Sunday, October 15, 2017

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women

I saw the Marston movie this weekend and loved it. Very warm, funny and well worth the wait, since I first read about the history. I'm not sure that the movie has all its historical facts correct, due to artistic license and the need to create dramatic conflict for plot, but it is a great portrayal of a polyamorous love story with an emphasis on consent and family. Elizabeth Holloway is frank and fabulous, railing against the sexism that keeps her from getting getting a degree from Harvard, and conscious of how society will judge and ostracize them for their relationships. Bill Marston meanwhile is very sincere and adamant about his psychological theories, idealistically believing that feminism will create a utopia without war. Olive is drawn to both Marstons, but seems to love the brilliant Elizabeth more.

The creation of Wonder Woman is slowly pieced together out of their lives, though the film portrays Marston's comic strip idea coming rather suddenly, omitting the part where he had a job as a psychological consultant on Hollywood films, then on comics, before he proposed creating and writing a comic himself. According to Jill Lepore, he had various odd jobs once his academic career went downhill. So the film makes it seem that Elizabeth is able to somehow support the entire family only on her secretarial job, and is also vague about Olive Byrne's career as a journalist.

Still, I enjoyed it immensely and wish it would do better at the box office. But then I like lots of critically acclaimed small movies like this. Before it, I also saw a trailer for The Current War about Thomas Edison vs George Westinghouse, with a little Nikola Tesla thrown in. It was rather weird/creepy seeing the Weinstein Company logo on it, and now I read that the movie's been delayed. I don't think I would have watched it anyway even before the scandal.

Friday, October 13, 2017

TV twists

I've enjoyed the last few episodes of The Orville, and tonight I thought I recognized the actress who played Nurse Ogawa on TNG, playing a Union admiral here, but I can't get confirmation anywhere yet. It's a good show, though they don't always stick the landings at the end of episodes. I thought opening the sunroof on the bioship was a bad idea, and last week I didn't quite get how closing the wormhole erased Pria yet didn't create a time paradox about how their ship survived the dark matter storm.

SPOILERS BELOW

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Worse and Worse

The news trickling out about Harvey Weinstein is horrific, and even Terry Crews confessed about being harassed (though by a different guy). Of course some misogynists want to criticize Hillary Clinton for not responding fast enough, and I like this snarky response.

Still, have to remember that there are other major crises at hand like the situation in Puerto Rico, the California wildfires, and Trump's threats against Obamacare, the Iran Deal, North Korea. It's like, where will it end? At least a lot of celebrities have organized a fundraiser for Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other forgotten places. It's sad that the news cycle seems to get myopically focused on one or two issues at a time, letting others disappear from view.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Te Ata

I saw this biopic about Te Ata, the Chickasaw storyteller who helped bridge cultural barriers. It's a lovely, moving story, and in contrast to the grim murder drama Wind River, this movie felt refreshingly uplifting and mystical. Though life on the reservation is indeed hard and oppressive, it's not totally bleak and hopeless, because people still have love and support from the community. It also revels in the beauty and wonder of nature.

The story begins when Mary Frances Thompson is a child, learning stories from her father and longing to be included in a ceremony of Elders. She grows up in the Chickasaw Nation, before Oklahoma became a state in 1907. Mary's uncle is the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, and her father is the newly appointed Treasurer. The Governor journeys to Washington D.C. trying to get some money released, but the federal officials lecture him that his people need to assimilate and give up the "mumbo-jumbo" rituals and beliefs of their culture. This becomes a theme of the movie, how the Indian Offenses Act outlaws traditional songs and dances, denying the Indians the right to practice their heritage.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Hoping

Meanwhile, the news and politics continues to be awful. The Las Vegas massacre, Puerto Rico's continued suffering, Tom Petty dying, federal budget fights, the continuing lack of a new DACA in Congress... It's hard to have any hope. Even Texas Governor Abbott was feuding with the Houston mayor about funds after Hurricane Harvey, but it seems he finally backed down and agreed to tap into the $10 billion Rainy Day fund.

There's been talk that some Republicans might finally get on board with a ban on bump stocks for guns, but we'll have to see if they actually do anything this time. In other news, a judge blocked Texas from giving info to that shitty Voter Fraud Commission. I hope that holds.

TV and movie

Inspired by Hamilton's history lesson, Black-ish premiered with an episode about Juneteenth, complete with a Schoolhouse Rock-like cartoon and songs staged like Broadway. I mostly liked it, though the beginning talking about Christopher Columbus myths reminded me of their past shitty episode about replacing Columbus Day with Daddy's Day. So again it felt partly like the writers criticizing Columbus Day while ignoring the fact that many people want that day changed to Indigenous People's Day. Please acknowledge that, Black-ish, or stop revisiting the Columbus Day well.

I find it also sad that Dre complains about Juneteenth being ignored by his coworkers. Who cares what your coworkers think? Do you need their approval to take a holiday that day? Maybe it's because he lives in California, rather than Texas where there's already Juneteenth parades and such every year. But just because the Johnsons have to celebrate privately doesn't mean it's a "fake" holiday without meaning. I did like the joke about hibiscus tea and strawberry soda, though.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Victoria and Abdul

I saw the Judi Dench movie yesterday, and it's still rather hard to believe. The things she does for her favorite Indian seem too good to be true, like historical revisionism, yet Wikipedia cites multiple sources for the facts of Abdul Karim's life, offering proof for almost every incident depicted in the movie. There is a major detail altered, though: the movie pretends that Karim and Mohammed Buksh were supposed to visit England only for one brief ceremony to present a coin, but in real life it seems that these Indians had always been intended to serve the Queen for a year, and that she had requested them for her Jubilee. So this portrayal of Karim innocently and accidentally winning over the Queen to get them permanent jobs is a stretch of the truth. Yes, he extended a one year job into over a decade, but he did not turn a one day job into a sudden career move, against Buksh's wishes.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Magical Tony's

Yay, Bill Bixby's old Magician TV show finally came out on DVD, and I bought a copy. It already arrived and I can't wait to watch it. Maybe I'll do it this weekend, or I may try to catch the Victoria and Abdul movie first. Hope that won't be too cloying.

I saw Ben Stiller's latest movie Brad's Status recently but was disappointed. It wasn't that funny, and there were too many self-indulgent fantasies about what Brad's life could be like. I much preferred Stiller in While We're Young. Anyway, I hope he'll be back as Tony Wonder in season 5 of Arrested Development.

I really need to try again to continue Far From Over before next season arrives.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fall Premieres

I'm so excited to see that the Miss Fisher kickstarter exceeded its funding goal, meaning that we'll finally get a movie. I can't wait to see the adventures continue. All other detective shows are boring procedurals nowadays. Nothing fun and witty and character-based like this.

Anyway, some new TV shows have started premiering. I saw The Orville and mostly enjoyed it, though I missed most of episode 2 and 3 due to being on vacation. It's not a Galaxy Quest spoof, but it's a good homage to Star Trek: TNG, and that's fine with me. The viciousness of the bad reviews was totally unwarranted and over the top.

I saw most of the Star Trek: Discovery debut, but not all due to the damn football overrun. The lead character is interesting, but I didn't warm up to the show that much. It really felt like a lot of CGI effects, but little story information and development. (I've read the spoilers about the 2nd episode on the streaming service, and the character death deeply disappoints me. So I don't feel compelled to sign up and watch the rest of the season.) If other people enjoy it and think it's worth the expense, fine. Whatever.

I really wish Brooklyn Nine-Nine would end the prison storyline; I've been hating these stupid cliffhangers every season, and the time wasted on getting the characters back to normal. If they pull that crap again at the end of this season, I might lose interest in next season, if there is any.

Back from Vacation

I was traveling without internet for a week, with only intermittent TV news to inform me about the Mexico earthquakes and the destruction of Hurricane Maria. What makes these disasters even worse is the fact we have such an incompetent dotard who would rather have twitter feuds and blame Puerto Rico for its suffering. At least I saw a news report tonight about an athlete using Mark Cuban's plane to deliver some relief supplies to Puerto Rico. So I can be proud of Texas for a little while at least.

Meanwhile the GOP went after Obamacare again and are working on tax reform next. So much shit. During my vacation, I got a massage hoping it would relieve some of the stress and let me sleep better. But nope, it didn't help, and in fact my leg muscles ached so much for days that I had to walk gingerly and slowly everywhere. No escape.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Labor Day

The holiday weekend has a bunch of sales, and I guess Star Wars had some kind of merchandise promotion on Friday. I'll be working on Monday and am debating whether to try to see a movie. Nothing's really good out, and I've been reading books lately. All the stuff I really want to see isn't coming out until late September and October.

I saw Girls Trip recently. I thought it would be all comedy, but there were some serious dramatic moments regarding Ryan's cheating husband. Also, the women had a very serious fight at one point, almost breaking up the Flossie Posse, but eventually they made up. It was a very enjoyable, funny movie, and I'm glad for its box office success. Maybe they'll make a sequel.

I hope Wind River continues to do good in its expansion.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Whitewashing

I don't follow comic news that much, but I saw the recent backlash over Hellboy casting a white actor as a mixed Japanese character. The actor Ed Skrein just stepped down from the role today, which shows he has more integrity and awareness than Scarlet Johanssen in Ghost in the Shell or even Alison Brie playing Vietnamese in Bojack Horseman. Good for him, and I hope Hollywood will finally learn its lesson and not cast this way in the first place. They seem to think the push for "diversity" is only about blacks, Hispanics, women, but not Asians for some reason. Time and time again, they pass us over, or if they do cast Asians in an Asian role, it's interchangeably Koreans for Taiwanese, etc. I hope the upcoming live-action Mulan will be Chinese cast, and that the Crazy Rich Asians movie will be a success. Still waiting on a movie about Anna May Wong.

In other news, more courts struck down the Texas Voter ID law and the redistricting map. I was going to be all happy about it, but then Wonkette wrote an article suggesting that Texas could say, "hey we can't redraw any maps when we're in the middle of Hurricane Harvey displacing people." God, we can't have one ray of hope at all? In any case, Texas is probably gonna appeal the cases to the Supreme Court, so we still have suspense about what rulings will affect the 2018 elections.

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 with 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.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Tinkering

I've been doing some home improvement projects lately, building a corner bookshelf, staining some furniture, and adding a shelf to my TV stand. Not perfect, but the results are passable. I wish the colors matched better.

There's a new movie theatre near me, so I went to try it out. The food's okay, but the chairs are weird in that the headrest doesn't adjust that much. Oh well. Not many interesting movies coming out yet. I'm still mad at the last Planet of the Apes film, so I think I'm going to skip the War one if it's just going to be Caesar fighting males while the female apes have nothing to do again. I want to see The Black Prince movie about the last King of Punjab, but it's a specialty movie, so I've no idea when it's coming to Texas.

I'll have some time off for July 4th, so I'll try to get some writing done again. Have to get back to Far From Over.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Happy Juneteenth

I bought the latest Kate Warne book aimed at kids. It's nicely illustrated, though the story is fictional, imagining Kate as a single woman who merely pretended to be a widow. I'm not sure why. The plot is mostly the Expressman case, but pared down from the original convoluted, horrifically long case that I hated when I read Pinkerton's crap book on the subject. Still, any more exposure of Kate Warne to kids is good. There's also apparently a more adult-oriented novel about Kate Warne available now. I can't wait to get it. I wish Hollywood would make a movie about her, even if they have to fictionalize it or just dramatize the same old Pinkerton cases we know about, because little girls need to see more historical pioneers like Warne.

I wish there was a movie about Anna May Wong too. Some years ago, there was talk that a Chinese studio was going to make one, but there's been no news since. If they're willing to recast, or if an American studio wants to do it, may I suggest Constance Wu as the star? Or what about that movie about the Chinese woman pirate that Maggie Q was going to star in? These projects keep disappearing. I'm hoping what with Hidden Figures and the success of other female-led films, that studios will finally give us long overdue movies about female icons such as Marie Curie and the like.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Gertrude Bell

Meanwhile I went to see Letters from Baghdad, but was disappointed. It was very informative, and had some moments of witty comments, but it felt slow and episodic. Gertrude Bell felt somewhat remote to me. I thought it could use a narrator to string the series of events together and fill in background on her life. Sort of like the narrator of a Ken Burns documentary.

Still the creation of Iraq was fascinating, with Bell literally drawing the border lines on the map. They mentioned the Sykes-Picot agreement to divide the Ottoman Empire for Europeans, and how Gertrude advocated for a genuine Arab state run by natives. The British eventually installed Faisal as king (even though he was from Syria) and Sir Percy Cox put the Sunni minority in control of the Shiite majority. Lots of decisions got made, but the documentary didn't really explain the impact. I guess they wanted to talk more about Bell's biography than politics, once she moved on to establishing the Baghdad Archaeological Museum rather than helping the Iraqi government.

The documentary was too superficial, I guess, avoiding topics like Bell opposing the Zionist movement, according to Wikipedia, and other Middle Eastern topics. Yeah, I guess the history there is too complicated to cover in a movie, but to gloss over any controversies seems to distort the picture. If I want more depth, I guess I'll have to look elsewhere.

Last Week

What a long, awful week it was, with the shootings, and the London fire, and the Cosby mistrial. All the while, in the background, the Senate Republicans are working on their Obamacare repeal, refusing to let anyone else see it. They want to pass it before the public even knows what's in it. So horrible.

I actually had a dream last night that I was back in college and somehow signing up for Obamacare. Also, there was a LGBT protest that I stood up for. Someone callled me an asshole, but she called everybody assholes. Plus I kept trying to reorganize my pencils and stuff in a box. Weird. All this summer I keep waking up early too.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Superheroes

Sad that Adam West died. Growing up, I watched his Batman series and believed in all its earnestness. I also enjoyed the Batgirl episodes and wished there had been more of her. I never realized until I grew up that it was pure camp and that Batgirl was only in 1 season out of the three.

I was happy to see a trailer for the Black Panther movie. It looks cool, with a great cast. It's a shame it got pushed back for another stupid Spiderman movie; I saw the trailer for the next Spiderman with Wonder Woman, and I hated it. Stupid Ironman still endangering a naive teen and hypocritically lecturing him about how to save the day, when he basically recruited the kid in the middle of the high stakes Civil War. What a jerk he's become. So of course I'll be skipping that one as I've skipped other Marvel films lately.

Speaking of Wonder Woman, I had been vaguely aware that Gal Gadot was Israeli, and that she had served in the military, but after all, that's mandatory in her country right? And I convinced myself that I could overlook it, separating the actress from the character in the same way I've done with Scarlett Johansson and Black Widow. I can continue to boycott SodaStream, yet see the movies for the character, who is part of a larger ensemble, unrelated to such politics.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wonder Woman

I'm so relieved that Wonder Woman did well at the box office. Had it bombed or been terrible like Catwoman and Electra, Hollywood would have decided that all female superheros (and perhaps all women directors) were too risky to try again. Not that I haven't seen internet trolls trying to downplay the box office as disappointing anyway.

Still, I don't like DC movies in general since they adopted that unrelenting grimdark style--dark in terms of content and in terms of draining all color out of the images. So I watched Wonder Woman in 2D to make sure I wouldn't get that darkening from 3D glasses, and I was so grateful for the bright, beautiful scenes on Themyscira. It's a shame that so many other scenes take place at night or in foggy conditions, leading to muted colors. I would have preferred more vivid color, more often.

SPOILERS BELOW

Thursday, June 1, 2017

NBC Reverses Again

It seems that NBC has been rather indecisive lately, what with uncancelling Timeless, then moving This Is Us back to Tuesday. I'm not sure why they backtracked, but I'm glad for it, because now my Tuesday DVR schedule won't be so crowded in the fall. (I don't watch This Is Us.) There were just too many sitcoms on at once, but now they're not all competing at the same timeslot. Now I can record what I want and not need to upgrade my Tivo that urgently. I have more time to save up money for the new equipment.

Recently I watched the cable show Tut about the Egyptian pharaoh. Ben Kingsley played the Vizier, Alexander Siddig played the high priest, and Kylie Bunbury played Suhad, a love interest of Tut, competing with his sister/wife to give him an heir. Lots of drama and intrigue. It was very enjoyable though probably mostly fictional.

I also watched the Houdini miniseries on Netflix. It starred Adrian Brody, but he doesn't really look like Houdini. They revealed the secrets of some magic tricks, and claim that Houdini did espionage work for MI5. Unfortunately, they overdid it with the repeated motif of Houdini being punched in the gut literally and metaphorically. I know how he died, and the gratuitous imagery just made me cringe every time. Besides, it would have been more subtle to let Houdini's face convey his pain instead of spelling things out so clumsily. Nicolas Meyer wrote the miniseries, so of course he had to include Houdini arguing with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about spiritualism. Houdini desperately wants to communicate with his dead mother, but is so outraged by the phonies that he crusades against them. The last person to punch Houdini is portrayed as a spiritualist furious at Houdini for insulting Lady Jean Doyle. This show also has Houdini constantly seeing his mother's face on lots of people after she dies, and the face is quite young sometimes, so I guess this is where the Houdini & Doyle people got the idea for Houdini being haunted by his mother's ghost.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day weekend

I still have to work part of this holiday, but it's good to have a rest. I can't wait for Wonder Woman movie next weekend. I've got a Wonder Woman shirt already for it.

Politics continues to be horrible during Trump's trip. Only he could visit the Pope one day then invite Duterte to the White House and reveal the location of two nuclear subs! No wonder the UK won't share intelligence reports with us about the Manchester attack anymore. Nobody should trust such a hopeless security risk. I was also horrified by his budget, gutting major agencies like Education, the EPA, and HUD. However I read that Congress won't even try to pass that, so that's some mild relief, until we see the actual budget they write.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Quiet Passion

I finally got to see the Emily Dickinson movie. It was enjoyable, with funny banter and lots of witty women. However, I was surprised that the movie focused so much on Emily's sister Vinnie instead of her sister-in-law Susan Gilbert. She was a close friend and lived next-door, and Emily wrote her tons of letters; she's the only close confidante I remember from reading a biography of Emily years ago. Susan Gilbert is barely in the movie, only having a couple of scenes, while the movie focuses instead on Miss Buffam as an outrageous friend who delights the Dickinson sisters. Plus the movie talks much about Austin's affair with Mabel Loomis Todd, but doesn't even make note that she will end up editing and publishing Emily's poems after her death; there's no mention even in epilogue text onscreen. The movie also makes much of Emily's crushes on married men and her longing for romantic love (while she is miserable over not being beautiful). It's rather strange, when Emily's sister Vinnie never married either and doesn't look so lonely; but she's not as reclusive I guess. The movie also shows Emily's increasing pain and seizures from Bright's disease. It must have been terrible for such a sharp mind to be trapped in a body that it could no longer control.

Before A Quiet Passion, there was a preview for a documentary called Letters From Baghdad about Gertrude Bell. It looks interesting, and even has actors playing famous friends and associates commenting on Bell. I'll definitely see it when it comes out in June.

Meanwhile, Netflix finally announced season 5 of Arrested Development, saying all the cast would return, yet I'm concerned that Will Arnett's twitter account says "I haven't signed anything." I hope he's just joking, but I'm not sure. Can't have season 5 without Gob and Tony Wonder.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Uncancelled

I was stunned and pleased by NBC changing their minds and saving Timeless. It's a nice hopeful moment in these dark times. I always appreciated how the show made Rufus a true lead and not merely a sidekick to the other two members of the team. With Jiya's new importance, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

I also heard that Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries has a movie script done, and they're trying to get funding to return. Good luck, because I miss that show terribly.

Meanwhile Supergirl had a truly awesome episode last night, packed full of guest stars. Some of the political dialogue on resistance was too clunky and unsubtle, like how Wonder Woman used to be too earnest about feminism. Still, it was great to see Madame President reveal herself as an alien with apparently no sinister motives. With the mention of Superman in the beginning I kept wondering where he was, trying to remember if he was to guest star in this episode or not. His reveal at the end was a big surprise. I hope next week will be great.

Meanwhile, some of the networks have released their fall schedules, and Tuesdays is going to overwhelm my DVR. I might have to upgrade to more tuners to get everything. Or break out my old VCR for a low tech solution, but then I'd have to keep getting new VHS tapes.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Renewals

Lots of TV news lately in preparation for the upfronts next week. I'm going to miss Timeless the most, but good riddance to Sleepy Hollow, which should have ended last season. The rest of the shows I cared about were renewed, so now it's just a matter of seeing next season's schedule. With DVRs, it matters less to me what timeslot something gets, then what dates the show will be airing; everything seems to be airing in bursts of a few weeks, then long hiatuses.

Of the new shows that have been picked up, I'm most interested in the magician show Deception, hoping once again to find a light funny mystery series that's not all gore and violence. I'm mildly interested in the sitcom that has Cristela Alonzo on it, but will have to see more trailers and info about how big her part is.

Anyway, Jason Bateman tweeted that he's signed up for season 5, implying that he'd be filming in the summer. Really? And so soon after Will Arnett joked about the wait for more Arrested Development. Well, I hope everybody signs up soon so Netflix can make an official announcement.

Lately I've trying to learn more about Anna Mae Wong after watching a PBS documentary about her. I've been searching for some of her movies and TV shows to watch, but apparently only the same few movies are available, such as the 1930s Study in Scarlet movie where she was just a sinister Chinese lady. I'm trying to find something where she's a lead and the story is less overtly racist. (Apparently Wong had a lot of roles where she died.) I bought something from Alibris that I thought was her movie, but instead it was something else that just had the same title. *Sigh*

Thursday, May 4, 2017

May the Fourth Be With You

Also, it's another Cinco de Cuatro without any news on season 5 of Arrested Development. Will Arnett got to guest host one night of the Jimmy Kimmel show, making a joke about the lack of news and Jason Bateman. Then he promoted his silly Gong Show revival for the summer. The episode was okay, but not as great as the one night of the Late Late Show he hosted after Craig Ferguson left.

Anyway, it looks like the Writer's Strike was averted, so probably the TV upfronts will be more normal. PBS has a new historical reality show called Victorian Slum House, covering the decades from 1860s to 1900s. The first episode was very interesting and informative. I never knew the specifics about doss houses before.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Entertainment Drying Up

Meanwhile, A Quiet Passion won't come here for a month, so there's no good movie for me to see until maybe Wonder Woman in June. Might have to watch the Gertrude Bell movie on iTunes since I apparently missed it in theaters. I've already seen Born in China, and I was surprised by Dawa's story being so tragic for a family-friendly movie.

As for TV, my favorites finally came back with new episodes, and Supergirl finally addressed Kara's unemployment, which they had been ignoring for several episodes. She got rehired again at Catco, but I still don't understand why her DEO job doesn't pay. I enjoyed the Lena Luthor story, and seeing Jiya from Timeless. Still worried about what shows will be cancelled at the upfronts soon. And then there's the possible Writer's Strike to worry about too.

I've tried to read more, continuing with my Parallel Lives book. There's also another Kate Warne kids book coming out in May.

Texas elections

I early voted in my local election for city council and school board positions. There were a handful of candidates, but only one endorsed by the local Democrats, so I had to research the other people, but there was very little information about them. Only the League of Women Voters had any info on them, and even then, many candidates did not provide information. So I did the best I could, voting for one guy who seemed very informed and specific about issues.

It reminded me, though, that we still have that damn Voter ID law in place even though it's been struck down multiple times. But it keeps getting appealed higher, and we still have to live with the effects of Voter ID, bad redistricting, etc. When can we start having fair elections again?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Go Away, Bernie

Bernie Sanders needs to go away. I hate him coming to Texas and I hate his stupid Unity tour with the DNC Chair. I hate his smug, lecturing, know-it-all attitude. Fuck you, Bernie! You're not a fucking Democrat. Why should we listen to you? Why should the DNC kowtow to you? You're the reason Daily Kos continues to be a pie-fighting wasteland. And this whole thing about Mello--you've got your toady fans making excuses for you. That it was a "voluntary" ultrasound, that it was the lesser of two evils about bad abortion bills--but the guy fucking co-sponsored it. He wasn't holding his nose reluctantly forced to vote for it in an impossible situation. He fucking co-sponsored it, which is in fact an endorsement. I hate you Bernie and I hate your fucking lying rabid Berniacs! Fucking hypocrites talking about how it's okay to disagree on one thing, big tent party--when you're the fucking ones who claimed Hillary was a corporate shill who didn't match your purity standards. Fuck you all!

If you're not lecturing Trump, then shut the hell up, Bernie. You don't get to dictate to us who we should vote for. You're not our leader. Fuck you!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Devil's Dance

The s(her)lock web series posted another episode on youtube, this one based on "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot." It features great character interactions as Mr. Hudson and Watson take Holmes away for a detox, in the wake of an intervention for her drug use. The mystery has appropriately creepy effects for the poison drug, and I love the update on the Leon Sterndale character. Holmes also gets into a religious debate with Roundhay, the local priest. They're so creative with these adaptations of the canon. I hope all episodes will be available eventually.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

War

I finally saw the Zookeeper's Wife last night. It's sad that I'd rather watch a movie about WWII than the current news about possible war in Syria. Unfortunately there was a preview for An Inconvenient Sequel, and it featured two clips of Trump, so I couldn't escape from him after all. It dredged up more dread and anxiety about the future. Worse yet, someone in the audience laughed after the trailer, like they too thought climate change was a fucking hoax. I hate living in a red state and feeling so helpless. Trump being in Mar-a-lago yet again during this crisis makes it even more of a farce.

Monday, April 3, 2017

April Showers

Thunderstorms woke me up early this morning and the sky remained gloomy all day. I actually saw a mockingbird perched on the top of my tree, though, so hopefully that's a good sign for spring.

Apparently I missed an April Fool's prank where Will Arnett narrated an office, but it's already gone. That's what I get for not checking Netflix for more often. I'm still craving more Arrested Development, but there's been no news on that front either.

I wanted to see The Zookeeper's Wife, but it's still in limited release and I wasn't up to driving half an hour to the nearest theater. A lot of movies I want to see are specialty films like that; they only open in New York and LA first, then you have no idea when it will expand to nationwide. So frustrating! I want to see the Gertrude Bell one and the one about Emily Dickinson. I hope the biopics won't be romanticized too much, focused on love interests. I recently watched the Pancho Barnes movie starring Valerie Bertinelli, and they fictionalized it too much, focusing on some love triangle with two other pilots. The PBS documentary on Pancho Barnes was more interesting.

Oh I also heard that Constance Wu will star in a romantic comedy called Crazy Rich Asians. I hope it will be great and get her other lead parts. I'm still upset that she hasn't gotten an Emmy nomination yet for Fresh Off the Boat. When will "diversity" include Asians too?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Rogue One

I belatedly saw the film and didn't enjoy it as much as The Force Awakens. It was really slow and ponderous in the beginning. Plus it seemed to have a lot of nonsensical moments, like Saw Gerrera tossing the pilot in with that weird creature who was supposed to read his mind and/or turn him crazy. I mean, what was even the point of that, other than be gross? And why bother making it look like Saw was maybe crazy and not a good guy? His reunion with Jyn was initially tense, then began to warm up after seeing the holograph message, then Saw just decides to stay behind after the Death Star strike. So he'd prefer to die than join Jyn on her new mission? So incomprehensible.

SPOILERS BELOW, though probably everyone else has seen the movie already:

Monday, March 6, 2017

A United Kingdom

It was an enjoyable movie, though the beginning courtship felt rather vague about how long they had been dating before Seretse proposed to Ruth. Once engaged, they face strong opposition from both Seretse's uncle and Ruth's father, along with the British Government itself. Bechuanaland is a British protectorate, so under the guise of preventing a civil war between Seretse and his uncle, the British bureaucrats try to keep him off his throne. Britain's real motive is to avoid offending South Africa, with its new apartheid policies; the prime minister argues that they need South Africa's uranium and gold, so they must exile Seretse. He and Ruth resist the machinations, but end up separated as they each try to stir public outrage to reverse the exile. Ruth was not welcomed at first by Seretse's sister and his aunt, but slowly they warm up to her and help her out, especially when she has to face pregnancy and childbirth alone.

Meanwhile, Seretse keeps making their case in England, with the help of a reporter and a sympathetic government official. I was surprised to learn that Winston Churchill even spoke out, claiming that he would end the exile if he was elected. When Churchill does win, though, he instead exiles Seretse for life! So apparently the campaign promise was all politics, and not sincere. Contrast that with the community-based kgotlas meetings, and the Bechuanaland government seems more respectable and honest.

There is a secret "Harringdon report" that Seretse is looking for, as well as an American mining company searching for diamonds on their land. A lot of political intrigue. Then Ruth finally gets to reunite with Seretse and her family in England, while Seretse works out a way to make up with his uncle to end the stand-off. Ultimately Seretse gives up the throne and argues that Bechuanaland should become a democracy and seek independence from Britain. It's a moving film, and David Oyelowo delivers some fine, impassioned speeches about leadership, freedom, and not going along with segregation.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Historical movies

I didn't really watch the Oscars on Sunday, but I caught a few minutes during a break at work, and I got to see the Hidden Figures cast bring out Katherine Johnson to a standing ovation. It was great that such an important film was recognized; sadly they didn't win any Oscars, so they'll have to settle for the considerable box office success. Still, I was very pleased later this week to hear about the new Lego Women of NASA set, featuring Katherine Johnson and other STEM women.

As for the rest of the Oscar kerfuffle, I only checked the winners online, in that short minute between the initial announcement of Best Picture and the correction of Best Picture, so I was shocked by the reversal too. Though I've not seen either Moonlight or La La Land, I'm glad that Moonlight won. Prior to the Oscars, all the hype building about a La La Land sweep annoyed me, because I'm tired of Hollywood being obsessed with itself and tongue-bathing any movie about show business. As Honest Trailers called it, it was a Hollywood hand-job, so I'm glad that they looked beyond themselves and rewarded diversity instead.

As for diverse movies, this weekend I'm going to finally see A United Kingdom with David Oyelowo. This film was very slow to arrive here in DFW, much less move out beyond the specialty art theatres that are so inconvenient to me. I'm excited to learn about a historical romance I never heard of before, and in my favorite African country of Botswana. (It was the setting of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Allegiance

This Broadway musical about the Japanese internment was beautifully sung and acted. The sight of people chanting "Resist" in the face of prejudice and wartime paranoia is very timely, and I thank George Takei for pushing this message so we never forget. It's also so refreshing to see a cast of mostly Asian Americans instead of more Hollywood whitewashing. Too bad that this show was not successful against Hamilton. It is not depressing but rather uplifting, with a touching personal story of redemption and forgiveness.

George Takei plays WWII vet Sammy Kimura in the present day, as well as Sammy's grandfather in the past. The flashback introduces us to the family during a Japanese summer festival where they tie wishes to a tree, so that the wind will blow them away and grant the wishes. The song conveys their hopes and dreams for the future, and is bittersweet in light of what the war has in store for them. After the Pearl Harbor attack, Sammy and his friends try to enlist, but are rejected as "enemy aliens." Sammy's father argues not to make trouble or draw attention to themselves, that nothing can be done about the rising anti-Japanese sentiment.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lego Batman

The Lego Batman movie was funny, sweet and great. Not at all grim-dark, though it had serious dramatic moments. Just the right dose of Will Arnett that I needed to cheer myself up these days. And I don't know if it was an Arrested Development nod to the hermano confusion over Marta, but I liked how they kept using Spanish for their terms of endearment. Goofy, earnest Robin was fantastic, as was parental Alfred and awesome Batgirl.

I would say the only complaint I had was that the movie seemed to shove aside all the regular Batman villains in favor of the Phantom Zone villains. We barely had any lines from Catwoman, Two-Face, Riddler, etc, simply to focus on the Joker as the greatest enemy. It also took me a second viewing to realize the female police chief was a genderbent Chief O'Hara, and I'm not sure why Batman kept calling Bruce Wayne "Bruno" when talking about his "roommate." But I do agree that "Iron Man sucks" lately in the last couple of Marvel films with the Avengers.

Another thing was that I saw an ad for the Fathom Event showing of George Takei's Allegiance show about Japanese internment camps, so I'm going to see that today. I wish they wouldn't do such short notice on these kind of events. I missed the last showing because I was working that day and couldn't take off.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Effie Gray

Currently I'm reading a book called Parallel Lives, portraying the lives of famous Victorian couples. I've just read the chapters concerning John Ruskin and Effie Gray, and their unconsummated marriage. Very interesting, and the author makes an effort to balance the viewpoints. She shows how each spouse has a different, parallel view of the marriage, just as there are two sides to every divorce. Having grown up a spoiled genius, John Ruskin convinces himself that Effie is insane, and that she is the one causing the problems because she insists on sticking up for her family and wants to avoid his suffocating parents. The author also quotes Ruskin's parents, who think Effie is ungrateful for the wealth and comforts they pay for; they believe she should be obedient and defer to them, while John agrees with his parents. So apart from never having sex, their marriage had fundamental problems from the start. It's really strange how foreign old Victorian attitudes are, and the author even points out that other Victorian marriages had been unconsummated as well.

I remember watching the movie about Effie, and being dissatisfied that the movie ended before we actually saw Effie's marriage annulled. I guess they wanted to emphasize that the annulment was for her own well-being, rather than being for the specific goal of her marrying the painter Millais. (And indeed, the book says in real life that Effie made him stay away for a time to avoid scandal.) I look forward to finishing the book and learning about the other couples, such as the Carlyles.

By the way, I found that the s(her)lock web series has uploaded an episode to Youtube. I'm not sure what that means about the other episodes they made. Will they be available to purchase somewhere? I hope so.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Season 5

So apparently there's new AD scoop that the season 5 will be half flashbacks starring other actors as the young Bluths. I find it strange that we keep hearing things like this without Netflix making an official announcement. I want firm news, not gossip and speculation.

I wouldn't mind some flashbacks, if they concerned periods of time that we don't know anything about, like when Michael's wife Tracey was alive, when Lindsay and Sally Sitwell competed during the high school election, or when Lucille Bluth had a pet ostrich and developed her suspicion of brothers colluding. However, I'm not sure I want half the show to be flashbacks; I would prefer the story move forward on plots like Lucille Austero's murder, Gob and Tony's relationship, and Lindsay's new election battle against Sally.

Hope there will be better news soon. In the meantime I'm working again on Far From Over to write things how I want them to be in my alternate universe.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Curious Incident

I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the book of that name. It was less Sherlockian than I hoped; they mentioned once that Christopher liked reading Holmes stories, but did not even explain that the title quote came from a particular story.

I got cheap tickets way up high, but was allowed to come forward 4 rows because that section was mostly unsold. I was still too far away to see any faces, so some emotional, dramatic moments were hard to read and felt like they went on too long. I particularly thought that there was going to be an act break during the scene where Christopher's dad finds him after he discovers the truth about his mother, but the intermission came long after that. Also I found the ending ambiguous when Christopher keeps asking his teacher if he can do anything, and she just glances at the audience and won't answer him.

The production had a lot of jarring light/sound effects to create Christopher's sensory overload, but after a while the special effects felt gimmicky and too long. It also became unclear what was happening in the real world while he was stuck in his internal frenzy. The scenes in London did remind me a bit of my trip to London, from Paddington train station to all the tube stops. It was nice to hear all the British accents, and several moments were funny. An interesting story, though I'm not sure I liked the way it was told.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Coping

I didn't realize that Black-ish was going to do an election episode last night. Though they talked about it being a New Year, I'm sure it was written and filmed weeks ago. I was surprised that they made Stevens anti-Trump, but they explained it as him being a Mitt-Romney supporting Republican. His spoiled son "Pumpkin" was pro-Trump though, and I was disappointed that they brought back the Lucy character to be a Trump voter too, making the argument that she just didn't like THIS particular woman. (I hate that. It's not like we were asking her to vote for Sarah Palin or Anne Coulter. I hate progressives who kept smearing Clinton as a Republican and as a liar who "you don't even know what she's thinking".) Even if that's how you think of Hillary, why wouldn't you want a normal Republican vs an unstable loon like Trump? A puppet of Putin? Oh, but whiny cynics were tired of "the lesser of two evils" and wanted to trust fucking Wikileaks...

Black-ish tried to end on a "let's all get along" moment of not viewing the other side as crazies. I mean, it's fine to ask for politeness and decency in conversation, but it takes two to get along. I know there are Trump voters in my office but I don't want to talk politics with them. And when will enough be enough about Trump's daily outrages against laws and reality? Still can't stand that they're trying to rush through confirmation hearings now, without vetting or anything, when they stalled on even holding hearings on Merrick Garland. I feel as powerless as a Texas Democrat always does, and hearing political news is depressing and draining. That may be why inspirational films like Hidden Figures, Lion, and The Eagle Huntress are so necessary to me lately.

Though I did enjoy last night's Speechless episode satirizing "inspiration porn" and "the magical negro". Really love that show and The Good Place. The Black-ish episode was preachy at times, and reminded me of Norman Lear, but overall I liked it. I doubt if there will be any healing, though.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hidden Figures

I finally got to see Hidden Figures today, and it was outstanding. The theatre was so crowded that I got a seat way too close and had to crane my neck, so I may try to see it again another time. Taraji was wonderful, and I liked the other women's stories too. Very inspiring and hopeful, especially when you began to see all races of Americans united in wanting the space program to succeed. These women were their own small piece of the larger civil rights movement. I hope everyone sees it now that it's released wide.

I also recently watched Lion, about the lost Indian boy who found his birth family after 25 years. Good film too, and based on Saroo Brierly's life. Glad he's been able to have both families in his life.

I keep seeing trailers for those evangelical Christian movies, and they're so annoying. I want to roll my eyes and tell them "Nobody's oppressing you! When's the last time you saw a Buddhist or Muslim movie get this much attention or pandering? Even your Jewish movies aren't so defensive." Sheesh.