Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wind River

After working all weekend, I finally saw Wind River, hoping it would be like the Val Kilmer movie Thunderheart. There is a murder mystery to solve on the reservation, but mostly the detective work is done by reading tracks in the snow and confronting suspects in brutally violent shootouts. It's a good, emotional movie, though a shame that once again a story about Native people has to star white actors as the protagonists instead of any of the Native characters. Still, I liked those actors in the Avengers movie, and they do a good job here. Also, the writer and director Taylor Sheridan shows a proper respect for the Native characters, like John Fusco did in his movies about Native Americans. Sheridan is less mystical and more gloomy reality, though. At least he shot the movie in full color, not that stupid blue tint that "serious" gritty movies keep using lately.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Jealousies and Suspicions

I finished the Kate Warne historical novel. Overall it was good, though the author did take some liberties with the Rose Greenhow case and totally fictionalized Timothy Webster as Tim Bellamy, a love interest. I would have liked to see more about Warne running the Ladies Bureau and the DC office during the Civil War, instead of having a tragic romance and temporary falling out with Allan Pinkerton. So much drama over men assuming that if Kate Warne remarried, she would retire and have children. She had no such intention (and was infertile due to her previous miscarriage, so she wouldn't have had the opportunity anyway, unless she wanted to adopt). But still, I kept thinking that if people would just confess their honest motives and fears instead of staying silent, some of these problems could be resolved. At the very least, when Kate started to panic herself and feel guilty about deception, you'd think she could find the courage to speak to her fiance about such important questions of their future together.

Oh well, it's not like the Pinkertons TV show was always accurate to real life, but I did appreciate that the novel didn't portray an affair between Allan Pinkerton and Kate Warne. It would make them such hypocrites given how Pinkerton made fun of criminals for always having affairs and secrets that would make it easier for a detective to discover their crimes.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Girl in Disguise

I watched some youtube videos of Jason Bateman getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame recently. Will Arnett gave a speech flirtatiously joking about how Michael Bluth is Ivanka Trump, but hotter. It's great that they're such good friends, and still so cute. Apparently Mitch Hurwitz and other AD castmembers also attended and posed for pictures afterward.

Meanwhile, I've been reading that Girl in Disguise book about Kate Warne. Since we know so little about this Pinkerton detective, the author has constructed an interesting backstory for her. She is indeed a widow, but she was forced into the marriage to cover up getting pregnant; also, as a kid she lived an unhappy, itinerant lifestyle because her father was an actor and con artist. This leads to Kate feeling conflicted about having to deceive people, manipulate them and betray them, such as with Mrs. Maroney from the Expressman Case. (Greer Macallister greatly simplifies the case so that they obtain the evidence they need quickly instead of doing the convoluted shit that actually happened and wasted everyone's time.)

At the Pinkerton agency, Kate has to deal the suspicion and condescension of her male colleagues, constantly needing to prove herself and pass their various tests. Even worse, people keep gossiping that she's probably having an affair with Allan Pinkerton, even though nothing's going on. I even hoped that this novel would portray Allan's wife Joan as a sympathetic, likable character, unlike other fictionalizations. However, after Joan is introduced as a wonderful singer and mother, in private, she hisses to Kate to stay away from her husband! :( I was also sad that the novel waited many, many chapters to introduce the Women's Bureau of the agency. So far we have only seen Kate hire two women, and she doesn't get much time to actually supervise them before Kate's whisked off again to a special assignment. I'm right now in the middle of the Baltimore plot to assassinate Lincoln.

So far it's a pretty good story. The author's other book about a female magician is being made into a movie, so I hope that this one might get a movie treatment some day, with some tweaks maybe.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Foiled

I finally found a movie theater within 50 miles that's playing The Black Prince, but it's playing in Punjabi, with no English subtitles. Damn! Now I don't know if it will ever come to a theater where I can watch it. Maybe I'll have to wait for a DVD or streaming release.

I might end up having to watch the upcoming Judi Dench film Victoria and Abdul instead, which looks more like a cutesy, feel good film that probably overlooks the darker aspects of British rule in India. More Victorian nostalgia without the ugly reality of history.

Meanwhile Bateman says that AD season 5 begins filming in August. I hope Hurwitz doesn't focus so much on political parody that he neglects the actual family story threads and cliffhangers he left dangling. I want to see Gob and Tony Wonder!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Go See a Star War

Nerdist has a cute new Arrested Rebellion video, using Ron Howard's narration over the original Star Wars trilogy. They even play up the incesty angle with those Luke/Leia kisses. It's funny how often those movies and Arrested Development intersect, what with May the 4th/Cinco de Cuatro, George Michael's Star Wars home video, and most recently Ron Howard taking over the Han Solo film.

Meanwhile, I'm still hesitant to watch Jason Bateman's new Netflix series Ozark. It just looks so depressing and dark and has that same blue tinge that grimdark DC movies have. I know he wants to direct more and he likes playing jerks, but I don't like to watch him play jerks. (Well, other than the hypocritical, smug jerk that Michael Bluth occasionally reveals himself to be.) It's especially a turn off during a summer when most of the political world seems to be imploding. I couldn't ever go back to Bojack Horseman for the same reason.

Meanwhile Comic-Con had several announcements and previews for shows and movies. What used to be a fan event has turned into a venue for studios to promote their various franchises, whether they have to do with comics or not. Yet another summer press tour I guess. The only crack in their facade seems to the rift over the firing of Steven Whitmire as Kermit the frog.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Iron Road

I was recently looking for more movies starring Sam Neill, hoping for another gem like Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and I found this TV miniseries about Chinese railroad laborers in 1880s British Columbia. (The real star is Sun Li, though, not Sam Neill.) Apparently based on an opera, Iron Road is a coproduction made under a treaty between China and Canada, and it came out not long after Canada formally apologized for an immigrant tax imposed on Chinese laborers back then. The Chinese didn't just come to America to build our transcontinental railroads; they went to Canada as well, attracted by the myth of a Gold Mountain where they could become rich.

Sam Neill plays a railroad tycoon deep in debt, and Peter O'Toole has a smallish but significant part as a British agent in China supposed to hire 2,000 Chinese workers to finish the railroad. Unfortunately, he's too drunk and dissolute to get the job done, so the tycoon sends his playboy son to China to round up the workers. There's another son who's supposedly the good, responsible one, so James needs to prove himself to his family. While there, he meets Little Tiger, supposedly a young boy who works at the fireworks factory and does laundry on the side in order to learn English from the Brit. However, to me, it seems obvious from the start that Little Tiger is a woman. She's been living as a boy since her mother died, and she wants desperately to go to "Gold Mountain" to search for her father who disappeared there many years ago. She only has a faded photograph of him, and his face is unclear.