Here on this blog, we’ve unintentionally managed to cover just about every animation nominee for the 2017 Academy Awards in one way or another. Not that I particularly care about the Academy or their opinion, but after giving some page space to Kubo and the Two Strings, Zootopia, and Moana, it felt kind of strange to just ignore the other two films and my artsy ass can never resist delving into productions by lesser known studios. So I set out to tackle the first of these two films: My Life as a Zucchini (or Ma Vie de Courgette in the original French). Distributed by Gebeka Films and premiering at the 2016 film festival in Cannes, the quirky stop-motion film tackles a surprisingly dark subject, and does it well. However, as with most things, this doesn’t mean it was devoid of problems.
During the middle of last week, Disney finally released their U.S. trailer for their own theatrical jaunt into the Day of the Dead mythos, Coco. I, for my part, completely forgot this movie was even going to be a thing, and still kind of wish that it wasn’t. The bad blood Disney created during the film’s production still lingers, and with a seemingly superior film, The Book of Life, having already been released, many still question why we even need Disney’s spin on Mexican culture. Does Coco seem worth giving the time of day? For the time being, I’m going to give it a somewhat wary “yes.”
Like most of you, I grew up devouring Harry Potter, but I’m not sure how many of you had problems understanding just how the big prophecy worked. I know I did. Basically, Voldemort’s stooge overhears a seer prophesy that a true adversary to Voldemort will rise, and that “neither can live while the other survives.” Much ink is spilled, both in fandom and in the canon, over just what this prophecy means. Does it mean that Harry is fated to kill Voldemort (or Voldemort, Harry) or does Harry’s free will operate outside the confines of this prophecy? If the prophecy is true, it means Harry really is the Chosen One, chosen by fate to confront Voldemort. But that could mean that Harry doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. In the final book, Harry doesn’t seem like he does have a choice; the universe seems like it’s manipulated him to the point where he feels utterly compelled to fulfill the prophecy. The conflict is between fate, or providence, and free will. If we look at real-world ideas about providence and free will, we can get a better idea of how these might work.
I recently had the pleasure of watching the movie What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary about four vampires who live together in a flat in New Zealand. The mockumentary spoofs a lot of classic vampire stories that have become cliché over the past several years. The best part about this movie is it takes normal mundane things and applies it to vampires. The four vampires have house meetings, argue over who is supposed to do the dishes, and struggle with getting dressed when they can’t see their own reflection.
The movie begins by explaining that a documentary film crew was given permission to follow around four vampires. We are then introduced to Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr. Viago, Vladislav, and Deacon have all maintained their human appearances, but Petyr, who is 8,000 years old, looks more like the vampire from Nosferatu and acts more animalistic than the others. We see the vampires deal with being centuries old and trying to adapt to modern day life. Each night the three go out (Petyr doesn’t leave the house anymore) to find people to feed on. They also often clash with a group of werewolves who dislike swearing. The three attempt to get into clubs, but struggle with the fact that they need to be invited in by the bouncer or else they won’t be able to enter.
This is definitely one of the best vampire spoofs that I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. However, the movie is very much focused on men and male characters with very little attention given to the female characters. When the female characters are present, they critique the tropes that are more typical of vampire stories, but these critiques are so brief that they’re sadly not very effective.
Whenever I get pulled back once more into that YouTube whirlpool—which is basically my life right now since winter decided it wanted to majorly shit on us one last time—I tend to go for one of two things: conspiracy/horror videos and review shows. Ever since Channel Awesome became exceedingly less “awesome”–there were rumors of mismanagement and general ego inflation, and I just didn’t like the people who decided to stay on the site–finding reviews for things I actually cared about was a bit of a crapshoot. However, thanks to an opportune link in the sidebar of a completely unrelated YouTube video, I managed to find myself back on Lindsay Ellis’s channel (she was previously “the Nostalgia Chick” when she was a part of Channel Awesome) and was subsequently led to Dan Olson’s media review channel, Folding Ideas. Low key and introspective, Olson presents his analysis with a good mix of easy to understand technical terms, a dash of social commentary, and sometimes even a bit of humor. And hey, anyone who doesn’t immediately start their review of No Man’s Sky with “aaaah!! It was the worst game everrrrrrr” is okay in my book.
This is the problem: a younger, more naïve Saika was so, so excited for the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. The trailers were so good; it was a different and new premise from the typical Marvel formula… and then she was massively disappointed by the movie itself.
An older, wiser Saika then sat down to watch this trailer. And found, to her great surprise, that she was once again interested in the shenanigans of these space-faring assholes. Is it too much to ask for that this movie will be the GotG we deserve and not the fratsplosion we got last time?
I don’t have to tell you, dear readers, that Jordan Peele’s Get Out is good; all other film review outlets have done that for me. But allow me to say that if you haven’t seen this film yet, do so as soon as you can. If you’re worried that this film is a Boo! Haunted House sort of horror, then let me soothe your fears. Get Out is absolutely a horror film, but it’s horrific more in its realism than in any sense of gore or otherworldly fiends (though there is gore to be had). More than horror, though, the film is clever in its message. Like Zootopia, Get Out relays the message that racism continues to be damaging in its persistence in modern-day culture, but unlike the Disney flick, Get Out doesn’t lose its message due to a lack of direction. Instead, Get Out focuses on exposing the subconscious racism that lingers in a portion of its audience. Get Out sets itself apart by subtly—and then not-so-subtly—showing that white people who consider themselves progressive can be just as racist as the blatantly racist, and that this liberal-coded racism can perhaps be some of the most damaging racism of all.