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.