The critically-acclaimed, award-winning cable series Mr. Robot is notable for a number of reasons, with a big twist: in the final two episodes, you realize you’ve been watching a ten hour unlicensed Fight Club reboot. One could say that the twist is “Elliot was Mr. Robot all along!” just like the twist in Fight Club is “Edward Norton was Brad Pitt all along!” but to me the twist was simply that Mr. Robot was Fight Club all along.
Some people saw the “twist” coming, but I didn’t know I was watching a Fight Club reboot until the final few episodes, when a character is revealed to be imagined, the protagonist fights himself, and a piano cover of “Where is My Mind” plays in the background. (Probably worth noting it was the same song used in The Leftovers, which I saw first and still think used it better.) Continue reading “What Should Mr. Robot Pay Homage to in Season Two?”→
“This has never been about who the nominee is,” Paul Ryan said yesterday, explaining why his party will fight any Supreme Court justice nomination made by Barack Obama in 2016, and why they are specifically going to fight the nomination of Merrick Garland.
This, from a party ostensibly dedicated to the Constitution. This response to the President’s nomination has proved something: the Republicans have lost all sense of identity, becoming the contemporary political equivalent to the villains that Batman fights daily in the fictional Gotham City.
How so? In Batman media – whether comic books, films, or television – there is a running theme that the Batman’s “rogues gallery” is defined only by being the yin to Batman’s yang.
Ever wondered what your grandpa would look like in a fedora? Well, Harrison Ford may give you a good idea. Believe it or not, another Indiana Jones movie is in the works, and, according to Steven Spielberg, there’s only one person who can carry the whip.
“I don’t think anyone could replace Harrison as Indy, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen,” Spielberg said in this interview. “There is only going to be one actor playing Indiana Jones and that’s Harrison Ford.”
While it remains to be seen what the new film will be about, what is clear is that no matter what happens, Indiana Jones has become a cinematic icon. Everybody knows him, and in the pantheon of movie characters, he’s got to be near the top. And as such, it comes as little surprise that over the years people have tried to capitalize on his likeness. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, these characters pretty much straight-up copied Indiana. Continue reading “No Matter His Name (Or How Old He Gets), He’s Still Indy and They’re Not”→
There is perhaps no narrative referenced more in today’s pop culture than that of Batman. It makes sense: Batman is omnipresent. He first appeared in 1939, and has subsequently been in eight live action films, two live action television shows, countless animated films and television series, and thousands of comic books. The ninth and tenth live action films to feature Batman (and, of course, Bruce Wayne) are both to be released in 2016.
Metaphors are how we talk about things in America. We seek something we already know from history or literature or film and we apply it to what we see today. At the moment, we have a political candidate whose ego and campaign results in comparisons ranging from homegrown Americans like Andrew Jackson and George Wallace to contemporary European buffoons like Silvio Berlusconi. And, of course, Adolf Hitler.
When a narrative has become as firmly cemented in American experience as Batman, it’s no surprise that it’s a common and convenient place to turn when seeking metaphors for our current political atmosphere. Parallels have been drawn repeatedly between candidate Donald Trump and the cast of rogues and anti-heroes in Batman’s Gotham City. In August of 2015, Trump proclaimed himself Batman. A month earlier, The Economist had described Trump as resembling Heath Ledger’s the Joker in The Dark Knight, a metaphor found in various places and explored further on this blog. Recently, comparisons have bubbled up across the internet comparing Trump to The Penguin, often accompanied by the hashtag #MakeGothamGreatAgain.
But who is Donald Trump? Does he resemble his fellow billionaire Bruce Wayne, or one of Batman’s malevolent foes? Is he one of the few heroes or the many villains that populate the fictional Gotham City? Is he the hero we deserve? The one we need?
Or is he our reckoning?
Let’s investigate, beginning with one of the most common comparisons I’ve seen since the beginning of Trump’s campaign: The Penguin.
“The liberation of Gotham has begun!” – The Penguin in Batman Returns (1992)
Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot first appeared in issue #58 of Detective Comics, in which he hid a shotgun in his umbrella and pulled off a number of heists, initially unsuspected because of his bizarre appearance. Since then, he’s been portrayed by the cackling Burgess Meredith in the campy television series and film of the 1960s, by Danny DeVito in Tim Burton’s bizarre Batman Returns, and by Robin Lord Taylor in today’s Gotham television show.
Each interpretation of the Penguin is slightly different, but some key elements are universal throughout his depictions.
The Penguin and Trump are both conventionally unattractive, with their appearance being a source for easy jokes.
As of the publishing of this post, the 88th annual Academy Awards are two days away. This means that a lot of people are either a) predicting who will win what, b) talking about who should have been nominated c) watching nominated movies they hadn’t gotten around to watching yet, or d) talking about why they aren’t going to watch the Oscars.
This article is not about any of those things.
This is about one of my favorite films of 2014, Top Five, which was overlooked by both the 2015 Academy Awards and audiences worldwide. The reason its relevant is because, one year before #OscarsSoWhite became a concept, it was another black movie (black writer, black director, black producers, black music, black cast, black soundtrack) completely ignored by the “Academy,” and because it was written and director by, and starred, this year’s Oscars host: comedian, actor, writer and director Chris Rock.
This is not going to be a long blog post. You’re almost halfway done reading it. But I urge you to watch this film. The film contains multitudes.
In honor of one of the film’s theme, these are the top five reasons you should watch it:
The cast is amazing.
This movie feels like a reward for watching quality television: Wee Bay from The Wire, JB Smoove from Curb Your Enthusiasm, Ders from Workaholics, Carter from the first few seasons of Weeds. Plus Rosaria Dawson and Tracy Morgan. Oh, and small roles by comedians Cedric the Entertainer and Kevin Hart. And cameo performances (as themselves) by Jerry Seinfeld, Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Sandler, and DMX. Continue reading “Chris Rock’s Top Five is the Movie You Need to Watch Before the Oscars”→
As it happens, we are farther into the campaign and the expendable characters have started to drop away. It also happens to be October, aka Horror Movie Month, and so I have updated the WWBD Guide to the 2016 Election. This time with horror films, because that’s the other genre in which you can be guaranteed that characters will be eliminated one at a time.
First, let’s take stock of the characters we’ve already said goodbye to.
Who is already eliminated?
Four candidates are already out of the running, making them the equivalent of those slasher victims who are taken down in the first act.
Scott Walker is Kane in Alien
Oh boy, is he ever. I called this one in the last blog post, and I have to say that I was pretty accurate. As stated before: He looks and talks and dresses like he should be the hero and the one who makes it to the end, but it’s far more likely that we will see him as an unexpectedly early exit.
Rick Perry is Drew Barrymore in Scream
Big name, small impact. Barrymore was on the poster for the first Scream film, but didn’t live long enough to interact with a single character other than the masked killer.
I previously said Rick Perry was the equivalent of Randy Quaid in Independence Day. Turns out he’s playing even more of a bit part than that.
Lincoln Chafee is Matthew McConaughey in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Next Generation
Right now, you’re thinking: “Matthew McConaughey is in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie?” Well that’s the exact same thing people are going to be thinking about Lincoln Chafee in a few years when they hear that he ran for president in 2015, for the 2016 election.
Jim Webb is Boyd Banks in the Dawn of the Dead remake.
The Democratic Party
Hillary Clinton is either Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween or Sigourney Weaver in Alien.
And it’s worth noting that while Curtis was eliminated in earlier Halloween films, she came back swinging in Halloween H20. Is this Hillary’s equivalent of the “twenty years later” reboot?
Will she make it? Either way, there is a sense of inevitability and invincibility.
Martin O’Malley is Paul Rudd in Halloween 6.
He’s cool. He’s hip. But it’s not his moment yet. Maybe in a few years. Martin O’Malley in 2016 is the same as Paul Rudd in the early ’90s: some young white handsome guy that no one cares about.
Will he make it? No.
Bernie Sanders is Jamie Kennedy in Scream
He’s bold, smart, snarky, and innovative. He also seems to be relegated to “supporting character.” Chances are that Sanders will still be active and important when it’s the grand finale, but, like Kennedy being the non-romantic sidekick to Neve Campbell, Bernie will be the sidekick to Hillary, dropping wisdom and cracking wise.
Will he make it? Jamie Kennedy’s Randy was the unlikely survivor of the first Scream, and an unlikely victim in the second Scream. Either way, he’s a sidekick, not a protagonist.
Marco Rubio is Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street
He’s a pretty boy at the beginning of a long career. And he is not gonna make it to the end of this narrative.
Will he make it? I just said no, but with this one, we have to refer back to the answer I gave last time about Rubio: he’s Affleck in Armaggedon. If he makes it, it’s on someone else’s ticket.
Donald Trump is Bill Murray in Zombieland
You know how sometimes, someone has one cameo scene and then they’re forgotten? But other times, the brief cameo moment ends up stealing the show? They might not make it until the end, but their impact will never be forgotten.
Will he make it: No. But he might be the most memorable thing about this whole spectacle.
Carly Fiorina is Amy Irving in Carrie
Unlike most of her GOP peers (Rand Paul being another exception), Fiorina doesn’t take shit from the awful bully (John Travolta in Carrie, Donald Trump in this sad spectacle of an election). And she deserves some admiration for that.
Will she make it: Like Amy Irving’s Sue Snell, she might be around at the end but she still won’t be the main character.
Rand Paul is Josh Hartnett in Halloween H20
Josh Harnett portrayed the son of original hero Jamie Lee Curtis in the “20 years later” sequel. And while he and the young Paul have family legacy and a bunch of determination, they still aren’t quite the main character.
Will he make it? There’s a sense that this isn’t exactly his finest work. Let’s give him a few years. (Although Rand, as said before, also deserves respect for not tolerating Trump’s nonsense.)
John Kasich is Bishop in Aliens
He’s pretty cool, for a robot.
Will he make it? It’s hard to say. And it’s hard to say whether we want him to or not. It seems like we aren’t entirely sure who he is, but he could be a good guy.
Ben Carson is Robert Carlyle in 28 Weeks Later
“Oh, so this guy is the main character? Cool. Yeah, he seems pretty cool. Wait, what did he just do? That was a weird choice. Still a good protagonist though. Oh shit, that’s a strange choice. So is that. So is that. Okay, yikes, this guy isn’t the hero.”
Right now, we are getting lured into the false sense that Carson is going to be the last man standing. He won’t be, of course, but there’s this weird feeling right now that he could be.
Will he make it: No.
Lindsay Graham is Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense
A strange middle-aged man, wandering around, not realizing that no one he speaks to will acknowledge him.
Will he make it? He’s failing to realize that he already hasn’t made it.
Jim Gilmore, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, and Bobby Jindal are all the fellow classmates in Carrie.
They don’t have a chance.
Will they make it: Absolutely not.
Chris Christie is Vince Vaughn in the Psycho remake
Chris Christie should’ve called it a while ago. There is no reason he should be in this election. Likewise, there is no reason Vince Vaughn should have been in a Psycho movie. Like Christie’s campaign, that Psycho remake should never have existed.
Will he make it?
Both Vaughn and Christie are fun guys. They’re charming. They’re entertaining. But this is not the right move for Christie, like Vaughn should have taken a year off rather than make Psycho.
Mike Huckabee is still Wilford Brimley in The Thing
As I said before, “He has some strong opinions. Very strong opinions. But his finger-pointing and suspicion of the others does not make him more likeable to anyone. He feuds with the main characters and gets hysterical over his own theories. At times, you wonder if he is someone’s bizarre version of comic relief.”
Will he make it: Still no.
Ted Cruz is David Arquette in Scream
The highpoint of David Arquette’s career was Scream, although he wasn’t the main character: he was just a colorful side character who provided a few laughs.
Ted Cruz is likewise peaking with a spectacle in which no one will afterward consider him the main character, but it is the most successful he’ll ever be.
Will he make it? He isn’t going anywhere, but he also is never going to have center stage.
Jeb Bush is James Caan in Misery
There’s a real sense that Jeb thought this whole thing was gonna be a lot easier than it is. And suddenly, he’s not sure he has it under control at all. He’s in completely over his head and it’s not going well.
Will he make it? If he does, he won’t be the same man he was at the beginning.
“Who will survive, and what will be left of them?”
This question was the tagline of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It also sums up the sad spectacle that is a presidential election: watching candidates attempt to win, often selling out and compromising their ideals in the process.
The following is written by guest blogger McLong, as part of a new guest writer series in which we will be featuring various writers:
As children, we overloaded on candy. Now we overload on horror movies. All of them: the good, the bad, the gory.
I’m a poster child of desensitized America, unscathed by what an average movie goer would deem horrific. It takes a lot to freak me out, afraid to have the lights off and go to the bathroom by myself. In the moment of viewing, the demonic possessions take my breath away, but, five minutes later, I’ve forgotten it and moved onto the next plot point.
But some horror resonates. These are the movies that haunt me during the day, whether sitting in a cubicle or on a walk or at the grocery store. The ones where, watching the credits ascend, you’re unsure how you’ll ever live a normal life again.
These five films are each horrific in a different way, but these are for those of you with a high tolerance, looking for a soul-rattling watch,
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Sure, getting pregnant with the devil’s baby is scary. But what’s really terrifying in this film is the complete lack of control that Mia Farrow’s Rosemary has over her life. She’s drugged by her neighbors and raped by her husband, who justifies it with “but you’re ovulating, baby.” As if that doesn’t happen ever month? He then dictates every step of the pregnancy, including insisting on the devil-worshiping doctor of his choice. It’s the misogyny in Polanski’s masterpiece that haunts you longer than the idea of mothering the spawn of Satan.
The Ring (2002)
A contemporary horror movie that confines itself to a PG-13 rating is a rare and intriguing film, as they can’t rely on heavy violence or gore to rattle their audience. But the really great ones work within the limits of PG-13 and still burn images into your head, like The Ring‘s infamous murder tape and its random clips: a finger going through a nail, a horse’s eye, centipedes, maggots, an upside down chair, and that chill-inducing static (that irritates anyone who has ever had a television) at the end.
The story might be erratic, but the images within the film are positively frightful. Ambiguity can hurt a story but, in this case, the viewers are haunted by the questions they have, mulling over a sick family who killed each other, their pets, and ultimately themselves.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
This movie tells the story of aliens waging a quiet biological warfare, unlike the aggressive invasions we’ve become accustomed to. What begins as a woman picking a pretty flower for her boyfriend results in an intense shift of human life. The main characters find themselves in a strange world where those closest to them seem slightly off. The horror comes from the intense paranoia of not being able to trust your loved ones and the sadness of losing them forever to a new creepy alien society. It becomes a chase reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, making the viewer ask: is it worth it to stay awake? or should I let go and fall asleep to join everyone else?
And then there is the ending. The final scene is ingrained in my mind and just won’t go away. That face, that shock, that scream…
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
I know: I praised The Ring for its subtlety and ability to work within a PG-13 movie, and then I put an R-rated gore fest remake on this list?
But does it get more brutal than this re-imagining of the horror classic? What is it about hillbillies acting like they have nothing to lose? Is anything scarier than a murderer with no fear of consequence? Unlike the original, this version opens with a disturbing suicide that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. We’ve seen suicides on screen many times before, but this one and its level of violence and intensity is unparalleled. And as this film goes on, it becomes hard to have any optimism for the traumatized potential survivors, our hope dwindling as each character is picked off in a seriously gruesome fashion.
Mention this movie to anyone who has seen it and watch the blood drain from their faces. And I’m not even sure if it’s technically a horror film.
Eraserhead is declared a ‘surrealist body horror’ film, whatever that means. Basically it’s trippy and messed up and you have no idea what is going on but you want it to stop. The actual plot is the story of Henry Spencer, the women he is involved with, and the bizarre child that results from their relationship. The film has the ability to be disturbing on a level which has never been explored in film before. I only recommend this movie to people seeking a sadistic challenge and a new scream to infect their nightmares.
How I submit a guest post to WWBD?
Interested in submitting to WWBD? Send it to WhatWouldBaleDo@gmail.com.
Everyone loves Jeff Goldblum. Or, if you don’t, you should. And what better way to celebrate Jeff Goldblum and the month of October than with Jeff Goldblum Day on October 22nd (which, depending on what day you’re reading this, is today!)
Why October 22nd? Because that’s his birthday, and now it’s his holiday. Why does Jeff Goldblum deserve a holiday? Why wouldn’t he?
And now, fourteen ways to celebrate Jeff Goldblum Day:
1. Watch The Fly
This, like many Goldblum films, exists between genres. The Fly, a remake of a classic, is a blend of horror and science fiction, a hybrid a la the titular character. Classic Goldblum.
Also, it’s directed by David Cronenberg.
(it’s available on HBO Go and HBO Now, for those of you who use such things).
2. Watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Okay, admittedly Goldblum isn’t the main character here, but it’s another terrifying remake of a sci-fi staple. One of the highlights is the bizarre, tense dynamic between Goldblum and Leonard Nemoy.
(Also, this one is easy. It’s on Netflix.)
3. Have a Wes Anderson and Jeff Goldblum double feature evening in which you watch The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Grand Budapest Hotel
What’s better than the scene where there’s a shootout and Goldblum’s character just stands there watching?
4. Watch Independence Day
Obviously. Always a good option. Whether it’s Independence Day, Jeff Goldblum Day, or any other day.
5. Watch The Big Chill
I’m not saying this movie is good. But for many people out there, it’s their first Jeff Goldblum memory.
6. Have a Jeff Goldblum Costume Contest
Always a fun time, and a good way to get ready for Halloween.
“I go visit her in high school and all the guys she goes to school with are, like, strong and handsome and really, like, funny and do good impressions of Jeff Goldblum and shit like that.”
-Dale Denton, Pineapple Express
Just don’t say this:
9. Watch Annie Hall and see if you can detect Jeff Goldblum during his brief scene.
It’s tough but pay attention and you’ll see him.
10. Watch Jeff Goldblum’s Tim and Eric videos.
These are weird. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But they also prove how cool Jeff Goldblum really is.
11. Start a petition to have Jeff Goldblum in the next Jurassic World.
It shouldn’t be too hard to shoehorn him in. I’m not saying he should be the action hero, as we saw how that didn’t exactly work in The Lost World. But if he can provide both insights and comic relief like he did in the original, then it could only make it a better movie.
12. Write a letter to Jeff Goldblum, thanking him for being in the upcoming Independence Day sequel.
You know who isn’t in it? Randy Quaid and Will Smith. But we don’t need those guys, because Goldblum is reprising his role of “unlikely hero.”
13. Watch any of his roles on various television shows, from Friends to Portlandia to Sesame Street.
You can start here:
14. Or, just start planning for the next Jeff Goldblum Day. You have a year.
It’s hard to disagree with Santorum, especially when the field is this crowded and complicated, stuffed with minor characters and distractions. But to me, there is something that it resembles even more than Survivor. It reminds me of a science fiction movie, specifically one in which the ensemble cast is picked off one-by-one.
It’s standard for Science Fiction films to either wipe out all the characters, all the characters except for one, or leave us with a small rag-tag team of survivors. Examples include: Alien, Predator, Pitch Black, Armageddon, The Matrix, Sunshine, Deep Blue Sea, any zombie movie ever made, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Each of these films begins with a large cast, which we see gradually whittled down until only one or two actors are left. Usually, it’s the actor who got paid the most to be in the movie, just like it’s usually the candidate who spent the most.
Sometimes you know exactly who will make it. And other times, it’s hard to predict who the last human standing will be.
(Please note: when I draw these comparisons and ask if a candidate will “make it,” I’m referring only to their chances of remaining until the end of the election. I’m not suggesting anyone is getting eaten by aliens or turned into a zombie I also haven’t included the photos of the candidates, only their counterparts, because I think we all know what these candidates look like).