Marvel Cinematic Universe Marathon(s)

Short on time to catch up on all your favorite movies in the MCU? Want to just follow a specific character? Boom, there’s an order for that. Want to follow the varying plot lines? Boom, there’s an order for that. Here are some marathon suggestions before Infinity War. Continue reading “Marvel Cinematic Universe Marathon(s)”

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The Successful Outsider: Michael Mann’s THIEF

“That is… my life. Nothing, nobody could stop me from making that happen.”

Buildings tower over Frank, never allowing us to see the rooftops. When we do, we see taller buildings from their surfaces. Mann describes the night sky as feeling more alive, an extension of Frank’s attitudes and worldview. The two perpetual ceilings over Frank’s aspirations. The night life is where he’s most comfortable, his true identity. During the day, in his tailored suits, expensive cars, walking around in broad daylight he’s only working up a facade to move on to his next real project. Surrounded by cold structures and institutions, steely blues and neon lights; all set to a hypnotic score by Tangerine Dream. The night is his home, infiltration is his livelihood. 

Michael Mann’s protagonists often share similar virtues; a coded DNA that guides them in the structural nature of the world’s they inhabit. Mann’s interested in hardened men in unforgiving worlds, bound by their own code of ethics. Frank is bound by one: he is Joe, the boss of his own body. He doesn’t mess with anyone who doesn’t mess with him. The definitive “stay in your lane” mentality. Frank knows what he wants. It’s all in a photo collage.

Pieces of a past reassembled into a hopeful future. This photo is a window into something he longs for, something he fights for. To realize this dream, Frank decides to give up his professional autonomy in hopes of a quicker end to his criminal endeavors. It’s a naive approach to his aspirations. For a man so used to getting away clean, he can’t even see the score being pulled right in front of him. By Leo the crime boss, by the police, all trying to manipulate him. The freedom he fought so hard for is just another piece on the board to these people. So Frank changes the game, burning down the status quo he worked so hard to cultivate.

Frank leaves the picture behind along with his own enterprises, both capitalist and humanist, though he secures the foundations of his life. Only, it is no longer a present or future, it’s become his past. Frank walks alone into the night, alone and without a future. But just maybe, he’s secured someone else’s.

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Get Out: Commentary, Screencaps and Why It’s Already Classic

No plans? No problem. In this ongoing series of articles, I’m going to highlight movies on a weekly basis that I recommend for weekend viewing. Cinematic comfort food comes in many forms, so this particular form is an extension of “My Favorite Movies” but on a more consistent basis. Enjoy the show!

Following an Academy Award win for Best Original Screenplay, what better time to recommend Get Out to any and all people? The tragic truth is, it continues be a relevant time to recommend Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. Not only for its technical precision and horrifying cinematic compositions, but for how it uses these tools to tell a story about being a black person in a predominantly white environment.

Black bodies framed as objects of commodities, vessels of fetishization.

“We’re not racist! We just love black people so much we literally hijack their autonomy for our own purposes.”

Not the take-down of blatant in your face racism people were probably expecting prior to this. Rather, Jordan Peele utilizes his confidence behind the camera to analyze horrifying implications and far-spreading reach of liberal racism.

“I would’ve voted for Obama for a third term… Black is in style.”

Chris isn’t viewed as a person. He’s just another statistic to a system that has no interest in who he is, but what he could offer a crowd of white faces.

Thank god for T. S. Motherfuckin’ A. Let Jordan Peele make whatever the fuck he wants. This has the confidence of a seasoned veteran and the energy of a slumbering giant awoken by a need to express brilliance. An instant horror classic.

I did a commentary with my podcast for more fleshed out, extended thoughts on the Get Out, its influences and how race can and should matter behind the camera. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Identity is arguably more so.

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Top 25 Movies of 2017

Better late than never? 2017 was a seriously great year for movies (like I mentioned here) so in a lesser year, any of these could have made my top 10 list. So I’m going to be greedy and write about 25 of my favorites movies from last year. I am human so I didn’t see everything (I will witness you soon, Florida Project) and let’s just call it a subjectively objective list. Feel free to check out my 2017 in Film roundup which is still mostly accurate to the list I’ve culminated below.

Here are some quick honorable mentions: Wonder Woman, Okja, Gerald’s Game, The Big Sick, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

  1. War for the Planet of the Apes
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A farewell to the Cesar trilogy of Apes legacy. Continuing the thematic and narrative threads of Monkey Moses might be far less subtle than its predecessor’s, though Reeves camera has never felt more appropriate. A throwback to classical blockbuster filmmaking with new gen technology, War takes elements of Apocalypse Now and The Great Escape to close out the Cesar trilogy with the most optimistic ending for the Apes at the expense of acknowledging the darkest exploration of humanities remnants.

 

  1. The Lego Batman

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Effectively satirizes the cinematic legacy of Batman while never failing to acknowledge why the character has endured for several generations and will continue for countless more. Batman’s dark, broody nature has reached peak ridiculousness and way the story maneuvers through the tragic heart of the character wisely brings forth his ultimate secret weapon: Batman is incomplete without a family.

Continue reading “Top 25 Movies of 2017”

Best TV Shows of 2017

Ah, television. The ever evolving medium where storytelling can thrive for hours on end. Mostly, anyways. Like any medium, some hit more than they missed for me and vice versa. But what I loved this year, I really loved and I couldn’t be happier to tune in week after week. Here are my favorites:

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Yes, the show where Archie from Archie Comics… fucks. Part Twin Peaks, part gothic romance, all CW gloss and glam. Not only does it embrace the tropes of what the CW has been criticized for, it actively plays with them in ways that feel like an inside joke. It never winks at the audience directly, we all just know a dark and gritty reboot of Archie Comics for television is always going to be hilarious. In that sense, it’s sort of freed up the series to be about anything and everything. Often driven by murder mystery plots and the best looking cinematography on television, it’s a bold faced melodrama that isn’t slightly embarrassed by bracing a brand that defined a network. It’s some of the most fun I’ve had watching television. Continue reading “Best TV Shows of 2017”

My Not-Quite-Favorite Movies of 2017 (But Still Worth Mentioning)

2017 was a surprisingly refreshing year for movies, genre related stuff specifically. It broke box office records. Captain Underpants wasn’t just good, it was great. Big budget blockbusters actually looked like money was put to good use. It was a real treat to go to the theater rather than dreading it. Not everything was as great as Captain Underpants (no, really) but it was also a year where some hidden gems got lost among the big box office hits of the year. There’s another discussion we’ll have to have sometime about just how many blockbusters clog up the multiplex nowadays. For now, I thought I’d highlight some of the best genre fare theaters had to offer in 2017. Not all of these are specifically “Best of the Year” but I enjoyed these movies of varying sizes too much to let them be forgotten. If you’re curious about my favorites of 2017, here’s a video celebrating the best of 2017 and I’ll have another post up later this week. Without further adieu, here are a handful of my favorite hidden gems (in no particular order): Continue reading “My Not-Quite-Favorite Movies of 2017 (But Still Worth Mentioning)”

Black Panther Movie Screenshots

Look, Black Panther looks fucking incredible. There’s really nothing else to be said. It’s a Ryan Coogler film, he re-teams with his DP from Fruitvale Station, Rachel Morrison. Here are some of my favorite images from both trailers:

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Ryan Coogler’s other films have arguably been the best of their respective years. Black Panther could very likely join those ranks.