LOGAN: The Death of the Comic Book Movie (The Birth of the Comic Book Genre)

This is not a review, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants of Gods, X-Men, Destiny, Time, Love, Storm, Rogue, Beauty… Comic Books.

Logan: The Death of a the Comic Book Movie (The Birth of the Comic Book Genre)

…Or this is just me rambling on about movies and comic books as usual.

Logan (20th Century Fox)

Directed by James Mangold

Written by Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green

Starring Hugh JackmanPatrick StewartRichard E. GrantBoyd HolbrookStephen Merchant & Dafne Keen

“I get the feeling this review is gonna hurt, kid. The kind of pain that doesn’t heal. You know what I mean?” “Of course I do. I’m extraordinarily wise for a lab experiment… oh yeah and I can drive.”

Make no mistake, people. Logan is not a good film. It’s not a good superhero film or a good western. Even as it tries to compare its own shit writing to the classic western Shane (SACRILEGE!!!), it is not a good movie, period. But what it is, what Logan turns out to be, is the latest in a welcome trend. A regular movie that just happens to star a comic book superhero. Not a superhero movie. Not a comic book movie. There are comic books in the movie. Wolverine waves them around from time to time, if that helps to put the character in context. But that’s about it. And it does not.

“You see, in this reality they made us into comic book superheroes for their kids but still hunted us down like dogs… because that makes total sense.”

Wolverine, everyone’s favorite X-Man, has had three solo movies. The first and the third have been complete bullshit. The second, however, is one of my favorite comic book movies of all-time. The second Wolverine is an homage to his stand alone title. It is a perfect replica. The pacing. The cinematography. This is The Wolverine. This is the comic that I collected from issue ONE. I say this all the time and I will say it here again. “If you do not respect the source material do not take on the job of bringing it to the screen.” But I was about to tell you what this awful movie Logan means for the industry.

“Awful? Well that’s just harsh. Play that Johnny Cash song again. I think I’m gonna cry.””

The first sci-fi genre was a straight space adventure. Trip To The Moon. The second was The vampire Film. Nosferatu. Since those two, we’ve had tons of space adventures and tons of takes on the vampire. These are tried and true genres that once every decade somebody tries to reinvent and breathe new life into. But also there are other types of movies that aren’t as flexible. They come and go from era to era. They disappear and have resurgences. Like the western or the gladiator movie. These are just types of movies not genres. (in this context anyway. Because words can be tricky)

“I will kill you all with my Star Wars Prequel Yoda-like, physics defying, aerial acrobatics because I am a cartoon character in a serious movie!!! ARRRGH!!!”

In the past, the superhero movie was a type. (type vs genre) It was a costumed adventure. Fight the bad guy. Save the girl. Save the world. Period. End of story. There were a few comedy bits thrown in but mostly it was the superhero’s tale. But these types of movies are coming to an end. Their time has passed. Logan is not a comic book movie. It just happens to star a character from a comic book. And that is awesome. (Even while the movie Logan is not that awesome).

“Say my movie is bad one more time. I dare you… Bub.” *snikt

Logan is not a western either, by the way. I read that somewhere. I disagree whole-heartedly. It thinks it’s a western, but it’s not. If anything it’s a post-apocalyptic survival story like Mad Max: Fury Road. But instead of a global apocalypse, Logan is about the mutant apocalypse. The chase to hunt down the last mutants. At the start of this movie all but three mutants are dead. Professor X, Callaban and Wolverine. By the end of this movie… no spoilers but everywhere you look people are saying this is the last Wolverine movie. This is the last Wolverine movie. So you figure it out. And don’t talk to me about the kids. They were made in a lab (*see note). So not a natural mutation. Logan, the end of the Wolverine franchise, is some dark stuff.

*note: Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton was added in a lab but his mutation, his healing factor (Deadpool has the same thing but that too is from a lab) and Wolverine’s heightened senses (smell mostly) are a natural mutation. Of course the movie Logan all but ignores his sense of smell. It’s almost like the writers never read the comic books… but anyway. What was I saying? Oh yes.

“Wolverine, would you please tell Mel to stay on topic.” “He doesn’t listen to me, Professor.”

The comic book superhero is officially a film genre and not a type of movie now. And I know I’m not using the right words but bear with me. Because the word genre can fit for both of these categories of things and it gets confusing. The way I’m differentiating here is in the ways they can be presented. Some film types are the same no matter what. Different plot. Different characters. But you know the beats. Romantic Comedy. You get the gist. International Spy Thriller. You know what you’re going to get. Gladiator films changed from Roman to Martial Arts but they generally stayed the same. The Comic Book Movie was just like that not too long ago. Dark or Light. Marvel or DC. Nolan’s Batman, Donner’s Superman, Whedon’s Avengers and Raimi’s Spiderman are all the same fucking films. Like the western. It was a box. You could throw whatever superhero you wanted into it and the beats would always be generally the same. I’m not saying they are all the same quality because they are not. And there’s nothing wrong with opening up a box, knowing what you’re going to get and still being pleasantly surprised. It’s hard to like movies unless you’re okay with that.

“Wait… Are you the vampire, Callaban? And does that make me the Zombie? I don’t get it.”

But then you have the full on classic genre that’s not beholding to any style. Vampires. Are probably the best example. There are no rules. You can have a space opera with vampires. You can have a rom com with vampires or a western. Most recently Zombies have become the go to for putting them wherever the fuck you want. If you made a section of vampire movies it would make no sense. There would actually be more types of movies than you could shake a stick at under the vampire genre. Comic book superheroes are now officially crossing into that zone. And I’m psyched. The R rated comic book film with no crime to fight, no world to save… fuck yeah.

“Did somebody call for a super-villain? That isn’t really super or necessarily a villain. Just a misguided corporate stooge who blindly follows orders. Did somebody call for a misguided corporate stooge who blindly follows orders?”

And again I’m talking Sherlock Holmes in space type shit. Not just some detective. I’m talking about recognizable comic book superheroes in all kinds of movie boxes. Not just some generic superhero they made up that’s supposed to remind us of stuff from the comics, but the name-brand heroes from the comics. It’s time for a Batman movie where he never puts on the cape. Just a detective story or a revenge tale. One of my favorite aspects of The Hulk movie (still my favorite comic book adaptation) is the romance between Liv Tyler and Ed Norton. And that’s what the Hulk was for me when I was a kid, a romance. Stop trying to make him into a superhero. He’s not a superhero. He’s a monster in love. Spider-man as a teen drama would be nice. Sure he’s still the spider-man but that’s not the movie. The movie is about a kid trying to finish high school. Stop it with the super-villains. Enough already. We get it.

“Logan, do you remember that Star Trek episode where Captain Picard has a full life and grows old in a simulated tribute to an alien species?” “No I didn’t watch that nerd crap.” “I wish that was what this was. Because this movie is depressing as fuck.”

So anyway, what Logan represents to me is the death of the comic book movie. We saw the beginnings in Winter Soldier… that’s more of a spy thriller than comic book. And Deadpool… an R rated fourth wall comedy, a parody of itself. The comic book movie as movie type, is burning itself out. There will still be tons made, because you know how it takes Hollywood a couple of decades before they get the point, but we’re already getting tired of them. Bring on the comic book heroes in regular movies. These are great classic characters. They don’t have to fight The Riddler every week. That’s just their job. It doesn’t have to also be the movie plot.

“Here Lies The Superhero Movie Genre… I mean Movie Type… May It Rest In Peace… I mean Pieces. – Hugh Jackman.”

So Logan, this mediocre, unbelievably corny and poorly written take on The Wolverine, really wasn’t that great of a movie from where I was sitting (seat L10 right behind the wheelchair section because, you know, leg room ftw). Even though Hugh Jackman is great as Wolverine, here he reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger coming back to play the Terminator one last time… nostalgic. And to tell the truth, I didn’t see Wolverine in Logan at all. I saw the actor who plays Wolverine and a character with claws who references the comic books like that’s enough. That’s not enough.

“Daddy?” “Yes Laura… wait. Did you just call me daddy? Damn, maybe Mel is right. This is some corny ass shit.” “I have to go to the bathroom.” “Hold it. We’re almost there.” “AARRRRGH!!” “Really? Again with the screaming?”

But what I also saw, in the theater, and on the screen, is what it means for comic book movies going forward… a whole new set of rules. The possibilities are endless. Creativity run amok. And that shit was better than the movie. That shit was beautiful.

– Mel

The Comic Book Movie is dead.

Long Live the Comic Book Genre.

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The Revenant

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

The Revenant (20th Century Fox)

The Revenant poster

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Written by Mark L. Smith & Alejandro G. Iñárritu  Based on The Revenant by Michael Punke

Starring Leonardo DiCaprioTom HardyDomhnall GleesonWill Poulter & Forrest Goodluck

The Revenant is a revenge fantasy. Beautifully photographed and superbly directed, it is gorgeous. The movie is raw and violent and untamed like the early midwest. Leonardo DiCaprio is fantastic but he isn’t the stand-out performance in the movie because Tom Hardy is amazing as the focus of Leo’s revenge. This is the bloody and savage wilderness. And it is brutally savage. This is the beginnings of the slaughter of Native Americans and the raping of the land. But it is as lovely as it is grizzly. And believe me, it is grizzly. I kid you not. The Revenant is fucking awesome.

Verdict: SPARED

Leo DiCaprio in The RevenantFirst things first. Alejandro Iñárritu is an incredible artist. I have searched far and wide for the next Stanley Kubrick and I think I’ve found him. Like Kubrick his movies are astonishing and beautifully animated epic photographs. His actors give performances that are head and shoulders above everything else they’ve done in their careers. And his stories are complex and intricate tales of the deeper and darker sides of the human experience. He’s just insanely good at his job.

The Revenant chase

Leonardo DiCaprio is sensational. He may finally win that Oscar after all. And like Matt Damon in The Martian, he finds himself alone in a harsh environment and must summon the will to survive against incredible odds. But unlike Damon, he doesn’t spend the time alone talking to himself. Actually Leo has very few lines in the movie (Like Charlize Theron in Fury Road, or Tom Hardy in the same movie) but DiCaprio makes you feel his pain. Every last bit of it. And there’s a lot to go around.

The Revenant

However for me, Tom Hardy’s is the truly astonishing performance. This is the best I’ve ever seen him. And looking at his credits, he’s consistently good in everything. He is not just the villain of this piece. He is all the negative emotions. He is fear. He is impatience. He is ego. And he is greed. He is amazing in the film. You can hate him sometimes and you can feel sorry for him but you can still fucking hate him. There are two fantastic performances in The Revenant. And while I can possibly live without DiCaprio getting an Oscar, Tom Hardy is the best I’ve seen. He really deserves one.

Tom Hardy in The Revenant

Trigger warning. The movie treats women badly. It’s a testosterone fest. The French and European and early American adventurers didn’t bring their wives with them. They instead raped (or sometimes fell in love with) the Native American women they stole from the tribes that they sacked and pillaged along the way. The Revenant is a cruel movie, racist and sexist and awful. Everyone is awful. But so is the land and the weather and the animals. Everyone talks about that bear scene. It’s as bad as they say. But who ever said it was a rape scene is mistaken. The bear is female for one. She’s just protecting her cubs. Again, the movie is very cruel to everything and everyone. No animals excluded.

The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio

And while I’m not a big fan of revenge movies, I do love a good survival flick. So to me, The Revenant is less about revenge and more about survival. (survival in order to get some revenge). And there’s some pretty cool survival fantasy shit in this movie. While Matt Damon had his science to help him, Leonardo’s guy has just his will to survive. And he’s a little superhuman at times. And it’s at those times where they lose me. So that’s why I think The Martian is a better movie. But as a fantasy survival revenge western, The Revenant is a gorgeous throwback to the good old days. This is the best gritty western movie since Eastwood’s Unforgiven.

Tom Hardy The Revenant

The Revenant is a beautiful movie. Brutally unforgiving and emotionally draining. And even though I want The Martian to win best picture this year, I kind of think The Revenant will beat it by a whisker. The whiskers of a very large and pissed off grizzly bear.

– Mel

My 5 Favorite Fictional Women in 2015 (Film & TV) Mega Post

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a late End-of-Year list ALERT.

My Five Favorite Female Characters in Film and on TV in 2015

Everyone’s done with their end of the year lists except for me because I couldn’t think of anything I hadn’t posted already. Or anything mildly interesting or even a little different.

So I decided to stick with a subject that I know something about: Women.

Jessica Jones on the Subway

Okay that’s a joke. But 2015 has been the year of the woman in movies and on TV. So I’m surprised I didn’t think of this one sooner. Here are five lists of five women in my favorite films and TV shows from the year 2015.

And because I’m an habitual rule breaker (even my own rules), I included, at the end, a list of my five favorite real people. Some women who have kicked ass in 2015.

To the lists…

and speaking of kicking ass…

Top Five Female Leads in Action and Sci-fi Movies

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Daisy Ridley as Rey in The Force AwakensDaisy Ridley as Rey

I have to start with Rey. She was resourceful. She was tough. She was strong (with the force). She was independent. She was good-hearted (saving BB-8). And she was the best character in the best film of the year.

*Star Wars side note: Everybody’s got to knock The Force Awakens now that it’s the highest grossing and best film of all-time. It’s a sickness. “Everybody likes this thing, but I don’t, so I must be better than it and them.” Oh shut up. Or the idea of just hating something because it’s popular. My least favorite is the bad guys need to find a better way of terrorizing the galaxy besides destroying an entire planet or system. That doesn’t even make any sense. They can destroy a planet. There is no better way to terrorize the entire galaxy… except maybe destroying a star… oh wait.

I also like the way Rey knows that by removing the fuse on an electric door, it opens the door automatically. That every engineer in the galaxy would make the doors open by default when the power goes out. And to have it otherwise would be a fault in design. Because no engineer would ever make a death trap for themselves…

Ex Machina

Ex MachinaAlicia Vikander as Ava

I give this movie a hard time because of the ending but, make no mistake, Alicia Vikander deserves all the awards she will surely win for her performances in Ex-Machina and other films in 2015. She is fast becoming one of my favorite actresses (female actors). And my thoughts on the film change (slightly) when I realize that she’s the lead character. That she’s the main character. And it is essentially a movie about her. She’s the one being tested by her maker. However, I still think the ending is dumb.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road Charlize Theron and Nicholas HoultCharlize Theron as Furiosa

This movie surprised me in so many ways. But the happiest surprise was Furiosa. The movie may be called Mad Max but the lead character is Furiosa; the one-armed, truck driving, sharp-shooting, bad-ass that rules the road and the wasteland. Charlize already has an Oscar, and with very little dialogue her performance in Fury Road might be over-looked by the academy, but in my opinion it was one of the best performances of the year… in an action film. Best performances in an action film.

Sicario

Emily Blunt gun SicarioEmily Blunt as Kate

I really liked this movie. It’s dark and it’s violent but it’s also tense and suspenseful. Emily Blunt makes a fine FBI agent and the realism in Sicario, as well as her performance, makes you fear for her life from the first frame. But our hero can take care of herself.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

Mockingjay Part2

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss

If I’m allowed to drop the “Part 2” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 then it is an excellent film. The story suffers from being split into two parts. It becomes disjointed and it ruins the pacing and the symmetry with the other two films. But what is consistent throughout the series is Katniss. The lead character in The Hunger Games played by Jennifer Lawrence is a symbol, within the movie and with out. She is pure-hearted and fearless. She is compassionate and emotional and a great leader. Showing how these traits aren’t necessarily a weakness in leadership. She should be at the top of this list. And if it were an all-time squad she would be. But Katniss comes in fifth on this list because the movie that came out this year was half a movie.

Next up…

Top Five Female Leads in Comedies, Cartoons and Musicals

Amy

Amy Winehouse Healthy and HappyAmy Winehouse as Herself

I had to put Amy first because of how much respect I gained for her after watching this found footage biography. Amy is the star of the movie. We watch her grow up and we watch her ascend and we watch her fall. But I didn’t expect to like her as much I did. It is a cautionary tale. So she isn’t the strongest female character in any of these movies by a long shot. But we see her artistry. We see her stubbornness when it comes to her career. And we see her capacity for love. And her fearlessness when it comes to putting all of herself into her words and her music. And this also makes her the strongest female character in any of these movies by a long shot.

Inside/Out

Inside Out crewAmy Poehler as Joy

Speaking of movies that made me cry my eyes out. Inside/Out is a triumph of emotional honesty. A wonderful film and my pick for best animated feature. The lead character, the emotion of Joy, ironically, is one of the saddest characters in the film. While, Sadness is one of the most content. And it’s this emotional depth and maturity that makes Inside/Out one of the best films of the year… period.

Trainwreck

Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in TrainwreckAmy Schumer as Amy

What I like about the character of Amy, in the incredibly funny Trainwreck, is not only her sexual appetite, although it is a large part of who she is. And it’s not only her wit and sense of humor, even though Amy Schumer has written (and starred in) one the funniest movies of the year, portraying an amazingly witty magazine writer. But it’s how she’s such a mess otherwise. With the drugs and the alcohol and the fear of intimacy and lack of self-awareness or responsibility. But still somehow Amy makes us fall in love with her. (and by that I mean the character and the writer). 2015 was the year of Schumer.

The Little Prince

The Young Girl from The Little PrinceMackenzie Foy as Young Girl

In the little prince we see a young girl with her life mapped out in front of her. She is already an adult at a young age. Already responsible and organized, with no room for fun or imagination. It reminds me of the little women around the world who never get to be children for… reasons. But here we have a young girl who, first chance she gets, grabs adventure by the short hairs and runs with it.

Pitch Perfect 2

Anna Kendrick in Pitch PerfectAnna Kendrick as Beca

I put this here because I couldn’t think of a fifth one. And I liked this movie. I liked the songs and the singing and Elizabeth Banks does a great job directing. And I like Anna Kendrick. But to be pitch perfectly honest, it’s because I couldn’t think of anything else.

Next up… Television

Five Favorite Female Leads in Science Fiction/ Superhero TV

Jessica Jones (Netflix)

Jessica Jones and Kilgrave

Krysten Ritter as Jessica

There was no contest. Jessica Jones is the best. All five of these TV super heroines kick much ass, and take many names, but Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones is the sexiest, most kick-ass, most bad-mouthiest, most likable, most enjoyable hero on TV… man or woman.

Supergirl (CBS)

Supergirl

Melissa Benoist as Kara

Am I the only one that loves this show? Because I love this show and I don’t see enough people raving about it. It reminds me, appropriately enough, of the show Smallville, and I loved that show too. In that one, the hero was trying to find his place in the world before becoming Superman. In Supergirl, she’s already… Supergirl, but she too is trying to find where she fits in the larger scheme.

She struggles to find a balance between being a sister, a daughter, a friend, a hero, a savior, an alien, a human… an administrative assistant? She struggles to find a balance between work and home and saving the day and saving the world. A balance between her emotional strength and her physical strength. Her emotional shortcomings and her physical ones. And I love it.

While Melissa Benoist plays the invulnerable pretending to be vulnerable, it’s quickly turned on its side when she puts the cape on. It’s the other way around when she’s Supergirl. It’s then when she pretends that nothing hurts her.

But maybe I’m the only one who loves this show.

iZombie (CW)

iZombie

Rose McIver as Liv

iZombie is fun and funny and cute and crazy. Our hero Liv takes on the personality of the person whose brain she eats. Oh yeah, she’s a zombie who’s also a medical examiner. And as long as she eats brains she doesn’t lose her own personality to the zombie inside her but she also inherits the personality traits of the dead person for a while.

izombie brain noodles

But my favorite part of the show is when she cooks up the brains each week. I’ve always loved cooking, and they make the food look so good. It’s a different recipe every week and I don’t know if there’s any significance to how she prepares it. But it always looks incredible and makes me want to eat some brains.

Spicy Brain arial w soup iZombie

Okay that last part is a joke but the food looks amazing. They make brains look so good.

Agent Carter (ABC)

Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter

Hayley Atwell as Peggy

Agent Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, is a little too efficient at times but what impresses me about the super agent is the sheer amount of sexism she has to overcome. And the way she does it. So it’s incredibly satisfying when she proves not only is she as good as the male agents but better. And then of course it’s frustrating because there’s always another way they marginalize her. In a weird way it reminds me of Mad Men. Early Mad Men reminded us of the sexist attitudes of the fifties. Allowed us to see how much things have changed and forced us to realize how much things haven’t changed… from Agent Carter’s time period to Mad Men… (in the seventies this entire TV list would be Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman and Charlie’s Angels and that’s it) until today where there are many more women superheroes to choose from.

The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)

man in the high castle

Alexa Davalos as Juliana

I’m obsessed with this show. The story is so good. The lead character played by Alexa Davalos is an Aikido Instructor who gets caught up in an underground film smuggling ring. The films? Nothing too racy. Just old news reels about World War II. She gets caught up in this illegal trafficking years after the war ended. Years after Germany and Japan won the war against the allied forces and occupied the United States. Dividing the country into a German state in the east and a Japanese state in the west with a lawless zone somewhere between. But what makes these illegal films so special? Well, they don’t show the war quite right. They show the allied forces winning the second world war and America dropping bombs on Japan. And… well… that’s just not the way it happened.

Next up…

Top Five Female Leads in a Drama on TV

Empire (FOX)

Empire

Taraji P. Henson as Cookie

Has anyone else noticed that while Empire started off as one thing, it quickly became the Cookie Lyon show. Although they’ve softened her a bit (she’s been out of prison for a while now), she’s still a tough Cookie (and yes I did just type that). Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie Lyon tops my list for female leads in a Drama on TV because she not only stole the show but she stole the show. Long live the queen.

Fargo (FX)

kirsten-dunst-fargo

Kirsten Dunst as Peggy

People might argue that Kirsten Dunst isn’t the lead character on Fargo but I beg to differ. Peggy is the pivotal character. She is the reason for it all, and every thing runs through her. It would be a crime if she didn’t get the Emmy. But who knows about these things?

I do. I know about these things. She is amazing. In a show full of great performances, I would sit there week after week waiting for her to come back on the screen. She was just so enjoyable to watch. Truly an amazing performance. Give her an Emmy.

American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

American Horror Story Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga as The Countess Elizabeth

Speaking of truly amazing performances. Lady Gaga. Honestly, who knew she was this good. With one more episode to go, this season of American Horror Story has been my favorite, purely because of Lady Gaga. Like really, Jessica who? She has made me forget how great Jessica Lange was every year. The Countess is so many things at once and it shows on her face and it’s a sensational performance.

Scandal (ABC)

Scandal 2

Kerry Washington as Olivia

Okay. I like Scandal. I never liked Olivia Pope. This season, however, my opinion is changing. Seeing her out of her element. In power but powerless. It’s made me feel sorry for her. Before I was always sorry for everyone around her. The people she used. The people she hurt. The little people she trampled upon. Kerry Washington is doing a great job bringing more depth to a character that frankly I considered to be a bit of an asshole… and kind of a spoiled brat. I’m still Team Mellie (#TeamMellie) all the way but now that Olivia has walked a while in Mellie’s shoes, she’s not so smug.

Scream Queens (FOX)

Emma Roberts in Scream Queens

Emma Roberts as Chanel

The character is awful. She’s an awful person. Self-centered and vindictive. Not to mention homicidal and disloyal and… she’s just awful okay? But she’s so funny. Along with the other girls that she named after herself because why would she learn anyone else’s name, she made me laugh my ass off. And the nicknames she gives to other people are offensive and hysterical and because she has such a big personality, soon that becomes their name on the show. Scream Queens is very funny. I know I put it with the dramas but that’s because it’s an hour-long and people die. It’s pure madcap though because it’s silly as fuck. And the dialogue is so good.

And Billie Lourd (Carrie Fisher’s daughter) who plays Chanel #3 comes in a close second for funniest and best deadpan delivery. Great show.

*another Star Wars side note: I noticed while watching Force Awakens again (this time in IMAX) that nearly every time you see General Organa, almost every shot of her, there’s her daughter in the background.

Billie Lourd in The Force Awakens

In this shot we see General Organa’s back and her daughter in the background. When they show the general from the front, her daughter is still in the background. She’s in nearly every shot.

I don’t know if she plays her Administrative Assistant or something but it just struck me as funny. There’s always Leia and right behind her mini Leia. No matter the angle of the camera. Leia from the left side, there’s her daughter behind her. Leia from the right side, there’s her daughter again. Leia from the back, her daughters in front of her.

She’s always in the shot.

Next up…

Top Five Trans Women on TV

I want to make a special case for the wonderful leaps forward we have made with trans characters on TV. Only the first two are played by trans actresses (female actors), however (they just happen to be my favorite two).

Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

Sophia from Orange is the New Black

Laverne Cox as Sophia

This season there was only one Sophia-centric episode because they spent more time this year fleshing-out the other characters. Telling the back story of other women in the prison. But there was still a lot of Sophia to go around. I like the character enough but Laverne Cox is one of my favorite people.

Sense 8 (Netflix)

Nomi from Sense 8

Jamie Clayton as Nomi

Sense 8 is one of the best new shows from 2015. And Nomi was one of my favorite parts. The bad-ass hacker chick we know from all the shows. But with a gorgeous girlfriend and horrible relationship with her mother. Not to mention being a part of a cluster of unique people able to share their experiences and talents over great distances. And being a trans woman. She was very cool.

Impatiently waiting for Sense 8 to return.

Transparent (Amazon)

Maura from Transparent

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura

Amazon Prime is the new kid on the streaming block but comes into the market with a lot of cash and some talented writers. I already mentioned how much I love The Man in the High Castle. Transparent was their first major success. Award winning performances all around especially from Jeffrey Tambor who plays a trans woman who finds the courage to be her true self later in life. It is a very funny show with no shortage of LGBT representation but even as that’s what the show is about, it really isn’t what the show is about. It’s about family. Fantastic show.

American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

Liz from American Horror Story Hotel

Denis O’Hare as Liz

There are two bad-ass bitches on AHS: Hotel. We’ve already talked about The Countess but there’s also Liz Taylor who is such an amazing character. A bartender at the murder hotel, if this season had a protagonist, and it’s hard to find one each year, I’d say it was Liz. The sweetest, the kindest, the most identifiable character on the show. And yes she’s a trans bartender who works for a vampire in a hotel full of murderous ghosts but, that’s about as identifiable as this show will ever get.

Penny Dreadful (Showtime)

Angelique from Penny Dreadful

Jonny Beauchamp as Angelique

Jonny Beauchamp’s Angelique is heartbreakingly innocent in a show full of monsters. Like Liz before her I suppose. I love a good monster mash. A bunch of my favorite shows are just a collection of monsters. From Hemlock Grove to True Blood to American Horror Story to Penny Dreadful. I love a good monsters team-up. But always there’s this flower that grows in the desolate wasteland of horrors. And always it’s heartbreaking. Penny Dreadful is a great show by the way.

and Lastly… Real People

My Top Five Female “Characters” in American Culture

Hillary Clinton: The Politician. The next president.

Hillary Clinton

For taking the constant attacks from the Right and from the media and from Congress this year. (And the attacks from Bernie Sanders). And coming through it all looking presidential and clearly more qualified than anyone else for the job. #ImWithHer

Serena Williams: The Athlete. The greatest of all-time.

Serena Williams Sports Illustrated Sportsperson-of-the-year

For being the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson (athlete) of the year and the best woman’s tennis player of all-time. And honestly they wanted them to give it to a horse. WTF

Misty Copeland: The Dancer. The trailblazing ballerina.

Misty Copeland ABT

For becoming the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater and for being a fantastic athlete as well as an amazing artist.

Michelle Obama: The First Lady. (my boo)

Hillary Clinton And Michelle Obama Host Int'l Women of Courage Awards

For her continuous grace and strength under constant attacks from the right-wing media, even when they get personal and nasty and wholly disrespectful. And because she would be on this list every year for the last seven years.

And The Role Models:

The last entry is for the actresses who have changed the definition of Hollywood starlet to supreme bad-ass. Every generation has their young stars and up until now it’s been mostly a collection of boozers and party-ers and bad girls and really the worse of Hollywood’s spoiled brats.

Emma Watson (25) For already being a young feminist icon.

Jennifer Lawrence (24) For standing up for equal pay in an industry that some people think is already over-paid (but that’s not the fucking point).

Amandla Stenberg (17) writer, activist, all-around bad-ass. At 17. Good god slow down. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

For all three (and others.. Lena, Taylor, Kristen) for being a fearless and refreshing call to change and for actually being role models without really trying to be.

And that’s my year-end list… Women

I hope you enjoyed it.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

– Mel

What’s Good? (Early Summer)

Early Summer Edition

This installment of What’s Good? (my top ten things I’m enjoying at the moment) is mostly summer television with a few real life stuff thrown in for good measure. (Ha – for GOOD measure – get it?. Ha ha. GET IT?)

Orson Welles

I want to apologize to the regular readers of my blog. I’ve phoned it in this summer. My head and my heart have been elsewhere. I’ve written. I added Jimi Hendrix to my book. (Can I do that? I hope I don’t get sued) It’s literally a long story (I’m on a roll) but one of the characters keeps a skull on her desk. She calls it the skull of the last musician. (It’s a post apocalyptic future) And (long story short) she gains access to an alien regeneration facility and she clones the skull. (It’s less a clone as we know it and more of a recreation of the man before he died. Again long story) But I’ve been researching his interviews and trying to get his voice right. And I’ve been a little obsessed with it. It’s not a big part of the story. It’s just something that happens still I’ve tried to get it right. It’s a mad world.

To the list…

WHAT’S GOOD?

I’m glad you asked.

The 100

The 100 is pretty good. The first season is very exciting but I really enjoyed the second season of this post apocalyptic, young adult, action-drama about the survivors of a global nuclear apocalypse who have lived for generations on an orbiting space station before falling to earth. The first season moves so fast and the changes are drastic and quick and nobody is safe. It’s crazy. But during the second season, a more down-to-earth season, The 100 settles in for lots of political intrigue and survival action and coolness. A bunch of cool characters doing a lot of cool shit. It’s not sensational but it’s loads of fun and the cast is all good-looking and the main character is a serious bad-ass. I love her.

jonathan strange and mr norell

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is weirdly good. I like to think of Strange and Norrell as a prequel to the world of Harry Potter. It is about the return of magic to Great Britain. Very interesting. Very atmospheric. Some pretty cool effects and creepy mysticism and magic. A period piece where magic is accepted by the government and the society. A very dark and funny show. Six, creatively dense and magical episodes. Creepy good.

Museum-Entrance-photo-by-American-Museum-of-Natural-History

Museum Trips are really good. My next museum trip will probably be to the Natural History Museum on the west side of the park. I really enjoyed my trip to The Cloisters and my trip to The Met. I finally got out of the house for more than a quick excursion to the movies (from my home to a dark theater and back really shouldn’t count as leaving the house). I took a lot of pictures (see I have proof that I left the house). I’m keeping my promise to spend more time outside my comfort zone this year. Wish me luck.

mets-pitchers

The Mets Pitching is astonishingly good. I can’t believe the Mets are doing as well as they are with the line-up they have but they’re solidly in the race. It’s been too long since we’ve had a good team in Queens. So long I’ve forgotten what one looks like. And make no mistake, this is not a good Mets team but the Mets pitching staff is Amazin’ (I’m talking Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman good). All of their starters can hit like sluggers as well as pitch like aces. They have a pretty decent bullpen and one of the best closers in the game. All they need to do now is pick up a veteran right-handed power hitter and these Metsies will be a force with which to be reckoned.

Let’s Go Mets!

mr-robot

Mr. Robot is sensationally good. I fucking love this show. If you haven’t seen it yet, try to catch up quick. This is pure cyberpunk. The smartest computer hacking ANYTHING, TV, movie whatever, I have ever seen. Smart, funny, cool, very fucking cool. Fantastic direction that feels like a 70’s hacker thriller about the future. Except the future is today. So everything is just state of the art but with this futuristic cyberpunk feel. I hope I’m not explaining this badly because it is incredible. There is nothing sci-fi about this show (so far). There is nothing futuristic yet the direction and camera work are retro. Making it feel like you’re watching some future shit but it’s in the present day.

Mr Robot

The story is good. The lead character has a hard time interacting with people so he hacks anyone with which he has to talk. He data-mines people’s lives and social media to understand them and gain the upper hand. The acting is good (except for Christian Slater. I’ve never liked that guy) There’s cool tech and all that good stuff. But just based on the way it is shot, this retro-future-present feel, that I’m doing a bad job of explaining, just based on that, it is my favorite thing on TV now. My absolute favorite. (with Halt and Catch Fire a close second)

The Last Ship

The Last Ship is satisfying-ly good. I loved the first season of this (yet another) post-apocalyptic drama. This one takes place after a disease outbreak that kills half the world’s population. One American battleship survives the outbreak and so the show is very Naval and military. I enjoy military shows when they’re done well. And this one is done very well. Not the best acting but a lot of great action and suspense. (It’s Michael Bay) It reminds me of Star Trek except the ship is a boat and not a star-ship. That’s how I look at it. The Last Ship is Star Trek for the ocean. And each season, so far, has had a kick-ass big bad. Last year it was a Russian destroyer. This year it’s a hijacked British submarine. If you’re not totally turned off by military or nautical adventures, The Last Ship is pretty damn good.

Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful is dark and sickly good. I love this show. I loved the second season more than the first. And I really loved the first season. I like the evolution of Billie Piper’s character a lot. If you don’t know, Penny Dreadful is the story of all the classic literary monsters in one place and at one time solving crimes or something. The show is a period piece. It’s very sexy. It’s very creepy. And dark. With Victor Frankenstein and his family (the monster, the bride), Vampires, Dorian Gray. But it ain’t hokey. It takes itself very seriously while being the story of all these campy movie monsters. And I love that.

Episode 101

But my favorite thing about it was when I realized that Josh Hartnett (minor spoiler but not really) wasn’t playing a werewolf. He’s the Wolfman. He’s the motherfucking Wolfman. That made me so happy. So please please please have Abbott and Costello show up in season three. PLEEEEEEEEEASE. Just a cameo. I’m completely serious. They are the glue that would tie it all together. Please. Pretty please. Abbott & Costello.

Marriage Equality is all kinds of good. This is old news now but finally America joined the 21st century when it comes to equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. It’s about damn time. And except for a couple of bigots in the south digging in it’s going well.

True Detective Season Two

True Detective Season Two is actually pretty good. Say what you want, I’m liking this season of True Detective better than the first season. Honestly. I like the cast better this time around. I like the story better. I like the setting better. It feels like the old L.A. detective stories and it hasn’t put me to sleep. The first season with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson was really good but I had to watch every episode twice because I would usually fall asleep somewhere in the middle. Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell are amazing. And even Vince Vaughn is growing on me. Loving it. And this last episode was off the hook. Action packed. Wow.

dark-matter-header

Dark Matter is a very good deep space drama based on a comic book. I love the sci-fi. I grew up on the sci-fi. But I can’t stand bad sci-fi. Most of the shows that embrace the genre are pretty damn bad. (More on that in a moment) But there are pleasant exceptions. I love Defiance. I still love Falling Skies. And after four episodes, I’m getting into Humans but I’m not quite sold yet. However, my favorite summer sci-fi show this year is a little show out of Canada called Dark Matter (on the SyFy channel). It’s a space adventure about six people and one android who wake up in deep space with no memory of their pasts. They assign numbers to themselves in the order they woke up. They pretty quickly identify each crew members strengths and fall into their obvious roles. Never really trusting, but needing each other to survive. It’s a nice story.

Dark Matter

And they don’t drag out the secret too long. They discover who they are pretty early on but they don’t know “those” people. Their real selves. They have no memory of them. Just strangers with their faces. So they decide to continue as One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and the android. I really like this show. Please watch it. It’s like what you’d get if Firefly and the A-team had a baby with amnesia. Check it out.

Also check out this Suicide Squad teaser trailer with Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Jared Leto. I think it looks promising.

And now… for everything there is a dark side.

WHAT’S NOT so GOOD?

Summer Sci-fi Shows are traditionally not so good. (Extant, Killjoys, Dominion, Hannibal) Honestly guys It’s not enough to have some special effects and pretty actors and to air your show on date nights (when all the nerds are home). You have to have a story to tell and not just a premise to slowly roll out. And a mystery to tease.

Halle Berry Extant

Extant was actually pretty interesting the first season but instead of expounding on that, they fired half the cast and changed the whole damn thing. Like saying, all we need is Halle Berry. The nerds will keep watching. No. No we won’t. It looks to me like they’re trying to change a sci-fi mystery show about a woman giving birth to an alien into a futuristic procedural.

Killjoys

Killjoys is a horribly cheesy premise with a mediocre cast that benefits from being sandwiched between two good Friday SyFy shows. But it sucks. Most of all the acting. And the writing. And everything else about it. It just sucks. Something about bounty hunters or contract killers. Whatever. I just hope its stench doesn’t rub off on Dark Matter. Dark Matter is really fucking good.

Dominion SyFy

With Dominion I’m trying. I really am. I sort of liked the first season but I think I liked the sexiness of the angel Michael and also the general’s daughter. She’s a hottie too. So maybe it was the hotness of the cast that got me. But the story and the acting and the accents (I love you Anthony Stewart Head but your American accent is so very bad) make me want to give up on it. I’m pretty close to giving up on this show. Pretty close.

Hannibal

And lastly Hannibal. Listen. The reason I mention these shows is because I can’t help but watch them. These shows are made for me and my ilk. And I want them to be good. I want to like them because I want the powers that be to make more shows like this. Like Hannibal. I want to like Hannibal but that show is so far up its own ass it can see what it had for dinner last night. Honestly, the food is the best part of this convoluted and pretentious piece of crap. And I know the food is suppose to creep us out because he’s a cannibal or whatever. But it just makes me hungry. It looks so good. I’ve mentioned this before but I wanted Hannibal to be the anti-hero if not the hero proper. They make him completely unlikable. And it’s because in the first book he is the bad guy. And this series is based on the first book. I wanted something else. Hannibal is not enjoyable for me but I keep watching anyway. I heard they cancelled it. I’m not too sad about that.

I keep watching these crappy sci-fi shows but I can’t just watch them in silence. Mostly I yell at the screen saying, “Oh my god. That’s horrible. That’s so bad. Why am I watching this crap? Why, Mel? Why?”

I’ll tell you why. Because…

Summer DVDs

Summer DVDs are also notoriously not so good. I have a bunch of mini reviews in a folder. So I think I’ll throw them up here soon. I haven’t seen a good movie on home video yet this summer. I was waiting for a good one to come along before posting a 5 Quick Reviews of 5 New Releases for summer (yeah I was going to bring that back) but I’m up to six with nothing good in sight. I think I’ll post that next. They might be bad movies but a few were at least interesting (Slow West, The Voices)

And that’s all I got.

Quick Note. I really like getting nominated for those blog awards but I am the absolute worst at talking about myself without something to hide behind. Some device. Some gimmick. So it’s not like I ignore them. I actually try to write something and just get frustrated. I thought about doing one with just music. Ten songs that define or describe me. I found a good ten. But that wasn’t going well. So I whittled the list down. I had a seven and a five and I still may post one of those but at one point I cut it down to one song. I’m gonna post that here.

It’s Mayonaise by Smashing Pumpkins.

Fool enough to almost be it
Cool enough to not quite see it
Doomed
Pick your pockets full of sorrow
And run away with me tomorrow, June?
We’ll try and ease the pain
But somehow we’ll feel the same.
Well, no one knows
Where our secrets go.

I send a heart to all my dearies
When your life is oh, so dreary… dream.

I’m rumored to the straight and narrow
While the harlots of my perils SCREAM.
 

And I fail.
But when I can, I will.
Try to understand
That when I can, I will.

Mother’s weep the years I’m missing
All our time can’t be given back.

Shut my mouth and strike the demons
That cursed you and your reasons.
Out of hand and out of season
Out of love and out of feeling SO BAD.
When I can, I will
Words defy the plans.
When I can, I will

Fool enough to almost be it
And cool enough to not quite see it.
And old enough to always feel this
Always old, I’ll always feel this!

No more promise no more sorrow
No longer will I follow
Can anybody hear me?
I JUST WANT TO BE me.
When I can, I will.
Try to understand
That when I can,

I will.

If I don’t say it enough,

I love you guys.

Until next time,

– Mel

What’s Good (May 2015)

This is my second What’s Good installment. A list of ten things that I enjoyed recently from Movies, TV, Music and in my life in general. This is the May 2015 Edition.

May was a pretty good month.

You're God Damn Right

For starters, my birthday is in May. Somebody told me I was 48. I don’t believe them. I can’t be a day over 29. Unless I lost two decades somewhere along the way. I mean, look at these abs. No. Wait. Those are birthday cake crumbs resting on my beer gut. Never mind. It’s not the years, anyway, it’s the mileage.

So we got movies. We got TV. We’ve got food, family, a few farewells. And the Mets. The god damn Mets. Why can’t you be like the Yankees. Just kidding. (the Yankees suck too)

“Get on with it.”

To the list…

WHAT’S GOOD?

I’m glad you asked.

Turn

Turn: Washington’s Spies is back on AMC and it’s just as good as the first season. Love this show. They added my girl Ksenia Solo from Lost Girl and now Turn: Washington’s Spies is fast becoming one of my favorite shows. Even if the title is confusing. Are we turning Washington’s spies? Or are we turning people into spies for Washington? Or am I thinking about it too much?

Mad Men was good (also on AMC). The last eight Mad Men episodes were very very good. Still one of the best TV shows in history. From beginning to end. I was trying to list all of my favorite moments from the finale and realized they were all Peggy scenes. Peggy with Stan over the phone being the best. Peggy with Don on the phone and Peggy with Joan in the restaurant. Oh yeah and Don and Betty on the phone. The Coca Cola ending made me laugh out loud both from merriment and in a purely sardonic way. Nice work guys. And little Sally turning into Betty at the end, taking care of her sick mother (still chain smoking with lung cancer), that was the only sad thing. Everybody else ended well.

Mad Max Fury Road Tom Hardy Muzzled Blood Bag

Speaking of Madness… Mad Max: Fury Road was and still is very good. It’s okay to believe the hype. It won’t disappoint. It’s that freaking good. Best movie of the year so far and it’s going to be hard to beat.

Almond Milk!!! Having Almond Milk with my Crunchy All Natural Peanut Butter and Sugar free Grape Jam sandwiches on Whole Wheat bagels is really good. I made the switch to Almond Milk and I’m never going back. Love it in my morning coffee. Almond Milk rocks.

museum_mile

Museum Trips are good.. I’m planing a few more. Think I’ll hit every museum that interests me in Manhattan (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim, Natural History, etc) and then expand to the outer boroughs. Planning to walk down the famous Museum Mile near Central Park this week. I’ll post some pics. Promise. (If I remember to charge the battery in my camera… long story)

The Revenge Finale on ABC was really good. So satisfying. Everything I wanted from a season (series) finale. Now all we need is a Nolan Ross spin-off. That would be nice. Make it happen ABC. Keep the Revenge alive.

Americone Dream

My Birthday was good. I had Ice Cream. Lots and lots of Ice Cream. Ben & Jerry’s Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream. Absolutely my favorite Ice Cream flavor of all-time.

Other Space on Yahoo Screen is very good. Paul Feig’s show about a group of green astronauts lost in an unknown universe is the right amount of clever and silly. It’s like a combination of the British sci-fi shows: Doctor Who and Red Dwarf. The first season is eight very funny episodes. Check it out. It’s a fun binge watch at about three hours.

relationship balance

Relationships with other humans, though not all it’s cracked up to be, is still very very necessary and can be good… for a while. Thank you green eyes for that reintroduction to the world of other people. Like a baptism of fire. I’d kiss you on the top of your head if you were still talking to me.

And this song right here… This song is very good… A little angry but still good.

This Kendrick Lamar song right here. – The Blacker the Berry

I said they treat me like a slave cause me black
Woah we feel a whole heap of pain cause we black
And man I say, they put me in the chain cause me black
Imagine now, big gold chains full of rocks
How you no see the whip left scars on my back
But now we have a big whip parked on the block
All them say we doomed from the start cause we black
Remember this, every race starts from the black. Just remember that

I got this Kendrick Lamar album on heavy rotation. I’ve been playing this and the new Taylor Swift album back and forth. (I know it’s a weird combination. I’m a weird dude).

And now for everything there is a dark side… (AKA The Fucked-Up Five)

What’s NOT so Good?

Fed Ex Note

Fed Ex Deliveries where the driver doesn’t bother to read the note you left for him, and just leaves his ticket right next to it, are not good at all. I was home all day. You guys suck at your job. And don’t call and ask him to drive back around. That’s against the laws of nature and physics and would cause the end of the world as we know it.

Avengers: Age of Ultron was not good. I didn’t like it. But sadly I will end up owning it. And even more sadly they know this about people like me and they don’t even have to try to entertain me anymore. Just paint-by-numbers. And while I’m at it Tomorrowland wasn’t good either. A big blockbuster needs to be more than just a few action pieces, bad jokes and high-priced actors… DISNEY. I’m looking at you Disney. God, I hope they don’t screw up Star Wars.

Robin Williams David Letterman

David Letterman saying goodbye was not good. I grew up with him. High School. College. An American television institution. I feel old. Well older. It was my birthday. Sad. I’ll miss him and I’ll miss Paul Shaffer and the band and the way he never took shit from nobody. But on a lighter note: James Corden is doing a good job and he is infinitely likable & fun, and I have high hopes for Stephen Colbert (and his delicious Ice Cream flavor) when he takes over in September.

Game of Thrones on HBO is straight starting to piss me off. Perhaps killing off all of our favorite characters works for a book series but it does not work for a TV series. Sorry George. Not cool, man. Not good. Also this year is nowhere near as entertaining as last season. By this time we had major battles and they had also introduced one of the best characters of the series. But this year… it’s just annoyingly slow. They broke Anya. Sansa’s getting rape fucked by her new husband. And Tyrion. Only little Tyrion is still doing work. (Talking the Slavers into taking them to the fighting pits was genius). He never disappoints. But four / five episodes in, I expected more.

david-wright

The Mets are not looking good. My Mets had a great April and then proceeded to lose almost every game in May. same ole Mets. They must be snake-bit because now their best player, David Wright, may be gone for the rest of the seasons (all of them). So sad. He has some spinal thing that may end his career. He’s too young and too cute to retire this early. David Wright retiring is not good at all. Arrghhh.

But since I can’t end this post on a bad note, here’s something: Between the time I wrote this and the time I posted it, me and green eyes made up. I know that means nothing to you people but it makes me happy.

So that’s good, right?

Yeah. Whatever. Here’s some more music…

Speaking of Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift. This nearly caused my head to explode.

I love the way Taylor just basically gives the song to Kendrick. She’s becoming one of my favorite artists (and I’m not ashamed to admit it). The video is stupid but the new song with the Kendrick verses is really good.

Coming Soon to What’s Good: True Detective Season Two (the trailers look awesome and the cast is amazing), Taking my bike out to central park (because I own a nice bike that I never use) and Writing and writing and writing and writing.

Coming Soon to What’s NOT so Good: June Blockbusters (nothing looks particularly promising… maybe Jurassic World but I’m not overly excited). More of the same from my Mets (Unless they make a trade) and The final season of Lost Girl without Ksenia Solo as Kenzi (maybe she’ll make a few guest appearances).

Until next time,

– Mel