Sometimes, I don’t want to dedicate a full blog post to an idea, but I still want to share the idea.
Is 2016 the Year of the Feral Child?
First, a fun and simple Jungle Book, which served as both a new adaptation of Kipling and a remake of the classic Disney cartoon. Then, a new Tarzan film. Soon, a remake of Pete’s Dragon, in which apparently Pete is a feral child raised by a dragon. Oh, also, Stranger Things and Eleven, its take on the feral ’80s child.
Why all these narratives suddenly? And does it mean that we will get even more in the coming years? Perhaps a reboot of George of the Jungle? Perhaps a biopic of Victor of Aveyron? Or will we see feral children shoehorned into other narratives, like the Justice League or the Marvel films?
It was hard to tell the difference between the RNC and The Purge: Election Year
The Purge movies aren’t perfect, but they’re a sloppy and disturbing look at what America could become. Violence across the country, burning effigies, mask-wearing killers.
I’ve considered writing a quiz where I compare dialogue from the film to quotes from the RNC, or the costumes of each, but that might be a cold take for a future date.
The RNC had some other strange pop culture moments.
Ted Cruz “betrayed” Trump in front of the RNC, causing Game of Thrones fans to label this act the #TedWedding, a reference to the #RedWedding of A Song of Ice and Fire. Trump referenced Law and Order, unclear if he meant the television show or the concepts of law and order. Scott Baio and one of those Duck Dynasty guys gave speeches, because they’re apparently the professional celebrities that this Republican party attracts.
At one point, Eric Trump endorsed his father with a description that eerily resembled Alfred Pennyworth’s analysis of the Joker in The Dark Knight.
“Vote for the candidate who can’t be bought, sold, purchased, coerced, intimidated, or steered from the path…” v. “…some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
“Some men just want to watch the world burn.” – Eric Trump
Ghostbusters is a great movie.
I really liked it. And lots of people who didn’t like it are just being babies. I don’t do conventional reviews, which is why there isn’t a full blog post dedicated to how good Ghostbusters is, but I will write more about it soon.
Suicide Squad is not a great movie.
And we need to be honest about how not good it is, if we want DC to start making better movies. Also, I liked Batman v Superman. I like a lot of things that get bad reviews. But Suicide Squad is not one of those things.
Sometimes, great trailers are their own reward.
Prometheus was pretty good, but its trailer was amazing. Suicide Squad was not good, but its trailers were art. The next time I see a really great trailer, I might have to skip the film and just imagine my own based on that glorious, brilliant, masterpiece of a trailer.
If you liked Stranger Things, you need to read the Stephen King and Peter Straub collaborations.
I’ve seen an extraordinary amount of Stephen King reading lists based on this summer’s amazing television show, Stranger Things. Aside from the obvious – IT and The Body and The Mist – I was reminded of the two novels Stephen King wrote with Peter Straub.
First, in The Talisman, a boy named Jack Sawyer goes on an adventure to save his dying mother by slipping into a parallel universe called the Territories, which resembles the Upside Down of Stranger Things in many ways. Years later, in Black House, Jack is a cop trying to find a child who was abducted and taken to the Territories. Without major spoilers for either the novels or Stranger Things, there is a high likelihood that if you enjoy one, you’ll enjoy the other.
Mr. Robot really likes literary references. But does that make it bad or good?
The homage seems to be a theme in television recently. Mr. Robot references poetry, Shakespeare, Palahniuk, and every ’90s movie. Stranger Things references science fiction, King, Spielberg, and every ’80s movie.
But both of these have proved, to me at least, that an homage is not enough to make something tenable. In Mr Robot, the references mostly fall flat. One character directly quotes Macbeth’s “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” monologue, but to what end? Another lets us know that a certain two characters remind him of two characters from Hamlet. The protagonist’s notebook says “red wheelbarrow” on it, an obvious reference to William Carlos Williams.
It’s frustrating to me, as I get a thrill every time that I detect a literary reference I know. And I recognize that it can be a way to quietly win over the loyalties of potential fans, by nodding to them and telling them that, yes, you like the same poetry and cinema that they like. But in the case of Mr. Robot’s homages and allusions, it seems that it never goes behind the quick reference. There is no pay-off, no reward. At times, it feels less like a reference and more like cheap fan fiction. Unlike Stranger Things, which begins with homage but builds into something worthwhile and whole, Mr Robot never materializes into something independent and awake.
All of these allusions in Mr. Robot are just like the sound and the fury of BD Wong’s monologue in this season’s fifth episode: signifying nothing.
Vice Principals is a worthy successor to Eastbound and Down.
I’m very happy Danny McBride is in a new HBO show. It’s also fun seeing Shea Whigham in a very new role.
If Nas is guilty on The Night Of, then The Night Of isn’t a good television show.
I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one. It goes beyond “unreliable narrator” and becomes “bad” and “dumb” if it turns out that Nas has been guilty this entire time. See my thoughts on House of Cards if you want more on this.
If you like The Night Of, you should read Richard Price’s fiction.
Start with either The Whites or Clockers. Both great novels. He also wrote for The Wire. Also, start watching The Night Of now if you aren’t already. Great performances from many, including Michael K. Williams (pictured above).
I’ll write more about Suicide Squad and Ghostbusters soon.
But I won’t be repeating the things said above. Thanks for reading!