is not the best film out there but is quite enjoyable

‘THOR: RAGNAROK’ REVIEW ROUND UP!

FORBES - “Ragnarok is outrageously entertaining, sure to please all ages and turn Thor into a far more popular character than he already was. It’s always interesting, always forces us to pay closer attention to appreciate the complexities of the sequences, and to the all-around peculiarities and originality that make Ragnarok such a joy to behold”

EMPIRE - “Daft as a badger sandwich and twice as funny, Ragnarok is the boldest, most outrageously fun film Marvel has produced so far. It’s not only a top-tier addition to the MCU but one of the most flat-out enjoyable comedies of the year” 4/5

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY - The unquestionably funniest big screen Marvel adventure seems hellbent on finally releasing Hemsworth’s real secret weapon: his humor. Ragnarok is a joke delivery system that works. It’s fun B

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER - Waititi sets the party-on tone in the movie’s first, jokey moments. Soon, with a jolt of Led Zeppelin’s 47-year-old “Immigrant Song” fitting the action like a custom-made gauntlet, he brings majestic spectacle down to rock ‘n’ roll showtime”

THE WRAP - “Both the banter and the fighting, it should be noted, are excellent, so whether you go to superhero movies for the glossy escapism or the pulse-pounding action, you’ll get your large soda’s worth”

IGN - “Ragnarok is a goofy, kitschy, but fun romp and the most purely entertaining of the three Thor movies, marked by its distinctive designs, ‘80s synth score, and assemblage of spirited characters”

SCREENCRUSH - “The actors are all so good, and so are their performances,  so it’s easy to go along for the ride, even if the movie is sometimes as sloppy as an Asgardian thunder god after too many pints of mead” 7/10

USA TODAY - Even tonal issues can’t upend the magic this movie taps into putting Thor and Hulk together as new best buddies, whether throwing down in an arena or having a bromantic heart-to-heart” 7/10

UPROXX - “A crazy, colorful, ambitious, hilarious ride through the cosmos” 8/10

NERDIST - This is top-to-bottom a Hemsworth movie, and in his fifth time playing Thor is at his very peak, and that’s quite the heroic feat” 7/10

THE VERGE - “A film that’s simply a joy to watch, with a personality that’s wholly it’s own”

BBC - “Ragnarok is the wittiest and most straight-forwardly enjoyable of Marvel’s blockbusters” 4/5

GIZMO - “Ragnarok has that timeless potential. Long after the Marvel Cinematic Universe is over, odds are we’ll still be enjoying, re-watching, and quoting this crazy, hilarious movie”

THE VERGE - Ragnarok is an enthusiastic, hilarious reboot of the idea of what a Marvel movie can actually be, resulting in an effervescent, delightfully self-aware ride that was the most fun I’d had in a superhero movie in years”

SCREEN INTERNATIONAL - “Ragnarok exudes an epic grandeur, leading to a stirring, euphoric finale that doesn’t sacrifice scope or gravitas despite all the wisecracks Waititi and company make along the way”

wannabanauthor  asked:

Hi there! I love your blog! I've seen you mention a few TV shows and movies for research, and I was wondering what your opinion is on the show Leverage and it's accuracy for social engineering in potentially violent situations. I remember one character saying that "Thieves look for entrances, but grifters create them." They'll often use approaches like this to avoid violence.

If the question is: can you use social engineering in order to defuse or avoid violent situations? The answer is yes.

Grifters are conmen, and like spies, they don’t want to fight unless it is absolutely necessary. Whether they can fight or know how isn’t really the point: combat makes messes, big messes, and draws the kind of attention they don’t want/can’t afford.

As for the line, “thieves look for entrances, but grifters create them” the point of it is that grifters focus on people as the exploitative aspect to get what they want. After all, it doesn’t matter how good your security system is if your infiltrator is expected to be there. When someone opens the door for them, they didn’t have to break in.

It is worth pointing out though, being able to stop, defuse, avoid, or redirect violence via social engineering (especially when the character is the target) is very difficult and requires someone who excels at rapidly changing their story/manipulating under life or death pressure while also maintaining their consistency/re-establishing their innocence/regaining their target’s trust.

That’s masterclass social engineering. The average person, even the average grifter can’t do it. When we see Nate Ford, Sophie Devereaux, or Michael Westen on Burn Notice socially engineer their way out of potentially explosive and violent scenarios, we’re supposed to understand this level of manipulation is very difficult. You need a solid ability to read people, predict their behavior patterns, understand how to shift your role so you suddenly seem trustworthy, confuse them, and then redirect their anger somewhere away from you.

You can see another variant of this kind of social engineering on display in The Negotiator. Samuel L. Jackson’s character is a hostage negotiator. Deliberately maneuvering a man who’s taken a child captive around his apartment so he can be taken out. You can see him joking with the target, gaining his trust, distracting him, and guiding him off topic until he’s in a position to be neutralized.

The Grifter is not a fighter, they are a talker and their trick is getting people to move however they want. A skilled grifter can slip in, turn the best of friends against each other, and walk away without a care. Grifters don’t punch. They trick other people into doing the punching for them. When sitting down to write a Grifter, remember: their first instinct is getting others to act in their place, to create the openings they need, and be their fall guy.

On the whole, I’ve liked Leverage ever since the episode where Eliot pointed out that guns are ranged weapons, and the most common mistake people make is giving up the distance advantage by getting in too close. However, I’ve only watched the first season. I liked what I saw, it’s an enjoyable caper show in a similar vein to The Equalizer, Person of Interest, or Ocean’s Eleven. Not quite in there with the original Law & Order when it comes to accuracy (in this case for cops) but certainly better than White Collar, which uses similar techniques (though never, ever pay attention to White Collar’s usage of the FBI… ever). The X-Files, meanwhile, fudges a bit but it’s pretty good when you’re wanting to get a grasp of the FBI’s culture and what happens to someone who doesn’t come from a military/law enforcement background.

Of course, the patient zero for these types of shows is the original Mission: Impossible. The television show, not the Tom Cruise movies. Mission: Impossible is all about flipping people and manipulating them into positions to do what you want. The A-Team is its slightly more pulpy counterpart, but its a similar (though far less subtle) deal.

On the whole, Leverage tends to explain itself better, which is helpful when you’re trying to learn or take techniques from a television show rather than just absorb.

The reason why I often suggest Burn Notice and Spy Game is not necessarily just because they’re good, but also because they teach. The narrator on Burn Notice, especially in the first season will offer up a lot of helpful/beginner tradecraft for a variety of situations. This, ultimately, will help you more for taking pieces and creating your own characters than a show that’s trying for smoke and mirrors like White Collar. The same situation is there with Spy Game, where Robert Redford’s character is teaching Brad Pitt’s on how to be a spy. Ultimately, more helpful in the long run than just watching The Recruit. The Michael Mann films like Heat and Collateral are exceptionally good for learning tradecraft, but you have to know that’s what you’re watching/looking for. You’ll learn more by watching them together, rather than separately. The Borne Identity novels are also very good at showing the tradecraft, while the Le Carre ones tend to be a little more hit and miss.

When you’re new, you want sources that are free with their information. Who are good at getting you to think, to take what you’re seeing and apply it to new settings. You may not ever figure out how to build a car bomb, but learning about how the thought process of a spy, criminal, or conman works will serve you better for your writing than a hundred other movies that only show.

After you’ve drawn back the curtain then you can turn to those other shows, novels, and narratives with new eyes. Once you see what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and why when they don’t explain you’ll get more out of those other sources than you did before.

When you’re watching a well put together show like Leverage, start questioning character motivations. Not just whether the social engineering there works, but why the characters are choosing to go that route or which routes they prefer. Leverage gives you five characters with different specialties, four thieves and the guy who made a career catching them. They all think in different ways and have different approaches when it comes to problem solving. Leverage offers up a heist per episode, so you have lots of opportunities to see the characters in action. Evaluate their problem solving methods and you’ll come away with more than just questioning whether or not it works.

How and Why.

Then, go find a good video on YouTube where a professional magician explains pickpocketing. It’s the art of misdirection.

Once you understand basic theoretical underpinnings (whether or not you could ever actually pull the real thing off) then you can apply it to many different situations in a fictional context.

When it comes back to applying this to the combat arts, learning to see the big picture is the first major difference between trained and untrained. The untrained only copy surface level, singular techniques, while trained delves deeper to understand how these techniques work together.

My advice for when you’re wanting to pick and choose television shows for accuracy is to check who their consultants are/were, and what experts in the show’s chosen field say about it. That doesn’t always guarantee accuracy, but it will help you flip through the rave reviews.

If you want to watch more fun shows with Timothy Hutton or just like detective shows, I recommend Nero Wolfe.

-Michi

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Happy AkuRoku Day! ♥ I actually wrote a completed one-shot for you guys this time! All fluff and afterlife feelings, so I hope you enjoy!

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Simple
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They didn’t go out and watch the latest superhero movie. They didn’t make a reservation at that one restaurant they both like, which didn’t always have the best entrees but always had a decent bread basket and that sea salt cheesecake they could never say no to. They didn’t do anything the couples magazines told them to do–flowers, jewelry, scented candles, a new dress and suit, some ludicrously expensive gold-leaf and champagne infused candy from that one store that opened downtown.

They were both thankful for that.

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once upon a show | jjk

summary: starring on we got married is cool. starring on we got married with world-class idol jeon jungkook is more intimidating than cool, but hey, there’s a first time for everything.
{idol!verse}
pairing: jungkook x female reader
word count: 2k
genre: fluff
warnings: none
a/n: i’ve been having such jk feels lately. never tried my hand at idol!verse, so we’ll see how this goes. requested by anon <3

When you walked into your manager’s office and she sat you down, telling you that you had just been invited onto your very first show as an up-and-coming actress, We Got Married, you were ecstatic. We Got Married! There’s nothing more entertaining than shoving two famous people together in random domestic scenarios and seeing how they react.

Then she told you who your fake TV-show husband would be, and your face dropped.

Jeon Jungkook?

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Together, we stand taller

written by: Josefine / @selflessbellamy

prompt: ‘Bellarke + height difference ’ for @thejonderettegirl

word count: 1359

In the end, she chooses him after no more than a day of consideration, and he moves in the next week, bringing his stuff from the dorm in cardboard boxes. Unable to resist curiosity, Clarke looks at the labels on them, and she quickly realizes that he’s only brought six, and three of them are labeled ‘books’, two are labeled ‘clothes’ and the last one is ‘miscellaneous’.


When Clarke wrote her detailed Facebook post in search of a roommate, her requirements were simple:

  1. Clean up your own shit
  2. No loud sex on Monday nights
  3. No misogynists are allowed within a fifty feet radius of my residence
  4. (If you’re taller than 5’4’’, that would be awesome. I hate that I have to stand on the counter to reach my plates, since giraffes apparently designed this place)

Of course, she had received a bunch of offers within three weeks, but none of them seemed to stand out like the one from Bellamy Blake, a history major who — like her — wished to escape the noisy and rude roommate he had ended up with at NYU.


Dear Clarke Griffin,

My name’s Bellamy Blake. I’m twenty-three, 5’9’’ and a history major at NYU (which basically means I’m a certified nerd, yes. But please don’t ask me to do math). I’m currently in desperate need of a place to stay outside of campus, because my roommate likes to sexile me every other night and leave his dirty laundry on my side of the dorm. He also snores, a LOT.

It would make me very happy if you’d take me into consideration. And if you do choose me, I’ll look forward to getting to know you over a glass of wine. I’ll even bring my latest creation: a game of darts that has Trump’s face plastered on it.

        -    Bellamy Blake.

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My thoughts and opinions on Xenoblade Chronicles 2 thus far.

The game’s only about a month and a half away from being released, and Super Mario Odyssey releases in just about a week. These are two of my most anticipated games for the Switch. Now, it’s pretty obvious that nearly everyone’s really excited for Odyssey. 

But as for Xenoblade 2…not so much. 

From the artstyle, and character designs, and the voice acting…lots of fans and gamers alike are pretty much giving it The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker treatment. From Youtube comments, social media sites, and game message boards…many fans weren’t happy with it. I was one of those people when the game was first announced. I kinda thought the artstyle looked way too generic, anime, and similar as to games like Tales of Berseria.

However, I did some research and mostly figured out as to why Xenoblade 2 looks the way it does. In the most recent interview with Monolithsoft director/writer, Tetsuya Takahashi said a couple of things as the reason he chose the direction he made with the game.

The Tone:


Let’s start with the overall tone of the story. No doubt that the bright and cheery look of the game has thrown off many people into thinking the plot will be “kiddy” or “generic, shonen, harem, fanservice, etc.” trash. All Xeno games up to this point has stories that were more serious, dark, and adult themed. This here ties in with what Takahashi has to say:


“A young adult story with a taste of boy-meets-girl. Lately it feels like all I’ve been doing are games full of devastation, like where your hometown burns down at the start, or the spaceship you’re riding crashes (oh wait, that is all I ever do). Sometimes I just wanna try something different! I’ll leave the stories about the solemn old men and stylish hot guys to someone else (even though there’s way more demand for that stuff), and go ahead with this.”

“ I want to make something that people can look back on fondly one day as something that really shaped their lives. Something like what I loved as a boy, like Oliver! (by Carol Reed) and Galaxy Express 999 (by Rintaro). — That’s why I started working on this game. “


So it seemed that Takahashi wanted to try his hands on making a more light-hearted, character-driven plot. Which mostly explains the more brighter tone of Xenoblade 2. He draws inspiration from this due to some young adult/coming-of-age books and films he experienced as a kid. Mostly in his case, the 1968 musical, family drama film Oliver!, and the 1977 adventure, space western anime Galaxy Express 999.

In addition, we’ve been getting quite a few JRPGs this year in the similar tones that Takahashi mentioned. 

While it would be nice to have Xenoblade 2 following this trend, I can kinda understand where Takahashi’s coming from. As someone inspiring to become a writer myself, making the different story with the same tone and setting can be tiresome. Sometimes the creators just wanna to go with something different. even if their fans won’t like it.Plus, making original stories in this day and age is pretty hard to do. 


People who’ve read tons of books, watched a lot of story-driven cartoons, movies,or anime, or even play many plot-heavy video games for years already know so many tropes and cliches these days. Writers have to borrow some old tropes from movies and such from the past, and figure out ways to add a unique twist to it. Sometimes it succeeds, while other times it fails. And this is pretty much the similar route Takahashi’s going with.


Sure the story might end up being “shonen,” but knowing the guy…I’m sure the story might end up being good. I can’t say for certain why, but I do have some faith in him. Speaking of such, let me explain the next thing many people have against Xenoblade 2.


The Artstyle/Characters:


If it’s no surprise, Xenoblade 2 has a cast of a mostly kids group instead of young adult and such. Which sets a lot of people off, and makes them think that the cast might not be as likable. Especially the main character, Rex himself. And no, this isn’t about his pants. No matter how ridiculous they seem.

Many gamers nowadays come to conclusions that having a young kid or teenager as the protagonist is a sign of something bad. Mostly due to the fact that they might be whiny, bratty, or angsty. But before I dive deeper into this topic, let me talk the main character of the original Xenoblade, Shulk.

There was a time in JRPGs last gen where many main characters would end up being too unlikeable. They were either very one-dimenional, oblivious, annoying, idiotic, cowardly, or overly negative with zero character development. Takahashi’s goal for Shulk was to make a more likable and relatable protagonist than in most JRPGs. He was originally going to be a silent protagonist, but Takahashi rejected that idea. 


He figured in order to make Shulk a more likeable protagonist, Takahashi tried giving Shulk a bit more of positive interactions and words of encouragement, especially in battle. Takahashi tried to make Shulk react much like he thought players would react to the scenarios. This was followed by giving him a bit more of a intelligent personality so he could interact with the world and characters better. Takahashi even took advantage of getting feedback from the Super Mario Club, whose assured that his intake for Shulk was positive.


Unfortunately, Shulk’s character got mixed reception from game reviewers. Some saying that he was pretty darn enjoyable with a fantastic voice actor and character growth, while others saying that he was rather “a  vanilla, personality-less, unequivocally bland warrior” who “makes other JRPG heroes look like Marlon friggin’ Brando.


However, Shulk does get pretty great responses from the fandom these days. Mostly getting praise for not being an idiotic, whiny brat, or some emo-ish ultra hot obnoxious macho man…who’s very mature, intelligent, and quick-to-the-bone instead.


For the most part, I’m one of those people as well. While Shulk may have seem bland or generic form an outside stand point, playing the game for myself, I was actually surprised by how likable and down-to-earth Shulk was. His interactions with some of the cast was nice as well. For example, with Reyn, him and Shulk felt like real close friends. Brothers even. With Dunban, Shulk looked up to him as a mentor and a hero. Dickson also felt like a father figure to him. Shulk wan’t just some one-dimensional character…he felt like a real person. This, lead by his incredible voice acting, made Shulk one of my favorite JRPG protagonist of all time.


It’s just too bad the Super Smash Bros. version of himself gets a bad rep.


Now where was I…? 

Oh yeah, Rex.


Now it’s no surprise that compared to the more mature/older main characters from the previous games, Shulk and Elma, many people think Rex will probably be some annoying, bratty, angst kid like I said. And as I said before, this is the issue people have with making a kid as the protagonist in JRPGs nowadays.


Although, thinking about what Takahashi said about trying to make Shulk a likable protagonist, I think I can see Rex being handled in a similar manner. For a better example of a kid protagonist done right, Oliver from Ni No Kuni is one of them.

Some of the things I liked about Oliver was his honesty, determination, courage, kindness, strong sense of justice, and character development. He never strikes me as the whiny/bratty type when I got deeper into the game. He stroked me as a brave and sweet kid. And while he may not be the best JRPG protagonist out there, I really did like how his personality and character was handled, especially for someone his age.



I think I could see Rex being as well-developed in a similar way, especially with Takahashi saying that he’s a lot more mature than people let on. But only time can tell how Rex’s character will be handled, since we know very little about him.


Speaking of characters, let’s talk about the artstyle. 

This is the major thing Xenoblade 2 gets a lot of flack about. Compared to the more realistic styles from Xenoblade 1 and X, going to a more “childish” anime look was a major kneejerk to a lot of fans. It’s no surprise that a lot of JRPGs these days are going in for more anime-esque artstyle to gain popularity, which is getting a lot of negative response. Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates being prime examples of this.

It’s no surprise to the older side of the FE fandom out there that the reasons Awakening and Fates get so much popularity is due to the fact that the games went in a more anime-ish approach with the characters and story, while making the games easier for newcomers to play…this choice made the veterans real upset about the direction the series has been going in lately.

And despite Shadows of Valentia going for a more classic approach with the characters and story, the gameplay and lack of many support conversations made the game not sell as much as the previous titles.


The anime artstyle approach that Xenoblade 2′s going with is making the fandom feel the same way. However Takahashi had this to say about the  artstyle change:


“Targeting a wider audience was one of our goals but we wanted to make it to where the characters had more facial expressions. Masatsugu Saito’s character design is a way to make the protagonists more expressive.”


For those of you who don’t know Masatsugu Saito, he was the guy that did the animation for the CGI anime film, Escape From Paradise.


As far as video game designs, I think he only did one character design for Fire Emblem Awkening, which was Celica.

Not sure if this counts, but I believe this is the first time he’s designed characters in a video game. 


Many see this a negative thing, but I think the reason Takahashi chose Saito was probably for the eyes.

In most games, using cel-shading artstyle can be a way to make the character a lot more expressive. Which I think might be a good thing, because if you can recall in Xenoblade X, the characters expression in cut-scenes mostly stayed the same. 


This was a major issue lots of fans and myself had with this game. While there were cinematic cut-scenes, the characters mostly had expressions like this 75% of the time, compared to how much more expressions there were in Xenoblade 1. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the characters in X, I was just mostly disappointed in the lack more expressions in the cut-scenes. And the more realistic visuals, heavy focus of exploration with the lack of a proper main story were probably to blame for this.

Whereas in Xenoblade 2, the characters show more a lot more expressions. The eyes and the artstyle help this out for the most part. 

Visuals also getting improvements for not just the lighting and shading, but also for the facial expressions. While this may not change a lot of minds about how they feel with the art direction in the game…let me show another game that’s gone though a similar processes.


The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.


This is a game that received a massive amount of negativity for a reason.

Before Wind Waker was announced, Nintendo showed a tech demo in 2000 about how a Zelda game would look on the GCN. This was something Zelda fans were excited for the realistic look. It was every OOT/MM fan’s dreams…but alas…they’re hopes and reams were crushed when Nintendo showed…


This.

The Wind Waker’s cartoony artstyle made Zelda fans cry and scream in rage like never before. Everyone thought that Nintendo was losing their touch. Of course, despite the positive reviews the game got, hardcore Zelda lovers still weren’t interested. Of course, over 10 yeard from now, many people now consider the game to be an ageless classic despite some gamers still not a fan of the artystyle


Later in the years after Wind Waker was out, fans rejoiced when Nintendo announced the more realistic The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.


While I enjoy both The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess for different reasons, and I promise this isn’t a WW vs. TP debate, I will say there is one aspect I loved in The Wind Waker more:


Toon Link’s facial expressions. 


This easily is one of the reasons why I love this version of Link. Nintendo chose this artstyle to a similar reason of Takahashi’s, to make the characters more expressive. And they nailed it. Even without any dialogue, Toon Link’s face would speak for itself. I could tell if Link was happy, sad, scared, shocked, meme worthy, or even annoyed just by his facial expressions alone. They couldn’t have done something like this in a more realistic artstyle as much.


And this is the same thing with Xenoblade 2. Had they used a more realistic style, the characters wouldn’t be as expressive. Do I still think Monolith Soft could’ve went with a different artstyle? Yes, but now I understand why they went with this style.


TL;DR 


I’m really hoping people will give Xenoblade 2 a chance, instead of giving it The Wind Waker treatment. Yes, the graphics and character designs aren’t the best…but honesty, did the previous Xenoblade games get any praise though for those similar issues?

C’mon now…let’s be real here…

But hey, at least Xenoblade 2 still follows the trend of having some freaking gorgeous environments. Combine that with the gameplay and music, and I’m cautiously optimistic for this game along with Super Mario Odyssey. Don’t let me down, Monolith!


Additional Notice:

Also..the cutscenes in this game look freaking awesome.

Did you see Rogue One? (Spoilers)

In addition to important conversations about representation, something that’s stayed with me about Rogue One is that last scene. You know the one: Darth Vader just kind of walking down a hallway.

The entire story up to that point was one movie and it ended with a beautiful and heartbreaking scene on a beach. Then, the second movie began. We didn’t really need to see this addition to the story — we could have easily guessed what happened next — but Disney / Lucasfilm gave it to us anyway and I am so glad they did.

I mean, you kind of knew how that bit was going to end, one way or the other, and yet it was still so enjoyable and, I think, legitimately scary. Why?

It’s a short horror film.

I think a lot about how many of the best movies are camouflaged genre films and I’m sure I’ve written some way-too-long posts on Facebook about it more than once, but let me start with a different point about that.

Jurassic ParkTerminator (and to be fair, T2 as well). Both great movies. Something that always strikes me about the recent sequels / soft reboots / whatever… is that they forget the originals were at their heart, horror films — or at least relied heavily on horror tropes — borrowing stylistically and thematically.

I mean, okay, I’m no horror or genre movie expert, but if I remember correctly, as a kid, Terminator was always in the “horror” section of the video store.

Point is, Jurassic Park even has campy jump-scares.

And even though the T-Rex runs after the heroes, the protagonists are in a Jeep — so the speed is relative… and it’s effectively a nightmare hallway scene, where they can’t quite seem to get away as the killer slowly gains on them (more on that concept later). They don’t shy away from it at all.

Jurassic WorldTerminator Genisys? They’re action movies. They traded in these kind of beautiful tension-building scenes borrowed from genre movies for robot explosions and a T-Rex fighting a genetically engineered super raptor. They abandoned telling the story well — in other words, matching how the story is told (form) to what the story is about (function) in favor of trying to make “a wild ride” or whatever.

Back to Rogue One. That last scene is one of the only times I’ve ever found Darth Vader legitimately scary on screen (O.K. maybe the ending of Empire — but not like this). I was so impressed with this scene. It could have easily gone the way of the prequels — Vader boomeranging his lightsaber all over the place, force-leaping half a mile, performing needless pirouettes, but instead, he just walks forward.

Which — kind of unrelated — is tonally similar to what I loved about the 2003 Clone Wars animated series. General Grievous, ironically unlike the weird coughing cartoon character we got in the movie, was a badass killer. He was legitimately scary. And the way they put together the scenes that centered him as a villain really emphasized that. They borrowed tropes and stylistic elements from horror.

Vader doesn’t move fast because he doesn’t need to (of course, canonically he can’t really). He just plods forward, methodically killing everyone in his path. Tell me you don’t see the T-800 in that. Or Jason. Or Michael Myers. I love it.

The scene is a perfect, self-contained piece of art. The protagonist has a clearly defined goal with an item (a classic McGuffin) tied to that goal. That one rebel needs to get the disc down the hallway and through the door, to safety.

Here’s what makes it a short horror film:

The door gets stuck. The lights go out. Smoke and mist rises. The antagonist — a killer villain — appears with a goal in antithesis to the protagonist’s. Between the two, there’s a group of protectors. They fight, the protagonist and his allies try everything they can to stop or escape the villain and achieve their goal until, as we build to the climax, a dramatic question becomes clear. Will the protagonist sacrifice his life to achieve his goal, or will he succumb to fear allowing the villain to prevail? He pushes the disc through the crack in the door, he tells his last ally to run — to carry on without him — and he sacrifices himself for the greater good.

Again, this scene has a really simple yet elegant structure, executed flawlessly. Protagonist wants to deliver the disc to safety: Thesis. Antagonist wants to prevent the delivery of the disc: Antithesis. Despite complications, obstacles, and ultimate sacrifice, the disc is moved to safety: Synthesis.

The protagonist achieves his goal, though not how he wanted to. Strengthening that journey, he had to sacrifice what he wanted (personal survival) to achieve what was needed (survival of the disc and therefore, the group).

We knew that would be the conclusion all along because we’ve seen A New Hope, but I think it’s still compelling because it’s so perfectly structured and so well executed — the form of the scene perfectly matching the function.

Even better, this scene is thematically a microcosm of the entire story that just came before it.

Using horror tropes and borrowing from that genre works so perfectly in this scene because that’s exactly what it is. It’s a survival horror. The protagonist in this scene is stuck in a confined space, trying to escape while being hunted by a supernatural predator. What about that doesn’t lend itself to horror?

More major releases should embrace this philosophy. Hollywood needs to respect the intelligence of audiences a little more and stop jamming stories into whatever genre they’re determined to make. Instead, let the story guide stylistic choices. They shouldn’t be at odds; they should reinforce each other. That’s when a movie becomes art.

Let’s circle back to that idea about the slowly advancing killer. This may deserve it’s own article, but personally, I can’t separate these ideas.

The more I thought about this scene, the more I also got to thinking about Vader in this scene and why that slow, plodding advance is such a scary thing as well as why it ends up in so many horror movies. I mean, aside from how common it is in the history of genre movies, one of the most acclaimed indie movies of the last few years is a horror called It Follows where the whole premise and plot boils down to that one thing: a slow but endlessly advancing death.

I remembered something I read online a while back about human beings (originally mentioned in the context of how human beings usually portray ourselves in Sci-fi). Here are some screenshots of those posts…

(If you wrote any of this and would like credit, let me know. I haven’t been able to find primary sources.)

Whoever thought up that last scene must have known about these ideas. And much like the scene itself is a microcosm of the movie, the choices made in regard to how Vader attacks his enemies are a microcosm of what makes the scene beautiful. The writers didn’t make the flashy choice, or the bigger, badder, more epic choice. They made the right artistic choice. They made the human choice.

So, in addition to everything else, why is that short film so good and so scary? I think it’s because this method of hunting is distinctly human. For all his force powers, the scariest thing about Darth Vader in that scene is that he just. Keeps. Coming.

An unnecessarily deep analysis of the string motif in Kimi no Na wa

I really need to write about this.

Written on the spot. Some research might be nice but aint nobody got time for that. Also I’ve only watched it once so my memory might be dodgy.

Please note this is primarily an analysis for my own personal enjoyment, not a review. Also the views in it are purely my thoughts and opinions

SPOILERS 

Kimi no na wa is a friggin amazing movie. Beautiful artwork and solid characters aside my favourite thing about the movie is its brilliant storytelling. And I am going to deconstruct it through the string motif rn because I feel like it.

The plot for Kimi no Na wa is basically the red string of fate, but reimagined and extrapolated in a very creative way. The red string of fate connects two individuals and brings them together romantically but here it is not only geographical boundaries that are transcended, but time itself. String itself takes on multiple meanings within the context of the film. This is summed up best by Mitsuha’s grandmother’s quote, which I cbf looking for rn. Rather than string, though, the emphasis is on the term “musubi"結び. The term we use for knotting thread also means connecting/linking/binding. You can also use it to refer to tying up your hair or fastening something. It also means the end. This (conveniently) flexible term is the basis for the whole story and you see this in almost every aspect of the movie.

The start of the movie is a bunch of events told in a pretty confusing layout. In addition to the main characters swapping bodies, some of the events aren’t even in chronological order. This was evidently intentional, not only for dramatic purposes but I believe also for structural reasons.

The film is set out like a bunch of loose threads starting with seemingly unrelated events: There’s a rare comet appearing in the sky; Mitsuha and Yotsuha make kuchikamizake; Mitsuha and Taki swap bodies…But as the film progresses, just like the weaving of individual strands to make a cord, the pieces start to come together. I think the moment this truly becomes evident is right after Taki drinks the kuchikamizake. This is also the moment Taki and Mitsuha’s worlds truly intertwine.

Mitsuha making kuchikamizake binds a part of her soul to the sake. Mitsuha and Taki swapping bodies are a spiritual connection. This act binds their timelines together. The foundations of human relations, most notably love, is also based on the same concept. The film takes the motif of string and layers it through the connections of multiple events through musubi.

But what I feel truly makes this film brilliant from a storytelling perspective is the creativity employed in extrapolating this motif, especially in regards to the comet and the hairstyles. 

The way I see it there are actually only two things that connected Mitsuha and Taki before the body swap. One is the comet. Three years ago Taki witnessed the comet that killed Mitsuha with his own eyes. The other is Mitsuha’s hair cord which is something like a time paradox. Mitsuha went to Tokyo to meet with Taki three years before he knew her. She hands him the cord in her hair and dies the next day but Taki kept her cord wrapped around his wrist for three years.

I’m going to start with the comet which is actually quite a complex symbol. I think everyone will interpret it differently so here’s my personal take.

My initial impression of the comet was something like a shooting star, because it granted Mitsuha’s wish to be reborn as a "handsome Tokyo boy”. Before watching the movie I thought the body swapping would be a miracle only possible while the comet was visible. When Taki and his senpai went to the Nostalgia exhibition at the museum on their date, they saw an aged photo of Itomori. That was my hint that Mitsuha was from the past. I didn’t expect them to be only three years apart though. I thought they would be a literal lifetime apart but then romance would have been near impossible without some bs miracle. Suffice to say, there was no miracle. Instead there was a goddamn tragedy.

The film’s explanation for the body swapping was that it was all to prevent this one disaster. Tbh that sounds a bit too far fetched for me. Instead I like the interpretation of the comet as an extension of the string motif.

When Taki learns the truth he attempts to turn back time by drinking the kuchikamizake. What follows is my favourite scene in the whole movie and it starts with a wall painting of the comet turning into a piece of string. With the visual connection I could then see the metaphorical connection. The comet is another form of binding the two main characters. The comet is closely tied to Mitsuha’s ‘world’ but Taki also witnessed the comet the day she died. Thus their worlds were connected. From a romantic standpoint the comet allowed two individuals to transcend time to be together (red string of fate parallel). But by killing Mitsuha the comet also destroyed the relationship it brought about. I think we can connect this to how the town of Itomori was made from a comet a thousand years ago but another comet ends up destroying the town and killing Mitsuha. Because of this I personally also think the comet represents time. Destroying what is created is basically time itself. Time is musubi. (Additionally, by overcoming the comet i.e. saving the town, the main characters overcome time and can finally be together, because Mitsuha’s lifespan is extended. You can see this as another take on the red string of fate.)

Mitsuha is metaphorically and spiritually saved by a string. I think it is important that in the timeline where she dies she is not wearing the cord in her hair, because she gave it away to Taki who she met in Tokyo the day before and who does not remember her. Her cut hair has multiple meanings. Originally I thought it was a sign of her giving up on Taki because he went on the date with his senpai (Tessie associates haircuts to breakups and I do too, at least in anime). Then I realised she cut it after she went to meet Taki and found out he didnt recognise her. While the “breakup” haircut interpretation still stands, ultimately I think she feels betrayed which is why she gives up the one thing she believes in, her connection to him, represented by the cord. This also becomes linked to her name, which she shouts at him as she leaves the train after throwing him the cord. If I were to continue with the red string anecdote, this is where the string is cut, fate abandons the couple and Mitsuha dies.

But it is the same string that saves her. Because Taki kept it for three years and it is how he remembers her even if he doesnt know her name. Once he learns she dies everything from her diary entries on his phone to her name in his memories disappears. But the cord doesn’t. And he passes this cord to short hair Mitsuha when they finally meet at twilight.

I’m going to digress for a bit to explain why I find this scene so important. The only time Mitsuha does not have the cord in her hair is when she is sleeping, performing the ceremony, the first time she swaps bodies with Taki, and of course right before she dies. The cord is a very obvious symbol of musubi. I also think the fact it changes form throughout the film is important. At the start when Mitsuha wears it she always puts her hair in a complicated bun with the cord in it. When she swaps bodies with Taki who cant make complicated hairstyles he changes the form of the cord by wearing it in a ponytail (though initially he did not wear it at all and made Mitsuha looked “possessed”). The hairstyle was an instant way to tell who was in Mitsuha’s body, and also became a representation of their relationship.

The cord starts to change forms drastically when the pair’s relationship takes a nosedive the day before Mitsuha dies. She takes it out of her hair and the cord changes from a hairtie to a wristband/bracelet. The form of “musubi” changes, from “doing up one’s hair” to a spiritual connection between the two. This is one way Mitsuha manages to live on, because just like the kuchikamizake, the cord is a part of her soul now.

Taki returns Mizuha’s cord when they finally meet. She has cut her hair but wears the cord as a hair decoration anyway. The red string is restored and its changed form represents a new step in their relationship. Throughout the film Taki and Mitsuha have had to compromise on each others’ lifestyles. Mitsuha’s new appearance seems to be a culmination of this: the boyish haircut coupled with the hair cord. She also gains Taki’s courage, seen when she confronts her father in a very similar way Taki did in her body previously. (Taki also experiences a similar change but it is not as pronounced. As far as I know he just got “kinder”.) This is musubi because their two souls have actually intertwined. From a romance perspective, I guess this is how couples change each other for the better.

And what happens after is classic red string of fate. Interestingly Mitsuha’s final hairstyle is a half ponytail. Analysing any farther would actually be overkill though so I’m just going to leave it as a design choice.

I don’t think I’ve conveyed even one tenth of what I actually wanted to say about the film. It’s so rich in symbolism just analysing it in my head was a ton of fun. Best film I’ve ever watched in my life. Definitely want to watch it again.

Lesser Known Fanfic Rec List!

In this case I am defining ‘lesser known’ as having under 10,000 views on AO3.

Stimulating Conversation 

by @kimthreerings 

http://archiveofourown.org/works/10794513/chapters/23943609

AO3 Summary: Yuuri is determined to get to the bottom of why Victor keeps flirting with him. This leads to a conversation. With alcohol.

Canon-divergent AU exploring what might have happened had Yuuri and Victor actually communicated far earlier. A series of conversations and smut as their relationship develops.

My comments: This fic explores a concept I personally haven’t really seen done that much, and handles it really well! It’s a really good re-imagining of the series and I’m always really happy when I get the update notifications for it. 

The Next Level 

By @azriona

http://archiveofourown.org/works/10599636/chapters/23434005

AO3 Summary: So this is being engaged to a fellow skater: it’s trying to figure out whose sweats are whose, writing competition dates on the calendar in different colored pens, late-night arguments over sequins versus feathers, running out of the really good foot plasters after the shops have closed for the night.

The skating season continues (as skating seasons are wont to do), while Victor and Yuuri negotiate the shifts in their relationship, their careers, and their home rink.

Sometimes, things even go as planned.

My comments: Oh my god this is the perfect continuation of Yuri On Ice. I really love this one because it feels pretty realistic to me, not everything is perfect butterflies and rainbows, and the real challenges Viktor and Yuuri explore within this are interesting and well done, and true to character. 

Eros, and Other Love Stories

By @phoenixrei

http://archiveofourown.org/works/11199141

AO3 Summary: Eros. Yuuri understands it in theory, of course. He’s seen what must be hundreds of movies about the very topic, but never really understood them. Never understood why the protagonists of these films make such fools of themselves for sex, or why they fall head over heels in love with the first pretty face they see. He nods and smiles and sighs along with the rest of them… but he’s never related to those characters’ struggles. Not even a little.

What is wrong with him?

A character study of Japan’s ace, Katsuki Yuuri.

My comments: So an ace!Yuuri fic wouldn’t ordinarily be my kind of thing but this story handles the subject with such beauty and care, and also feels very in character. It’s quite short but a heartwarming and good read. 

See You Next

By rougeandtonic (sorry no idea if they have a tumblr) 

http://archiveofourown.org/works/10174016/chapters/22598411

AO3 Summary: Yuuri realizes that he’ll sabotage Victor’s career if he asks him to coach and compete at the same time. This leads to a standoff of ultimatums over who will skate and who won’t.

A standoff that ends with Victor in St Petersburg and Yuuri half a world away.

Or,

In which Yuuri needs to learn to listen and Victor needs to learn to speak.

My comments: I wouldn’t usually read a break up fic but this is just done so well! It’s hard to explain really but the way the author shows the texts and all sorts of things like that that happen make it really compelling and heartbreaking in the best way. Though is one is angsty, it’s a really, really great story. It’s kind of like ‘worst case scenario’ realistic. 

Midnight Lover

By Nix 

https://archiveofourown.org/works/11362935/chapters/25435863

AO3 Summary: Viktor Nikiforov, figure skating god and human trainwreck, flies halfway across the world from the only home he’s ever known in a last-ditch attempt to salvage his life. His demons follow him faithfully.

Katsuki Yuuri, reticent vampire and trouble magnet, pulls a drowning man out of the ocean on a whim and winds up with an unconscious human celebrity in his house. He knows it’s a mistake to keep him.

Viktor wakes, Yuuri stays, and they get too attached too fast.

In which Viktor is running from himself and Yuuri is not anyone’s savior.

My comments: Such a good and enjoyable vampire AU so far, one of my favourites within the fandom in fact. The writing is good and the kink levels are just right so I don’t think it would put too many people off with the blood thing. Also, the discussion of Viktor’s depression is beautifully done

I Write Sins, Not Tragedies

By cuttlemefish

https://archiveofourown.org/works/11739669/chapters/26455002

AO3 Summary: Things would be a little easier if Yuuri wasn’t so in love with his husband Viktor, especially considering they have an arranged marriage. Two years after their wedding, Yuuri and Viktor are incredibly in love, but can’t seem to get over the hump of their platonic union to consummate their marriage! Good thing Yuuri is the most (in)famous erotic fanfiction author of the Love in the Streets fandom. Now, he’s got the support of the Internet to figure out how to seduce his husband, if only he can continue to keep their identities a secret. Or, the AU in which everyone thinks Yuuri and Viktor have the perfect marriage full of adventurous sex when, in fact, Viktor sleeps in the guest bedroom and Yuuri writes erotic fanfiction to quench his thirst.

My comments: This story has only just started, but I already love it so much. Not only is the idea of Yuuri writing fanfiction fantastic to me, but it’s very in character and seems pretty real. I find myself entertained by this story and really can’t wait for more

2

Jenna, the Kleptomaniac? - In July 2015, Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman were in Germany for a BBC Fan Event held at the Apple store in Berlin. The resulting press conference and Q&A panels were a “Whouffaldi” fan’s dream. In three video interviews and on one audio tape, Jenna and Peter displayed a warmth and affection for each other unrivaled by any other “TV star” pairings.

After nine months filming their show in Cardiff (from 7a.m. to 7p.m. each day!) and 2 weeks together promoting Doctor Who in America, Peter and Jenna appeared as engaged and interested in each other as if it were their first day together.

Below this link, I have added some transcribed highlights of Peter and Jenna’s “audio only” press conference interview. Their answers are insightful and usually pretty funny. I hope you enjoy it.

Keep reading

Imagine This [Rated R Version]- (Chris Evans x Reader)

Originally posted by beardedchrisevans

Word Count: 2.1k (I got carried away) 

A/N: Guess who wrote smut for the first time in 2 years? I’m a little rusty, so be nice. I hope this gets your knickers in a twist. Literally. If this man in a tux hasn’t already done it (hello sailor!). Keep those prompts coming in, darlings. If you want to read the PG version of this story, check it out on my blog

Keep reading

notdanhowell

summary: Dan has a guilty pleasure: phan blogs. It’s a mixture of conceited arrogance and morbid curiosity, really. And really, it’s a mixture of these two things that lead to him catfishing members of his phandom and becoming a headcanon blog. After all, what harm can one headcanon do?
word count: 2318/20,000
warnings (this chapter): anxiety attacks, angsty!dan

LAST CHAPTER | NEXT CHAPTER

The first thing Dan notices when he wakes up is that it’s bright. The bed’s still warm, and there’s a lump where Phil had been. Dan notices Phil isn’t there anymore. He doesn’t have time to question the weirdness of this fact because his stomach growls and he comes to the realization that he hasn’t eaten anything since the last morning and that’s just unacceptable.

Keep reading

A Mutual Agreement // A Phan One-Shot

Genre: fluff, domestic fluff

Words: 2.6k

Relationship status: together

Warnings: alcohol, swearing, mentions of sex

Summary: Those nights when Dan and Phil have nothing going on are the best nights. / A.k.a. an unnecessarily fluffy fic.

A/N: This is in celebration of getting 2000 followers! I hope you all enjoy this insanely fluffy fic that I wrote at 11:30 last night lol 

I might make a part 2 to this sometime in the future (and you’ll understand why when you read the fic :D)

I hope you enjoy, and once again, thank you for 2000 followers!

Keep reading

A few dark cartoons for those who are interested

So if you have ever been in one of my livestreams, chances are you know about my love for dark cartoons from my childhood. I need to distract myself a bit from work right now and decided to make a short list of a few of the cartoon shows and movies that stuck with me for one reason or another, some of them from my childhood, some of them from not so far back. I’ll give a very basic non-spoilery summary and, in a separate part, an example that is probably spoilery.
My only „rule“ is that they’re not rated for mature audiences. These are just some creepy, strange or downright disturbing animated series and films that I like and that you may wanna check out if you’re interested. Remember, these aren’t the worst things out there, far from it! But it’s the sometimes subtle horror of children’s cartoons that is a special brand of dark. I am not putting any links here. This is also a lot from my memory, so I apologize should I get something wrong.

The Animals of Farthing Wood (1993)

Summary: Based on a book series, this is a show about a bunch of animals who need to find a new home after their forest is destroyed by mankind. They make a pact to not kill each other and instead help each other out until they reach their goal, but their journey is long and full of danger, with several animals dying horrible deaths along the way. They don’t shy away from showing blood either. I also remember it having one of the worst romantic relationships I’ve ever seen. The show has 39 episodes and was broadcasted on channels for children.
This was kind of like a kid’s version of Game of Thrones, as in: I watched this show. Most of my friends watched this show. And we’d always discuss the latest deaths and hope our favorites didn’t die.

Examples: There’s a kind of infamous scene where a red-backed shrike kills all the baby mice and impales them on a thorn bush. Yes, you see the baby corpses with blood and everything. The show is also unintentionally hilarious at some points because sometimes, none of the characters give a shit about somebody’s death and they just move on and never mention it again immediately.

The Yearling (Kojika Monogatari) (1983)

Summary: This one fucked me up as a kid, as in: this one stuck with me so intensely that I still remember the entire scene frame by frame after more than 15 years. It taught me that life isn’t fucking fair at the age of 6 or something.
This is another one based on a book (most of these are), it’s the story of a farmer boy who one day finds a fawn in the woods and keeps it as his pet. The whole show is kinda boring now that I think of it, it’s the boy growing up with his best friend and pet and he has his ups and downs. Until the last few episodes happen.

Examples: I am including this because of the last I think three episodes. in short: character death and emotional trauma. This show has about 50 episodes, so you’re with these characters for a rather long time. I am just going to spoil the ending, so if you want to go blindly into this, please stop reading this now: Near the end, the protagonist’s best friends becomes  sick, but it looks like he’ll be okay. Until the boy one day wants to visit him and finds the whole family grieving; the friend is dead. We experience the very sad funeral and hope that please, let the last two episodes bring us some hope. But no, the now grown-up deer eats all the crops and the boy, after failing to chase his now only friend in the world away, has to shoot him in the head. And that’s the end. It literally ends with a boy losing the last friend he has by killing him and then having to take over the farm at age 14 or something. That’s the ending.
Fun fact: You know what the German title of this show translates to? „All my friends“ . What a happy title to this tragedy.

Felidae (1994)

Summary: This one wasn’t aimed at children, but i’s rated 12 and up, so it counts.
Felidae is a murder mystery with cats. The main character, Francis, moves to a new home with his owner and immediately finds a dead cat in the courtyard. He starts to investigate and soon finds out that there is a serial killer on the loose. Really, it’s a detective story with cats.

Examples: Gore. So much gore. This is one of the most violent cartoons I’ve ever seen, even if I included animated movies with an R rating. I have no idea how this was rated 12. There’s beheading, disemboweling, explicit animal experiments, torture, a gutted pregnant cat, all in full plain view. It wasn’t made by a major studio, but the animation is pretty decent. Nothing spectacular, but decent. Also, the gore seems to have the best animation. Oh also, on a non-disturbing level, there’s a cat sex scene with saxophone music.
I personally really like this one. It has it’s hiccups, but it’s interesting and I love murder mysteries. I thankfully didn’t watch and read this as a little kid.

Mountain Villa Murder (from Detective Conan) (1996)

Summary: More murder mystery! This is from Detective Conan (aka Case Closed), an anime series about a brilliant young detective named Conan who is turned into a little boy because of a strange poison. While he tries to find a way to become an adult again, he lives with his crush and her father, who both don’t know who he really is. The father is a detective as well (though a bad one) and Conan stays at his side, secretly solving all the mysteries for him. I watched this all the time in elementary school and I still find enjoyment in it today.

Examples: Mountain Villa Murder Parts 1 + 2. There are a lot of brutal episodes, most of the cases were murders after all, but I think Mountain Villa Murder (episodes 34 and 35) are a great example to show how elaborate and gruesome the killings would get sometimes. I don’t want to spoil anything about these episodes.
Watching the entire show is sadly kinda exhausting because A) at some point you just know this is never gonna end and B), there are certain patterns to most cases and once you figure these out, which sadly happens quite quickly, you can usually guess who the culprit is even before the murder happens. But it’s still entertaining as hell, at least to me.

Pingu’s dream and Pingu in the Ice Cave (1990)

Summary: My country seems to have produced exactly two pop-culture relevant things: Oh Yeah by Yello and Pingu. The latter is a cute stop-motion show about a little penguin named Pingu who basically behaves like a little boy. It’s about him doing pranks and getting shit for it, there’s a lot of hugging in it which is really cute and also sometimes, stuff goes wrong. Usually, it’s harmless though. Usually.

Example: There are two episodes that scared me on two different levels. If you have 5 minutes, I urge you to watch „Pingu’s dream“, an infamous little episode of that show, where he has a nightmare that completely derails from kinda funny to utter horror when he encounters a giant walrus, straight up from the Uncanny Valley, tormenting him. It’s kinda funny, but the walrus looks and sounds way too creepy.
The other one is „Pingu in the ice cave“. I don’t know if this is just me to be honest, but this is one of the first and only times I felt actual fear during a movie. Pingu and his friend get stuck in a big ice cave and try to find their way out. That’s it, but it’s unsettling. They’re all alone, nobody knows they’re in there, there’s a scene where the friend just sits down and cries in despair. It’s just such a horrifying scenario that it still fills me with dread to watch it. The friend crying in fear of his life is too much. It’s just 5 minutes, but it’s really kinda unsettling to watch. Nothing too bad I suppose, but still… it’s kinda like The Descent with penguins.

I also wanna mention Watership Down (1972) and Plague Dogs (1982), which most people know about already though.

These are the first few that came to mind, there’s tons more, of course, but for now, that should be enough. If anyone is interested, I can do another one of these some day. Thank you for reading!

10

Top Ten: STEPHEN KING ADAPTATIONS

10) CARRIE (Brian De Palma 1976): The seminal horror film from Brian De Palma is King’s original mind bending story of bullying gone wrong. Sissy Spacek might have been a little too old for the role of a high school girl. But the performances of Piper Laurie as Carrie’s insane mother, and Betty Buckley as the gym teacher add class to the entire film. A great career start from John Travolta and Nancy Allen, the scene that has made the film famous might have been lampooned so many times, but it’s still a piece of cinematic genius. From the awkward and slightly perverted opening to the big shock at the end, De Palma is clearly in love with the story and wants to make a film that is about women, that both genders can enjoy. He succeeds. (Based on the novel “Carrie”)

9) STAND BY ME (Rob Reiner 1986): A classic story of childhood features brilliant performances from the young cast. Based on the third novella in the compendium Different Seasons. The touching story of a group of children that discover a dead body. Something that could be seen as a pre-curser to Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave, the story has no pretensions of being anything other than a beautiful ode to growing up. Richard Dreyfuss classes up the whole film with his cinematic stature. But the entire film hinges on the likeability of the young actors, it might only be Keifer Sutherland that actually gained a career after the film, and the tragic loss of River Phoenix make for upsetting viewing, but the entire film is beautiful. (Based on the novella “The Body” from Different Seasons)

8) SECRET WINDOW (David Koepp 2004): From the outset a rather incidental film from all involved, but actually a hidden gem in the catalogue of King adaptations, Koepp films and Depp performances. Depp plays a writer who is accused by a strange man, John Tuturro, of stealing his story. The thriller builds on two great central performances. Once from an incredibly sinister Tuturro and another from Depp on fine form before his apparent downfall. This film might, yet, prove to be the last great Depp performance and if that be, well it’s a decent enough performance, twitchy, worried and desperate. The film builds to an inevitable twist, and your reaction really depends on how much you read and understand film cliches. (Based on the novella “Secret Window, Secret Garden” from Four Past Midnight.)

7) THE DEAD ZONE (David Cronenberg 1983): Christopher Walken plays a man who after a horrific accident is able to see a person’s future by touching them. What follows is a part horror film, part superhero origin story and part political thriller. Walken, like Spacek in Carrie, does great as someone trying to understand what has happened to him and what is going to continue happening to him. Martin Sheen plays the politician with a heart of absolute black and perfectly plays the role of villain. While in lesser hands Sheen would be the hero and Walken the villain, Cronenberg mounts a thrilling horror film with building tension. Not one of his showier films, but one of the more enjoyable and with a brilliantly understated central performance by Walken, who reigns in his mannerisms to play the meek and mild Johnny Smith gives one of his career bests. (Based on the novel “The Dead Zone”.)

6) THE MIST (Frank Darabont 2007): The first of three Darabont films to make it on the list, this tense supernatural monster movie pits a group of New England townsfolk against a a sinister mist and the monster that lie within it. Darabont plays down the monsters outside for the monsters inside with a host of brilliant character actors showing their worth: Thomas Jane and Nathan Gamble play father and son to great success, with William Sadler and Marcia Gay Harden providing villainous support, Laurie Holden, Toby Jones and Andre Braugher also class up the proceedings. The ending is either a stroke of brilliance, or a let down depending how invested you are in the characters, but as a tense inspection of how society breaks down under pressure, it’s pure brilliance. (Based on the novella “The Mist” from Skeleton Crew).

5) APT PUPIL (Bryan Singer 1998): A brilliant study in evil, and the corruption of two people with souls already rotting to the core, Apt Pupil casts Brad Renfro as the all American apt pupil of the title, and Ian McKellen as the nazi down the road hiding in plain sight. In Todd Bowden, Renfro gives a performance that should stand up alongside the likes of Malcolm McDowell’s Alex De Large or even Ezra Miller’s Kevin. McKellen already a respected actor sinks his thespian teeth into the role of Arthur Denker, and later his true identity of Kurt Dussander. While David Schwimmer might look a little out of place in this broiling tension filled thriller, McKellen keeps everything grounded with his sublime performance. The scene in which McKellen marches in a nazi uniform is particularly unsettling. (Based on the novella “Apt Pupil” from Different Seasons).

4) MISERY (Rob Reiner 1990): That moment all writer’s hate - when someone approaches you and tells you that they’re your biggest fan. Psycho fanboys threatening death because you botched the latest issue of Spider-Man have got nothing on Annie Wilks played to perfection by Kathy Bates, with James Caan as famed novelist Paul Sheldon who writes the Misery Chastain books. Clearly drawing on his own nightmare scenarios, King’s novel proved to be an unsettling chiller, but under the direction of Reiner who had success years earlier with Stand By Me, mounts a tense almost two person drama about an obsessive fan, and a writer at the end of his tether. Bates’ Academy Award win has gone on to become a benchmark in female villains and in the “bunny boiler” subset. The scene involving a sledge hammer, James Caas, and an ankle makes for one of the most wince inflicting moments in cinema. (Based on the novel “Misery”).

3) THE GREEN MILE (Frank Darabont 1999): One of two King prison drama, the second of three Darabont films, and a supernatural story about the goodness one man can bring all come to the forefront of this moving drama. Death row officers Tom Hanks, David Morse, Barry Pepper and Jeffrey DeMunn are at their wits end with the obnoxious Doug Hutchinson. The inmates, Michael Jeter and Graham Greene are all put out of sorts with the arrival of Michael Clarke Duncan’s towering John Coffey convicted of raping and murdering two little girls. This epic film, featuring Sam Rockwell, Gary Sinise, James Cromwell, Patricia Clarkson, William Sadler and Dabbs Greer all offer brilliant performances, but the film belongs to Hanks and Duncan who both give career bests. The film builds to a gentle climax and the finale leaves you in floods of tears. Darabont’s sensitive direction, as well as another brilliant score from Thomas Newman make for a long, poetic and beautiful experience. (Based on the novel “The Green Mile”).

2) THE SHINING (Stanley Kubrick 1980): Considered by some to be the ultimate horror film, Kubrick’s adaptation of the King’s most infamous novel makes many differences from the novel but offers a different take on the same idea. Jack Nicholson takes a job as a winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel and brings his wife and young son along. What follows is a terrifying journey into the psyche of a man haunted by vice, conflicted by anger and hunted by the spirits of The Overlook. Scatman Crothers is brilliant as Dick Halloran, but the film is all about Nicholson’s simmering performance. Of course the greatest moment comes from an almost gentle conversation in a bathroom between Nicholson’s Jack and Philip Stone’s Delbert Grady. A simple conversation that grows and grows as fear becomes more and more. With the legacy of the film as well as the death of Kubrick it’s unlikely we’ll see a film based on Doctor Sleep anytime soon, the changes made from novel to film would need Kubrick himself to decide how to do it. Which is a shame, because Kubrick’s Doctor Sleep would have been quite the film. (Based on the novel “The Shining”).

1) THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (Frank Darabont 1994): Of course it has to be the number one, the enduring favourite of any film buff. Accused of a crime he may or may not have committed, Tim Robbins’ Andy Dufrense shows up at Shawshank prison and befriends Morgan Freeman’s life timer and “only guilty man in Shawshank” Red. The friendship is the centre of this moving drama film which offers the idea that fear can hold you prisoner, but hope can set you free. Clancy Brown, Willam Sadler and Bob Gunton all class up the proceedings, with a brilliant Thomas Newman score and the soothing tones of Freeman’s narration letting us know we’re in safe hands. Gunton’s Warden Norton might go down, along with Grady, Mrs Carmody and Annie Wilks are one of the great Stephen King villains, here is played with just the right amount of malice and cruelty, but still a believable menace. The final scene might not be what King fans would want, but it perfectly ends a film that is, essentially, a love story between two guys. (Based on the novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” from Different Seasons).

Baby Driver (2017)

What do you get when you rely on a daily diet of pop music, television, and Hollywood? Baby Driver

Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is a thoroughly entertaining homage to pop culture. Borderline Tarantino-esque without being tiresome, it grabs the audience from bold, brazen opening all the way to its bombastic, bubblegum end. Interestingly enough, what makes this film original is that it’s intentionally formulaic. It draws from pop culture tropes to tell a tale as old as time: a man of few words doing one last, dangerous job, falls in love with a breathless waitress only to imperil her as his unsavory contacts come after them both and threaten his dream of a quiet, painfully normal life. 

It’s a movie you’ve seen a thousand times before, and yet there’s nothing quite like it.  

Baby Driver was non-stop pure fun, powered by a raucous soundtrack and a talented cast. Ansel Elgort is Baby, an amalgam of Ferris Bueller and Ryan Gosling’s character from Drive, and prolific getaway driver to a seriously bad batch of criminal elements that included Jon Hamm and Eliza González’s Bonnie and Clyde duo Buddy and Darling, Jamie Foxx’s perpetually paranoid Bats, and Jon Bernthal’s agro alpha male Griff. Kevin Spacey rounds out this ragtag group with his mild-mannered yet menacing Doc. 

We learn that Baby was roped into this seedy underbelly because he once swiped a car that belonged to Doc. Big mistake, as Doc is some kind of criminal mastermind who, like the Lannisters, is all about those debts. Baby is at the mercy of Doc’s every beck and call, playing getaway driver to all sorts of crazy heists, from bank robberies to post office holdups. Baby doesn’t care much for this life of crime, but he trudges through it so he can get square with Doc and get out for good. But as we savvy consumers of Hollywood films know all too well, there’s no such thing as getting out for good.

Kudos to the stunt choreography in this film, because that opening intro was such a joy to watch. Special mention must be made for Jamie Foxx, who seemed to play the role of Bats with relish. His intensity leapt off the screen, and he made a fantastic antagonist to our young hero. Kevin Spacey, as per usual, brought his signature sneer and style to the film. Overall, Baby Driver boasted a solid cast of characters.

Music is a character of its own in Baby Driver, fueling Baby’s auto antics as he swerves and drifts through the streets in a series of adrenaline-pumping stunts. Elgort looks like he’s having a blast as he channels his best Ferris Bueller, flitting from scene to scene with an easy charisma far from expected from the Fault in our Stars actor. He infused Baby with a swagger that made him endlessly likable…almost too likable. But when you think about the story being deliberately referential, you suspend your disbelief and watch this smooth talking wheelman charm the pants off of Lily James’ blonde ingénue.

…which brings me to the subject of female tropes. On the surface, it’s easy to take umbrage at the clichés of women in the film. You’ve got James’ demure damsel who giggles at everything Baby says and González’s Darling, the fighting fucktoy who spends most of the film scantily clad and wrapped around Jon Hamm. So you’ve got the classic madonna/whore dichotomy, and a leading lady who solely exists to be the fulcrum for Baby’s man pain. But wait! Before you go and fetch your pitchforks, these stock characters of cinema are there for a reason. The whole film relies on your instant recognition of these tropes. Once the audience realizes this, the movie becomes a whole new experience. 

It’s a risky concept, but one that Wright tackles with gusto. He imbues Baby Driver with humor, action, sweetness, and danger; it’s an odd mix of styles to throw into a single movie, to be sure, but as Tarantino’s True Romance demonstrates, it can be done. In keeping with its musical spirit, Baby Driver crescendoes through some predictable moments before saving the totally batshit for last: a grand finale that is so outlandish and over-the-top, it could have been straight out of a comic book.

And that’s the reason why Baby Driver is so good. It commits. It takes a leap of faith that the audience will trust that a movie can be based on Hollywood formulas yet still be told in a refreshing and exciting way. It’s almost too meta, pointing out that while we decry movie tropes and roll our eyes at cinema stereotypes, they can still be enjoyable if you’ve got a good story. 

Oh, and let’s not forget that badass soundtrack, of course.

I’ve determined that DC is more like DreamWorks and it should come as no surprise that Marvel is like Disney (since the brand is owned by Disney).

Disney is known for making products that the public can easily jump on board and label as “high quality.” Now, whether or not their products are high quality or not is a question of which there is no absolute answer, since quality is a matter of opinion. Their products make money. Even the ones that people don’t like as much make money. It’s a brand that sells itself and has little failures. From a business standpoint, that is admirable, but Disney is not known to take a lot of risks. Sure, it takes some, but for the most part, they stick to a time tested formula until it becomes necessary to change it up. Take the Disney Princess, for example. Snow White was released in the 1930′s as a time when a woman’s role in society was to get married, have children, and stay home to take care of said children. Snow White reflects that and so do the princesses that follow for the next few decades or so. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are more similar to Snow White than they are different. Their lives revolve around the idea of finding love. This doesn’t start to make a slow change until the 1980′s with The Little Mermaid. Yes, Ariel’s main goal is to make the man she admires love her, but it’s really the first time we see a woman in these films kind of rebel and go against a man’s order (her father’s) in order to get what she wants. This is likely due to the fact that Disney recognized the world has changed since the 1930′s and allowed their product to evolve. After The Little Mermaid, we see more changes. We see the inclusion of Princesses of color (problematic characteristics included, of course), and we start to see that even though it seems the goal for them is still to find romance, they start to have more qualities than just that desire. Princess Jasmine wants to be treated like a person rather than a “prize,” Pocahontas (again, not a princess without her problematic elements) wants to be able to create her own path and make her own decisions about life. To be fair, both Pocahontas and Mulan are probably the first princesses who find love as almost an afterthought–’We brought peace to our societies, and oh yeah, I won the heart of this cute guy too!’ Followed by that, we had Tiana whose main goal was to own and operate her own restaurant and just happened to fall in love with a prince along the way, and then Rapunzel who just wanted a bit of freedom from her narcissistic “mother” and fell in love with a thief while obtaining it. Shortly after, we got Merrida who didn’t want to get married at all and Moana whose goal was to save her people from catastrophe. What does all this say? Well, it says Disney is willing to change with the times, but it seems they’ll only do so when it’s safe enough. Disney doesn’t want to risk upsetting people by challenging their views. Imagine if Princess Tiana, Merrida, or Moana were introduced in the 1930′s. You’d be introducing two young women of color with layers and without offensive caricaturistic features and a White princess who rebelled against gender norms. The public couldn’t handle it. Today, we would look back at that and have extra respect for Disney, but at the time, Disney would receive backlash and lose money.

The same can be said for the MCU. Does the MCU make enjoyable movies? Yes! Of course they do! Has it lately felt like the stories seem repetitive? To a lot of us, yes. That doesn’t necessarily make them bad (as I said before, this is subjective), but it is evidence that Disney and the MCU are playing it safe and less willing to take risks with their product, and like other Disney products, the MCU is changing with the times. The brand is almost ten years old, and we are finally getting Black Panther with a mostly Black cast, and we’ll be getting Captain Marvel sooner or later…but why did it take ten years? Because ten years ago, this would have been too risky, despite the fact that Universal took a risk by having a diverse cast in their Fast and the Furious franchise which seems to have paid off (it’s older than the MCU and still going strong). The MCU and Disney knew it could pay off to have diverse super heroes, but they just didn’t want to chance it.

Now, let’s talk about how DCEU is more like DreamWorks.

DreamWorks is by no means perfect, and they seem to know this. They’re responsible for the highly successful Shrek franchise and a few beautifully done hits such as The Prince of Egypt, along with this, they’re responsible for quite a few misses as well. Movies like Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas comes to mind, and although Boss Baby was a financial hit, many critics agreed that the movie itself was sub par. Then there are the experimental movies that maybe weren’t necessarily bad, but didn’t quite make enough money to be called a hit. Antz comes to mind, and the thing about Antz is that a kid could watch it and think, “This is such a fun movie about ants!” while adults can clearly see an allegory about social class. DreamWorks was never afraid of letting their art reflect the artists’s views of society and even politics, knowing that is the kind of thing that can possibly offend their viewers. Even Shrek wasn’t afraid to insert a tiny little joke about healthcare into one of their movies. Just look:

In short, DreamWorks was never a brand that shied away from taking risks all for the sake of playing it safe and being more likely to make money. DreamWorks allows itself to experiment, allows itself to fail, and seems to learn from its failures how to make a more successful film in the future.

How is this similar to DCEU? Well, simply put, the DCEU takes risks. Instead of showing us the same sort of cookie cutter Superman the public has grown comfortable with (happy-go-lucky-I’m-here-to-save-the-day-and-rescue-your-cat-from-a-tree!), the DCEU showed us more realistically what life would be like for Clark Kent, an immigrant who people expect to use his gifts to take care of them, but at the same time question his motives and are ready to tear down the moment he makes any sort of mistake. This is a highly risky thing to do, especially in the day and age where people are quick to shout “keep your politics out of what I love!” The DCEU Superman is very much like the immigrants of the real world who people are willing to accept the gifts they can give the society they are entering, but when it comes right down to it, the people of the society hate the immigrants themselves and want to see as little of them as possible.

Let’s move on to the diversity of the DCEU cast. Is it perfect? No. But has it demonstrated more of a willingness to put people of underrepresented marginalized groups on screen in lead roles rather than as side characters? Yes. And while it took Disney/MCU almost ten years to do this, it took the DCEU only three years since the birth of their franchise. This is during a time when White actors are heavily defended for taking roles written for POC (”They just picked the person best for the role! Why do we have to make everything about racism?”) while POC being cast in roles that were originally written as White are criticized for “insulting the audience’s intelligence” and “not being historically accurate” despite the fact that this happens most often, it seems, in both science fiction and fantasy films. Let’s also keep in mind how toxic comic book fandom can be towards women and POC. Despite all of the risk the DCEU is taking, it seems they are on a path to success.  Like DreamWorks, the DCEU isn’t afraid to hit a few critical bumps in the road and continue experimenting instead of playing it safe, so in the long run, MCU movies are probably always going to be looked at fondly, but it will probably be the DCEU that is appreciated for its willingness to experiment despite the negative feedback experimenting can cause.