Monthly Archives: June 2017

Wonder Woman Review

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I saw Wonder Woman the other day and thought about writing up a review… then I read David Edelstein’s shit show of a review and his subsequent shit show of an apology for said trash-ass review and realized that it’s my duty as a woman and a human being with (common sense) and a background in film to write something up about the movie, so here tis…

In the critically panned Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne summons Diana Prince – otherwise known as Wonder Woman – out of hiding. And thank Zeus, he did. With an impressive weekend box office debut, the first female-lead super hero flick in over a decade sparks a glimmer of hope for the DC Extended Universe films which have (up to this point) stood in the shadows of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and their constant onslaught of wins.

Wonder Woman made her first appearance in DC comics in 1941 and has since been well-known among comic readers as well as everyone familiar with the hit TV show from the 1970s (or the re-runs, anyway) and has pretty much been engraved in our collective superhero memories. In other words, this movie directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, is well overdue and has been highly anticipated.

Jenkins, well aware of this pressure, starts the movie off on an awe-inspiring note. We meet Diana Prince – Wonder Woman’s alter ego – similar to how we met her in Dawn of Justice, she’s an antiquities curator at the Louvre. The setting is dreary and grey as she looks at a mysterious photograph from her (very) distant past. Moments later, we’re whisked away to the beautiful island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons. A sea of vibrant blue, white sand, lush foliage and Amazonian warrior women. Gorgeous, fierce warrior women training, skillfully riding and doing tricks on horseback, shooting arrows and being outrageously bad-ass. The sudden burst from slow and dreary darkness to action packed brightness is a smorgasbord for the senses, reminiscent of the moment Judy Garland’s Dorothy opens her eyes to a world of technicolor. Unlike every superhero movie we’ve ever seen up to this point, in this one, there are powerful, interesting women everywhere and well . . . we are NOT in Kansas anymore.

 

In this setting, we meet Diana as a precocious child, naturally inclined to becoming an Amazonian warrior and being shielded by her overprotective mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) who clearly knows something that Diana does not. Regardless, Diana is trained by her aunt, General Antiope (outstanding performance by Robin Wright) and grows up sharpening her warrior skills in the event that the evil god of war, Ares, might return and wreak havoc. After a shocking discovery about the extent of her powers, Diana does not have much time to process before she is saving a blue-eyed damsel in distress, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), from a watery death immediately after his airplane crashes off the coast of Themyscira. It’s at this moment that the outside world of men meets our heretofore peaceful Amazonian kingdom. The Amazons’ perpetual training is put to the test in our first (and my personal favorite) epic battle scene that sees our warrior women going to battle against German soldiers who pursued Trevor to the island. The warriors utilize their horseback riding skills, archery, deft hand to hand combat and bad-ass-ed-ness to kill these dudes but they’re no match for the mens’ weapon of choice and the only weapon that doesn’t rely on physical strength or effort – guns. This battle is hard won by the Amazons and sets our protagonist on a mission to end the Great War (World War I), a phenomenon Diana believes has been brought on by Ares in an effort to destroy mankind. Shortly before they leave the beautiful, peaceful island of bad-ass women being awesome, viewers get one last treat in seeing Chris Pine naked.

From here, we are brought to the grey and dreary world of London and everything is in direct contrast to what we’ve seen in Themyscira. The movie makes no qualms in showcasing that although our main character, Diana, is a fish out of water that believes she’s been shaped from clay and brought to life by Zeus – she did not just fall off the turnip truck. She can write in and speak over one hundred languages, is well-versed in the sciences, politics, philosophy and, of course, combat. She knows what a penis is and what it does but just doesn’t understand why having this body part dictates so many confusing rules for society. Trevor acts as Diana’s guide, but he learns quickly – as does the audience – that at no point can he or any man protect Diana. She has this part covered and frankly it’s just not that kind of party. Trevor instead attempts to explain and translate the muddled, unspoken languages and rules of mankind, which is even more futile as Diana only sees the world in black and white and right and wrong. “Just take me to the war so I can stop Ares,” she demands and despite his confusion and trepidation, Trevor has no other choice.

In a nod to the first superman, there is a scene after Wonder Woman is given her alter ego, Diana Prince, where she protects Trevor from some bad guys in an alley. Diana deflects the bullet (wink, wink) with her arm cuffs and makes light work of them before heading to the Imperial War Cabinet with Trevor as he hands off a notebook to his superiors. In this scene, the men are flustered at the idea of a woman being in their midst while Diana, however, is outraged at the cowardly and morally backward decisions that are being made by these so-called leaders. This common theme runs throughout the film as Gal Gadot’s piercing eyes, inquisitiveness and confidence lends to the character not so much a doe-eyed innocence but, an unabashed idealism that questions and challenges pointless traditions. In a sense, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman lightly touches on the endless frustrations of woman-hood in an excruciatingly backward male-ran society.

Despite all of the fighting scenes up to this point, Wonder Woman does not quite wonder woman until the scene where she is literally in the trenches. Not understanding why she can’t just cross enemy lines, Diana bypasses Steve Trevor’s admonitions and climbs onto the battlefield with shield and sword in hand, completely taking on every bullet. In this scene, beautifully shot and extremely intense, the superhero takes form. If you didn’t believe Gadot before, you do now and similar to the motley crew that follows her – the viewer does as well.

Jenkins attempts and succeeds in giving Wonder Woman an optimistic and hopeful take on an otherwise dreary world. And she does it in a way that does not strip the character of her wisdom or fierceness. Steve Trevor is also a fully realized character who recognizes and trusts the hero’s abilities early on and – when he’s not following her lead – he utilizes her as a kind of highly intelligent weapon. The romantic portion of the film is mutual and light staying in line with the film’s PG-13 rating but there doesn’t feel like too much is missing in this department as the sexiest scenes take place on the battlefield.

Despite all of the salacious action sequences that utilize quick cuts, slow motion superhero jogs/leaps/walks, and tremendous explosions, the movie manages to avoid the recent DC Extended Universe mistakes of taking itself too serious and being too brooding. Steve Trevor’s secretary Etta Candy, for one, is delightful and while Trevor’s weird group of buddies should have been fleshed out more, they were introduced on a fun note and managed to add some light moments. The “bad guy” characters, however, could have used a bit of work as Lundendorff and particularly Doctor Maru had a campy thing going on that I’m still trying to figure out whether I liked or not.

There’s one glaringly bad casting choice that’s made and it comes as a reveal near the end of the movie. It’s a spoiler, so I’m not going to give anything away but I will say that a VFX moment only helps to magnify and confirm this unfortunate decision. Although this sets the climax back a bit it doesn’t manage to break up the film’s momentum and the movie is delicately brought to an end leaving us in the exhilarating afterglow of having actually watched a DCEU movie that wasn’t straight trash.

Ultimately, Patty Jenkins managed to climb out of the proverbial trenches and do what no man could. How deliciously appropriate!

10 Things I Hate About Moving Right Now

We thought we’d be out of our old apartment by now but here we are still checking Zillow and Westside Rentals every day or driving to different properties to take a tour. And because I like bulleted lists, I’m going to just get to the point with this post and write out my list of why moving is the bane of my existence these days. But in the spirit of looking to the bright side, I will add a bonus “positive note” after each bullet point.

  1. My dog is not with our family. My dog passed away a few months ago and this will be my first home (since moving out of my mother’s house) without him. Every day I’m reminded of his absence and nothing hits home more than looking for a new place and telling the landlord “no, we won’t be bringing any pets.” It feels like I’m betraying him. (Positive Note: not having a pet definitely broadens our choices and brings costs down.)
  2. Our current apartment is amazing and I don’t want to leave. Get this… we have a dishwasher, built-in microwave, personal washer and dryer, a balcony, two bedrooms, hardwood floors, plenty of counter space, storage space and relatively new kitchen cabinets, appliances and an updated bathroom. In other words, we’re looking for another unicorn right now and it ain’t happ’nin. (Positive Note:┬áThis apartment is expensive as all hell. Leaving will lighten the financial load in a major way.)
  3. Los Angeles charges too got-damn much for too got-damn little. It’s insane what some of these crappy-ass apartments are going for out here. I’ve gone to places and walked in just to turn right back around, tossing an “okay, thanks!” out to the landlord who’s just finished unlocking the door. It’s almost to the point that when me and my hubby see a nice place, we immediately know it’s out of our price range. And if it’s not out of our price range, it freaks us out. I’ve had nightmares thinking about what could possibly be wrong with a place that is moderately priced yet live-able. And after returning at night or a quick briefing from the neighbors in that area, my suspicions are usually verified. (Positive Note: Los Angeles pays more and has better jobs, so in a sense there’s a kind of trade-off.)
  4. Landlords ask for a lot of personal information. This isn’t so much a complaint as an observation. Los Angeles is the only city I’ve experienced where you meet someone for the first time and they’re asking for your social security number, bank account numbers, driver’s license info, pap smear results and whatever else information is needed for an all-in-one do-it-yourself identity theft starter kit. Some of the greasiest, shadiest looking people have sat before me asking a bunch of personal-ass questions before they even hand me the apartment application in the first place. And they’re so used to people just giving up this information without so much as a thought, that when you’re a bit hesitant, they treat you like you’re┬áthe one that’s crazy. I’ve asked landlords how they file records of my private information and for how long to be met with a look that implies “who cares?” It’s really insane how much they ask for. (Positive Note: There are ways around this. For one, you’re only required to give up information that would directly help a landlord to know if you can pay your rent or not. Anything else, like say a bank account number, is unnecessary. If you provide a bank statement, you can cross out the number or just give them the last four digits so they can match it up with your credit report. Everything they need would be provided on your credit report anyway.)
  5. My husband is terrible at leaving voice messages and it’s driving me crazy. “Um… hi, my name is um HUSBAND and um . . . (long pause) . . . (whispers) to see *ahem* (screams) I’D LIKE to um see if uh . . . you have an apartment for rent. I mean – uh – I see that you have an apartment for – uh – rent, I just would like to rent an apartment because I’m ummmm . . . (very quietly) moving. (Long pause) I’m moving in a few weeks and . . . it’s . . . it’s – um – we don’t have any pets. And um – we wanted to know if your apartment is um . . . the apartment located at 123 Blankety Lane is uhhhh . . . ummmm . . . uhhhh . . . still available. Okay . . . um . . . Um ok um. Thank you so very much. We um . . . really appreciate you and everything that you do for society. Okay, take care. Um bye!” (Positive Note: I gave him a script and although he was offended and tossed it aside, I secretly heard him using it the other day. Thank ummmm God!)
  6. We have to get rid of a ton of stuff. We’ve built up quite a collection of things and those things have got to go. And while it’s going to be hard to battle my inner voice that tries to tell me to hold onto every single thing, I know it’s going to be even harder battling my husband who will be trying to hold onto every single thing. This man is a beginner hoarder. (Positive note: We’re long overdue for a deep spring cleaning and this will be a good way to start anew.)
  7. Finding a good place is scary. We found a really great apartment the other day and then came back at night. It was creepy and there were some shady characters hanging around but this didn’t immediately stop us in our tracks. What stopped us was a third visit where we talked to some neighbors and one of them gave us the ultimate “buyer beware” speech about why we shouldn’t move in. So that place was off the table for us. The next place we liked was a gated community with hardwood floors, two full bathrooms and large bedrooms. We filled out the application right away and called back in a few days to ask about our status. “The apartment’s not filled yet,” said a man with a thick Spanish accent. “Well, umm when do you hope to ummm (long pause) fill it?” my husband asked. “We don’t know,” the guy replied. And that was the end of that. Today we checked out a townhouse style apartment and we absolutely fell in love with it. After the tour, I bee-lined toward the property manager and smiled, “I love it! Are these the applications?” and I reached out to grab one from the counter-top when she said, “Hold on . . . I’d like to ask you some questions first.” She eyes me up for a bit and looks back and forth to me and my husband suspiciously. “What do you do for a living?” From there we answered a bunch of questions, but then it eventually turned into a one-sided conversation where the woman unloaded all of her personal thoughts. At times, when we managed to bring the conversation back to the business at hand, she stated a few times that it’s not about filling the apartment as soon as possible, it’s about filling it with the right people. We deducted that she was the personal gatekeeper to this property so me and my hubby put on the charm and laughed at her jokes, listened to all seven thousand of her stories and nodded or shook our heads in sympathy for a good forty-five minutes. We were literally being held hostage in this moment by a woman who stood between us and our potential new home. We’ve dropped off the application and can only hope that this place will be the end of our journey. Regardless, it’s really an interesting thing to have such a large part of your life hinge on so many strange people and on so many scenarios that you can’t control. (Positive Note: This last place is IT. I’m claiming it.)
  8. We’re getting rid of the second bedroom. I talked about this in my other post. I’m getting rid of the second bed and replacing it with a desk. But as I write this blog post at 3:30am in the morning because I can’t sleep because my husband is snoring at top volume, I wonder if this is the right decision. (Positive note: It’s the right decision. Also, we’re considering getting a pull out couch or cot for the spare room.)
  9. There’s the part where we actually move. It’s a lot of muscle and hard work that will be needed and I don’t wanna. (Positive note: That’s the least of our problems, really. If anything, I’m glad to be at a point in my life where I can afford a moving truck. The next step will be when I’m able to afford movers. But at the very least I’m going to get a work out.)
  10. I was hoping my next move would be into a house. Yeah, wishful thinking. (Positive note: This move is really prompting a lot of goal setting behavior for me. I’ve been thinking about timelines and hard goals that I’d like to hit within the next two years. I’ve never been good at planning but lately, I’ve been motivated and I attribute that to this move which has put a lot of things into perspective for me.)

That’s all I got! Phew! I feel better. Now let me get my butt back to sleep while I still have this spare bedroom.