Category Archives: movies

We forgot the slogan

Yes, we forgot the slogan, the one I will tell you later and it was not mine, but it is a slogan I have admired for years. The view exploded as I saw ‘Toxic avengers: what Scorsese and Tarantino’s new films say about male violence‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/dec/16/scorsese-irishman-tarantino-once-upon-a-time-in-hollywood-toxic-male-violence), I need to be careful here as I do not wish to attack the views of another person, in this case David Alexander. Yet he almost forces me to do that when we see ‘are they doing anything to move the discussion forward?

I am not certain, you see “Outside the Tarantino dreamscape, in which men enact their fantasies of aggression in defence of quasi-fictional innocents, what is the implication of violence for male relationships – with families, women, indeed other men? It’s surely devastation, Scorsese tells us, as he presents male violence as a problem rather than a solution“, in the end a movie is like a book, it is entertainment. I could watch either movie and then still have fun to watch ‘Spies in Disguise‘ as well, Will Smith as a turned pidgeon might be nice and the movie made me slightly curious. Me wanting to see film number three as well does nothing to the value of movies number one and two.

Just like a good book, a movie can be entertaining, educational or even inspirational, yet the inspiration could be the drive in any discussion and moving something forward, yet am I an Irishman? De Niro (for the most is not, he is American (with descendancy from both Italian and Irish side), so does that make him an Irishman? Nope, but he is an Irishman in the movie, still we focus on the actor when it is a Scorcese movie. Scorcese is the director, the author of the movie, Scorcese controlled the artistic and dramatic aspects and he visualizes the screenplay by Steven Zaillian all whilst he guides the crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. We can state that we wanted to have a discussion, but it is in the end a discussion on a piece of fiction, we forgot the slogan that mattered ‘The story is everything‘, it was the slogan of FX and it is still the best slogan in entertainment I know of.

And this movie? It is a movie and we can see from actual events that this could optionally have happened, yet when we realise “Hoffa vanished in late July 1975; his body was never found. He was declared legally dead in 1982“, as well as “At 3:27 p.m., Hoffa called Linteau complaining that Giacalone was late. Hoffa said, “That dirty son of a bitch Tony Jocks set this meeting up, and he’s an hour and a half late.” Linteau told him to calm down and to stop by his office on the way home. Hoffa said he would and hung up; this is Hoffa’s last known communication” A lot of this can be found in FBI files, does this make the movie truthful? No, it makes it a story that seems believable and that is not the same thing. Yet the issue that it does show is that we all love movies that are dipped in reality, whilst we leave space for Will Smith as a pigeon. Yet to be honest, how does a movie like that ‘move the discussion forward‘? It is in that context that I do not see “Both present vibrant ecosystems of toxic masculinity. And both reveal much about the largely male environments they present and the shocking violence within them, through the way they think about their central female characters“, both are basically pieces of fiction and one has been dosed with the facts of events making the movie a massive dose of realism, realism that was out and about in the 70’s.

If my movie became a reality (optionally as a short movie), would ‘How to Kill a politician‘ be the stuff of fiction that drives a conversation, Yes, I would hope so, yet what conversation it would drive is another question. I thought through ‘How to Kill a politician‘ as a viewed version of my response towards anti-Islamic feelings in Europe and the anti-islamic feelings driven by politicians (in this case a Dutch one). It is a different setting, and it does not oppose the view of David Alexander, who in the end states “Scorsese tells us, as he presents male violence as a problem rather than a solution. In doing so, he ultimately creates the more meaningful film“, that is a fair enough view and we see that it is up to the director to validate or partially invalidate that view, perhaps it is not valid but it is what we take away from the story that is the beauty of the book and movie, they inspire us to have thoughts, they inspire us to dream and they inspire us to consider, three very meaningful and essential points that are in anyone’s self. And in all this we forgot one more point of inspiration, it is the story that David Alexander gives us his view on the matter, or on the matters at hand. 

It does not matter whether he is right or wrong, it is HIS point of view and it made us consider issues, so in this he became ‘the story is everything‘. That is also a point of view that we need to consider. There are points that come from within us, yet are they fictive or realistic? ‘How to Kill a politician‘ is a point of view that is all about fictivity, but the events around it were real, still it is fiction, can fiction become reality? It is the serious question behind it all, especially as the article is about the Irisman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it is in that that I see not the question can fictivity become reality (a side every Harry Potter fan yearns for), yet the view can fictivity drive reality is another matter. It can drive things (the movie JFK is evidence of that), yet the drive is specific and that part matters to me, it was a central consideration in the drive as I thought through ‘How to Kill a politician‘, I wanted there to be a drive for questions, yet I wanted to be clear in the fictivity and in this the optional view of children as they considered how to counter hate. I considered that the stronger the drive for questions, the larger the drive from people to see it and that part intersects with both Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorcese, I believe that they push a similar drive as this is one way to make people curious and keeping a curious person away from any movie is a non-option (my sense of humour is voicing that as it refers to curiosity and all those people who saw Deep Throat). 

It gets us to the one sentence that I oppose (partially) towars the view of David Alexander in “Both present vibrant ecosystems of toxic masculinity“, I have an issue with ‘toxic masculinity‘, we can go from the part where all violence is toxic, but it does not stop us from watching it, and we can see that it is about the story and in this violence sells, just like sex sells. Both make most men (and some women) curious, and that grips back to the curiosity setting in watching a movie, any movie maker wants to set the stage in a place where it leaves the people really curious and of course the movie needs to settle that curiosity, yet at this point that feeling need not be based on reality (Spies in Disguise anyone?) that is just my feeling in this and they all adhere to the one side I still admire ‘the story is everything‘. In the end we are all slaves to what we need, what we need satisfied and curiosity has been a number one for a long time, Hollywood figured that out long ago, if they had not record after record would not be broken in Hollywood, but it has. 

I merely wonder when we see a historic movie based on the era that comes over the next 20 years, will we see the optional “what X and Y new films say about female violence“, we might not believe it, we might ignore it but it is there and there are facts all over the place that violence by women is on the rise, to be honest I wonder when people figure out that violence is an issue for all homo sapiens, not just men. It has been merely more visible in that group. That realisation makes me wonder how we see violence and do we see it correctly. Violence tends to be a tool to get from one point to another nothing more, it is hard to see it in that way, but it is a truth, and Yes, I do understand that violence is overwhelmingly a male tool, I am merely stating that it is not ignored by women. And it is important to realise that the movies were not about that, they were stories and for the most we all love stories, we were addicted to books for centuries (those who could read), over time we went to the cinema’s and both the cinema and TV replaced books for the longest time now, yet the need for a story remains.

A lot of us forgot the slogan (or were not aware), let us never do that again.

 

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We’ve seen it all before

That was the thought I got stuck with when I was looking at The Disappointments Room, a movie with Kate Beckinsale, shortly after I stopped watching it. Now, this was not the fault of anyone, not her (watching her is as pleasing to the eye as watching a Rembrandt), not the director, the lighting, the camera work, it was all high end good, yet the issue for me remains, I have seen at least 15,000 movies, so there is an issue with me watching more movies. Lately I have been taking notice of that, and with Kate who made her debut in Much Ado about Nothing (1993), a small part I had actually forgotten about, I remember the movie well. Implies that there is a sliding scale ahead for me and I am not happy.

There are still happy moments too, I loved Earthquake bird and was amazed that Alicia Vikander was so great at Japanese pronunciation, apart from that (and the fact that Lara married a Ubisoft character, LOL) made it an interesting ride, that is all before that the movie is one hell of a psychological drama, that includes some level of triangle relationship is pretty awesome, the fact that it plays in Japan is merely a plus for many (including me). That entire movie was an interesting one, we had all seen it before, but as we experience the setting, we see a movie, one that is for the most totally new, and there is a point where I wonder how the makers Wash Westmoreland and Susanna Jones pulled it off.

Was it all about Japan, was it Alicia in Japanese surrounding, or was it that for the most the movie was not laced in a sexual setting, there are 1-2 screens, but they seem to make sense as this was the relationship between two people. Yet in all that, the entire Japanese setting is overwhelming and we look around as we notice more and more differences, but what set it off? I believe that the script was a big part of it, but all movies have to face that, so what made this movie different, why did I not have the ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ feeling? I think it is important, as we are all running to the next Marvel movie, a remake of Charlie’s Angels or a Ford v Ferrari movie, I wonder what we will get next year, because it is becoming slim pickings for anyone who grew up being a movie fan. There are movie makers who are a given, people like Ridley Scott, who seem to be answering questions in the movies as they make the movies, a lot has been done before and some movie makers seem to distinguish themselves in that way, but the scary question for me remains, what comes next? Oh, I believe that we will see plenty of fine productions, but the overwhelming feeling that I have is that the ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ will return and that saddens me a little because it will not be the fault of the maker, or the actors or the actresses. It resides in me and all the movies I have already seen, that is the part that saddens me and it is laced in another part as well.

When we watched a movie (in a far distant past in this galaxy), my grandmother would comment on ‘How she had already seen that movie‘ whilst I was in the frame of mind that the movie was new, yet she was proven right again and again as these were remakes, it is nice to be in the first viewing of a remake, but I got old enough to have seen the original of whatever movie was re-released in the last 5 years so it is a little less fun for me now.

For me this is like watching the Female Ghostbusters, or the real live Aladdin, both movies have one setback, the original was pretty darn good, in the original Ghostbusters, we got to see special effects that until a few years ago no one surpassed, in addition to it all it was a great fun film to see, so the female version had a different ghost to fend off, and they were unable to, we kept comparing to the original, Will Smith faced that and worse in Aladdin, he had to fight of the ghost of Robin Williams, in addition Disney had taken the voice section to the next level and we all still remember Gilbert Gottfried as Iago, it is hard to fight off those ghosts, especially when the current generation still remembers them so well. It was different for Oceans 8, yes it was all female, yes it was linked to Danny Ocean (George Clooney) but that was it and the theft of a $150,000,000 necklace was truly next level shit (to coin a phrase) and I am avoiding all kinds of twists that the movie has, you have to see them for yourself, and James Corden was not a twist, the man really can act ;), and the ladies in the movie set out to plan a great heist.

To think back, I really have no idea who at Disney was stupid enough to invest and to allow the entire real live version of Aladdin to proceed decades too early. Although that is merely my thought on the matter, the movie did become a billion dollar plus movie, so there is that too. For me next year, I am worried about the Grudge, an amazing original Ju-On (2002) yet the remake 2 years later was still good, there were two reasons for that, the first is Sarah Michel Gellar, we had just admired her in Buffy for 7 years and seeing her in a different movie was well appreciated, the second and not the least important one was that it was from the original maker Takashi Shimizu, so seeing another remake next year will not be on my list to watch. I have a few reservations on Fantasy Island, yet we have seen Michael Peña in several good movies and there is every indication (from the trailer) that they are taking the sweet caramelized smell of the original TV series with Ricardo Montalban (Mr Roarke) and Herve Villechaize as his assistant Tattoo in a new direction, that I want to see because the trailer is indicating that the caramelized part is gone, it will be a liquorice cured salmon, the first time is the most powerful one because most people have never had it, it is also an acquired taste, so you’ll love it or hate it, but it will be new and that is the part that matters to me.

There is another wave coming, but not made as re-release or remake, it will be a sequel of Candyman, with Tony Todd as the murdered son of a slave, for me it means that there is every indication that I can finally replace that movie as a Blu-ray and it made me realise that it was released 25 years ago, wow, when I was half my age (extremely approximately), I remember the movie, meeting Clive Barker and a whole range of other events around it, seeing it sequel will (hopefully) be an awesome experience.

Yet overall I see that there is more behind me than in front of me and for a lot of us, when we have budgets to keep to we need to select the movies we see on the big screen, I went from a movie every week to a life where I saw no more than 6 of them on the big screen last year and that is a big difference, nowadays I see the movies that are in the libraries, and with Netflix, Disneyplus and other streaming media, on one side I wonder how much is left for the silver screen. Yet on the other side, as far as I can tell, no one ever took Ryū Murakami 1999 masterpiece Audition to the western world, now that is a movie you want to invite Harvey Weinstein to. I won’t give away anything, but if you want to see horror with a difference, that is one movie to watch, there is a whole range of movies where we seem to forget that there is a whole planet outside of Hollywood that makes good movies, and even if we want to see a re-master, or a re-launch, personally I am still hoping for Claude Leloch’s Les Uns et let Autres to make it to Blu-ray, let alone to get it re-launched (if that was even possible). The Netherlands (who got caught up in WW2) has its own views on the resistance and occupation and it resulted to amazing works, like Black Book (2006) and Riphagen (2016), most people will remember the decorated movie the Assault (1986), yet very few of the non-Dutch will have any idea about a movie called Undercover Kitty (2001), whilst the person behind this (Annie MG Schmidt) is in Dutch circles on a level that equals Walt Disney, or perhaps a little more correct the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, who created Pippi Longstocking. Yet how many remember or even know of the Swede Gunnel Linde? He wrote over 40 books and in 1973 the White Stone (Den Vita Stenen) became a TV series. I wonder how many options a place like Disneyplus would have when we see how large the collection of children’s series would be, the same when we look at Netflix in light of Audition (not really a kids movie), yet more revealing, will this become the age of ‘We’ve seen it all before‘, or will we see that like the new Fantasy Island, we end up with movies that show a surprising twist, one we never saw coming, to be honest, not unlike some movies, we will have seen it before, even if we would accept the new special effects, there is a chance that we get to see another Thing (1982) which makes for an interesting version from its original 3 decades before, yet nowadays, we are more likely to see another Insomnia (2002) which was its own perfect remake, yet when it comes to remakes, it is a wild card, because no matter how we love the Departed (2006), there is a chance that you saw the original Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (2002), at which point the timeline is too close together. I was lucky enough to have seen the original and yet Scorsese makes a magnificent movie, yet the original was made in such a way that it was brilliant in its own right and in this my mind would love to give Andrew Lau and Alan Mak the credit they deserve, yet in opposition, there are plenty of other movies that a lot might not have seen and seeing some of those works (again), in a new light is still worthy of watching. Sweden has jewels like Lilja 4 Ever (2002), we might have seen the Norwegian movie Trollhunter (2010) in a different form, yet when you see this movie, you wonder which one is the original (the other movie was released a decade before this), so there is not much call on that, yet the stories are unique, original and the stages we see are also a question ‘We’ve seen it all before‘, yet have we?

In 2015 Norway produced the Wave, like other movies we want to say ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ yet that too would be wrong, we have seen something similar, but never in this setting, that is where the feeling gets in the way, The Wave is an intelligent piece of work that takes Norwegian customs and leaves us wondering whether we choose the right place to live for the right reason yet can we avoid choices? (I am really trying hard not to give anything away here), the world is filled with movies that seem to look like a movie we had seen before, but we had not and this group of films is now going to be a central part in places like Netflix and DisneyPlus (as well as AppleTV) to set their markers for gaining a following. Sometimes remakes work really well Zatoichi (2003) is a nice example. Yet even more overwhelming are the works of fiction, the books that were released in other nations that no one thought of translating. Even known works like Swedish Sjowall and Wahloo resulted in amazing movies a decade ago when the world got to see Beck; in this Peter Haber made an amazing Beck, finally replacing the image that Sweden had through Gosta Elckman. Germany is another nation where there is an abundance of great art. We all seem to remember Das Boot, Downfall and Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex, yet how many have seen a version of Das Leben der Anderen, where we see the impact of Stasi (the East German secret police)? Perhaps you might not know it by Die Welle was based on the true story of a high school teacher in California who designed an experiment to teach his students about Nazism, when you see that in real life, you wonder what you know. We seem to believe that modern day fascism is impossible, yet the movie casts doubt on that and this was all before social media, so there is room for new versions and altered (read: different) versions.

It is hard to see the light in so many seemingly remakes and re-launches of past greats, but there is light and there is room for plenty more, as such I wonder whether it was just me when I thought ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ or was it the maker who was not aware of other versions of great stories?

I wonder about this not because of Christmas, you might think that we will get re-runs of other versions, I know that this is not the case as Netflix gave out Let it Snow (2019) which is actually a decent movie to watch, which was a nice surprise for me. As I feared that plenty of repetitions seem to be the case when it comes to Christmas, I merely chase that one side in movies, the one I had not seen before and as we get from stage to stage, that risk is increasing, yet the cameraman as he uses his instructed skills to show something different will be able to thwart that danger for all of us (one might hope).

We are about to get 6 times the releases that we have ever had before, because the large screen and Blu-ray line is gone, there is now a large screen, Netflix, Disneyplus, Stan, Amazon Prime and Foxtel release plan, even as they all end up on Blu-ray, we need to pick what we can optionally watch and they are all slamming whatever they can lay their hands on, so there is 6 times the likelihood that they hunt a similar story. Yet there in the end we get to see the issue at hand ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ and as out budgets are now a lot more defined, we all end up being in a place where we rather avoided that part of the equation.

 

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Been There, Done that reprised

It was 2 weeks ago when I was confronted with the ‘Monk Soup‘ by Lucy Mangan, a view of a book that was made into a film 33 years earlier and now remade into a seasonal view with John Torturo, Rupert Everett and Damian Hardung. With 5 episodes on SBS on demand it was time to see how much of a soup this choice ragout actually was. I have to admit that I am not even sure whether this series is a soup, or food for the wretched. It shows how Europe was in those days, it is about half of the first episode that we arrive in the Italian abbey where the story takes shape, we are treated to the interaction of monks, the way we imagined that William of Baskerville would be, yet in this dirty and flaming Europe, a simple monastery is showing people in wealth, not through the wearing of cloaks and heavy garment, not through the power of wealth, but through the absence of dirt, a cooperation of virtue in letters and in an absence of hunger.

The people in the abbey do live an exalted life that much was clear from the first half of the story. It is hard to be of swift justice here, yet I try, for me the movie was an excellent way of setting the stage, yet at the end of the first episode we see that the movie was a great way to tell a story, but this story is worthy of more and that is how it is from the very beginning, yet I wonder how many seasons will follow the first, and how many are required to make this story a complete story.

It is the beginning of the second episode and at this point I am almost completely convinced that Umberto Eco’s work would require no more than one season, yet I keep an open mind, the interactions with the girl are more abundant that those in the original movie. We also see the search in much more detail that we saw in the movie, but that is also my flaw, the digestion of the movie is a wrong step as the movie is merely the representation of the book as the director saw it, in this version we watch a much larger version of the book and it is a wondrous trip that you will take in this version of the Name of the Rose, it shows a much more interesting abbey, with its machines working, with its faith working in different directions, what faith allowed for in those days, that is perhaps the strangest part of the journey you will embark on. And it makes sense as it is part of the story, when you think of it the entirety of the story is based on what the church thought, what the church allowed for and what the speakers of the church wanted for, perhaps that is the larger part of the story that we are not ready for, or perhaps better stated, we were not ready for it in 1986, now we are. We are more critical of what was, when we see the unfolding of the story, the unfolding towards a work wrapped in cloth, we get a version that is not monk soup, it is a hearty stew, with the main story in the setting, with the churches and their priorities. It is at the end of the second episode that we get some level of apprehension on how large the library of the Abbey truly is.

The name of the Rose is truly an amazing piece of work, something that you will watch, and consider for a long time to come. No matter how this is seen, it should not be seen as ‘Monk Soup‘, but if we have to go by food, then this is nothing short of a Spezzatino di Vitello, made with Veal carpaccio, which unlike ‘Monk soup‘ has delicious ground and the soup we expected s much more descriptive and much more verbose than the description we saw in other depictions. I expected that but I was willing to expect a different view, we do not all have the critical eye to set to the task of each work, I know this and I do not wish to judge to previous judgments, yet I feel I have to as this work was sold short, even by me, I let the folly of the ‘Season‘ cloud my judgment, but it seems that there is so much more to the setting of the Rose, that we are not ready of the full story that John Torturo and Damian Hardung are bringing is opposition to Rupert Everett as well as the members of the abbey who are not welcoming to Bernardo Gui, as well as an populous who is caught in the middle of it all. To know more you will just have to watch yourself and it is well worth watching. It is perhaps more critical on the Roman church then any work I have ever seen before.

I can’t wait to get this first season on Blu-ray, to admire this on the big screen, absent of advertisement and something I can replay when I feel like it.

 

 

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The snipers empathy

Today is a different day, today is not some case where I am a Don Quichote wannabe, I am not fighting a windmill and I am not hunting for Credit Agricole and certain upcoming 2024 events (for those who were able to comprehend the links between three earlier articles), not to mention an unconfirmed rumour that a small group will end up with the better part of €467 million. Today is different, this is a point where I might be wrong from the very beginning, and I am OK with that.

This is about an article in the Guardian last Wednesday (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/aug/07/ads-human-stalking-satire-the-hunt-pulled-us-mass-shootings). I saw the trailer and to be honest, I never made any link to the El Paso and Dayton killings, I also understand that in this turbulent times the studio needs to rethink its approach to a movie that took most of the previous 2019 to make. It was also the moment that I learned that is was based on the 2012 original Jagten with Mads Mikkelsen (Death Stranding, Dr Strange, Rogue One), which is actually a little issue as this was done before with the remake of Nightwatch (Nick Nolte), the makers wanted an English movie without having to rely on subtitles and missed to boat to the larger degree, the issue is not the makers, the director was for both Nattevagten and Nightwatch Ole Bornedal, so I am at a loss how the movie was worse, the actors were good, I felt that the original had a much better atmosphere. So now I do worry for the Hunt, yet in all this the hunt has a strong cast (Betty Gilpin, Hillary Swank, Emma Roberts), and it might work, the idea that hunters overestimate a woman is not without premise giving an edge to the movie, the idea that ‘they’ve been chosen to be hunted in a game devised by a group of rich elite liberals‘ is also strong, the idea that clueless rich people cannot look beyond the veil of a spreadsheet is readily accepted by the audience, yet that is not what this is about.

This is about the event where a filmmaker is now getting his hands tied behind his back because of an event in real life and the polarisation of the people around it. I believe that there is strong character in the cast and crew to look at other ways to adjust creating awareness. Creating awareness is an important part of any movie and spreading creativity has a plus and a consequence. I get it, you do not want to set the open stage of ‘entertainment’ where the people are all upset over events, yet the premise remains.

Does it really?

When we consider the quote “According to the Hollywood Reporter, cable network ESPN dropped an ad for the movie that was to air last weekend while studio Universal reassesses its plans for the film, which is due for release on 27 September in the US. The same publication says “a source” at ESPN said that no spots for the film would appear on the network “in the coming weeks”” and we see the ‘27th September‘ as the start date, why would there be any advertisement on TV before September 1st? There are other venues! for example IMDB as well as YouTube has been seen as a trailer central for movie lovers, there no restraints are needed, those in grief (and we get that) would not be in a state of mind to seek out new trailers, watch movies that are coming, in addition, the Digital world is global and even as the makers need to pussyfoot around their American audience for now, but that restraint is a lot less needed internationally. When we consider that the larger productions are now in a stage where the US is often merely 25%-35% of the total global revenue, focussing on the non-US side would become increasingly more important. There is also an issue with the quote: “The Hollywood Reporter quotes a Universal executive saying that the studio was responding to the politically “fluid situation” amid a wave of protest in the US against gun violence and white supremacism and that it was discussing plans to change direction over the film’s promotion “if people think we’re being exploitative rather than opinionated”” Here we need to realise that the original is 6 years old, in addition, filming was completed months ago, showing the clear stage that this is about a movie and not about exploitation, that next to the fact that when some people are calling the issue a ‘politically fluid situation‘, we need to realise that the politicians are part of the problem here; this was been proven close to half a dozen times over. When we give rise to: “Employees in different departments were questioning the wisdom of making such a movie in these times“, we need to ask additional questions. Was there wisdom in creating ‘the Deer hunter‘, ‘Apocalypse Now‘, or ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile‘? Where do we draw the line? Now we see the Hunt, which is a story, not a reality and somehow people are unable to distinguish real from fiction, we can call that a much larger failing on all of us. And if this was a small (not so) subtle push to propagate the dislike of firearms, does that have a quorum in a work of art (as the maker would call it)?

I will accept that some people do not want to get near this movie for all the personal convictions they might have and that is fine, yet how should we go about fiction because it is uncomfortable? Is art not set to the stage to make it larger? Is pushing a person outside of their comfort zone not an important aspect? If we so object, how come that the protest was not louder when in the movie Final Girl was trained by Wes Bentley to take matters in her own hands? Was it because an Axe gave the coup de grace and not a Benelli M4 Super 90? Seems weird, in the end the person would still be dead. It reminded me of an old conversation, “We are not murderers, we are killers“, all whilst we know that the person we’d be gunning for ends up being equally dead either way we label it.

For me the Hunt will be interesting, the switch away from Mads Mikkelsen and towards a female lead. In addition, Emma Roberts has proven herself to be a bad ass witch (Madison Montgomery), can she repeat it in the Hunt and end up being as bad ass as her daddy was in the roles like Alex Grady, James Munroe, Tomas Leon and several others, to see the ‘bad ass’ stamp pass on to the next generation is just a fun part. Emma Roberts has distinguished herself a few times over, watching Nancy Drew go Madison Montgomery on us is merely icing on the entertainment cake. It also shows that the makers did a good job, which is essential for any movie lover.

Yes, if there is a focal point to the hunt for me, then it is the stage of fun, it always has been that; art and fun need to go hand in hand; it is also the reason why Lars von Trier movies take so much effort for me. I found his ‘the House that Jack built‘ a little meeker that I expected. I remember seeing ‘Dancer in the Dark‘ I was deeply depressed for well over a week, so when I see art, I prefer to feel joy and entertainment. The Hunt is in the end still entertainment, nothing more to it. Is it a hunting story where we get to enjoy the change as the hunter becomes the hunted. It is as stupid as it gets, like jumping into a snake pit and playing with your food, it never ends well. For a true hunter, the idea that someone thinking that he is a hunter and getting eaten by the lion he wanted to kill is just great joy. A true hunter kills for food, not for joy, a true hunter is not there to get the Lion, he wants to get the real deal, the animal that gets him fed, not the pelt (which is merely a bonus at times).

So when I am looking at the story of “a group of globalist elites gathers for the very first time at a remote Manor House to hunt humans for sport” I see the need that this goes Topsy Turvy on the hunters and it remains entertainment. It does not take away the issue that there is a real event in the US and because of that the anti-gun feelings are exploding, I get that, I truly do and I also accept that the film makers are not there to upset feelings, they show the empathy that politicians never show when they exploit events for their own personal limelight. Yet the film makers could take it to better staging (I have not seen the hunt at present and beyond the little captions know, as well as the trailer) I know very little about the movie at present. Yet the stage that we see today also calls for other parts.

Whilst politicians are trying to exploit a movie, the recollection of the New York Times (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/22/us/politics/trump-atf-nra.html) where the NRA is accused of “It has aggressively lobbied against nominated directors and pushed Congress to enact restrictions on how the bureau spends money to curtail its ability to regulate firearms and track gun crimes. One funding provision, for example, forbids the A.T.F. from using electronic databases to trace guns to owners. Instead, the agency relies on a warehouse full of paper records“, if that accusation is proven, then we have a much larger setting where the governing members of the NRA might be guilty of corporate manslaughter. If we accept: “an organisation will be guilty of the offence of corporate manslaughter if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a person’s death“, will the absence of electronic records set a stage where it caused a person’s death? Consider the Columbine High School massacre, perhaps the best known shooting (1999), it happened in a time where databases and data analyses has already evolved to a much larger degree, consider that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had been in the database system, is there enough evidence that this alone might have triggered clearer actions in time? In addition, if the NY Times is to be believed and the issue of: “For decades, the N.R.A. has used its sway in Washington to preserve the A.T.F. in its limited capacity” could be proven, does that increase the chance of conviction of corporate manslaughter on the NRA and the governing members? It is an important question because the evidence that the failing of the ATF is funding and either all politicians unite to grow the ATF or they should be muzzled and forbidden to make any political statement at any shooting, should that increase the chance of actually solving matters?

Perhaps larger visibility to the hunt becomes essential, when we see ‘entertainment’ and the premise of real danger we might take more notice. The notice of sociopathic millionaires and billionaires hunting people for sport is not realistic, but the dangerous premise where weapons are handed out and remains available completely unchecked is an actual danger. I myself have a fondness for guns (specifically long range rifles), yet I never owned one because in the Netherlands there are no proper rifle ranges, and I lived in the city. In Sweden there were options, but I was in the city and did not see the need to get one and so on. I believe in responsible choices and so far there has not been an option to enjoy my passion for years, so I have to limit myself to other fun events and there are plenty.

I believe that the largest passion of guns in the US comes from partial hunting and from passing on the skills and knowledge from generation to generation; there is plenty of evidence that farmers and families are about safety and about proper handling of weapons, so having these people in a database should not be an issue or a worry, it is when a group caters to a 1% group with other needs, that is when we need to worry and that is seemingly happening now.

When we call the entire senate to attention and demand an answer on the limitations of the ATF, will we get a clear answer? The last permanent director of the ATF was Todd Jones (August 31, 2011 – March 31, 2015), whilst President Obama was in office until 2018, so the failing in the White House is much larger than we see. This is important because if the people are not taking this serious, why should a movie maker show constraint on a movie that is not based on real life?

I wonder how the person with links to Universal responds in case a person like Oliver Stone decides to wake up and does a deep dig into the ATF and the political ramifications it has faced for over 10 years, in an age where terrorism is a larger danger, how can you limit the one organisation that could assist the FBI to the largest extent? I wonder how the NRA will scream and cry like little bitches when a movie like that makes it to the world screen. In the end I do agree with the NRA on one thing, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people“, and there is also the hidden wisdom, should we stop a database that connects a gun to a person? It is a larger issue and we accept that, yet the solution was simple and has been for over a decade, the fact that the media and the real politicians who fight for a better nation are not there to protect and grow the ATF also are the shown politicians that are optionally part of the problem. That evidence is shown as the 5th director of the ATF was Bradley A. Buckles (December 20, 1999 – January 2004), and Carl Joseph Truscott as the 6th director from 2004 to 2006.
So in a stage of terrorism and mass shootings, there has been a proper ATF director in play for a period of 10 years out of the last 20 years, why is that not daily news? The fact that the ATF started on 1st July 1972, and so far there have only been 7 permanent directors, with decent governance in the years up to 2004, does that not strike you as strange too, especially after all the 9/11 events?

I believe that those opposing and complaining about the Hunt have a much larger problem, but it seems that calling the white House and the ATF, as well as the FBI to attention on this is not what limelight seekers do, they merely want the stage for the message of selling themselves, not presenting the presentation on how to keep Americans safe, is that not a nice consideration to have?

A sniper does not show empathy to instantly kill its target, there is no benefit to prolong your targets life, it merely needs to e killed and one bullet does just that, kill a person, kill a cause or kill an idea. It is a Hollywood stage where the target has to suffer, or be able to plead, or be able to alert others through screaming.

As I see it, apart from the joy that a movie like the Hunt brings (with a soda and pop-corn mind you), it could optionally show just how stupid people are by not demanding a permanent ATF director and a better ATF budget from their elected official every single day. When people do that every day and make sure that their life (read: their re-election) depends on it, we will see an actual improvement to limiting and in the long term stopping mass shootings. Perhaps a movie like the Hunt is good on other levels, it might make people wonder on how the system is kept in place by political exploiters and that too is important to shove into the limelight (the less diplomatic, the better).

There is no short term solution, there never was and anyone telling you that is lying to you, yet none of it is reality until actual decisions are handed out and for now, they are not.

 

 

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Surprise, surprise!

There was an interesting surprise this morning. It was not any newspaper; it was no DVD or Blu-ray. It was a YouTube video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu3mP0c51hE), the announcement of the Downton Abbey movie coming in September. Weirdly enough, I had not felt this happy since the initial teaser of Avengers: Endgame, a movie that is now less than $100 million away from breaking the Avatar record. It is weird how a TV series with 6 seasons have had such a profound impact on viewers and I am not the only one who is amazed and happy with the coming of the movie. Hugh Bonneville, who plays the lord (aka Mr Henry Brown in both Paddington adventures), Maggie Smith, Dowager Countess of Grantham (also famous in a very well-known hotel in India), and of course the list is not complete without Jim Carter as the undoubtable Mr. Carson and some might remember him as a Transformer too.

The list is too long to go into detail and it is important to remember that. Even as the record of I, Claudius is not broken. Downton Abbey got closer to breaking that achievement than any other series ever did. When ITV started this, they had no idea how large a behemoth this would become. The foundation was given by Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford. And we all know that as a member of the House of Lords he would be able to spin a fine yard under the most mundane conditions. Yet Downton Abbey is anything but mundane and that is the first requirement into making a legendary piece. I have mentioned it before, I, Claudius had all the elements in place, for the most so does Downton Abbey. The story is excellent, the cast is amazing and many fans feel linked to many of the actors and actresses to a larger degree. The writing got the start, but it was the player that embodies the script and there is not one who gave less than 110% that part clearly shows in the end result. So there will be forum upon forum that will ask and speculate on what they will get. I reckon that a fair amount will go into the speculations of Robert James-Collier (Thomas Barrow) on what he will be like in the movie, antagonistic, devious or a third still to be revealed part, and let’s face it, the man ‘grew up’ on Coronation Street (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNV_Hh5ZWaE if you forgot the tune, which should be unlikely).

There is no way not to get enthusiastic on the series and now we will be getting the movie. I believe it to be an important work as it is truly the first work that would be close to thumping ‘I, Claudius’ of the throne of being the best drama in the history of TV. I personally believe that it did not achieve that, but only by a nose length. Perhaps it is because the Roman era allowed for more murder and intrigue, perhaps it is the view of lavish parties, but for the first time, it is not about the actors, each set of players was pretty much on par with the other set of players, which was an amazing achievement. As for the script, I believe that the quality of drama Robert Graves and Julian Fellowes are on par as well; the element remaining is the director, the visionary in all this. It is impossible to do this, comparing Herbert Wise to Michael Engler, Brian Percival, Catherine Morshead is unfair, it is work separated by decades of vision and technology. The fact that they all try to meet the Herbert Wise standard speaks for Mr Wise as he set the bar half a century ago and the fact that this bar is still there is slightly too amazing for words.

Yet the fact that no one ever stopped getting there speaks for those pursuing excellence in any way possible and that is what Downton Abbey also embodies, a view towards excellence and that too drives us to the movies and the mini silver screen (aka TV). I think that the end of the Victorian age and the age of George V as the UK was led from WW1 towards WW2 is often ignored, but more important than most would think, the sinking of the Titanic in the pilot, the start of WW1 and the impact of the end WW1 and the setting of the veterans as we saw its impact in Downton Abbey is an eye opener, a side that the previous generation onwards ignored is now directly reflected towards us and it impacts us and how we look at this all. A similar impact was seen with The Crown in season one when some saw the episode ‘Act of God‘, I was not born in the UK as such that episode hit me hard, I never expected such a view on chimneys, the smog it created and what kind of a health hazard it actually was in 1952, as such the way we view health hazards and the way politicians neglect it nowadays is a too little astounding.

Downton Abbey had another part shown during the episode where one hospital takes over another one, it is that part where we see the impact to the population in those years, it hits us directly as it is a real setting, not some drama, or better stated drama that doubles as reality just a little too closely. In the end you cannot have anything but the greatest respect on a part of history and how it is portrayed to us, as such the movie, even as it is about a royal visit is likely to have hidden gems that have to be seen to be enjoyed, and that is likely what the makers are hoping for. A TV series that had 11 golden globe nominees and 3 golden globes won, in 2011, Downton Abbey made the Guinness book of world records with the highest ratings for any TV show, the first time a British show got that distinction. A stage that covers 13 years of history, so as the movie is set to 1928; I wonder what we will be treated to. There is no speculation from me, I am slightly scared to be right in this case and I hope that the readers want to see the movie all the way without any spoilers, other than the ones the trailer gives us. I think that this is the biggest part of my appeal to it. On how historic events affect the characters of Downton Abbey, which historic events we will be made aware off. There were the floods of the river Thames, the Oxford English Dictionary first edition was completed, the London and North Eastern Railway’s Flying Scotsman steam-hauled express train begins to run non-stop over the 393 miles (632 km) of the East Coast Main Line from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh (on my birthday no less), the voting age for women is lowered from 30 to 21, Amsterdam hosts the Olympics and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1925 comes into effect. All events of that year and some will be mentioned; optionally we will be introduced to the discussions on it. Downton Abbey will give so many reasons to watch it and as far as I can tell (judging from the TV series) absolutely no reason not to go see it on the large silver screen (aka not the TV).

We still have 15 weeks to go before the movie makes it to the big screen, and as I see it, September 2019 can’t come soon enough.

 

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Merely the beginning

Yes, the news is full of the overwhelming success that Avengers: Endgame is and rightfully so, yet the Washington Post looks further. The article (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/avengers-endgamemakes-disney-invincible-in-2019-then-what/2019/04/29/b5e35016-6aaf-11e9-bbe7-1c798fb80536_story.html) gives light to the strategy that is surrounding Disney plus as owners of the Marvel franchise. We get part of it with: “Disney’s films will no longer get licensed to partners such as Netflix during what’s known as the “pay one window;” instead, they’ll go exclusively on Disney+. That’s a big selling point for the streaming app, but it’s a costly decision that reduces the amount of licensing revenue Disney can earn from its films after they leave theaters.” this is a point of view that is true and the strategy is valid, yet having the stage where we see a time exclusivity (like in gaming) where the others get the option after 6 months is not to be ignored as an alternative. In addition, the mention of the ‘real’ editions of the time honoured animations like Aladdin and the Lion King are now on screws, especially after Dumbo has become a miserable flop. That is the puzzle that comes next, as I personally see it, the cast was golden, the director is phenomenal and the story is sound, so why did it flop and is that the premise for the other movies? We know that Robin Williams made Aladdin the success it was; this puts a megastar like Will Smith in an awkward position. To willingly step into the shadow of a giant takes monumentally sized balls to begin with and even as we know that Will Smith is no coward, willing to step into the fringe of movie making, I cannot stop being worried on how Aladdin will fare. As such the other Disney productions will be under pressure as well and that is just the beginning.

Disney has had the longest issue with being too sweet for most adults and even as we saw Pretty Woman in 1990 as a new view on what Disney could do, there was a distinct feeling that the Disney people were so far out of their comfort zone that they needed guides to find their way back. This is particularly important as Marvel has its own dark parts (more than just a few) and without that defining dark there is a larger concern down the road. I believe that so far they handled it fine, yet the worry remains: “will the wrong Disney executive demand the Marvel TV version to be lighter, sweeter and less dark“, so far what we have seen from X-Men: Dark Phoenix, The New Mutants imply that we should not be worried, yet waiting with worries for too long is not good either. What I saw from Cloak and Dagger season 1 is a clear warning, yet perhaps it is also important to consider that the movies will be less in danger of becoming laced with Disney Sweetness than the TV series. Their Metascore of 68 could be considered as supporting evidence in all this. Some gave the following views: “a horribly sentimental soundtrack“, as well as “If you want a show chock full of “edgy” liberal issues thrown into the plot regardless of if it fits with the story, then look no further” (which was the most negative review) we see the initial issue. Even the more positive ones give us “Through its initial four episodes, the real star of Cloak & Dagger is the structure and editing and overall environment more than any individual actor“. I believe it that some of the changes took away the dark side that would have made Cloak a lot more appealing, it was his dark side that appealed to me in the original comics; the TV parts I saw were too emotional, I am not stating that this is a bad thing, merely that . The comic books decently graphic about his devouring hunger, I missed seeing that in the few episodes I saw. Yet it is not all bad, Mayhem is showing to be the direct confrontational angry type she was in the comic book.

This is in part my issue; Disney is seemingly trying to skate away from the darkness is what will have a larger non positive impact on series that were pretty phenomenal in comic book form. So far the silver screen Marvel productions have exceeded expectations swimmingly; it is what I saw in Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the defenders that felt off, not bad, but off.

It is not the cast or the work done, no matter what, Mike Colter makes Luke Cage totally believable and real. I believe that the scripts fell short (from my personal point of view). Perhaps it is my non-US view, the fact that there had to be complications and conspiracy plots from day one in these series is why it is falling short. Even as we hear noise like ‘creative differences’, I believe that the entire conspiracy twinkle has ran its course to the largest degree, to be honest, that is why I stopped watching Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor. The series started great and then when we suddenly see an FBI director compromised around episode 6 that was it for me. Oh, and before I forget this is a series that is all about conspiracy, but the way it is done was too far out there, it lost flavour. I believe that Marvel series have been pushed into that field too much as well (as well as several other comic book based series). I believe that the effort to go too deep too fast to please an audience is exactly why appeal is lost to some degree and Luke Cage gets to pay for it (as well as Iron Fist). With over a dozen movies coming in the next 2-3 years as well as optional TV series, this critical look early on will be more essential than most realise. You see, a Marvel overdose is pretty much similar to a Star Trek overdose, at some point we lose the interest to watch it, which is actually opposite to the feelings we had with the comic books and as such we have to consider our point of view. Now, like the comic books there is a filtering, most of us do not care for all the franchises. I was a die-hard Batman and X-men fan and I never got into Spiderman that much. I still loved the movies and I read the comics at times, but it was not my number one, neither were the Fantastic Four. That’s fine because Marvel (and DC) had a flavour for everyone, so much choice, as such we would be more protective of the comics we were nuts about and that is fine too.

Yet there is still Disney to consider and their long term need to make everything too sweet and too ‘pink’. Even as we realise that most cancelations might be linked to IP and the fact that Netflix will be a direct competitor of Disney+, yet the idea that Disney is a little too uncomfortable with these dark tainted series on Disney remains a concern for many fans and as such it is a concern for some fans of these series that they are now part of Disney. The factual reasons are not out there, or perhaps better stated, there is no source I trust to give me the actual truth (except a joint statement from Marvel and Disney and that is unlikely to happen).

Even as Forbes gives us: “Marvel meanwhile plans live-action series for characters including Loki, Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier, and several other characters“, the die-hard fans will now wonder whether we will get the Asgardian Wars on TV or silver screen, not only as it was an awesome story, but that also puts Asgard, the X-men and the Canadian Alpha Flight team on the range implying the coming of a few more series, or movie franchises. All of them have a large following, so Disney would be nuts to walk away from an optional few billion more. Yet that does require Disney to allow for very dark streaks in their acquired paintings and that is where the problem is likely to rise, or at least that is what I think is likely to happen.

Even as Disney can ignore everything this year, the year that Avengers: Endgame broke every record, the long term view is less of a given, with view n 2020-2023, there will be more issues and other issues to deal with, not all of them revenue driven, but revenue will be the mainstream in any discussion that surrounds whatever ‘creative differences’ we will see make the headlines on all kinds of media channels and to ignore this so early in the year is not a healthy thing to do, especially as most of the upcoming movies will be staged to bring in a billion plus each. As stated, I do not think we need to worry about the movies too much, but the Marvel TV series that will be another matter, they will be the bread and butter of Disney+ and those people like their shows a little too sugary to my taste.

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Remembering events

There is an issue in Palestine and Israel, I am not stating that Israel is innocent in events, but when I see the Guardian giving us (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/25/uk-cinemas-should-boycott-the-israeli-film-festival-seret) the headline ‘UK cinemas should boycott the Israeli film festival Seret‘, this was a letter and an opinion. I am not attacking the person, because everyone is entitled to an opinion. As such, I have no issue with: “We’re shocked and dismayed to see how many mainstream cinemas – among them Picturehouse and Everyman – are hosting this year’s Israeli film festival, Seret, whose funders and supporters include the Israeli government and a clutch of pro-Israel advocacy organisations“.

When we see that do these people remember the Sbarro event on August 9th 2001? You might think it was a long time ago, but it was merely the start of a lot of events by Palestinian terrorists. And the girl on the stretcher was wearing a white shirt, that is, until the explosion got to her, it is overwhelmingly red now. I don’t even know if she survived any of it. From my point of view, when you start bombing buses and civilian restaurants you have lost the plot and whatever case you try to bring, from that point onward the Palestinians were merely to be regarded as terrorists.

They even send rockets into Beer Sheva where it hit a kindergarten classroom (By Avi Ohayon GPO – https://www.flickr.com/photos/36313307@N06/3349461091/sizes/l/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6222905), yet in that case I will admit that there is absolutely no telling what they were actually aiming for, their material is unreliable at best.

So in all this, it is still an anti-Israel rally through an attack on culture. Now, I have stated that Israel is not entirely innocent, there are issues on both sides of the border but the only way to ever make any progress is not to ban cultural events, but to have more of them. So when we see “This UN report is the latest in 70 years of reports of mass expulsions, killings, house demolitions, detention without trial, torture, military occupation and military onslaught against the indigenous population, the Palestinians” we can clearly see that this is a pro-Palestinian article, leaving the Palestinian acts out of it. OK, I get that the writer is heavily pro-Palestinian and people are allowed to be that, freedom of expression and so on. We can also agree with part of the statement that gives us: “We cannot understand why cultural institutions continue to behave as if Israel is an ordinary democracy. It is not“, yet the part that is missing is that the State of Israel has been under non-stop terrorist attack since 1948; that part is ignored almost everywhere. Perhaps someone can explain to me how this will stop when Israel has been under unrelenting attack since it was founded? Now we can optionally disband the State of Israel, but only when Europe gives up 25% of Europe. Or did you forget that the extermination of 6 million Jews came with the disowning of millions of real estate locations? You see those 6 million owned some of the richest parts of Europe in Germany, France, the Netherlands, and a few more places. So if you can get those areas all to be re-annexed as original Jewish properties come back to talk, if not find another solution. By the way before you think of adding a number to that, it will depreciate Europe by well close to a trillion euros.

A choice was made in 1945 because of what lied ahead, it was perhaps the best solution for Europe and when we consider that the Jewish state was stolen from the Jews by the Italians between 1BC and the 5 centuries that followed, we see a larger issue. In that time part of Syria was also part of the 12 tribes of Israel, so in the end the discussion could go on for a lot longer than now. All elements that people tend to forget (because they ignore history). What should be remembered that any nation that has been under attack for three quarters of a century will at some point stop being polite, so perhaps lowering tension and embracing culture as an opening to commence a dialogue will be a lot more useful to set the steps towards an actual agreement based towards long lasting peace. And If I can see that with my lack of diplomacy and articulate cultural speech then all those artistic people, those directors, writers and others should know a lot better than putting their autograph under some short sighted narrow minded call to boycott any cultural event.

That is merely my limited view on the matter, yet I might be wrong too.

 

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