Tag Archives: Entertainment

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!

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Anne with an E

So I just finished the Netflix series Anne With An E and I’m angry – not with the show itself – but with how the season ended.

To be sure, I thoroughly enjoyed the series. Casting was impeccable. The lead character of Anne was played by Amybeth McNulty who was practically made for this role. Loud, overly-dramatic, wiry and gangly and believable as hell. I’m probably a bit bias because the character is very much like my niece. Anywho, I was drawn into the show by Amybeth’s performance. Also, I love slice of life period dramas. In other words, I knew I was hooked when I saw Anne heating up toast on an ancient looking stove or scenes where the Cuthberts sit around eating turnips and various turn of the century meals that don’t look appealing at all.

From what I’ve heard there are a bunch of Anne of Green Gable purists who feel that the TV show is terrible because it strays too far from the books and takes a dark turn. I can dig it (as the show definitely has some dark elements) but I don’t agree that the show is bad at all. I think Anne with an E is great if you – like me – have no idea what to expect. I turned it on because Netflix featured it on their homepage (very effective marketing) and I liked the little girl’s face. The character’s talkativeness and positive outlook on life despite her horrible experiences as an orphan were at times heartbreaking and other times pleasantly entertaining.

Anne with an E brought to mind the kind of books that I enjoyed as a child and makes me regret not reading this series back in the days when I had time to breeze through books. So many of the things Anne said were “deliciously” quotable and super inspiring to me. I particularly like this quote…

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”

Insert heart-face emoji here.

There’s a side of me that curses like a sailor, holes up in my room for hours, hates the world and just wants to punch people in the face all day. And then there is the side of me that wants to run through a field collecting cherry blossoms and petting puppies and this show totally appeals to the ladder. I would absolutely recommend this show to those of you who just want a good ole fashioned, story about a town full of white people in turn of the century Canada and the cute (and kind of obnoxious) red-haired orphan with a big imagination and an even bigger heart.

SPOILER

So time for me to talk about what annoyed the shit out of me. And don’t worry, it’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. The show ends on a cliffhanger as Anne invites a man into her house. This man is one of a pair of criminals who intend to rob (and likely hurt) the Cuthberts. She doesn’t know this, of course, but we (the audience) do. So as soon as Anne lets this guy in, the camera lingers on her unsure face and her emotions go through a range of nervousness and optimism that is totally unnecessary and confusing considering she’s not supposed to know what’s happening.

The show ends with us worrying about the safety of Anne and the humble family that so kindly saved her from her tragic orphan life. But this final scene was the only time I questioned the acting in the series. It was almost as if the character was saying, “Gee whiz! It seems me and the Cuthberts have gotten ourselves into quite the pickle. Stay tuned for more adventures of Anne with an E next season!”

Other than that, it was all good and I enjoyed it with abandon. I’m currently looking for the next series to get into. I’m thinking it might be Hap and Leonard.

A Good Script is Hard To Find

I recently wrote, directed and produced a comedic web series. And now that that Herculean task is nearing completion, I’m back at square one… looking for my next project to produce. Here’s the thing – I don’t really want to write my next project and I’m not too fond of directing it either. I just want to produce. The problem is, I haven’t been able to find a worthy script.

One thing that people don’t really know about producers is that we are the people who do the grunt work. We gather all of the resources and people needed to make films possible. The investors, the crew, the salespeople, the marketing team, the special effects, you name it we have our hand in it. It’s not an easy task, so having a good script is the first requirement.

The first thing a producer has to do is fall in love with the script. Why? Because we will have to be the film’s biggest cheer leader. We have to be. How else are we going to keep things going? How else would we get money for the project? How else are we going to get people excited enough to see the film and to tell their friends to see the film? How are we going to keep ourselves motivated enough to see the project through to completion. So all of these things add up to this one fact: it’s gotta be a good script.

Because nobody’s going to be putting their blood sweat and tears into something they don’t believe in. Especially the person responsible for getting the thing to happen in the first place. So with this in mind, I’ve been looking for something that’s going to knock my socks off. Something that’s going to be my foray into the big leagues of feature length films. Unfortunately, I gots nothing. And the pitches I’ve been getting have so much more promise than the actual execution of these ideas. Also, I get a lot of great pitches from people who aren’t motivated enough to sit down and write the damned script. That frustrates me more than anything.

I have plenty of directing buddies. Plenty of crew people I can call on in a jam. I know a ton of producers, like myself. But my writing buddies fall into one of three categories…

  1. People I wouldn’t work with because they don’t know how to take notes.
  2. People who can’t finish a script and/or can’t tell a good story.
  3. People with no scripts.

In no way am I complaining, though. I feel like I’m being lead toward something else. And that ‘something else’ is writing my own script. Begrudgingly, I’m leafing through old notebooks and spreadsheets of abandoned projects and deciding to hunker down and get them done. Sometimes when you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. My only problem is, I don’t know if I can do it right.

No time like the present to find out.

Exodus into the Job Abyss

I’m leaving my place of employment and here’s the dealio. I’m feeling good about this decision but I don’t know that I’ve ever given y’all the details.

So here’s some things concerning my premature ejaculation…

from my job:

 

WHEN?

My last day is this Friday.

WHY?

I’m leaving this gig because I’m overqualified. That’s prettymuch what it all boils down to. I could break down all of the little things that make me want to leave but every grievance, complaint, annoyance, mistake and/or confusion within my workplace experiences centers on the fact that I am overqualified to be doing what I’m doing.

WHAT EXACTLY AM I DOING?

My job is to help someone else to do their job. Again, I could break down my position and give you my official title and every single requirement but this is really another ‘bottom line’ element which everything else boils down to. There is not one thing that I do on any given day that is independent of my helping another person to achieve their professional (and many times personal) goals.

Which is totally fine…

…but that’s not what I want to do. And more importantly, I’m not gaining skills that could help me to get a better job.

WHAT DO I PLAN ON DOING?

Well, I’m glad you asked! You’re so considerate… we should really do coffee sometime.

I’m leaving this job so that I can pursue personal projects. My goal is to produce short films, feature films, web series, hell… maybe even a TV series. I want to do my own thing.

And that is where ish gets scary.

Because despite the fact that I followed my dreams up to this point, I’ve always done what I’d like to call “asking-for-permission-ass” jobs. (An asking-for-permission-ass job is pretty explanatory, I think. Just imagine a grownup version of the game “Mother May I.”) Anyway, I’ve spent 10 years ‘paying my dues’ and asking Mother if I could take a few bunny hops forward only to be told, “nah Peggy… but you can stay your ass where you at tho”. The shit is old. And I can’t imagine spending another year not having a job where I can work from home. Or take a client to lunch. Or fire someone.

So here I am.

HOW TO DO WHAT I’M DOING

First of all, I ain’t doing shit yet. I could fail miserably and come crawling back to my current job, begging for a chance to be in the building again.

Just as – you know –  a janitor.

I don’t need my old job back, Marie, I swear. I just need a job. Any job ya got!

**Picks up mop**

See, look at this. I’m mopping the floor. Ain’t too proud for this, Marie. I know it’s a carpet… just… come on! Work with me here.

So don’t copy offa me because I have no idea what I’m doing. Anywho, it really helps that my hubby is working again. Otherwise, my other go-to would be to live in my car. I think about living in my car quite a bit, actually, dunno why.

But my hubby is taking on the brunt of our bills because he knows that I got the goods and will probably be a pretty decent Producer. We’re going to rely on his paycheck and thank God he’s been able to find more freelance work recently because, I planned on quitting no matter what.

So I’m ready to give this entrepreneurial life a try because I’ve done everything else and can’t fathom spending another day wondering “what if?”

Prince

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Goodbye Sweet Prince. You have meant so much to me and to so many others. The world is forever changed because you have been in it. You will live on forever in our hearts, minds and speakers as we blast your inspired music in the weeks, months, years, centuries to come. We love you! Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

Prince is gone.

And after Michael, after Whitney… I didn’t know I could feel this kind of pain again.

I did not see this coming.

I am devastated.

I want to go home and crawl into bed and give up on this day.

I want to listen to Prince with my husband and I want everyone else to be quiet.

We all know that’s not gonna happen so . . .

The picture up top is one of the FIRST pictures I remember, not just of Prince, but in life. As a toddler I would stare at this picture (it was on my  mom’s Purple Rain cassette tape case) for hours because I couldn’t take my eyes off of this beautiful man, his purple outfit, all of the smoke and that cold-ass motorcycle.

And when you’re young and grow up with someone’s music and pictures everywhere, you begin to see that person as family.

I feel like I’ve lost an Uncle.

This is truly one of the saddest days of my life.

That’s all I got.

 

The Suite Life of Working Fo’ Yo Self

I remember one day when I worked in retail selling eyeglasses, one of my coworkers was clocking in and I asked him how he was doing. I didn’t expect anything out of the norm but he stopped and turned toward me. Looked me dead in the eye and said this…

“I just finished sitting in my car for twenty minutes. I stared at this building and asked myself, ‘do I reeeally want to do this? Today?'”

This man’s words from three years ago still resonate with me because I think everyone who’s ever had a job has asked themselves this question at some point.

And with the title of my blog, I think it’s clear that I ask myself this question every single day.

This year, however, I will finally have a chance to actually work toward my dream of entrepreneurship. I’ve graduated with a masters in entertainment from a prestigious institution that has given me a ton of connections. My husband is working and will be able to support us soon. I don’t have any children. And there’s really no time like the present.

My goal is to start my own production company – producing my first feature film OR TV show (whichever comes first) – while branding myself through my writing and videos. I’m currently gathering projects and seeking talent in order to work toward these things.

Not sure if this will work but crazier things have happened and I refuse… REFUSE to waste another year of my life helping someone else to live their dream. And that’s basically what every corporate job is.

It’s just not an option for me anymore.

Every day is filled with research and preparation for this move. And while I’m sure it will be filled with many failures and mistakes, it’s going to be successful.

…and I’m excited.

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