be white,” and left it.

It could have even maybe been his excuse for casting Johnny Depp as a Native American character. (Ugh.)

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Nope. Burton didn’t take that approach. He said he prefers not to get “all politically correct“:

“I remember back when I was a child watching ‘The Brady Bunch’ and they started to get all politically correct,” he said. “Like, OK, let’s have an Asian child and a black. I used to get more offended by that than just… I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, that’s great. I didn’t go like, OK, there should be more white people in these movies.”

He doesn’t seem to see the difference between a family looking alike and an orphanage of people from various backgrounds looking alike.

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That magic of seeing someone on-screen who looks like you will never happen in a Tim Burton movie. Unless you’re white. Very, very white. And Johnny Depp and/or Helena Bonham Carter.

I’m casting my lot with the wizards. At least they’re trying.

A Few Good Mensch: How The Jews Saved Earth, Again, in Independence Day Resurgence

The original Independence Day was about a lot of things: stinky alien corpses, Will Smith hitting things, the White House exploding, Data from Star Trek getting possessed, unspoken words between lovers, families reaching across distance, and nerdy Jews.

The two main characters were a studly action star and… geeky, scraggly, hairy, fussy, introverted Jeff Goldblum.

Independence Day was mostly considered “Will Smith’s summer movie this year.” People said “Did you see the new Will Smith movie?”, not “Did you see the new Jeff Goldblum movie?”

It’s surprising, therefore, that Independence Day: Resurgence is a Jeff Goldblum movie. While there is a “Will Smith” character (a similar-looking actor who plays his adopted son from the first movie), he’s hardly on screen at all.

The franchise’s sequel-switcheroo changes everything. It even changes the way I think about the original. 

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To briefly summarize Independence Day Resurgence:

On the 20th anniversary of the attack, the aliens return. They want to kill us again.

The aliens blow up our satellites and most of our defenses. They wreck our landmarks. The odds look bad.

The president gives a rousing speech. Humans rally. There’s a fight. Some live. Some die. The aliens win. The end.

Just kidding.

After watching the movie, my husband was confused about the huge part that David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum)’s father, Julius Levinson, played in the film. This time around, he doesn’t have any brilliant ideas. He just putzes around and uses a lot of Yiddish. He could have been removed from the movie entirely and not affected the plot a whit.

Mr Levinson is the comedic relief,” I said. “This movie is basically a Jewish comedy with aliens.”

And I realized, after I’d said it, that it was true.

In my heart, David Levinson had always been the protagonist/mastermind. Will Smith was a pawn in Levinson’s game of mental chess against the aliens.

This was the movie version of Garry Kasparov (who had a Jewish dad!) vs Deep Blue — humanity versus the Other.

What’s interesting here is that humanity typically treats Jews like the Other. They’ve historically been treated like second-class citizens, yet they’re the ones spearheading the campaign against the aliens in these films. Their oddness — their unconventional approach — is what usually makes them loathed. But it gives them the intellectual edge here.

Jews are the underdog of humanity. Humanity is the underdog of this fight.

The Independence Day series is a David and Goliath battle, maxed out. 

It’s basically Bible storytelling.

With aliens.

Which makes the plot really simple and archetypal.

Depending on your point of view, that makes Independence Day 1 & 2 either classic or stupid.

Most critics agree that the movie didn’t need to be made twice. Independence Day 2 was a re-hash of the first, with a deluge of callbacks and references. Though it doesn’t break any new ground, it did make me re-consider the first movie in a new light.

And also? It was a shit-ton of fun.