Top 8 Questions after watching the new trailer for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
(B&B is in the public domain of everyone’s childhood so Boblius refuses to acknowledge plot details as “spoilers.”)
Before he’s THE BEAST, Beast is a tax-and-spend Prince. He vacuums income from the subjects of his French village to throw lavish parties where he prances around like Agador from The Birdcage (but somehow isn’t the gay character people are up in arms about?). The villagers are happy to RSVP in the affirmative for pre-Beast’s parties as long as he doesn’t mock them.
When a disheveled and smelly (one assumes) crone stumbles into pre-Beast’s latest party offering a single rose in exchange for shelter during a horrific storm, he laughs her offer away. Only pre-Beast gives out the roses in this edition of Bizarro Bachelor. For his haughtiness, the crone reveals herself to be an Enchantress (we wouldn’t want to call her a witch in a movie starring Hermione) then transforms pre-Beast into THE (CGI) BEAST. Finally. Now he looks like the Beast from our childhood. Whew. (more…)
Jason David Frank – or maybe you better remember him as Tommy Oliver – has to be credited as one of the driving forces behind the new Power Rangers movie. After the internet hyped some really great Power Ranger shorts, JDF approached series creator Haim Saban about the possibility of a mature Power Ranger movie following the Green Ranger (which would have been awesome to watch). Instead of limiting the film to just the Green Ranger, we get a full cinematic reboot of the series in the new film Power Rangers (2017).
These Rangers are very different from the ones we remember. While in the series Zordon instructs Alpha to recruit “teenagers with attitude,” the original Power Rangers severely lack the attitude. They are essentially “squeaky-clean” kids with martial arts skills. These new Power Rangers – screw ups, trouble makers, and even bullies – are edgier, bringing a certain amount of depth and realism to the characters. While the purists might see this as tainting the beloved heroes, to true intention is to sever the “campiness” which defined the series in favor of something more “realistic”.
(Get Out of this page if you don’t want any spoilers.)
Yes, the Armitage family is cool. So hip! Rose (Allison Williams) is a knockout AND willing to stick up for her black boyfriend, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), when a white cop gives him a hard time. They arrive at her parents’ estate where her parents don’t disappoint. They have created an environment where their kids are comfortable swearing in front of them. And talking about sex! Hell, Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) even let them stay in the same bedroom. So chill! Despite Dean’s clumsy (but genuine) praise of Obama as opening conversation with a black man, their coolness is still intact by nightfall. Should we be worried yet?
(Note: Boblius is rarely invited to studios’ critic screenings therefore at Get Out he found himself seated near an older couple with a 4 year old girl. Yes, these grandparents brought their granddaughter to Get Out. More on this later.)
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is a story about a group people who, quite literally, break the chains of their bondage and rise up against authoritarianism.
In the film, Tom Hardy’s character (Max) is captured and enslaved, his only purpose in life to provide clean blood to the ruling class’s warriors. Meanwhile, Immortan Joe, the land’s ruler, maintains power with an iron fist forged by military might and the flow of resources. Joe keeps his people in line, keeps his subjects suppressed, by restricting their access to water – then preaching his necessity and humility when he allows a few drops to fall on the masses.
This film is about a lawyer who gets trapped up in a government conspiracy. The director of the NSA is involved in killing a man and he was caught on camera. The man who filmed it is found out through NSA spying and runs the video over to his friend who is a lawyer before jumping into traffic. The lawyer now is on the run from the NSA hit-man and cleverly gets the mob involved to “kill two birds with one stone.”
(Spoilers? Just some mild ones, bub.)
Yes, it’s good to see Wolverine in action again. Pairing him with a mini-me (or mini-him… er, actually a female mini-him) smelled like a big fat gimmick upon first glance (or whiff) but Wolver-tween is interesting, entertaining… and jarring. Seeing her decapitate an enemy was oddly refreshing. Why?
(Spoilers below? Oh yeah.)
A few years back there was a Lego movie. It’s name escapes me right now. Anyway, the Lego movie was thought to promote collectivism and criticize capitalism. The makers of the Lego movie (whatever it was called) denied an anti-business agenda BUT… the bad guy in the film was named “Lord Business.”
Well, a few years have passed and now we have The Lego Batman Movie on our hands. Perhaps to bring a Ra’s al Ghul-ish balance to the cinematic Lego-verse, this film asserts a strong critique of police policies largely revealed through the Barbara Gordon character. Her shedding of the commissioner’s uniform (Don’t get excited, it’s a PG film) in favor of her Batgirl costume formalizes her abandonment of supposedly enlightened law enforcement policies.
In the first reel Police Commissioner Jim Gordon finds himself in a crisis: The Joker has assembled a huge bomb to blow the literal floor out from under Gotham City. Gordon does what the G.C.P.D. does best: Call BATMAN!
Richard Linklater directs an all-star cast in the film “A Scanner Darkly”, the tale of an undercover cop in a futuristic, dystopian world, fighting on the front lines of the drug war, becoming a victim himself.
In the world the movie creates, we are only a few years down the road, in an America plagued by a dangerous new drug – Substance D. With the number of users growing and growing, the government instills a high-tech, rather invasive, security network, tracking phone calls, interpersonal interactions, and even recording you inside your home. Beyond this, they have developed a sophisticated informant network with undercover police officers, Keanu Reeves being one of them. It’s this element the action of the film revolves around – Reeves walking the line between cop and addict, the later taking over his world.
If you are anything like me, “skepticism” best described your thoughts when learning of The Lego Batman Movie. Yes, I love Lego’s. And yes, I love Batman. But “The Caped Crusader” in an animated film depicted by the world’s favorite plastic block construction toys? Sounded like too much of a good thing to me, perversely so in fact. I just did not think that Lego Batman could do the character justice. I did not think it could tell a Batman tale that anyone over 11 years old could get behind. I am glad to say: I was wrong.
The premise for the film is a rather simple one—what if Batman believed himself to be the bad ass that we believe he is? That’s Lego Batman, a narcissistic, frat-boy superhero who always saves the day, and always knows the he will. Lego Batman sacrifices friendship and relations out of his commitment to the superhero craft and out of his fear of losing others in the same way he lost his parents. Lego Batman’s narcissism is so profound, that even the Joker is disillusioned by it. In fact, we find that the Jokers criminal behavior is largely attention seeking. He just wants validation from Lego Batman, and to be accepted as the plastic hero’s arch nemesis.
In the movie “The Lives of Others,” the STASI and oppression of the East German regime are revealed to the viewer through authoritarian techniques of surveillance and control prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany and the collapse of communism in the region. Throughout this film, characters and scenes depict, in vivid detail, the attempts of the authoritarian East German government to instill unquestioning obedience and devotion to the state to ensure complete control. At face value, the baseline of the story seems heavy handed, but what the film truly draws is a tense thriller entwined with a morality play.
One especially powerful and telling scene is the planting of bugs at Dreyman’s house. After orders come from Minister Hempf to have continuous surveillance of Dreyman, Weisler and a team of STASI agents break into his house, plant equipment, and set up shop just upstairs in the loft of the building in order to watch, monitor, and record his every action.
By Stevie Wang
In “They Live!,” a drifter stumbles upon a conspiracy about aliens who secretly rule over the human race. By wearing a pair of sunglasses, the drifter is able to see that aliens are disguising themselves in positions of great power such as company owners, police officers, and politicians and are essentially governing the human race and working for their own interests. Humans are completely oblivious to their rulers and are kept from seeking the truth due to consumer goods and materialism.
By Stevie Wang
In 1880 in Big Whiskey, a small town in Wyoming, the local sheriff enforces a firearms ban, obtaining ruthless autonomy for himself and his associates across town. Having no serious threats to their authority, the sheriff and his associates are free to manipulate the law to their own self interests. The film starts off with such a case; a prostitute gets disfigured by two cowboys. The sheriff however, lets them off by having the cowboys compensate the brothel owner with horses much to the objection of the rest of the prostitutes. The prostitutes then hire outlaws from out of town to extract vengeful justice but they later clash with the sheriff when they come to Big Whiskey armed with revolvers and rifles.
The concept of having the ability to bear firearms and therefore owning the ultimate legitimacy in the law and order of a small community rings throughout “Unforgiven.” In a small town in the rural Western frontier where population is scarce, authority belongs to those who posses the means to defend themselves. In the case of Big Whiskey, only a select few in town have firearms which means they have authority by force. This would not be the case if at least a clear majority of town were armed. (more…)
I don’t know about you, but I had absolutely no desire to be in the world while election results were coming in on Nov 8. So instead, I went to my favorite “escape from the world” place: a movie theater. A friend and I decided on Trolls. An hour and a half of bright colors and rousing musical numbers just seemed like a good idea before finding out who gets to screw up the country over the next four years.
Trolls was actually a pleasant surprise though. It wasn’t just good in a fun kids movie sort of way, it actually made me realize some important things I needed to remember as my country becomes as divided as I’ve ever seen it. [Spoilers below].
Lesson 1: We can still be happy without shitting on other people
The antagonists of this movie are the Bergens, unhappy creatures that believe the only way to be happy is to eat the trolls. What makes the dynamic of Bergentown especially interesting is that any Bergen under the age of 20, including the king of Bergentown, has never actually tasted a troll, as the trolls escaped captivity 20 years before the primary plot arc of the film. So your primary villain isn’t someone who is just straight up evil, it’s someone who has been socialized to believe a lie, and that belief inspires him to do evil things. The movie isn’t a story of good triumphing over evil, it’s a story of good teaching evil the error in their ways.
Unlike some, I personally do not believe all Trump supporters are just straight up evil. I do however, believe many view the world as a false dichotomy. They have trouble seeing how immigrants and native-born citizens can live in peace and even benefit from each other’s presence, and instead believe one group can only benefit at the expense of the other. They believe that the rights of Americans are more important than the rights of people born elsewhere, even though such people are equally human. And I think for many, those beliefs were instilled in them at a young age. They voted for Trump not because they’re just terrible human beings that Satan sent to destroy America, but because they genuinely believe that was the only way to restore their own prosperity after other systems have failed them. Sad!
Trolls is a reminder that it doesn’t have to be “us vs. them” even when the world around us constantly tells us that it is. There are ways to be happy and successful without infringing on the rights of others. (more…)
The film “Unforgiven”, by the legendary Clint Eastwood, is a story of an aged outlaw who, with the help of his old partner and a young gunslinger, aim to kill and collect the bounty on two cowboys who attacked a prostitute in the small town of Big Whiskey. Eastwood, who plays the leading role (Will Munny) in the film, reluctantly joins the party aiming to kill the cowboys due to the fact that his departed wife would have been opposed. Once the trio of killers arrive in Big Whiskey, they are abruptly run out by the town’s heavy handed Sheriff, Little Bill. Thereafter they accomplish their mission, but with this comes tragedy. Munny’s partner, and close friend, Ned Logan, is captured by the law of Big Whiskey and killed for his crimes. Munny, upon finding this out, returns to Big Whiskey and exacts revenge on Little Bill and anyone who stands in his way.
David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water isn’t only a standout for great crime dramas to have come out this summer, but one with a message.
Set in West Texas, the movie follows two brothers, Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby (Chris Pine), who conduct a slew of robberies in order to repay a family debt, all while being pursued by Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges). What makes the brothers’ story so interesting is that they’re nowhere near the caliber of professional that Robert De Niro was in Heat. They target smaller branch banks, located in rural towns, aiming for the loose cash behind the desks. Their heists may be sloppy, but they brilliantly cover their tracks, burying the crappy getaway vehicles in the desert and laundering their cash at a nearby casino.
Sicario writer, Taylor Sheridan, has once again crafted a phenomenal script full of shootouts, getaways, and a cast of characters so likable; you’ll have trouble deciding whom to root for. Toby is the cautious, more calculated of the two brothers, while Toby is more brash and unpredictable. Their dynamic creates a dangerous, yet sometimes comedic duo. On the other side of things, we have Jeff Bridges’ Marcus Hamilton, an aging, politically incorrect Texas Ranger who refuses to retire.
Following the death of their mother, Tanner and Toby’s family ranch faces foreclosure from the Texas Midland Bank. After it’s discovered that there’s untapped oil on the property, the bank seemingly becomes more eager to acquire the property and gives the brothers a very tight deadline to deliver the cash. As a result, the brothers target Texas Midland Banks during their crime spree to basically feed the snake its own tail.
If you’re like me, you missed Megamind in theaters because the trailers didn’t really sell you on the movie. If you’re really like me, you will regret that decision after watching it at home. Megamind is another unfortunate example of a brilliant film being misrepresented and shown in its worst light via marketing (I think Mean Girls is another prime example). To be fair, I’m not sure the film knows whom it is targeting. Most of the jokes, such as the classic rock songs that Megamind favors for stylish entrances, seem like they would go over most kid’s heads. I would be curious to watch the movie with a child and see what they respond to and enjoy. As it is, I think the movie was made for me and my ilk. Especially because of what I consider the most interesting aspect of the film (spoilers): Hal Stewart’s character vs. Megamind’s and the representation, and critique, of white male privilege. Yes, I just went there.
Whether you’ve seen it or not, you at least know of the female Ghostbusters reboot that has hit theaters. You probably also know about the divisiveness it’s created within the ranks of moviegoers. Don’t worry though, this isn’t yet another review of the film, but a look at what it’s exposing in the social media landscape.
After writing a negative review on Ghostbusters, Breitbart’s tech editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, kicked off a Twitter firestorm between himself and the film’s star, Leslie Jones. After receiving a slew of messages from haters, Jones fought back, retweeting the comments and singling out the trolls. It was then that Milo joined the feud, reminding Jones that everyone gets hate mail. This spurred an argument between the two, which eventually resulted in Jones blocking Milo. While Milo did throw some cheeky insults at Jones while defending his position, none of them compared to the death threats and racist remarks she received from the trolls. Despite this, Milo was soon permanently banned on the grounds of violating Twitter’s abuse policy. Since then, he’s been on the offensive, attacking the social platform for seemingly deporting him for no reason.
In a statement made on Breitbart, Milo said, “Twitter is holding me responsible for the actions of fans and trolls, using the special pretzel logic of the left. Where are the Twitter police when Justin Bieber’s fans cut themselves on his behalf?”
Milo’s outspoken “cultural libertarian” view, which opposes the idea of culture as a corrupting influence, has been challenged by many liberal groups, including feminists, whom Twitter favors, argues Milo. He said: “With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives.”
Much like the word “genius,” the label “artist” gets bandied about quite a bit. When I was taking fine art classes in college, one of the more colorful and exuberant life drawing and painting instructors — let’s call him Charlie — a very hyperactive and passionate painter, talked to us about what it meant to be an artist.
“So you all want to be artists, huh?” He shouted as he strutted in and around our rows of easels as we worked. “I’m just here to teach you how to paint and hopefully paint well. I can’t teach you to be an artist. An artist is a way of life, man. Are you willing to starve for your art? Are you in it for the money? Van Gogh sold one painting in his life. He went mad and then committed suicide. He was an artist. Are you willing to let it consume you? Let’s just concentrate on painting for now.”
Now, I’ve always been fascinated by illustrators who were adept at rendering the human form, faces, and textures were able to put their subjects into fascinating settings and conjure up just the right mood. I had a knack — still do, though not so practiced of late — of being able to capture likenesses fairly well when I drew. The best illustrators and painters are very talented at drawing and their pen and pencil work alone is worthy of collecting. Without a foundation in accurate lifelike drawing a lot of paintings and illustrations meant to be realistic tend to look less real, less lifelike and dull.
In America, there have been several periods where talented illustrators emerged. In the 1910s, 20s and 30s, the works of Maxfield Parrish, J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, and Howard Pyle (to name just a few), adorned the covers of Collier’s, the Saturday Evening Post, or in Wyeth’s case numerous works of literature: The White Company, Robin Hood, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, and The Last of the Mohicans.
Sometimes, these talented men worked on a grand scale – many of them, like Wyeth and Parrish were commissioned to do large murals — and much of their work for magazine covers, stories, and book covers were originally painted much larger and reproduced much smaller for print. When I worked at Stanford, helping to put out the Stanford Daily back in the early 1980s, I happened upon an exhibit of N.C. Wyeth’s work at a small gallery in Palo Alto and was awestruck by one of the paintings he had done to illustrate Robin Hood, depicting the outlaw’s band of merry men crouched behind the base of a massive oak tree with their bows pulled back waiting to let their arrows fly. The texture and color of the grass and the men’s costumes looked as rich and fresh as if it had all been painted yesterday. My recollection was that the work was enormous but time has a tendency to romanticize and embellish the truth. In fact the work is an oil on canvas about 40 inches tall and 32 inches wide; i.e., about the size of a standard movie poster (though five inches wider). And the painting was actually for sale at the time for about $25,000 and I dreamed of owning it one day. I still dream.
It’s hard to believe a full-fledged Ghostbusters film hasn’t been in theaters since 1989, but it’s now 2016 and they’re back…sort of. Whether or not you’ve embraced the franchise’s reboot, it’s worth paying tribute to the fact that many consider the original 1984 film to be one of Hollywood’s most libertarian blockbusters.
After losing their jobs at Columbia University, paranormal investigators, Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler start their own extermination service known as the “Ghostbusters.” Naturally, no one takes them seriously, until a rise in paranormal activity begins to threaten New York.
As their service becomes more in demand, the Ghostbusters do what any successful business does: expand. They purchase an office in the form of a firehouse, make a cheesy advertisement, and hire extra staff: receptionist Janine Melnitz, and a fourth buster, Winston Zeddemore. The Ghostbusters new found fame and success, however, is short lived when the Environmental Protection Agency has them arrested and their business shut down for operating unlicensed waste, deactivating their spirit containment system and inadvertently releasing hundreds of ghosts, who begin terrorizing New York.
The situation escalates even more when the ghosts successfully summon Gozer, the god of destruction, to bring about the end of the world. The government, having no means of combating the supernatural threat, releases the Ghostbusters from custody to battle Gozer. When our heroes finally come face to face with the god of destruction, it allows the Ghostbusters to choose the form of the destructor. Trying to think of something completely harmless, Ray envisions his favorite corporate mascot, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, which arrives in giant form and begins to destroy the city.
Ron Woodroof fought for the right to use non-FDA approved drugs as a means of treatment after he was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s. As a result, he began distributing experimental drugs to AIDS patients who were unable to acquire them at hospitals. Woodroof’s legacy lives on in the 2013 film, “Dallas Buyers Club,” directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
The film opens with Woodroof’s diagnosis; he’s given 30 days to live. Thinking he’s a homosexual, his friends and coworkers ostracize him. When Woodroof finally seeks treatment, he is put on AZT, the only FDA-approved drug in America at the time, but this only worsens his condition. Woodroof eventually travels to Mexico to find help, and there he’s treated with ddC and peptide T, drugs not approved by the FDA.
After three months on these new drugs, Woodroof’s condition improves and it occurs to him that he can make money smuggling ddC and peptide T into America for other HIV patients. He teams up with Rayon, an HIV positive trans woman, who helps Woodroof get inside the gay community. Together, Ron and Rayon form the Dallas Buyers Club, which provides the non-approved drugs to HIV patients at a price. The club becomes very successful, but is short-lived, as the FDA is constantly trying to find ways to shut them down and make it harder for Woodroof to sell his own drugs.
Woodroof attempts to sue the FDA, seeking the right to take peptide T, which at this point has been proven to be a non-toxic drug. Although he loses the court case, it is stated at the end of the film that Woodroof was eventually able to take peptide T for his own personal use up until his death. He was also one of the main reasons that hospitals in America would eventually reduce the dosage of AZT it would administer to its patients after the drug was found to be toxic.
Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story about what can happen to American patients when their health care system is fraught with bureaucratic roadblocks. The government spends more than 50 per cent of all health care dollars and costs have been driven up by the FDA’s actions and deprived Americans of much-needed treatments.
This is not the typical yearly list of the best 4th of July themed or raw-raw-USA patriotic movies of all time. You’re welcome.
With The BFG, Purge: Election Year, and Legend of Tarzan opening this Independence Day weekend, I thought it would be better to list the top 10 greatest movies that have premiered on this holiday weekend in the past. Mostly because, I don’t think either of this year’s entries will have as lasting an impact in cinema history like the following.
#10 Men In Black
Opened July 2, 1997
Some master puppet work, special effects makeup, and CGI give Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones plenty to play off of. It’s a fast paced 98 minutes of two government agents working autonomously (which may be why they are so efficient) to save humans and friendly aliens from the scourge of the galaxy’s worst.
#9 – Terminator 2
Opened July 3, 1991
Arguably regarded as Schwarzenegger’s best action film, writer/director James Cameron lets loose with cutting edge CGI (for the time) in this time-travel sci-fi action thriller where Robert Patrick’s motorcycle cop would haunt anyone pulled over on the highway for speeding .
So I finally got around to seeing one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, Captain America: Civil War. In general, I’m not that into superhero movies, primarily because I find they’re often over-simplistic for my taste: These are the good guys. Those are the bad guys. Now watch them blow stuff up.
Luckily, Captain America: Civil War does not fall into that trap. There’s two opposing sides, but rather than a battle of good vs. evil, it’s a battle between two different interpretations of good. The conflict is introduced when the UN finally expresses discontent with the Avenger-caused destruction of previous Marvel movies, which is best summed up this way:
So the Avengers have a choice. Do they want to give the governments of the world increased control over their operations (#TeamIronMan) or continue to be as independent as they’ve always been, even if that makes them outlaws (#TeamCap)?