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Results 1 - 25 of 2,572
1. Amy Adams & Henry Cavill Accept Ice Bucket Challenge on ‘Superman vs. Batman’ Set

amyhenry

Here’s a scene you might not see in the upcoming Superman vs. Batman film. Amy Adams and Henry Cavill accepted the ALS Ice Bucket challenge in full wardrobe on the set of the Man of Steel sequel. Adams challenged all the siblings names she could remember.

I don’t want to ruin the end for you, but I hope you like your Man of Steel soaked.

They just dumped load, after load, after load…

Click here to donate some money to ALS.

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2. David Yates to Direct "Fantastic Beast" Films

Director of the last four Harry Potter movies, David Yates, has officially taken on the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trilogy. As reported previously, J.K. Rowling will be working (along side Yates), writing the screenplays for the films, ensuring the film series spin off stays true to the Potter Universe. The first film is set to hit theaters November 2016, and no production schedule or cast list has been set. Variety reports:


According to sources, the studio had always wanted to approach a person who was familiar with the “Harry Potter” landscape and Yates, director of the last four films in the franchise, was a no brainer for WB. The move draws comparisons to other filmmakers like Peter Jackson returning for “The Hobbit” and Sam Mendes on “James Bond,” who, after insisting they were done with a certain franchise, ultimately came back to a piece of material they were comfortable tackling again.

More of Variety's exclusive article can be read here.

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3. Disney releases first, enormous picture of Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, who WILL save the world

ant-man-paul-rudd-600x337.jpg
Well it wasn’t really enormous, but it is bigger than an ant. Yet it does not show star Paul Rudd as Ant-Man but rather as brooding hoodie man.

A white man in a hoodie. Safe as houses.

Anyway, according to an UNUSUALLY excited press release from Disney, Ant-Man just went into production with Peyton Reed (“Bring it On,” “The Break-Up”) directing. The departure of director[mastermind Edgar Wright., and subsequent desperate search for a director , put everyone in a bad mood over this movie, but after Guardian’s stunning success Wright will soon be but a footnote, I’m afraid, and all will be forgiven.

The rest of the Ant-Man cast includes Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Hank’s daughter, and Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Abby Ryder Fortson, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, Wood Harris, John Slattery, Gregg Turkington and rapper T.I..

Btw the way, in case you were wondering “Will the tiny Ant-Man save the world just like every other Marvel hero thus devaluing the difficulty of saving the world while proving that even someone as small as an ant can be a big hero with heart and determination” the answer is YES, Ant-Man WILL save the world!
 

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.


We shouldn’t complain; saving the world is to Marvel heroes as meeting Prince Charming is to early disney Princesses.

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4. I Should've Read the Book First {IF I STAY Movie Review}

Chloë Grace Moretz stars as comatose teen who has an out-of-body experience following a car accident that kills her entire family.  She then has to make the incredibly difficult choice to let go, and join her family, or to stay. I was fortunate to be able to get an advanced screening pass to the IF I STAY movie, and I was incredibly excited to see it. I'd been putting off reading it because

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5. Dude Looks Like a Lady!

doubtfire
“Dear Mrs. Doubtfire,

Two months ago, my mom and dad decided to separate. Now they live in different houses. My brother Andrew says that we aren’t to be a family anymore. Is this true? Did I lose my family? Is there anything I can do to get my parents back together? Sincerely, Katie McCormick.”

Oh, my dear Katie. You know, some parents, when they’re angry, they get along much better when they don’t live together. They don’t fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies for you. And sometimes they get back together. And sometimes they don’t, dear. And if they don’t, don’t blame yourself. Just because they don’t love each other anymore, doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country – and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months… even years at a time. But if there’s love, dear… those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart, forever. All my love to you, poppet, you’re going to be all right… bye-bye.  ~Mrs. Dountfire

 

Remembering Robin Williams.

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6. 5 Things I Can't Wait to See in THE GIVER Movie {+ A Book Recap}

  I'm super excited for The Giver movie coming out August 15th. These are my top five things I really want to see come to life on the big screen; 1.  The way the Giver transfers the memories to Jonas. It was cool to read and I bet it'll be awesome to see put on the big screen. 2.  Jonas' first flashes of color. It was hard to picture in the book and now I can put pictures to words. 3.

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7. Emma Thompson "Save the Arctic"

Emma Thompson (Professor Sybil Trelawney) has joined the Greenpeace "Help Save the Arctic" campaign. The campaign calls for legal protection of the arctic against deprivation by oil drills and industrial fishing. As Emma Thompson says on her petition, savethearctic.org/emma, "it is not to much to say our future depends on it". Harry Potter costar Emma Watson, showed her support for Emma Thompson's efforts by sharing a pic of her electronic signing Emma Thompson's Save the Arctic petition (as seen below) with the caption "GO EMMA T!!!! :) <3". When one signs the petition, they receive an automated email from Emma Thompson, written with her wit and humor, that reads: 

Dear -------,

Thank you so much for joining me by adding your name to protect the Arctic.

I don’t normally use the internet to communicate in this way, but on this occasion I made an extraordinary exception.

The Arctic is essential to all of us, and with your help we can make sure it is protected in perpetuity.

I wrote this message as a thank you for you, but feel free to pass it on to anyone you know who might also be interested in helping.

savethearctic.org/emma

Very best wishes,

Emma Thompson

P.S. In spite of my allergy to social networking, I will be guest tweeting on @savethearctic. Please follow my journey there or at intothearctic.gp.



If anyone is interested in signing the petition, they may do so here, with a fine picture of Emma Thompson standing on the North Pole. One may also visit this site, to see the progress of how many signatures have been collected (six million thus far), as well as add their name to the petition.

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8. How Not to Write a Review, Unless You Want to Sound Like an Insufferable Prig


I know it's been all Snowpiercer all the time here lately, but this time it's not so much about that particular film as about how one reviewer has chosen to write about it, since his choices are ones that I detest in reviews, despite (or perhaps because of) how common those choices are.

I am, in other words, simply here to register a complaint.

There is a good argument to be made that we should not expend any time or attention on bad writing. Life is short, and there's plenty of great writing out there to read. But I am ignoring that argument for the moment, despite all it has to recommend it. Because sometimes something is just such a perfect model of What Not To Do that I can't help but want to scream against it.

The item in question is a review at The Los Angeles Review of Books by Len Gutkin. It is a negative review, but that's not the problem. I'm glad there are negative reviews of Snowpiercer, even though I loved the film, because I am suspicious of anything that seems to garner universal acclaim.

It would be nice, though, if the negative reviews could be something more than, "Waaaaa! I don't like this movie and other people do! I'm right, they're wrong! Waaaaaa! Pay attention to me!"

You think I exaggerate? Let me do something the review does not, and offer a bit of evidence...



The first paragraph is mostly summary, but the term "critical darling" is obviously there to let us know that this will not be an altogether positive review. Critical darlings are one step above warm piles of wombat dung, after all. Not only are they darlings (which we all know must be killed, not loved), but they're also the darlings of that most disgusting of creatures, the critic. (Critics who proclaim their distaste for all those other critics are the best, of course, because they're on Our Side. They're One of Us. We the people.)

The second paragraph begins with an overview of director Bong Joon-Ho's career, with The Host praised for its satire and wit, but the review quickly plunges into invective. "Snowpiercer, too, has moments of satirical wit, but it is mostly an incoherent slog, a tendentious allegory punctuated by overproduced fight scenes meant to be virtuosic but that are, in fact, merely busy — glossy object lessons in the asininity of action-movie convention."

Here's where we begin to see the problem with this review. The reviewer wants to universalize his own taste, prejudices, inclinations, ignorance, etc. He wants to become Us. He could not write, "I found Snowpiercer to have some moments of satirical wit, but mostly it seemed to me to be an incoherent slog..." No, it must be stated more categorically: It is this.

Of course, you might argue that since this is a review written by one person, the fact that it is one person's opinion is obviously implied, and saying, "It seems to me..." or "I found it to be..." over and over is annoying. That may be true, but writers find ways around it without declaring themselves God Of All Truth. And yes, certainly the omniscient pose is, we all know, just a pose. It's the choice to take such a pose that I object to, because it leads to an astounding arrogance of tone, a tone of absolute faith, utter certainty, pure infallibility.

Perhaps I so bristle at it because I've fallen into such a tone myself at times. It's hard to avoid, I know. But worth the effort. The pieces of writing that I most regret having published are reviews composed with such a tone.

I could complain about the inaccuracy of Gutkin's adjectives, or the factual inaccuracy of his "in fact" ("merely busy" — no, that is, in fact, wrong), or the blithely dismissive phrase "the asininity of action-movie convention" — but let's instead look to how he justifies his opinions. After such assertions, there must be evidence, no? "The entire movie looks, somehow, both very expensive and frustratingly cheap." Another assertion. Followed by a comparison to a video game and another assertion: "which would have been impressive 17 years ago." Oooh, snap! But not evidence. (How does it look like that? Point to specific elements. Describe.)

"Snowpiercer is about class revolt, a theme whose timeliness has tricked critics into admiring it." More assertions and more arrogance: All those other people have been tricked! Our reviewer is the only one who can see the truth! This sentence is followed by a snide contradiction of David Denby's review: "'Is revolution being hatched in the commercial cinema?' The New Yorker’s David Denby was moved to ask. No, David, it’s not." This is a contradiction, not an argument. Also, it's puerile. (Why not just call him Dave? You're at Yale, Lee, you could, you know, jump on MetroNorth and hang out with Dave in NYC. I'm sure he'd love to chat with you. He might even offer you his job, because obviously you're so much smarter than he is!)

This is followed by some more snide summary in which the writer works hard to declare himself superior to the work he is reviewing.

(Have we found evidence for Gutkin's assertions yet? I'm not seeing much. But let's continue...)

There's commentary on Chris Evans's performance as Curtis. "Has there ever been a well-known actor so pitifully without any of the requisite gifts as Evans?" Yes, I'm sure there has been. But maybe he meant the question as hyperbole. No matter. It completely misses the idea that perhaps the performance is exactly what was needed, because perhaps there is a critique of heroic action movies built into this movie. I don't require a reviewer to agree with such an idea, but it's always worth considering that perhaps the item under review is doing what it is doing on purpose, and perhaps your job as a reviewer is to look for that purpose, and, before you reject the item as simply "bad", to consider this possible purpose and adjust your critique accordingly. But no, as any blowhard can tell you, it's much easier and more fun to hurl insults.

The review continues: "To be fair, he’s given some pretty hopeless material. Recounting to Namgoong the traumatic early days of life on the train, Curtis fights back tears (I think that’s what he’s doing) and asks, 'You know what I hate about myself? I know what people taste like.' After several seconds of grimacing: 'I know that babies taste best.' I laughed so hard I thought I’d be asked to leave the theater." Again, skipping over the snotty tone, maybe that's the point.

(But let's not entirely skip over that snotty tone. Gutkin presents himself as one of those people who likes to stay above it all, distantly judging anyone who might find the scene actually moving. I can see him at the theatre, laughing away while some poor schlub next to him wipes away a tear, and Gutkin turns to said schlub and whispers, "What a little crybaby you are. You probably watch the Hallmark Channel, don't you?")

He moves on to Tilda Swinton. To Gutkin's credit, he recognizes that Tilda Swinton is a god. He then references Coriolanus, to show what a real writer can do with similar themes, and Joan Didion, who long ago sneered down her sneery nose at Dr. Strangelove — and so Gutkin decides that because he, too, likes to sneer, he has rights to Didion's nose, and he uses it to sneer down at Snowpiercer, which is, in fact, worse than Strangelove. (Imagine that! The horror!) But Swinton's good: "Only when she’s onscreen does Snowpiercer completely hold one’s attention."

The above sentence is yet another example of the arrogance that oozes from this review. What if somebody said, "There actually are other moments that completely held my attention." How would Gutkin respond? He has left himself only two choices. He could say, "In that case, I am wrong," or he could say, "You may think your attention was completely held, but you are a victim of false consciousness, and I, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, know more than you, and therefore I pronounce you wrong. Return to the hole out of which you crawled, worm!"

The next paragraph is, surprisingly, all praise for various actors, ending with, "And as Wilford, Ed Harris is as good as you’d expect him to be."

Just as we're beginning to think that Gutkin is maybe not the total creep he seemed to be, he doubles down: "But not good enough." Ohhh, feel the burn!

The final paragraph continues: "Snowpiercer wouldn’t, really, be worth writing about at all, except that a number of prominent critics — and not just David Denby — seem inexplicably convinced of its virtues." If the egomaniacal shallowness of this sentence isn't obvious to you, just look at that inexplicably there. According to this sentence, none of the critics who have praised Snowpiercer have explained their praise. None of them. Instead, they've just written thousands and thousands of versions of, "Snowpiercer, Snowpiercer, rah rah rah! Yadda yadda yadda! It's great, great, great" Meanwhile, Gutkin has offered the devasting and incontroverible evidence of, "No, David, it’s not."

We're not quite done yet, so maybe there's some evidence in the final sentences. Gutkin actually quotes two reviewers, Dana Stevens and Andrew O’Hehir, but he doesn't quote their reasoning, he just contradicts their opinions, and quotes O'Hehir on Harvey Weinstein's initial desire to cut the film's length, which then leads to the final sentence: "Weinstein should have been allowed his cuts — the thing would at least have been shorter." (The thing. It's not even a movie, it's just a thing, something easily dismissed. Get this thing out from under my Didion nose! Such things are not allowed at the Yale Club! Go away, thing!)

This made me wonder if the reviews he quotes are as vapid as his own.

Here's a paragraph from Stevens (and not an entirely positive one, at that, despite Gutkin's accusation that Stevens gushes):
Unless you have a huge appetite for gnarly fight sequences, this seizing-control-of-the-train section gets a bit long and structure-less, though I will say this for Bong: His action scenes never build or resolve according to familiar Hollywood formulas. Any character, no matter how narratively important or beloved, can get the ax (often literally) at any time, which gives the battle scenes a palpable sense of emotional as well as physical suspense.
The qualifier at the beginning of that first sentence is an interesting contrast to Gutkin's arrogance. As someone who does, in fact, have a pretty good appetite for "gnarly fight sequences" (an accurate description of some of the central scenes in the film), I appreciate Stevens's caveat. Indeed, I can see how somebody less interested in cinematic mayhem than I might get bored during a lot of Snowpiercer, just as I could see they might get bored with any action movie, no matter how accomplished. If you don't like that sort of thing, you don't like that sort of thing, and you'll have a hard time telling the good stuff from the mediocre or even bad. (It's like me trying to tell you if a football player is any good. Amateur football games look just like professional ones to my eyes. But I'm not writing reviews of football games.) Further, Stevens makes an assertion about those action scenes (they "never build or resolve according to familiar Hollywood formulas") and then follows that assertion with reasoning.

The O'Hehir review is more descriptive and also full of assertions without evidence, and, truthfully, doesn't do a very good job of explaining its praise.

It's easy to write negative reviews. It's fun, in a nasty, trivial sort of way. It lets you blow off the steam that built up from being subjected to an experience you didn't enjoy. I've done it. I get it. But a negative review needs to offer something more than just its negativity.

I've come to expect, perhaps foolishly, a little bit more of the L.A. Review of Books. Shouldn't an editor say, "Hey, you've clearly had fun writing this, but you should know that you come off sounding like an ass, and it might help to put a little bit more explanation in there to give some evidence for your criticism. You disguise the lack of substance with a tone of omniscience, as if the obviousness of your complaints isn't worth the effort of explanation. I mean, have you ever considered that maybe the problem isn't the movie? Maybe, really, the problem is ... you?"

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9. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: August 1

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include authors and illustrators, book lists, diversity, growing bookworms, events, summer reading, summer slide, literacy programs, kidlitcon, writing, movies, and schools.

Authors and Illustrators

Wild Things! Funky Buddha Parties to Children’s Books: Before They Were Authors + Illustrators http://ow.ly/zLu55 @SevenImp @FuseEight

Fun! Books the @growingbbb family's favorite Children's Authors Liked When They Were Kids http://ow.ly/zG4qs #kidlit

Book Lists

A timely list! 3 on a YA Theme: Summer Camp | @catagator @bookriot http://ow.ly/zB0pU #yalit

100 Children's Books to Read in a Lifetime from @Amazon is a pretty nice list http://ow.ly/zJ66c via @PWKidsBookshelf

A Tuesday Ten: SF-based Time Travel in #kidlit | Views From the Tesseract http://ow.ly/zLujJ #BookList

Books to Help Your Child With Common Kid Problems | @BookishHQ http://ow.ly/zL2xS #BookList #kidlit

From @CoffeeandCrayon | A List of Books About Starting Kindergarten http://ow.ly/zLtEQ #kidlit

New #BookList from Stacked: #YAlit involving Hacking, Gaming & Virtual Reality http://ow.ly/zIkwh

Picture Books for Young Writers | Lit For Kids Blog via @ChoiceLiteracy http://ow.ly/zGeOb #kidlit

A Top Ten Featuring the Coretta Scott King Book Awards by @medinger @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zG9wo #kidlit

Nice list of Middle Grade titles for #WeNeedDiverseBooks from @girlsincapes http://ow.ly/zG8aO via @charlotteslib

Stacked: Censorship, Challenges, and Other Forms of Protest: A Reading List from @catagator http://ow.ly/zG6hd

Diversity

Congratulations to #WeNeedDiverseBooks for incorporating + having a great advisory board http://ow.ly/zOh8A @sljournal

Go Doc McStuffins! Race in Toyland: A Nonwhite Doll Crosses Over @NYTimes http://ow.ly/zJ5G6 via @PWKidsBookshelf

Sigh! Infographic: The Diversity Gap in Sci-Fi & Fantasy Films. @bkshelvesofdoom @leeandlow http://ow.ly/zJ5aI

Events, Programs, and Research

Very cool! School Librarian Fights Summer Slide with School Bus-Turned-Bookmobile | @sljournalhttp://ow.ly/zOh3J

FirstBookSummer_ReadingEncouraging news from @FirstBook blog: How Kansas City Kids Beat Summer Slide http://ow.ly/zAYTP #SummerReading

Neat idea! Richmond mom brings literacy to laundromats | @KALW in SF http://ow.ly/zJ6do via @PWKidsBookshelf

"This summer, the streets of London have been filled with 50 book-shaped benches, celebrating a range of books" http://ow.ly/zB11c

Mind the Gaps: Books for All Young Readers | @HornBook Colloquium sounds neat http://ow.ly/zOhGA #HBAS14 http://ow.ly/zOhP1

Press Release: A Conference on Censorship in #kidlit and a Call for Proposals @fuseeight http://ow.ly/zG5Nv @ArneNixonCenter

Learning To Read May Take Longer Than We Thought @NPR via @PWKidsBookshelf http://ow.ly/zJ5Xd #literacy

Growing Bookworms

This is awesome! I want one! Sneaking Books in at breakfast: toast racks as book storage | @playbythebook http://ow.ly/zOz5C

The Maze Runner: Hooking Teachers + Reluctant Readers Since 2009 – Review by @shkrajewski @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zLtQZ

Keep calm + read to your child, @JGCanada advises parents worried about their kids not yet reading http://ow.ly/zLte8

Don't miss: Getting Boys Excited About Reading: Ideas & Resources from @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/zAZw0

Kidlitosphere

KidlitCon2014_cubeWendie Old has all the links you need to learn about this year's #KidLitCon http://ow.ly/zIkPb #kidlit #yalit

#KidLitCon 2014 Still Wants YOU! says co-organizer @aquafortis | She just registered. How about you? http://ow.ly/zGsup

Children's + YA BOOK blogging friends! This is the last week for Session Proposals for #KidLitCon14 http://ow.ly/zGczI

Lots of good stuff in this week's Fusenews, including a plug for #KidLitCon14 from @fuseeight http://ow.ly/zIfpG

A Little Shout-Out to #KidlitCon from co-organizer Tanita Davis: The more we talk about things like #diversity... http://ow.ly/zG9ec

"My best memories of #KidLitCon are getting to meet people in real life" | @LizB on why you should attend http://ow.ly/zG79Q

How I presented at #Kidlitcon, and how you can too! from this year's Program Organizer @charlotteslib http://ow.ly/zG6LI

What Do We Mean When We Talk About Diversity + How Can YOU Contribute to the Conversation at #KidLitCon http://ow.ly/zAWvU Tanita Davis

On Reading, Writing, Publishing

Middle Grade and YA: Where to Draw the Line? (+ where to shelve the books in the store) http://ow.ly/zJ5qf @PublishersWkly #kidlit

I feel like this too: Books as Traveling Companions through life by @AmericanClassrm @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zG5op

"Read-alouds can sometimes be just as important to the teacher in the classroom" @rantryan @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zG8GC

I collect bookmarks, too. Loved: Handmade Mini Bookmarks + Books About Reading from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/zAZzz

Movies and Video

I am intrigued... The Famous Five are headed to the big screen, via @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/zIdfY

Wild Things! Tar Babies + Cannibals: Children’s Literature + Problematic Cinematic Adaptations http://ow.ly/zIkcm @FuseEight + @SevenImp

#KidLit Film Adaptations: The Good, The Bad, and the Traumatizing at Wild Things! http://ow.ly/zG63c @SevenImp @FuseEight

Who would have thought? 8 Reasons Why @momandkiddo Loves Pokémon http://ow.ly/zIean

Schools

At Literate Lives, suggestions from a dad to his daughter, a first-time first-grade teacher http://ow.ly/zLtmw

The plot to destroy education: Why technology could ruin American classrooms — by trying to fix them @salon http://ow.ly/zODY5

An idea for teachers: Battle of the Books by Sherry Gick @LibraryFanatic @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zAZWV

Summer Reading

RT @ErinMargolin: SO GOOD! 10 Tips on How to Avoid the Summer Slide http://www.bonbonbreak.com/avoiding-summer-slide/ … via @bonbonbreak

National Book Foundation Launches New #SummerReading Program in NYC http://ow.ly/zODjU via @PWKidsBookshelf

#SummerReading Tip33 @aliposner | Have a lemonade stand…and, tie it to #literacy! | http://ow.ly/zG9DI

#SummerReading Tip35 from @aliposner | Parents, participate in a READING IN THE WILD scavenger hunt! | @donalynbooks http://ow.ly/zLvcE

Nancy Howe and Rosanne Macek: Keep our kids off the summer slide w/ #SummerReading programs @MercuryNews http://ow.ly/zAPIA

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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10. The Decay of the White Savior

Snowpiercer
Let's talk about white saviors, emotions, and endings.

Daniel José Older has an interesting take on Snowpiercer, particularly its ending, likening it to Children of Men:


Children of Men
But both Children of Men and Snowpiercer come crashing down to almost identical final moments. When the smoke clears and the countless bodies are carted off, what we’re left with is the same take-away: Bearded white dude saves humanity, in both cases represented by a woman and a child of color, both helpless and in need of saving, at the cost of his own life.
Basically, Older says, Snowpiercer and Children of Men are white savior movies. He proposes an alternative: "Imagine if the desperate rebels paused and elevated Tanya to leadership instead of Curtis. Snowpiercer would’ve become something truly subversive, a story some of us have been trying to tell for a very long time."

I think Snowpiercer is already pretty darn subversive, so I would replace the "truly" there with "even more", and I wouldn't call Yona in Snowpiercer helpless, really (she's smart and even seems to have some super powers). But yes, Snowpiercer could have offered an alternative to white supremacy (both the structural white supremacy of the train and the apparently internalized and patriarchal white supremacy of the rebels) instead of something closer to a satire of white supremacy ending in its own destruction — a futile destruction if you consider the likelihood of Yona and Tim's survival or the likelihood that some disease would kill off their ancestors. (For more along this line, and for thoughts on the implications of the film's take on revolutionary politics, and much else, see Aaron Bady's "Snowpiercer Thinkpiece".) It could have been a more deeply subversive, even utopian movie. It is not.

But as a savior, Curtis is pretty crappy. He's wrong about the revolution, most of the tailenders he's trying to liberate end up dead, and though he may have sacrificed his life for a woman and boy, the woman and boy are in all likelihood only going to outlive him by a day or two at most. And it's not like he set out to sacrifice his life for them. Nam and Yona caused the explosion. He just chose, along with Wilford, to see if his body might shield Yona and Tim's bodies from the blast. If you're going to die, you might as well make your death a potentially useful one, and that's what he does.

I've already proposed one way of thinking about the racial politics of the ending, and this is at least somewhat at odds with Older's reading, but I like texts that can be interpreted richly, and it's entirely likely that soon I'll think my first take was wrong. I like thinking about the lineage of white savior movies, because when I do, they give me a little bit more hope for progress than the ending of Snowpiercer does, because if we can see such stories as white supremacy talking about itself, then it's having a crisis of confidence and thinks it's going to die pretty soon.

(Obviously, it is the nature of white supremacy to make itself the center of conversation, and I am perpetuating that here. White supremacy's representations interest me. But I entirely agree with Older that we need additional storylines. Please please please somebody give Danny Glover the money to make his Toussaint L'Ouverture movie, for instance!)

There are some noticeable differences between the ending of Snowpiercer and the ending of Children of Men, but before getting to those, I want to bring up one other white savior movie, Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino, which I once called "a white savior movie that questions the whole idea of a white savior movie, or, at least, that wants to put an end to itself."

Gran Torino

One of the things that I think is important to consider when viewing a white savior movie is its desired emotional effect. Where does it want the audience's sympathies to fall? What does the film seem to want us to feel, and how? In a classic white savior movie — think Dances with Wolves or The Blind Side or [insert your own title here] — the white savior becomes ennobled through their encounter with the non-white supporting character(s). They learn to be more caring, less bigoted, etc. (Yay, white people can be better! Hooray for White Guy 2.0!) The journey is fundamentally that of the white protagonist, and the audience's greatest interest should be in the white character. (This is one of the things I thought was so excellent about 12 Years a Slave, which is in the end, yes, literally a white savior movie — without Bass [Brad Pitt], Solomon Northup might never have been freed — but not at all about the redemption of white people. But that's tangential to this discussion...)

Though Gran Torino is at least partly about the end of the old white savior, it nonetheless sticks with the redemption narrative. The future is given to nonwhite characters, and those characters are shown to be the closest to a traditional (conservative) sense of American values, but grumpy old racist Walt ends up not just learning to care deeply for people he'd previously spurned, but sacrificing himself for them. And not just any sacrifice. He lands on the ground with his arms outstretched like Jesus on the cross. Like Snowpiercer, Gran Torino proposes that the future will not be white, but in Gran Torino the white savior is still pretty awesome, even if he's a relic.

In Children of Men, Theo is much less heroic than Walt. He's pointedly unheroic in his presentation. But his character arc is toward heroism — through helping Kee, he discovers something to live for, something to fight for, and he becomes somebody worth shedding a tear for when he dies. For me, it's not as big a tear as Gran Torino seems to want us to shed for Walt, but that's partly because it's not hard to imagine Theo going back to being a cynical or apathetic drunk even if he lived. Walt's death feels momentous, like a tremendous (if necessary) loss; Theo's death is sad for a moment, poignant more than devastating.

With Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarón did make interesting changes to counter the whiteness of the source material (a P.D. James novel), but the character we follow from beginning to end is, indeed, a white guy who saves a pregnant black woman and her child. Here, though, Kee is, like Thao and Sue in Gran Torino, a kind of representative of the future — if humanity is to survive, it's surviving because of a black woman, and the white savior is gone from the picture. (Although everyone we see on the Tomorrow ship that picks her up looks white, so who knows what will happen later...)

Snowpiercer also kills off the white savior(s) and proposes that the future of humanity does not lie with white people, but here the journey of the white savior is even less heroic than that of Walt or Theo. At least Walt and Theo are successful saviors.

Curtis's journey is in many ways the opposite of Walt's and Theo's. Walt and Theo begin cynical (or worse) and come to see the value in being a savior. We end up feeling good about them, and proud of them for their sacrifices. Curtis starts out at 2nd in command of the revolution (though Gilliam repeatedly suggests that Curtis is really in charge, even if Curtis doesn't want to face that fact) and ends up finding out that the revolution was a sham and that his actions all served to help Wilford's overall goals. Curtis has helped lead everyone he most cares into death for an illusion. Oops.

Do we shed a tear for Curtis?

I don't know about you, but I certainly didn't. Sure, there was the monologue toward the end where he talks about how he became a savage and then couldn't cut his arm off, etc., but it's important to remember what comes next: Nam's deflating reaction — Curtis clearly thought he was sharing his deepest, darkest secret, and Nam's response was little more than, "Uh huh." He's not bowing down to this white savior, not giving in to his emotional tug.

Curtis was interesting as a protagonist, as a figure to carry the force of the action, but my own emotional commitment was far more toward Nam, Tanya, Yona, and then Tim. (Tanya's death was, for me, the most affecting.) Curtis just isn't a very interesting character; he's a foil for the other characters and a device to get the story out. The relatively bland main character is an old tradition in narrative, and it serves a similar function to a straight man in comedy. So Curtis's death is not a moment that is, for me at least, more powerful than the deaths of so many other people on the train. It's easy for my plot interest to shift to Yona and Tim because that's where my affectual interest has been all along.

Gran Torino gives us the white savior who wants to end all white saviors, but it wants to us to pause and feel real sorrow for his death. Children of Men gives us an unheroic white savior who finds some shreds of heroism and dies to save the (at-least-partially) nonwhite future; we end up sort of sad for him, but the stronger emotion is likely happiness that Kee and her child lived. Snowpiercer gives us a white savior seeking the wrong revolution, ending up a savior as much by accident as intent, and the movie drains much of the emotional power from the savior figure, while proposing that if humanity has any future (unlikely), its future isn't one with white people in it.

The white savior is in trouble.

Well, at least until the next Avatar movie.

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11. SDCC 14: JMS Shoots Straight While Firing From the Hip

By David Nieves

J. Michael Straczynski isn’t one to mess around. Unless it’s an hour of sarcasm and announcements, which his spotlight panel, Comic-Con Saturday, had copious amounts of.

JMS as he’s know to his friends, enemies, and frenemies had a lot of updates on outhouse projects and something he announced at SDCC two years ago, Studio JMS. No doubt Joe wins the award for the self professed best in the world at being humble.

At the top of his update list was a full colored page from Superman Earth One: Volume 3. Not one of the most exciting pages from the book but it did show Adrian Syaf’s take on Earth One Superman. It doesn’t quite have the pulled back cinematic of previous artist Shane Davis but it looks to blend well with JMS’ direction for the character. The book comes out in February.

Studio JMS is shaping up to be a true multimedia one stop shop for comics, television, and film. This will spin out the “Joe’s Comics” imprint under Image. All the books announced during his stage presentation at a previous Image Expo are still on the way.

Ten Grand is currently in negotiations with a major network to be optioned as a TV show.

Sense8 is in production with Netflix for a 10 episode commitment. He talked about a run of meetings alongside his fellow producers, the Wachowskis’ (Matrix), and on their first one they met with Netflix and had the deal done after lunch. Daryl Hanna will appear on the show. You can see the entire cast list here. Several locations around the world from Chicago to the Arctic are being used. He’s selling it as the largest scope ever on television and it seems like that’s a promise he’ll keep.

JMS is a week away from finishing a second draft of the Shadowman movie

Because he doesn’t have enough to do he’s writing a pilot for Universal based on something by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling.

Two Streets is a TV show he’s doing with Gale Ann Hurd of Valhalla and Universal is also set to produce. There’s nothing to talk about quite yet but he did show a title card for the show. It depicted a golden tinted city alley at night and what looked like a young girl draped in shadow. Could be a new age noir tale, if so I Derek Jeter tip my hat to JMS.

One of the big things he talked about was his current ties to Babylon 5. The original deal with Warner Bros will never show him anymore money from television. However he still owns the rights for a Babylon 5 movie. No studio will take the movie rights with another making money off the deal. The solution, Studio JMS. To the delight of everyone in the room he announced that his initial parlays through the studio would fund a Babylon 5 movie. In 2015 he’ll have a Babylon 5 film script done and WB has a year to make it, IF NOT in 2016 Studio JMS would spearhead the film.

After the announcements he told a story about him fraudulently acquiring his first degree. Apparently he was a terrible student with in his words “negative grade point average”. So in order to graduate from San Diego State he broke into the schools office and put his name on the graduation list. A trend he took one step further on his next academic step. He even put up a slide of his fraudulent Master’s degree.

The chairman of this board opened up to questions from the audience.

First question was about a musical from Studio JMS. He jokingly said, “it’s time.” JMS threw out the idea for Living Dead the musical with Irish step dancers. We’re 90% certain that was a joke but you couldn’t tell from his demeanor.

Another fan asked if anyone like Neil Gaiman would be writing episodes of his upcoming shows. JMS responded by praising Gaiman’s work but said all the episodes were already written by himself and the Wachowskis’.

One of the interesting questions was about if he’d crowd fund at least part of the money for Babylon 5. It took a lot for him to resist that lure. Straczynski joked how he came from “rank fandom and I’m just as rank as the rest of you.” He felt it would be taking advantage of the fans. Personally, I respect that. He even went as far as to say that between all the movies and merchandise, sci-fi and horror fans are the most exploited fans out there.

To close out the panel he gave the crowd some inspiring words of wisdom. “I come from poor, I come from the street, I come from San Diego. I see so many people defeat themselves.” He added, “create the lives you want for yourselves.”

Listening to JMS speak it was clear to hear just who he was deep down. A fan who came from nothing, equipped with some words and passion. Those same qualities that make him the realest guy in comics.

You can listen to the entire panel below

 

 

 

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12. SDCC ’14: Careers in Creativity

 

Industry people discussing roles open in creativity.

Industry people discussing roles open in creativity.

By: Nick Eskey

In today’s world, with the level of connectivity we all share, and all the available options for entertainment, there is a greater need to stand out from the competition. To achieve this, there’s a greater need for creativity. Creative jobs exist in all different avenues, whether it be comics, movies, television, or that brand-new-fangled thing called the “internet.” Dawn Rivera, Evan Spiridellis, Brook Keesling, Andy Cochrane, Scott Campbell, and Kim Makey, all individuals who in some way are connected to creative roles. They all represent their various industries at this year’s Creative Careers in Entertainment panel.

Back in the earlier days of the internet, Evan Spiridellis and his brother began to create animated flash videos, and got wide recognition. In 1999, the brothers founded Jib Jab Studios, around a time when they felt the internet looked promising for storytelling. But when they weren’t seeing much in terms of revenue, they eventually realized, “interweb cartoons are BAD business.” At the suggestion of Evan’s brother, in 2007 the pair started Jib Jan Ecards. Their ecards allowed customers to customize them, to the point of placing their faces in the animation. “The beauty of the internet is that you can do whatever you want. There’s more room for creativity,” said Evan. And two years ago, Jib Jab launched what they felt would be the equivalent of “Sesame Street” if launched today. “Storybots is fun, safe, and with teacher approved apps such as storybooks… Storybots’ mission is to fuse art, technology, and fun to further entertainment.”

Dawn Rivera, talent development and outreach for Disney Animation, discussed the Disney legacy and mindset. “Disney believes  in making compelling stories, appealing characters, and believable worlds.” Right now, Disney is working on a new movie called Big Hero 6. It will be their first Marvel inspired film since their acquisition. If interested in Disney, they have their own school of animation.

Sitting somewhere between the level of Jib Jab and Disney, Cartoon Network Studios is always on the lookout for new talent. Brook Keesling, talent development for Cartoon Network Studios’ art program, talked of the various in house cartoons that they currently have in production, such as Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Uncle Grandpa. They all are from artists that work directly for the studio. “I’m always looking at work from students, all the way to professionals.” Aside from cartoonists, Brook also spoke of how they are always looking for storyboard artists. “They’re the ones that actually do the writing.” If you’re interested in working for Cartoon Network, look up “Cartoon Network Next Generation.”

Kim Mackey, head of recruitment for Dreamworks, talked on how the studio is always looking to grow their business, not just from the movie side of things, but also in publishing, television, and graphic design.

In videogames, such as World of Warcraft and Starcraft, Blizzard Entertainment is known for their large scale environments and their high attention to detail. Artistic recruitment lead Scott Campbell described all of the different cogs that go into their designs. Aside from the game art itself, there is also the 2D and 3D visual elements, concept art, and props that fully flesh out their games. “We rely on our cinematic artists, creative developers, texture artists, environment artists, character artists, and prop artists for the visuals of our games.” If interested in positions in Blizzard, check “Jobs.Blizzard.com.”

And the largest in my opinion in this creative pool, is one word: Mirada. Guillermo Del Toro, filmmaker and effects artist, founded the studio. What do they do specifically? Andy Cochrane, interactive and new media director, as well as FX supervisor, joked about how hard it is to describe what Mirada exactly does. “We do so much. It really depends on who we are working with or what we are working on… We’ve described a few times as ‘Guillermo Del Toro’s imaginarium.’” Mirada can range from anywhere between animators, to visual effects artists, to audio mixers. Guillermo Del Toro founded Mirada because from what he feels, “There are two people in story telling; one’s on the front of the ship looking forward, and those on the back… looking at how far they are moving away from where they came from.” Mirada is part of those who are on the forefront of where story telling is going.

From all these industries, we can see how large of a scale there are for creative individuals. If you are someone who wants a job in artistic work, research what companies are out there, and what openings they might have that match what you’re looking for.

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13. INNOCENCE - In Select Theaters August 29

Love. Beauty. Wealth. Eternity. Get ready for the latest YA book-to-film adaptation, INNOCENCE, in select theaters August 29th INNOCENCE, based off the 2001 novel by Jane Mendelsohn, tells the story of Beckett Warner, a teenager dealing with the recent death of her mother. Yet, once she moves to Manhattan to put her life back together and begin a new school, Beckett realizes that her troubles

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14. SDCC ’14: Giant Monsters Win the Masquerade

photo (5)Just a few hours after Legendary Pictures’ CEO Thomas Tull announced that Mothra, King Ghidorah and Rodan will appear in the Godzilla sequel, attendees at the 40th annual Comic-Con Masquerade saw the four monsters destroy a city live on stage –

and win the competition’s Best in Show.

Cosplay plays several different roles at Comic Con, from bonding the community together to connecting individuals to creative power within the entertainment they enjoy. In fact, the intrepid Masquerade Coordinator Martin Jaquish opened the event by noting that the Masquerade helps to fulfill San Diego Comic-Con’s nonprofit mission by promoting creative enterprise among the Con’s attendees.

That spirit of creativity is ultimately what appears to have secured the victory for the four women who created the winning costumes in “Giant Monsters All Out Attack” — Lisa Truong, Lynleigh Sato, Wendy Colon, and Cindy Purchase. As should be evident in the admittedly fuzzy picture above,  the costumes were not literal recreations of the four monsters’ film design, and their mode of wreaking havoc was more akin to a chaste burlesque than wanton carnage. However, it is precisely this blend of playfulness and novelty that made their designs stand out.

There were a number of other winners and honorable mentions, both as determined by the judges and as selected by the Masquerade’s sponsors. For example, DC’s winning selection had a Scarecrow-venomed Batman fighting Ray Harryhausen skeletons, and other winners included lifesize (more or less) Game of Thrones dragons, a paean to the transformational power of fandom sung to the tune of “Be a Man,” and, of course, MODOK. Technique mixed with surprise were the core values of the night, and an extra splash of fun seemed only to help.

For those who would like to know more about the Masquerade or see video of the entries, Martin Jaquish along with John Ruff will be hosting the Comic-Con Masquerade Replay starting at 2:30pm today (Sunday) in Room 8.

We’ll be talking more about the Masquerade from various perspectives in days to come, but the jury’s still out on whether I’ll follow the recommendation of several people on line to show up next year as The Governor.

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15. Beyond the Page: Writing in the Digital Age

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These authors talk about technology, and how it's influenced their work.

These authors talk about technology, and how it’s influenced their work.

: Nick Eskey

Ever since the creation of the printing press, authors finally had an avenue to get their works out into the world. But it wasn’t until the creation of moving pictures that authors had another venue for their work aside from their printed forms. A book had the chance to find itself on the big screen, creating new revenues and reaching audiences that may have never read their work. It changed the possibilities again.

The advent of the digital age has yet again added possibilities, as these authors discussed during Beyond the Page panel this year at Comic-Con. James Frey (Endgame), Chris Weitz (The Young World), James Dashner (Maze Runner & The Rule of Thoughts), Andrew Kaplan (Homeland), Fred Van Lente (Make Comics Like Pros), James Silvani (Draw-a-sauras), and Melissa De La Cruz (Ring and the Crown) all shared how technology had affected their work. James Frey remembered when the first iPad was introduced. “I was awed. Thought it would great to have this thing that allowed people to watch movies and surf the web on the go.” Since then, he wanted to use everything he could to promote his work. “Now we have twitter feeds, youtube feeds… All these tools for the toolbox let’s me reach and tell more to readers.”

Not too long ago, industries that dealt with physical mediums like books or comics had “thoughts of doom and gloom,” as James Dashner said. “They thought technology would replace them. But now the book industry has more readers than ever.” He also pointed out that with ebooks, readers have the option to get enhanced experiences that never have been available to them before.

In regards to ebooks, Melissa De La Cruz did agree that she’s seen printed books affected. But other things like social media has offered a surprising support to the printed realm. “I’ve seen websites like Tumblr have helped to spark paper book groups… There’s even groups out there that share recipes based on their favorite books.”

Technology can even work hand-in-hand with books to create a larger, more immersive experience. James Frey himself said how he’s currently working on a series that will span 3 books, 35 novellas, and a video game that will be made by Google. “The books themselves will be the core,” he said. “And in each book there will be puzzles that will lead to real world prizes.” But if you’re not interested in the extras, they are not necessary to understand the books. “They will be just another option.”

But with all the options now at authors disposal, it can become confusing on how to use them properly. “With social media and tech, you have to be careful to not make them a gimmick,” said Fred Van Lente. “It’s a fine line. If you enjoy doing it, I think it’s what [would] keep it from being a gimmick. If you are told to, or feel like you have to, then it becomes one.” And as James Frey added, “Books are entirely self contained. The extras are optional, and for you to enjoy if you want to.”

Ultimately, books are what they are. Authors can take their books and morph them into more using today’s tech. But there’s still a balance that should be kept when using them. Because after all, as one panelist said, “It’s a book, and ultimately you have to live and die as a book.”

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16. SDCC 2014: Movie Poll!

And now… time for a reader poll!

Which actor would you most like to see on screen?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

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17. Floating In Pants

I don’t have a grand list of phobias. But of the things I fear, I’m pretty sure sharks top the list. As a child of the seventies, Jaws really did me in. I love going to the beach and being in the ocean, but constantly find myself scanning the horizon for a fin. I have been deep-sea fishing and enjoyed it even when I heard the eerie music in my mind and braced for the impact from the imaginary megalodon shark about to ram us from underneath.

I’ve been reading the book, In Harm’s Way, which is about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II. A few years ago a survivor of the event, Edgar Harrell, spoke at my children’s school on Veteran’s Day. His story was amazing. If you don’t know what happened, the ship was sunk by a torpedo and since they were on a covert mission, no one knew to rescue them. This led to the largest recorded shark massacre in history. While I am fascinated by the situation, it leads to all kinds of issues. Could I survive such an event? Take the sharks out of the picture, am I ready to float in the ocean for days?

Then I remembered! I have been trained to use my pants as a flotation device thanks to the Uncle Sam. That was over twenty-five years ago, though… can I still do it?

I decided to test my skill. After all, I fly over the ocean sometimes, I might need to use this someday. It pays to be prepared. The weather is perfect – why not? To my closet to fetch a pair of dungarees. In order to do this right, I have to be wearing them. If I survive the wreck, I won’t have my carry-on. Into the pool I go fully clothed.

First observation, it is hard to tread water with shoes on. You would think they would be an aid as paddles (especially my size 13’s), yet they tend to be more of an anchor.

Second, it is difficult to stay afloat and remove your shoes. Always wear slip-on shoes or flip-flops if there is a high probability of emergency flotation.

Third, taking off your pants in the water can lead to some rollovers – it is tricky to both hold your nose and disrobe.

Forth, tying off your pant legs is fairly easy. Inflating them while staying topside is not. I am not asthmatic, but I must have the lung capacity of a baby armadillo.

Fifth, you should always wear a Jethro Clampett belt. I am ditching leather for rope immediately. That will be the only way to secure the waist tight enough to hold air.

shark pants

I am happy to tell you that should I ever find myself in the ocean with pants, I will likely live to tell about it unless I see a circling fin. The trial was a complete success. Quite proud of myself, I exited the pool and would like to share just a few more observations. Unlike me, you should probably choose a friend, relative or close neighbor’s pool, not a nearby community pool. The reason for this is you will find wet pants that have been used as a flotation device are nearly impossible to untie and put back on, which makes for a disquieting two-mile walk home.

Oh, and you should probably notify the police or get a permit as if you are having a fireworks display or parade. They take a dim view to a wet, pantless man walking home late at night.


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

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18. Pictures From the Guardians of the Galaxy Premiere

by Brandon Schatz

If you were on the Secret Comics Illuminati Twitter Feed last night, you probably saw folks complaining about John Cena and Brock Lesnar being the anchor match at this year’s Summer Slam in among the plans to destroy your childhood. Oh, and you might have also caught wind of the Guardians of the Galaxy premiere held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Really, it all depends on which part of the illuminati’s feed you were digging through. You all have access to those secret tweets, right?

Oh.

Um… anyway, here’s a smattering of pictures from the event, and uh… forget I said anything about the secret feed, okay? I… don’t want to get in trouble before SDCC.

(Where is that damn edit button…)

The premiere, held at David Lapham's palatial estate, one assumes. #comicsjokes

The premiere, held at David Lapham’s palatial estate, one assumes. #comicsjokes

Guardians of the Galaxy full cast

Lots of people on a stage

The body of Rocket Raccoon and Glenn Close, standing, totally comfortable.

The body of Rocket Raccoon and Glenn Close, standing, totally comfortable.

The World Premiere Of Marvel's Epic Space Adventure "Guardians Of The Galaxy" - Red Carpet

Vin Diesel catches sight of a bird

The World Premiere Of Marvel's Epic Space Adventure "Guardians Of The Galaxy" - Red Carpet

Karen Gillen, writer of Phonogram, friend (?) to Jamie McKelvie, beloved by animals everywhere.

The World Premiere Of Marvel's Epic Space Adventure "Guardians Of The Galaxy" - Red Carpet

Chris Pratt, handsome as the dickens.

Bradley Cooper

Fact: you can not contain Bradley Cooper in a suit. The suit will literally start on fire.

Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana is just wonderful. I have not more comments other than this.

The World Premiere Of Marvel's Epic Space Adventure "Guardians Of The Galaxy" - Red Carpet

Michael Rooker thinks this premiere…

Michael Rooker

…is out of this world. #hyeeeaaaaahhhhhhhhh

A picture of a cat

A picture of a cat

Oh you," says Lee Pace.

“Oh you,” says Lee Pace.

Samm Levine, who has grown up to look exactly like he did in Freaks and Geeks.

Samm Levine, who has grown up to look exactly like he did in Freaks and Geeks.

Dave Bautista emotes for the camera.

Dave Bautista emotes for the camera.

Guardians of the Galaxy premieres on August 1st, 2014. Check your local theatres for listings. If you don’t have a local theatre, yell “Star-Lord!” into the void, and Chris Pratt will arrive, scoop you up in his arms, and carry you to the nearest theatre while whispering about his time on Everwood into your ears.

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19. See 17 minutes of Guardians of the Galaxy footage in IMAX 3D free

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You know the first time I saw the Guardians of the Galaxy footage with the Blue Swede ooga-chuckkas it was so fresh and amazing. And now I’ve seen umpty zillion trailers and posters and this and that and all and I’m bored already. =( But that’s how ya gotta sell an unknown quantity in this day and age.

And yet I still signed up to see 17 minutes of IMAX footage for free on July 7th, and you may still be able to, too if you run over here to the GotG facebook page. Tickets are free and available on a first come first served basis. Lucky attendees get a poster, too!

The sneak peek will be held in 150 IMAX theaters across the US and Canada on July 7th at 7 pm. According to director James Gunn, “We’ve re-mastered some of our epic sequences into the IMAX 3D format, taking the scope and scale to new heights while creating a truly immersive, cinematic experience that will take you further into the Marvel Universe than ever before.”

And just in case you still can’t get enough pre August 1 opening footage here is a NEW trailer with NEW music (The Runaways Cherry Bomb) and MORE to make this look like a big summer movie epic.

Guardians of the Galaxy stars stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector…and Josh Brolin as Thanos.
 

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20. Author Spotlight: Mary Rodgers

Author, screenwriter, and composer Mary Rodgers has passed away.

Ever heard of Freaky Friday? Rodgers wrote that famously fun story about a mother and daughter who accidentally swap bodies. Published in 1972, Freaky Friday was adapted for film three times: the 1976 version with Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster, based on a screenplay by Rodgers; the 1995 made-for-TV movie with Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffmann; and the 2003 version with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan.

When I was little, I checked out a copy of Freaky Friday from the library. I was a good two-thirds of the way through the book when I discovered a printing error: a chunk of pages repeated, and the ending was missing! I let the librarians know and switched it out for another copy. I then read the other books in the line, A Billion for Boris (aka ESP TV) and Summer Switch, in which the brother and father switch places.

Freaky Friday is not the only Rodgers book to be adapted for TV and film. In 1984, Summer Switch was made into an ABC Afterschool Special. The third Andrews family book was a movie as well, under the title Billions for Boris, and it featured a young Seth Green as Benjamin "Ape-Face" Andrews. Mary Tanner Bailey, who played Annabel in Billions, was also Rachel Fairbanks in The Voyage of the Mimi, and she was recently seen on an episode of Nashville.

I have not read The Rotten Book, which is not related to the Andrews family stories, nor have I read Freaky Monday, a book released in 2009 which is credited to both Mary Rodgers and Heather Hach, in which a student and teacher switch bodies. Hach wrote the screenplay for the 2003 Freaky Friday. Hach is also known for her stage work, having written the libretto for the 2007 musical Legally Blonde. (And let's not forget that Legally Blonde was a novel before it was a movie or a musical! The book was written by Amanda Brown.)

Once Upon a Mattress, the Tony-nominated musical comedy based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Princess and the Pea, features music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer. Once Upon a Mattress opened in 1959. It was the Broadway debut of the hilarious, remarkable Carol Burnett, who got a Tony nomination for her work as Princess Winnifred. Once Upon a Mattress has had countless productions all over the world. The Tony-nominated revival in 1997 featured Sarah Jessica Parker, Lewis Cleale, and Jane Krakowski, and the show was adapted for TV in 1963, 1972, and 2005.

Mary also contributed songs to the famous album Free to Be...You and Me, with Marlo Thomas and Friends.

Mary was a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a student. Her family tree is full of art, music, and creativity. Her father, Richard Rodgers, was also a composer. He is the Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Mary's mother, Dorothy, wrote My Favorite Things: A Personal Guide to Decorating and Entertaining in the 60s, then collaborated with Mary on the book A Word to the Wives nearly a decade later; the mother-daughter team also contributed a monthly advice column in McCall's. I had not heard of either of these titles until this morning - and as I write this now, I've just discovered another, The House in My Head, in which she details her dream house "from concept to realization," and yet another, A Personal Book. Mary Rodgers had five children, including a daughter (Constance, aka Kim) who is a painter and designer and a son (Adam Guettel) who a composer and librettist.

Which Freaky Friday film is your favorite?
What are your favorite songs from Once Upon a Mattress?
Let me know in the comments below!

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21. Lois Lowry on THE GIVER Movie

This post is also the foreward for the movie tie-in edition of The Giver. Twenty years? No kidding: twenty years? It's hard to believe. Twenty years ago, I was -- well, I was much younger. My parents were still alive. Two of my grandchildren had not yet been born, and another one, now in college, was an infant. Twenty years ago I didn't own a cell phone. I didn't know what quinoa was

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22. Some new shows coming up soon…

Looks like I am not taking off as much time as I thought. I have signed up for two small one day shows in the coming weeks; I go a bit nuts if I stay in my studio for too long.

carnival noir

The first show I am doing is Carnival Noir in downtown Los Angeles this weekend on July 12th. This is a wild event at the Club Monte Cristo; there will be DJs, dancing, magic, burlesque, and plenty of vendors there. This is a 21 and over event only with drink specials and good times for all. Tickets are on sale here.

4 hour film festival

The following week I will be at the Egyptian Theater for the 4 Hour Film Festival Double Feature and Carnival Masquerade on July 19th. The films being shown are the two classics Freaks and Nosferatu, both amazing and creepy films to chill you to the bone. There will be the Cirque Berzerk along with other live performances. This is also a 21 and over event and tickets are available here.

Have fun and keep creating…

–Diana

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23. Snowpiercer: Total Cinema

 

Press Play has now posted my new video essay with a brief accompanying text essay about the great new science fiction action movie political parable satire call to revolution Snowpiercer, directed by Bong Joon-Ho, a filmmaker I am especially enamored of. (Memories of Murder is easily among my favorite movies of the last 15 years, and back in 2010 I defended Bong's previous film, Mother, from the criticisms of Richard Brody at the New Yorker.)

As a little bit of extra, below the fold here I'll put some thoughts on elements of the remarkable ending of the film...



First, for some information on the background and references of Snowpiercer, see Scott Tafoya's piece at RogerEbert.com, and for a good analysis of the revolutionary ideology of the film, see "Smash the Engine" by Peter Frase at Jacobin.

The audacity I see in the ending of Snowpiercer comes not just from its framing of revolution as something that must smash the logic of the system, but also from the way it shows that system to be not just hierarchical in terms of class, but of also being fundamentally racialized.

First, there is the inescapable fact that most of the people who have been saved from the apocalypse are white and English speaking. Even the people at the back of the train, though more diverse than the people in the front, are predominantly white and English speakers. All of the positions of highest power in the train are positions held by white English speakers, and the ultimate positions of power are held by white men and passed on to white men (Wilford to Curtis).



As Curtis moves closer and closer to the front, the white supremacy becomes obvious. There's the classroom, where the vast majority of students are very white (and often blonde), with a few Asians in there (the pre-apocalypse notion of Asians as educational high achievers is thus replicated in the train), and one black girl (at least that I saw). The overall effect is of lily-whiteness, with a few special people added.


The people at the dance party are almost entirely white.


The people who apparently stepped out of The Great Gatsby are white. 


The women getting their hair styled are white.


It's worth noting, too, how so much of what we see in the front cars evokes the old white world, a world of the 1920s-1950s — an America before the successes of the civil rights movement, of women's liberation struggles, of gay liberation, etc. (The car where everyone is taking drugs evokes even earlier ideas. It's like an opium den, a powerful force in the orientalist imagination of the yellow peril in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and a setting with plenty of cinematic history.)

Early in the film, Curtis tells Edgar that once they get to the front of the train, things will be different. "But how different, really?" the film asks at the end. "Know your place!" Mason (Tilda Swinton) tells the rabble. Curtis learns what his place is from Wilford: the place of the white patriarch.

That system cannot be reformed. It will do no good to have somebody else in charge of the engine. The logic of the system must not be reformed, it must be defied and destroyed.

And thus the ending, which stops the train's circular journey and potentially annihilates the last remnants of humanity.

The system is so corrupt, so incapable of reform, that what is known to be left of humans is worth destroying rather than continuing along the same tracks.

If there is to be a future for humanity, it looks like this, the new Adam and Eve:



They might be destroyed by the cold, white world. They might be a meal for the white polar bear. But maybe, somehow, they will survive and discover or create a new world, a world where humans are on a different journey, subject to a different system, not oppressed by the cold, unbearable whiteness.

Bong leaves it to us to imagine their fate.

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24. A winter’s tale

exit A winters taleIf you aren’t completely burned out on dystopian fiction, do go see* Snowpiercer, a big, violent, gorgeous, baroque movie about the end of civilization, its last remnant perpetually traveling the ice-covered globe in a nonstop great big train. There is NO love triangle, with eros limited to a couple of crypto-gay warrior-bonding types, and plenty to thrill your (mine, anyway) inner ten-year-old, like an exciting shootout between cars as the train curves around an enormous bend. There’s high camp, too, supplied by Tilda Swinton and Alison Pill as the banality of evil and a gun-toting schoolteacher, respectively. (Wait, did I just repeat myself?) And Ed Harris is on hand, playing–spoiler alert–the very same part he played in The Truman Show.

But best of all is the look of the thing, from the icy landscapes and ruined, empty cities the train charges through to the train itself, from the squalid cars at the back where the slave labor lives to the sleek sushi bar, spa, and disco for the more privileged passengers at the front. One of the more subversive elements of the film is the way it gets you to think “why, yes, I could totally enjoy watching from the dome car as the world freezes to death. Waiter!”

The ending–spoiler alert again–is beautifully and starkly ambiguous. Life or death. I understand that the French graphic novel on which the movie is based has a sequel, but truly: none needed.

*In a movie theater, if you can. While the film is available on TV as an on-demand feature, you really want the big screen and sound for this one.

 

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25. Marvel plans to keep you going to the cineplex right into 2019, and here are the dates

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Marvel just released a list of release dates for their future films…without any actual film names. I guess it just proves they are so planning stuff. Here’s the announced line-up and the five mystery slots:

Guardians of the Galaxy — Aug. 1, 2014
Avengers: Age of Ultron — May 1, 2015
Ant-Man –July 17, 2015
Captian America 3 — May 6, 2016.

And the new dates:

July 8, 2016 — Mostly likely the Doctor Strange film
May 5, 2017
July 28, 2017
November 3, 2017
July 6, 2018
November 2, 2018
May 3, 2019

What else do we know? Avengers 3 and Thor 3 are planned, so two of those are spoken for—I’d guess May 5, 2017 for the next Avengers movie. Thor movies open in the fall, so November 3, 2017 would be possible for that. But four years between Thor films? I’m just spitballin’ folks.

That leave new movies for Moondragon, the Black Panther and Woodgod, right? More will be announced at San Diego, I’d expect, Hall H Saturday afternoon — be there, should be no trouble to get in.

Of course, speculation has run rampant. Could one of these films be Submariner, an oft rumored but never nailed down character? While you would think the film would be delayed by the difficulty finding an actor who doesn’t mind running around in a teeny green speedo for a full length film, it’s actually a rights issue. Namor is part of the much hated Fox Marvel FF film family, right? Not exactly, says Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige

Asked by IGN.com whether Universal and Legendary could produce a Sub-Mariner movie, Feige answered unequivocally “No.” When given the follow-up whether or not Marvel Studios could make the movie instead, he replied “Yes, but it’s slightly more complicated than that. Let’s put it this way – there are entanglements that make it less easy.”

He continued, “There are older contracts that still involve other parties that mean we need to work things out before we move forward on it. As opposed to an Iron Man or any of the Avengers or any of the other Marvel characters where we could just put them in.”

15 Comments on Marvel plans to keep you going to the cineplex right into 2019, and here are the dates, last added: 7/22/2014
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