Archive for July, 2020

30 Days Challenge: Film Pt. 5

July 6, 2020


25 – A film you like that is not set in the current era

The Sting was made in the 1970s but is set in the mid-1930s. It stars Robert Redford and Paul Newman. It is one of the most quintessential con/heist movies in film history. Basically, the movie is a revenge story of a group of ‘honest’ criminals coming together to take out a violent crime boss. In some movies, this would be done by storming something and people getting gunned down over and over until somebody yields. In this movie, they decide to both embarrass and bankrupt their target. The movie has a lot of fun twists and turns and keeps you guessing until the end. Redford is arguably the main character as a hustler who goes on a journey to learn the ‘big con’ in order to achieve greater success and revenge. Paul Newman is also excellent as the mentor figure who comes up with the plan. A classic movie with a great plot.


26 – A film you like that is adapted from somewhere

At first glance, this movie is just a fun romp through the Southern United States during the mid-1930s (again). The movie is actually a loose adaptation of The Odyssey, a Greek epic poem (sequel to The Illiad) about the hero Odysseus’ long trip back from the Trojan War which is cursed by Poseidon. There is a cyclops, Sirens/Witches that turn people into animals, Lotus Eaters (who are actually Baptists), and so many more. It is a really clever take on the poem with certain things popping up that just fit with the famous book so well. The movie also mixes in a lot of the mythology of the Southern United States. For example, we have a stand-in for Robert Johnson and his famous deal with the devil. George Clooney is excellent as the central figure and Oddyseus stand-in. However, I really have to give more credit to John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson who are both brilliant as his compatriots. Nelson is especially great as the movie’s comic relief. Also a shout out to Charles Durning who once again plays a somewhat crooked and disingenuous politician. The movie is beautiful and it has one of the best all-time soundtracks.


27 – A film that is visually striking to you

I had to go with the original Candyman because of the imagery and the set design. Filmed in the actual since-demolished Cabrini-Green projects, the movie is fairly simple but brilliant. The movie has such good symbolism and imagery for a horror movie, similar to dreamlike imagery in Nightmare on Elm Street and Prom Night 2. However, a lot of it takes you by surprise. Some of it is even startling graffiti in the background which mostly covers a plot point that is only touched on. I wonder if the new version will go more into depth with it. Bees are featured prominently and that is incredibly strong imagery for me since I am very scared of bees. The movie plays a lot with allegorical and dream symbols which give more of an inner look to the title character rather than his victims.


28 – A film that made you feel uncomfortable

As a horror aficionado, a lot of films have definitely given me the willies and I considered using them. However, instead, I will go with the first movie I can remember that really gave me the willies (pun intended). The Temple of Doom has a startling amount of gross-out moments. There is the famous dinner scene with delicacies like monkey brains, tiger eye soup, snake surprise, and fresh beetles. Not exactly my cup of tea when I was a little kid and the scene is designed to make you squirm. Speaking of squirming, there is a scene when Willie has to press a switch to save Short Round and Indy but the alcove where the switch is is filled with all sorts of creepy-crawly insects. It made me shudder even as I was cursing her for hesitating. There is also the famous scenes of people’s hearts being pulled out of chests. On top of that, I was always grossed out by the scene where Indy is poisoned, just the look on Ford’s face as he acts it out.


29 – A film that makes you feel good

Hellboy was the movie that made me fall in love with Guillermo Del Toro but also Ron Perlman. The movie is very dark but Perlman’s Hellboy keeps cracking jokes and never gives up. The dialogue is also really good. The movie is about a group of misfits who are fighting against impossible odds. Perlman is so damn charismatic. However, we also have David Hyde Pierce with the beautiful movements of Doug Jones. Selma Blair is pitch-perfect as a pessimist who learns some optimism. John Hurt has the best dry sense of humor. There is also Jeffrey Tambor and Rupert Evans who are great as well. The movie is made by the dialogue and chemistry but the visuals also knock it out of the park. Part of what further endears this movie to me is the awesome director commentary and also a separate cast commentary with Ron Perlman. Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, and Rupert Evans which both feel like watching the movie with friends.


30 – A film with your favorite ending

There were a lot of good choices here but I finally went with The Thing because the ending really stuck with me and continues to stick with me. I found myself nodding as it was happening and just thinking it was perfect as the credits rolled. For those who do not remember, The Thing is about a shape-shifting alien that slowly takes over a research base in Antarctica. After the base explodes, only two people remain alive: MacReady and Childs. The viewer cannot be a hundred percent sure that either is an alien or not. MacReady and Childs cannot be sure either. There is a silent agreement between the two as they realize that it does not really matter. They start to share a bottle of scotch as they slowly begin to freeze to death. That way, The Thing would surely be killed as well. Besides, they are in the middle of nowhere with no way of escape or shelter. It is an oddly hopeful ending for a dismal result.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 1

July 4, 2020

Mulan wrapped a cloth around Shang’s wound and felt his forehead. He was fading in and out of consciousness and he did not look bad. She needed a cool damp rag but she had very little since they had barely gotten away from the Imperial City with their lives. Those things had been terrifying and seemed to come out of nowhere and then part of the palace had exploded into green flame. Mulan and Shang had been able to flee with many soldiers into the countryside but they had been separated from everyone in the madness. Things were not looking good when suddenly she heard a voice from above her.

“You look like you could use some help,” a young man said. Mulan looked up and saw a man dressed in slightly torn clothing standing on what seemed to be a rug floating in the air. He had kind eyes and a reassuring smile.

“Those things came out of nowhere,” Mulan said. “They overtook the city and destroyed the palace. They can’t be far behind us.” Her eyes were wild and she tried to calm down as best as she could. She took deep breaths.

The man and the carpet floated upwards a short distance and he scanned the horizon. He floated back down. “I can’t see them but you’re probably right. We need to get out of here. I was only scouting

“He got hit with a spear,” Mulan said. “It went all the way through. He needs medical attention quickly.”

The carpet lowered to the ground and the man leaned down to look at Shang. “You’re right. It doesn’t look good,” the young man said. “There’s a fort near here where we can get him help. Carpet can take us.”

Mulan looked dubiously at the flying carpet. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Is it safe?”

“Yeah,” the man said. “Do you trust me?” Something about his eyes made Mulan want to say yes but trust should not come so easily.

“I don’t even know you,” Mulan said. “I could hardly trust you.” She wanted to, but her head was spinning and she was equally likely to lash out as she was to accept a favor.

“Let me put it this way,” the man said. “Do you really have any better options right now?” Mulan had seen that the man wore a curved sword but she had a feeling she could outfight him if she had to even in her exhausted state.

“No,” Mulan admitted. “I’m willing to let you prove yourself. Thank you for your help.” She ran her hand along the fabric of the carpet and it responded as if it was a big friendly dog. “This is magic, right?” She only had a little bit of experience with magic but Mushu was nowhere in sight lately. Her guardian had disappeared and she was worried about the little guy.

“His name is Carpet from the Cave of Wonders,” the man said. “My name is Aladdin, by the way.” He offered her his hand. Mulan had never heard of such a cave but it sounded like a place that would have a flying carpet in it. The man looked foreign and Aladdin was definitely not a Chinese name but she and Shang were in a tight spot. She would have to trust him and hope for the best. She took his hand and shook it.

“My name is Fa Mulan,” Mulan said. “This is General Li Shang. Please help us.” Cards were on the table and it was either sink or swim now. She clutched her sword tightly.

“Of course,” Aladdin said. “I’m at your service.” He reached down and helped Mulan get Shang onto Carpet as gently as possible. Mulan knelt down and Carpet took to the air. She was amazed to see that Aladdin was able to stay standing, keeping a wide stance.

They flew over the countryside, shooting through the air as fast as Carpet dared. The ride was surprisingly smooth but all the same, Mulan held onto Shang. She was so worried about him and the blood that was slowly soaking the bandage on his shoulder. She could barely process what had happened. With transport taken care of, she almost passed out from the stress and exhaustion. She hoped that Shang could hang on. Her husband was dear to her.

Media Update 7/2/20

July 2, 2020


Cosmic Slop

When I was doing research for this week’s theme (because I was suddenly insanely curious), I stumbled upon this obscure movie and I was immediately interested. This actually has a really interesting history. It was originally supposed to be a show similar to Twilight Zone but only three episodes were produced and formed into a makeshift movie. The three segments are introduced by funk legend George Clinton acting like an alien. In fact, the title of the show is the name of a Funkadelic album. What caught my attention was the segment called “Space Traders” which is the most famous story. Basically, aliens come to Earth and promise to fix all of the United States’ problems if they will allow the aliens to take all of America’s black people. It is as heartbreaking as it sounds. All of the segments are intensely interesting and say a lot about African American culture. The special effects are incredibly cheap (which tracks with it being CGI from 1994) but the drama and acting are both so good. The stories are also well-written because they adapted successful short stories. The third segment “Tang” has especially good acting and I want to see it adapted to live theater. I really recommend this movie. (It’s free on Youtube currently)


Space is the Place

This was a movie basically created by the famous jazz/funk musician Sun Ra. He wanted to relay his philosophy surrounding the African American people. It ends up being a sort of Afrofuturist fable about the conflict between capitalism and spiritualism for the soul of the black man. A lot of it is very symbolic but some parts are a bit more literal. Sun Ra is the hero, returned from space to get black people to come with him in his space ship to a new land. He is up against basically the devil, played incredibly charismatically by Raymond Johnson. Seriously, he was the best part. The movie definitely dips into blaxploitation (with some full-frontal nudity) but it is mostly an odd yet entertaining movie. I would suggest holding onto a plot synopsis because the movie can get a bit weird at places. However, I think it is followable. It is a fascinating movie but not for everybody. I recommend it. (It is also free on YouTube)


The Brother from Another Planet

I was drawn to this movie because it stars Joe Morton, an actor that I have loved ever since I first saw him in the show Eureka. He is a great actor and is just instantly recognizable and likable. The movie is about an alien who arrives on Earth and stumbles into Harlem. He is from another planet yet he appears to be a black man. The movie does not so much have a plot arc but instead is driven by the main character’s interactions with earth customs in the early eighties. Adding to the intrigue is that Joe Morton’s unnamed character is completely mute. All of his acting is through gestures and facial expressions. It makes for interesting dialogue as characters around him end up revealing more of themselves than they probably would normally because he is silent and the conversations are lopsided. Morton interacts with many interesting characters and is flustered by capitalism, racism, and the ordinary goings-on of New York City. I definitely recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:
Funkadelic – Cosmic Slop

Sun Ra Arkestra – Seductive Fantasy

The Bright Light Social Hour – Ghost Dance

Cherae Leri – Feel

Indigo Mak – Ecstasy

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Black Science Fiction”
– I watched more Elementary Season 2
– I watched more Flash Season 6
– I watched more Arrow Season 8
– I watched more Watcher videos
– I watched more Supergirl Season 5
– I watched more Riverdale Season 4
– I watched more Black Lightning Season 3
– I watched more Rizzoli and Isles Season 4
– I watched more Legends of Tomorrow Season 5
– I watched more Supernatural Season 15
– I watched more Doom Patrol Season 1


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