Theatrical Tuesday – Thoughts on Riverdale, Spacey, and Hollywood’s Future

TuesdayI watched the first season of Riverdale and found it just OK. There are a lot of plot twists, but most have been predictable to me. I also don’t feel like I’ve fallen in love with any of the characters. It feels like they tried to take some of Gossip Girl’s style, Pretty Little Liars, add a comic book overlay, and call it something new.

Maybe they twist the plot so quickly it feels like they don’t torture me as a viewer. I just don’t feel like I’ve been forced to experience a cliffhanger moment. They give me the answers too easily.

I think it may also be that I’m getting older. Maybe I’ve just outgrown teen programming. I still love Buffy though…

I grew up with Saved by the Bell, Beverly Hills 90210, Models Inc, Melrose Place, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched Ready or Not too, but knew it was silly compared to my actual life as a teen at the time. There was some Degrassi too.

On both The Mist and Riverdale, they used the closet gay jock trope. I’ve been seeing that since Buffy in the 90s. The difference is that it was new when Buffy did it. A fresh take might have a captain of the football team who’s gay and a team who doesn’t care about who he’s shagging because it has nothing to do with athletic ability. The Mist took it in a twisted way and I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I try to think that there are countless ways to be gay and as long as it doesn’t become a trope or people don’t think that’s how all gays are, I think I can accept it.

Yes, as we’ve seen with Kevin Spacey of late, some gay people are fucked up. It’s important to remember that individuals do things differently than other people and that is why it can be bad to look only at an individual’s group memberships and not at the whole person. Some gay people are the most wonderful people you could meet. Some white men are assholes, but not necessarily also Nazis. Some trans people take things too far and others are truly amazing humans. It makes life messier, but it’s important to see beyond the surface. Ted Bundy had lots of friends who had no idea what a monster he was. If his friends were persecuted for the things he did, it would have been extremely wrong.

I think we can all agree that regardless of whether Spacey had done those things to a boy or a girl, it’s disgusting and it’s child molestation. He’s a child molester who just happens to be gay. Those two things are not related to each other, but simply coexist in him.

I’m taking a break from Riverdale and checking out Mindhunter. I’ll probably go back to Riverdale later. What I really want to see more of is Daredevil. I’ve always liked law-related shows. Boston Legal was one of my favourites. I often watch cold case stories with my dad when I visit him too.

I like how they position the lesbian on Mindhunter. It’s not hidden, but they put a strong emphasis on also showing her as a smart and capable woman. Her sexuality is just one piece of her as it is with most gay people I know.

I’m feeling conflicted on the Spacey stuff because The Usual Suspects is one of my favourite movies. Do I stop liking something because of one sick individual and forget about all the other people involved in the film that didn’t know what he was up to in his private life and who are actually good people? I don’t think I do. Hundreds of people work on every film that exists. People who operate cameras, write screenplays, other actors, assistants, costume people, prop people, sound techs, and so many more. We like to refer to films as belonging to one or two lead actors, but they couldn’t make those films without all the other people involved.

Also, it seems it may soon become hard to find any movies that don’t have someone like him in them. The long whispered about child pedophilia ring in Hollywood seems to be falling like a house of cards. This is good news for child actors and the industry as a whole. I hope the rest are rooted out and it paves the way for a film industry that has better values at its core.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

PS. I’m not LGBTQ, so I may have gotten some things wrong. Please let me know if I did.

Theatrical Tuesday – Review: The Mist Season 1

TuesdayI’ve been watching The Mist on Netflix and I’m enjoying it. I never saw the movie, but this show is making me want to read the book. There are some things that I don’t understand about Nathalie and I think reading the book would fill in some gaps. For a moment, I thought it was Mary Gross playing her because her voice reminded me of Janice Zuckerman in Feds.

One of the things I love about the show is seeing how many subplots there are and how they tie them in together. They convey a lot without a ton of exposition.

They’re also really good at heightening the stakes in a way that lets the secondary characters be more than cardboard cutouts.

There are so many plot twists that I don’t see coming even when there has been subtle foreshadowing because I’m just so busy following the main plot lines, which are full of chaos.

I’m a little confused how an entire mall has almost no food when there aren’t that many people that have taken refuge in it. Malls usually have food courts and stores that sell some food to thousands of people each day. The electricity is working, so they could freeze some things and cook. That piece seemed like a Deus Ex Machina plot point to me.

I’m caught up on all the episodes that exist currently. As such, I’ve been left on a cliffhanger. They’re good at those too.

As far as horror goes, it’s on the light side. It IS hard to scare me these days though. I think it may be part of keeping the budget low. The less they have to show, the cheaper it is. With everything shrouded in mist, most things don’t have to be clearly shown. Throw in some fake blood or some special contact lenses and a little face makeup and they get away with a lot for a little. There is a terrifying human element that is going on, but I can’t say that it has me really invested and I’m not sure why that is. I suppose I haven’t fallen in love with any of the characters. Maybe most of them I haven’t gotten to see enough. It’s kind of an ensemble piece, so it’s rarely told from one main viewpoint.

I think I can compare it to Walking Dead a little. The thing with Walking Dead is that we’re with Rick Grimes from day one. He wakes up in the hospital and has no idea where his family is and we spend a lot of time seeing the world through Rick’s eyes. Yeah, it cuts to Daryl and other people here and there, but you’re never in doubt who the main character is. The story is primarily about a former Sheriff trying to raise kids in a zombie apocalypse. I suppose I’m not entirely sure who the main character is in The Mist. It’s an apocalyptic story about some mysterious mist that seems to know things about everyone in town. Stephen King likes that as a theme. He used it in The Storm of the Century also. I think there are just too many unknowns currently to have me care enough about the story. I’m intrigued, but not completely hooked.

The acting isn’t Oscar winning, but it’s better than a lot of other shows I’ve seen. I wasn’t a fan of the acting in Bitten if you want an example. I think it’s got better acting going on than that. I feel like it’s not as good as Orphan Black and a far cry from The Walking Dead though. I’m also more invested in Stranger Things than this one.

Anyway, I thought I’d give my impressions of season one. I hope it gets better. In the meantime, I’m going to make some time to watch the movie this week since people have told me they liked it.  Part of me feels like I may ruin some of what may be coming in season 2 by watching the movie, but I don’t want to wait a year to understand some things. Also, the movie came out first, so I’m really just catching up to where other people are with it.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Theatrical Tuesday – Whatever It Takes Review

TuesdayI watched Whatever it Takes when I was visiting my parents this past weekend. It wasn’t a good movie, but it could have been.

**** Spoiler Warning: I’m going to talk about the plot in depth. ****

It’s biggest issues stem from two things I’ve been reading about; genre conventions and complexity.

  1. Genre Conventions: The movie was supposed to be a typical teen film where boys pursue girls to try and get laid. The twist? Two boys are setting each other up with girls that are outside their social circle. One is best friends with one and the other is related to the other girl. Naturally, the best friend finally realizes he’s in love with the girl he’s setting the other guy up with. Now, there are often humorous components to these films, but they’re usually like shaving mishaps or awkward conversations with parents. What did we have instead? Hot girl must be crazy. She invites him to shower with her then freaks out at him when he tries to join her, then they’re in the bedroom later and she has a funky rash on her toes. Later, she’s camping out on his lawn begging pathetically to get him to go to prom with her after he dumped her when he realized he’s in love with the other girl. Boy bringing guitar or accordion to serenade his love is depicted as good, while girl not ready for relationship end is crazy.
  2. Complexity: You know the prom is usually the moment when love is professed and then it’s followed by the happy ever after. Not in this one. Nope, we have to go to the hotel after to figure out her answer to his accordion serenade because they were naturally having the dance on top of a hard pool cover, which opened up and swallowed a bunch of kids.

I’ve been reading a lot and these are things they recommend not doing. There are specific pieces that should be in a film based on it’s genre and when you deviate, it makes it hard to sell and viewers get pissed off because they got something different than they were marketed. It’s like selling someone a BMW online and when they get it, they have a Ford Fiesta instead.

There was also the way they depicted geek virgins. They had 3 stooge like characters that followed the protagonist around trying to do what he did to get the girl, which was to be an a-hole. Except they were extra bad at it to the point of setting one girl on fire. Because geeks are really dumb enough to think burning someone will get them laid. That was sarcasm in case it’s not translating through text.

What this movie suffered from to me was a lack of picking one genre and realism. What school would sanction a prom dance on top of a pool cover? Not one I’ve been to. I was on prom committee and many other committees for cancer walks, mini-Trojan Day (Trojans as in war horses, not condoms), formals, sport banquets, drama festivals, etc and there would be no way in hell. It doesn’t take that much for keys to get into the wrong hands. Liability is rather a big deal in terms of insurance and what not.

Other problems include casting an attractive and strong male as the geek guy. It’s also chock full of stereotypes. The movie requires too much suspension of disbelief to be enjoyable and there aren’t really any awesome lines or moments that connect with anyone who isn’t shallow. There aren’t many funny moments either that are genuine.

All in all, it didn’t do whatever it takes to make a solid teen rom-com.

Anyway, that’s my take. You might feel different though. The world is full of diverse viewpoints and that’s generally a good thing.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Theatrical Tuesday – Sharknado 5 Review

TuesdaySeeing a movie such as Sharknado 5 when you missed Sharknado 2, 3, and 4, is quite a thing.

Despite how far-fetched the premise in the original movie was, it seemed at least somewhat plausible. There was at least water everywhere there were sharks.

Not in Sharknado 5.

Prepare for a lot of suspension of disbelief in this one.

EFFECTS

The effects were well done for the level of the movie.

ACTING

The main actress rarely changed her expression despite the situation. Perhaps a good samurai face, but not one for connecting with the audience. It was hard to tell if she even cared about her son.

WRITING

There were a lot of funny lines and the script met the expected level for a B-movie. There were some great groan-inducing puns. It did have me wonder if I should put obviously false information in my scripts or if they did that to connect back to the tagline “Make America Bait Again.” Regardless, it led me to fact check some things and I ended up learning something new about sharks because of it. It made fun of a lot of things and I enjoyed that aspect of it.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I enjoyed heckling the film with some close friends. If you’re looking for a silly movie, try this one out.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

 

Theatrical Tuesday – A Review of Liberty Stands Still

TuesdayI was almost an extra soccer fan in a thriller this week, but they decided they needed fewer extras. Ah well, I’m on the list in case something happens to any of the others. Maybe next time. I’m not sure today’s post would’ve been very different as films typically involve NDAs.

I’m going to start highlighting Canadian films and TV shows on this blog because there is a lack of marketing around them and I believe that is a major thing affecting our industry up here. Marketing is expensive and with much of the limited budget gone on making the films themselves, there isn’t much left to spread the word.

Liberty Stands Still is a 2002 thriller written and directed by Ottawa’s own, Kari Skogland. She is an award-winning, female, Canadian film director.

TAGLINE (from IMDB)

Liberty, the wife of a gun manufacturer, is held hostage at a hot dog stand by a sniper seeking revenge.

LEADING ACTORS

Wesley Snipes plays Joe the sniper who holds Liberty (Linda Fiorentino) hostage at a hot dog stand.

RECEPTION

This particular film wasn’t well received because it takes a hard stance on gun control to the point of being offensive to many gun owners. At least that’s the story from some critics. Bowling for Columbine came out the same year and was well received by Hollywood, earning an Oscar.

SOUND

One thing I noticed lacking was the soundtrack. Most of the time there was a dead air kind of sound perhaps like a phone where people have stopped talking, which sort of makes sense for the film, but doesn’t help people connect to the story.

It seemed like it was stock sound when there was any and US films often have great soundtracks because they encourage the audience to emotionally connect with the film and when you’re making such a strong statement, you need to work harder to connect with the audience. Here’s the soundtrack list for Bowling for Columbine. Interestingly, Bowling for Columbine’s budget was 7 Million less. I’m not sure if that’s because it was more of a documentary style, but they got a lot of decent songs for that price.

VISUALS

The film’s opening credits have an artistic flair to them.

The film has some bloody moments, but they are no where near the level of a Tarantino film, so I doubt that it really should be R-rated by today’s standards, but I suppose it’s similar in level of violence and such as other films that year.

There’s a lot of reusing of the same footage. There aren’t many stunning shots in between scenes chock full of dialogue.

The device holding Liberty’s lover hostage is neat.

WRITING

Having worked at a police station, I find it really odd that the police assume Liberty must be working with the sniper instead of being held hostage. Also, I can’t understand why it took so long to evacuate the theatre next to the bomb-laden hot dog cart. There’s a general lack of knowledge about police procedures. We had a mysterious bag and locked down the station so the public couldn’t enter the building while we searched for it.

I liked the twist near the end and the rest was decent.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

While there are some things that could be better on the writing end, I didn’t find the acting or the story lacking because of it. Something was flat and I believe it was the music. We have so many talented musicians in Canada and I think we could make better use of them. With a few well known artists and some up and comers, I think it could be much improved.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of the other films by this director.

Hope you liked my review.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Theatrical Tuesday – Doctor Who’s Recent Casting Choice

TuesdayA lot of people are divided about the latest regeneration on Doctor Who. Some would have you believe that it’s nothing more than males being stupid, but I think jumping to that conclusion is wrong and it’s harmful to what the feminist movement was supposed to be about. I, like Camille Paglia, believe this male bashing crap has to stop. Feminism was supposed to be about equal treatment and rights like being able to vote and work in traditionally male jobs. It wasn’t about tearing men down, feminizing them, or declaring female superiority.

The Doctor shouldn’t be female just because ‘it’s time’. The Doctor should only be female if the actress blew them away at auditions. It should be about selecting the best candidate by demonstrated ability regardless of sex, race, or sexuality. The BBC has said they have done this.

I’m a fan of the show. My first Doctor was Tom Baker, though I was quite young and don’t remember those episodes clearly. I’ve seen many other arguments in many comments sections against the selection that have nothing to do with sexism. Many have been from women as well. Here are a couple of points:

1. Out of Character

For 50 years The Doctor has regenerated as male. One might assume the being has a preference and to suddenly change genders is out of character after 50 years. The fact that Missy was a thing doesn’t matter. The Master has always operated differently and assumes whatever form best fits whatever devious plans its brewing. Not so with The Doctor. He is also shown as male as a child, which could suggest that’s his natural state since birth.

2. Tradition

Some people balk at the idea of tradition, but others love it. Tradition has been broken and for some it might feel like the first Christmas after their father has died. But The Doctor has already been female. Given that was a comedy special, maybe it’s not really part of the canon?

3. Acting Ability

Several have suggested she is out of her league in this role. I haven’t seen her act, so I don’t know if this is accurate. Again, the BBC said she did an amazing job at the audition.

4. Loss of a Male Role Model

People really like to laugh at this one, but The Doctor is an important one since so many leading males in programs are rather brutish dicks. The Doctor shows males it’s cool to care about people and have feelings.

I don’t feel like I need The Doctor to change genders. There are plenty of other shows with strong female leads. And this move isn’t revolutionary. I watched Night of the Living Dead, which is quite old and the leads were a black male and a white woman. Mad Max Fury Road has another strong woman. Orphan Black, Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and more all have strong female leads. Game of Thrones is chock full of strong females. Maybe I’d care more if I lived in Britain, but it’s not like it was stopping women and girls from cosplaying as The Doctor.

Yes, there is lore and history of other Time Lords switching things up. That’s one of the main arguments that it should have happened by now. Perhaps that is  one thing that gives more weight to that argument. In all of the posts I’ve read, I found this one to be the best on why we needed a female doctor. I’ve been that female subject matter expert in the room with all males who’d prefer me act as a secretary while they talk about the important things that are too complex for my tiny female brain to possibly understand.

A small group of people think it should have been a black transgender female. To which many have suggested to write a pilot for a Sci-Fi show with a black transgender female if you feel it’s important. That’s not really a far fetched idea. Hell, you could even take a page from BET and make your own television network. You could crowdfund it too.

On the change of race element, there are white Klingons if you want to look at other TV shows. I don’t know about the history of Gallifreyans having other races. So far they have only been depicted as white as I’ve seen. I’m not sure if there is canon somewhere to change that. But I suppose the writers decide what is canon and if they write it, it will become canon.

People love to highlight the “outrageous” comments by men, but I’ve seen plenty from men who have said they care far less about what genitals The Doctor has and far more about the acting ability and the writing on the show. They’ve said its purpose is entertainment, so it better continue to be entertaining. They were white males too.

To some degree, I don’t enjoy that The Doctor changes at all. Theoretically it’s awesome, but it took me about half a season to accept that David Tennant was gone. I still miss him. I liked Capaldi until the most recent season. Perhaps it’s the companion, Bill Potts. I mean, she could except that he has a time travel machine that is bigger on the inside and that he’s an alien, but couldn’t believe he has two hearts? Really?

Anyway, it will take a couple of episodes before I can tell if Jodie has potential and likely a few more for me to like her. People have been saying that if you can’t accept this change, you aren’t a true Whovian. Bullshit. True Whovians nearly always hate the new doctor until something awesome happens that convinces them the new actor is, “THE BEST DOCTOR EVER!”

And there are a bunch of people saying it really doesn’t matter since it’s a TV show. Entertainment can have wide impact on people though. If that wasn’t true, people wouldn’t still be mourning Alan Rickman or Robin Williams or Kurt Cobain, Elvis, and many more.

Also, for thousands of years change meant death. That instinct is still in humans just like the instinct for cats to eat their dead owners. You might not like it and think it’s silly, but it’s part of who we are as a species. It’s why LEAN practitioners know to make very small changes in office environments.

There are a bunch of women against this change too. Yes, there are a ton of jerk males as well, but they aren’t the only people upset by the change. I even saw some LGBTQ+ folks saying the change was the wrong call to make. The world is a mosaic of views and when you decide to look at an issue like this and ignore all but one demographic that fits the crap you want to write about, you become part of the problem.

Did you know male suicide rates are higher than female rates? That was in Canada. The same is true in the US. The UK. Australia. Much of the rest of the world shows a similar 3.5 to 1 ratio, though some places have little to no suicide at all. Those are older stats, but interesting nonetheless.

If you don’t care about that fact, perhaps you need to work on your humanity.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that people are going to disagree on this thing and jumping to name calling won’t make anything better. Assuming one element tells the whole story is willful ignorance. Trying to see beyond the knee-jerk reaction and understand where others are coming from is what makes things better.

Get out into the world and interact with real people. Especially those that have differing view points. Echo chambers are sick places to live in. If you have to put others down for you to “progress”, maybe you’re not really as progressive as you think you are.

And no, I haven’t been brainwashed by the patriarchy. Most men simply aren’t evil. And a lot of them died so you could live to call them all assholes today.

The Doctor will be played by a woman for at least this season. We might not be sure of the choice yet, but many of us will come to love her anyway.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Theatrical Tuesday – Orphan Black

TuesdayI started watching this show because it’s on the list of Aurora Award nominees. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. The premise is complex, yet the casting is simple because one actress plays many roles. As a writer, we can see how many different ways we can go with a character, just from watching a couple of episodes. While it is science fiction, the science isn’t so complicated that it takes over the story. The story comes first and the technical details second. It is firstly a story about people and relationships in a strange situation.

With a cast full of strong female characters, it may not appeal to all viewers, but I like it. There’s the soccer mom who enjoys theatre, drugs, and the shooting range; a criminal; a cop; a religious zealot; a transgendered male; a science nerd; a woman who desperately wants to be a mother; and more.

Every time I think I know what’s really going on, they put a twist in.

The production value is decent. It errs on the side of showing less. This may relate to budget as Canadian television programs have to do more with less.

Shows like this may be particularly relevant in a political atmosphere continually focused on identity and what is right or wrong.

If you have time, check out this action-packed story.

Salut,
R~