Crazy, Rich Diversity

I really intended this post to be a lighthearted poking of fun at myself for crying copiously yet again in yet another movie. At least this time, with the movie in question being Crazy Rich Asians, I wouldn’t have to be too ashamed of my emotional dark movie theater melo-theatrics since is was at least a rom-com versus – I dunno – Mission Impossible.

I kid. That’s about the only movie I saw this summer-slash-who-am-I-kidding-year that I didn’t cry at.

…at which I didn’t cry? Yeah, that’s better English.

But then I got distracted and never tapped out the piece. The first thing that distracted me was not all that surprising: Asians were having widely reported similarly emotional experiences, although theirs went beyond just seeing a well executed rom-com starring Asian actors…the first in 25 years in the US, by a US studio.

That caught me off guard.

But I loved reading about the Asian culture nuances that triggered these folks. I didn’t love reading about how white people in America represent 60% of the population and 74% (ish) of the US studio produced movie roles while Asians make up 6% of what sounds like a super low and wrong statistic of the US population but only 4% (again, ish-ish) Of the movie roles in their natural or naturalized home country. Most of those roles are ninja types and silent concubines that provide flavor but no real presence to the films they are in.

So…yeah, I got distracted.

Then the Emmys aired and Sandra Oh became a meme

And I was off to the racist.

Er…races. Really?!? How is this possible?!? Now, I didn’t fact check this assertion that in 2018, Sandra Oh is the first Asian woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Emmy…but I did check my surprise. I think I was more surprised that I wasn’t that surprised after thinking on it for a bit.

The Emmys, like their Oscar counterpart for film, have always been a white persons club. There’s an award show color hierarchy:

Gold: the statuettes

White: the winners

Every other color: token seat fillers

After all, the Emmys vigorously patted themselves on the back for Rami Malek’s Lead Actor win in 2016. But as a person of Egyptian descent, he’s barely in the POC column.

Sidenote: Dear Rami,

Dating your female lead from the Queen biopic? Still not buying your heterosexuality. But it’s cute.

Yours truly,

Waiting4U in Portland

Wanna know what really makes me feel bad about Crazy Rich Asians?

It’s that at some point – before seeing the movie or maybe leaving the theater after – I thought, “Wow. First Black Panther and now this…2018 is shaping up to be a big year for minority driven mainstream movies!”

That’s like the cinematic version of latently racist comments like, “I’m not usually in to black guys, but…” that sound like compliments but are really offensive. Either someone is an attractive person or they aren’t attractive to you, then they are everything else they are.

Either you like a movie or you don’t. The story is good or it isn’t, then there’s everything else about it.

So, for a moment there I felt bad about liking this movie that made me feel good. This show that I liked so much. But after checking my latent racism, I decided that, yeah…I’m a little racist, but mostly because I’m lazy. Kind of like I’m lazy about adopting inclusive pronouns to be more gender inclusive in my conversations.

What can I say? People are still largely oblivious, selfish jerks. And I’m a people, so at least I’m cognizant of the opportunities I have to become better. I think that puts me ahead of the general population – also, I don’t take duck lip selfies for the Instagram and never take pictures of my food in fancy restaurants.

So, there’s that, that and that.

Still, latent racism aside, I’m seriously ready for the Freddie Mercury biopic to come out in November. Not only to see Rami play Freddie, but because it’s a movie about a thrilling pop culture phenomenon who was a minority, played by an actor who is also a minority instead of whitewashing the casting like Hollywood so often does.

Seriously, early considerations for the role in its various early incarnations – that couldn’t be made until Hollywood got over itself about race and AIDS – were:

Ben Whishaw

Adam Lambert

Hugh Jackman?!?

Joseph Gordon Leavitt (swoon!)

Ezra Miller (also, swoon!)

Zachary Quinto

…c’mon! There’s some dark complexions in that group, but the closest we get to diversity is Judaism or being Australian.

Between now and then, I’ll keep myself busy with Searching. It’s a John Cho movie where Cho plays a father looking for his missing daughter by spelunking through her digital/virtual life and learning that we don’t always know those closest to us as well as we think we do.

I’m excited about it because it’s a movie that could have been cast differently. Sure, the Queen movie could have cast a white actor, Crazy Rich Asians was pretty much boxed in with its casting…but Searching could have gone a different direction. It’s a story about a missing child and what a parent will do to find her.

The bottom of my friggin’ glass is covered with the optimism I have that choices like this will become more commonplace in the hopefully not-distant-at-all future.

Crazy, Rich Diversity

I Might Be Insatiable

I also might be watching too much TV.

Twice last week I finished binge watching a series – one on the Netflix and the other on Amazon.

Twice last week I said to Myrtle, “There’s a lot going on there for such a small town”.

I kid you not. Talking to my cat…

My intent here is to write about the semi-controversial Netflix show called Insatiable Before I get there, let me give you a quick rundown of what I mean by “a lot going on” using the other show I watched last week as an example. The Kettering Incident takes place in a small town in Tasmania. A doctor returns to town from the city for her dad’s retirement. He’s the Tasmanian equivalent of the Chief of Police.

What you learn soon after her return home is that she was considered a suspect in the childhood disappearance of her best friend. When this comes around, I think to myself, “OK, we can make a show of this”.

Nonono. That’s merely the Tip o’the Iceberg!

The disappearance might really be caused by an alien abduction. It seems literally nothing has happened in this town since the disappearance except maybe there’s aliens.

Just kidding, here’s everything else that’s happening in this podunk town:

Immediately after our good doctor returns, someone else is murdered.

Then there’s a drug ring. You find out later it’s led by one of the cops investigating the murder – in which our heroine is an instant suspect.

Eco-terrorists.

Secret toxic waste disposal.

A man returns from the dead and is later found murdered.

The town is being overrun – people included – by erratically fast growing moss.

In a strange wtf moment, the drug kingpin cop sleeps with his prime suspect…which is still our doctor.

Another murder. <yawn>

Secret government conspiracy.

A kidnapping.

Clones!

What. The. Eff?

In the final episode, new plot lines are still dropping and then the damn show just ends.

One plot line is actually wrapped up in the finale. So for as much as this show has going on, it ended and just let most of the balls it had in the air drop and bounce away.

It’s like these writers think that the audience is incapable – probably correctly so – of focusing on a plot point from start to finish in a season. To compensate, and by “compensate” I mean “continually re-focus our attention from our phone screens back to the TV screens”, the writers seem to figuratively blow something up every episode. They don’t end up wrapping up the storyline they blow up, they just use it to keep our interest until the next explosion.

Believe it or not, I think Insatiable has even more bizarre stuff going on. For what it’s worth, these writers at least tidy up before they wander off at the end of the season. Not everything, but at the end of the 12 episodes, you’re at least left feeling relieved versus abandoned.

I wanted to watch this show after hearing its pre-release buzz about fat shaming…hence, the controversy. The critical position – including a 200,000 signature demand to pull the show before it aired – was that celebrating a large person’s weight loss with a story about their pursuit of a beauty pageant title was offensive.

Taken that flatly, I would agree. However, having seen the trailer and not been offended, I watched the show and learned that the actual issues with the program are the wacky plot lines the 90 second trailer doesn’t even touch on.

The show’s response to the criticism was that it was exploring the damage that that fat shaming does to a person’s psyche.

Boy, did that response undersell the word damage.

I also wanted to watch this because it’s been almost 20 years since Drop Dead Gorgeous and I needed a fucked up beauty pageant fix!

This show certainly delivered on the fucked up-ness criteria.

But it all started off so normal.

Bullied small town Georgia fat girl, Fatty Patty, gets her jaw broken while defending her candy bar from a homeless person. She ends up losing a ton of weight due to having her jaw wired shut to heal.

Duh. Nothing special here.

The Homeless Guy presses charges against her.

That’s kinda unique…

Which is when she meets her rather fey attorney, who coincidentally is a frustrated beauty queen coach. Having just lost a title with his most recent adopted-Chinese-beauty-queen-wanna-be to his never-loses-a-pageant-nemesis, who just happens to be his former high school jock tormenter and the city’s district attorney, he has sworn off beauty pageants…until he meets the now beautiful Patty.

Did ya follow all that?

Because after that the train for Crazy Town leaves the station.

Patty is a smart kid, so she turns her attorney’s pageant coaching offer down. However, after a day at school, realizing the different treatment she gets being suddenly outwardly beautiful and mistaken for a transfer student versus Fatty Patty, she snaps and takes her attorney up on his offer saying, “I’d rather have revenge”.

Remember that.

It’s after that moment where the show loses its equilibrium. From that point, you can tell a story that kinda sounds like the First Mrs Trump’s post-divorce mantra.

Patty struggles with the attention of boys. From the convenience store clerk that she flashes to get what she wants to the high school jock son of her flamboyant attorney/pageant coach to the bad boy son of the town minister.

Normal enough high school stuff, even without the extreme weight loss storyline.

But instead of pursuing that arc, the writers decide to take us on a shark jumping tour.

Here’s some of the shark storylines we viewers have to jump:

That adopted Chinese wanna be pageant queen? Yeah, her mom blames her daughter’s loss on their coach, claiming he was molesting her.

In a head scratching fit of irony, a few episodes later it’s revealed that the mother is actually having an ongoing sexual affair with the high school jock. Who – remember – is the son of her daughter’s pageant coach.

This story needed to take place in a bigger town.

As Patty’s pageant success grows, the frustrated adopted Chinese wanna be spirals more and more out of control in her jealousy. This seems to reach its peak when she attacks Patty in front of most of the town and in defending herself, Patty ends up unintentionally crippling the girl.

The town turns on Patty and blames her for the incident, calling it bullying. Which is insane enough, given the facts that A) the girl was one of Patty’s tormentors when she was Fatty Patty and was never held accountable as the bully she was; and, B) once again, Patty was only defending herself, which unfortunately resulted in an injury to the instigator.

Icing that cake is the fact that the girl was faking her paralysis at the encouragement of her mother. Patty tries to prove this in a horribly thought out plan and just makes things worse for herself. Even once her claim is validated, she can’t catch a break from the townsfolk. That right there is a – probably unintentional – mirror of the behaviors Trump supporters demonstrate daily: throwing your support behind a terrible human and never wavering in their loyalty.

Because the town can’t see that Patty’s situation is the result of her bullies’ ineptitude, things are required to get worse.

The next shark is exactly that…what could possibly be causing Patty to behave so hatefully?

Teenage pregnancy. Hormones are making her nuts.

Obviously.

Except…not pregnant. It’s just your maybe conjoined twin that you “absorbed” during pregnancy. Yup, she’s such a Fatty Patty that she ate her sibling in utero. This storyline progresses – or devolves into demon possession.

Luckily, the minister’s son – also the erstwhile father to Patty’s baby that isn’t – is there to guide her on a path to controlling the demon within her.

Ok

The last shark that I want to mention – but certainly not even the last in this school of sharks – is the adversarial relationship between the two lawyers/beauty pageant coaches. They loathe one another. The perfectly manicured fey attorney and the shirt off at every opportunity jock district attorney are constantly sabotaging one another and somehow unable to avoid each other on a daily basis.

Yup.

Gay.

But because that’s not a crazy enough scenario, while the district attorney seamlessly divorces his wife our fey lawyer can’t bear to live without his wife, even after Patty our the two lawyers.

The only solution?

Thruple.

Seriously, this is a small town that needs more people to carry these crazy storylines. And I haven’t even mentioned them all. In 12 episodes, these writers serve up a real dog’s breakfast of topical social issues. All of the above, obviously, but also addiction/AA, interracial marriage, app or “swipe” culture, lesbians, stalking, drag queens, drugs, kidnapping…why not top it all off with murder and then – y’know – cover it up.

All of these sharky threads weave into a story that is just chockablock full of my least favorite character trait in America today:

It’s better to look good than to be good.

I’ve been railing against that for almost two decades now, and it hasn’t gotten better. As a matter of fact, I’d say it’s gotten worse by magnitudes. When I first started getting grumpy, we didn’t have a swipe culture. Kardashians were just some celebrity lawyer’s estranged kids.

As time has gone on for me, I’ve accepted that our society seems to be on a non-stop trajectory toward selfishness and a “me culture” that makes the 80s look like a friggin’ nursery. In observing that, I’ve also had to accept that by vocalizing my discontent, I’m gonna be the Patty. Luckily for me, that manifests in accepting that I’m just a grump and I can make that into an enjoyable sur-reality.

Unfortunately for Patty, while she’s trying to find her way past all the blame her town has put on her and embrace that inside she’s a good person, she snaps. While her bad boy stalker boyfriend is trying to nudge her into the bad girl counterpart he wants her to be – dragging her down to his level – her conflicted and tormented self absolutely snaps and while crying “I’m a good person” over and over again, she beats him to death with a tire iron.

Let’s go back now tow what I told you to remember.

In the first episode, Patty is a smart kid. She’s smart enough to know what she doesn’t want, which is the inane pursuit of popularity and celebrity based on looks. She knows she doesn’t want to be that person.

Before that episode ends, she’s folded and uttered the fateful words, “I’d rather have revenge” that take her down an 11-episode arc to her undoing and de-evolution into a murderess.

As a viewer, I can accept that first episode arc. It sets up a season of redemption. How does Patty get through the new adversities associated with beauty, which she’d never had to manage before, to return to the smart girl she was at the beginning of the story who is now fortunate enough to have outsides that match her insides?

How?

It’s totally do-able.

For whatever reason, though, that’s not what was done. We’re left to watch Patty go from being an Ugly Duckling on the outside with a beautiful heart to the polar opposite…a beauty queen that’s a psychopath on the inside.

Is that the takeaway we should settle for and accept? I’m doing so, aren’t we all just Patty?

Wouldn’t we watch a show where someone learns to navigate newfound celebrity with their original intelligence and integrity intact?

Apparently, this show’s producers – and Netflix – think that we wouldn’t. They even seem to go one step further, making popular, beautiful people into unaccountable victims of their own good fortune…because that’s a reflection of itself that society can embrace.

Which is why I walked away from Insatiable asking myself

I gotta get a job…

I Might Be Insatiable

Here We Go…Again!

There are constants in the universe.

Good news, right?

For instance, ABBA music is just good.

Oh, were you expecting something more serious?

Wrong blog.

Ok, how about, “The inter webs are a cold, hilarious place”? I was never not going to see this sequel.

Sidebar: Hey, Donny Trump…that’s how double negatives work!

So, yeah. I had my heart set on seeing this movie. The build up on social media in the days before its release just whet my appetite further. My favorite moment occurred on Twitter as someone let fly the outrageousness and extremely unlikeliness of three women keeping the same hairstyle for 40 years.

So brilliant, but I digress.

Anyway, it is a universal truth. I never hear anyone say the don’t like ABBA music, probably because I simply refuse to hear it.

But sometimes you think something is a constant, like “Pierce Brosnan can’t sing” only to later doubt yourself.

We’ve all seen it.

Endured it.

And if you love Pierce Brosnan, you’ve made excuses for what you saw. “He can sing, it’s just that his character wasn’t supposed to be able to, like Ado Annie in Oklahoma!”

Because, seriously…he’s a big star! Why would he expose himself to the ridicule a poor performance brings?

It’s not a bad bit of logic-slash-rationalization.

By the way

Not bad logic morphs into harsh reality, though, in this prequel to 2008’s Mamma Mia when we meet Pierce’s younger self.

Who.

Can.

Sing.

He can also set your loins afire, too. But that’s a poor offset for the burden of having to accept the universal truth that Pierce just can’t sing.

Seriously, Pierce. Big star, remember? Get Julie Andrews to dub you or something. A ceiling tile dropped out of the theater’s roof during your number.

I can only assume that he broke auto tune, it’s the only reason I can give for why they wouldn’t have used it.

Y’know, on this inaugural post using – testing, really – the new Facebook mandated blog page versus linking to my personal page, I had a choice of topics. I promise, my choices were both feel good options that allowed me to write about something fun or positive.

Mamma Mia! or people doing good things in the world. See? Both positive topics!

I’ll get to them both eventually, but I think people are used to or expect my grumpy old man persona to come out in my writing. With Mamma Mia! I can do both. Let’s face it, ABBA music makes people happy, so that feel good moment is built in. I’ve waited a week to write about seeing this movie, to reasonably respect spoilers, which is also a kindness…so when I knock Pierce Brosnan around for not being able to sing or rip on the story, it’s only to temper your expectations.

Can’t have you thinking that I’ve turned over a new leaf just because I have a blog page on the Facebook now.

PS: I’ve already realized the motivation behind Facebook’s new rules, they are trying to generate income off these new, mandated pages.

Anyhoo.

I tend to temper my expectations with sequels. Especially sequels that come out right away…it’s like the studio is trying to get away with something. A cash grab before we realize that we’re being served up a stinker.

Here We Go Again took a decade to arrive.

Plus, ABBA!

Naturally, I was there for the first show…but still watching with a guarded side eye.

And some popcorn, duh.

I was checking off boxes to confirm this sequel wouldn’t be worthy:

Pierce still can’t sing ✅

They used all the best songs in the last movie ✅

The story suc…wait a minute. What’s wrong with my eyes? Why are they leaking?!?

Yeah. The story is pretty good. Not great by any means. As a stand alone first run story, this would be nothing more than a flop.

But we know these characters.

We come in pre-programmed to care about their struggles and enjoy the highs of their excitement.

Also, ABBA.

I can’t avoid admitting it, the story was just better than the original. Amazing.

We know that Cher pops in to be a great grandma, we are poised to handle Sophie’s pregnancy story. Not so with the early news of Sophie and Sky’s potential estrangement.

Definitely not so of the casual drop in of Donna’s death the prior year.

So – yeah, questions that are never answered. I’m pretty sure that tidbit dropped in the first 90 seconds.

Brace.

Yoself.

We never learn how she died. I dunno…maybe we do but I missed it because I was debating whether or not to leave the theater to verify Meryl Streep was listed with the cast on the movie poster.

But, in Meryl’s absence, we are treated to a significant flashback upgrade. In the original, when Sophie’s potential fathers are referred to in the past, we get Pierce, Stellan and Colin dressed up as ridiculous 70s drag versions of their younger selves. Here, we get the beefcake treatment.

Thank gawd.

Young Pierce.Young Stellan. With peek-a-boo crotch shot.Young Colin.

I mean…yes, please and thank you!

For worrying that most of the “good” ABBA songs were already taken up in the first incarnation, I have to admit that these B-side songs, as it were, did a great job of supporting the story. Not a bad trade off against the original. Plus, they recycled a couple of songs that were used in the first flick…honestly, the revamped Dancing Queen outdid the first movie, and it was good in the original!

The returning cast is great. You can see the truth behind the stories of stars wanting to do a sequel simply because the first was so much fun. And the writing and acting folds the new cast in well.

When Tanya meets the hotel manager, Fernando (played by Andy Garcia), and greets him with a “Be still my beating vagina” as only Christine Baranski can deliver…yeah, welcome to the team, Andy.

The writing delivers plenty of those quotable moments. They are generously spread out amongst the stars and supporting cast, too. Julie Walters gets “I think carbs might be my soul mate”.

But then a supporting player, the owner of the shack that Donna squats in, gets to deliver a real ball buster of a line to young Sam. He’s just returned from breaking off his engagement, looking for Donna – who has taken off on young Bill’s boat to get over him. Our sassy barkeep delivers the news and then follows up his disappointment with, “Its called Karma and it’s pronounced ‘HA!'” in her heavy Greek accent.

These moments of levity – along with great, nostalgic music – balance out the somberness of the underlying story as Sophie stresses about the opening of her mom’s remodeled hotel.

On top of all of that

For good measure, Cher drops in to the final few scenes, just to steal ’em. When I first heard the casting rumors, I though it impossible to cast her as Meryl’s mother with only a few years between them in real life.

Well, problem solved, as I learned.

Realistically, by my calculation, Cher is playing a character around 79. Definitely closer to her real age than playing 50-something’s is to the rest of the original cast.

Not to mention that her singing is just. so. absolutely. Cher! She steps up to the plate and just lets her low, smooth voice loose on Fernando and it’s sublimely amazing.

Seriously, she did such a great job that fireworks went off as she finished.

But watching the choreography both in this number and as she kicked off the end credits, I couldn’t help but be reminded – and filled with awe – of the fact that Cher is old! Not getting old, she’s there…but redefining it. As she sings Fernando, she descends a flight of stairs. I watched as the camerawork cut back and forth between her and her Fernando, her taking a couple of steps down each take. Similarly, during the end credits, she walks up the three or four stairs to a small stage and then dances in place as she sings. She’s very stiff-hipped and fragile looking, but she’s in her mid-70s and still doing it.

Gotta admire that. I’m not the only one, either. You hear it in interviews when her cast mates are asked what was it like working with Cher. You see it in the extras around her as they watch Cher move past them.

It’s amazing.

She spends a short time on screen in the final few scenes, but her story arc covers the entirety of the film. From our first meeting of the hotel manager to the seconds leading up to her first song, you eventually learn how interwoven her story line is. From mother to daughter to granddaughter.

For whatever reason, Fernando doesn’t end up being Donna’s father and Sophie’s grandfather. It’s a weird decision for a Hollywood ending. Sure, it would have been incredibly trite…but we learn from Fernando early that he had his life’s love decades ago and has made peace with its short life. We hear young Donna downplay a fling with a foreigner while traveling abroad because it hasn’t gone well for her family, namely when her mother had traveled to Mexico as a young woman. She tells this story right before her own three back to foreign flings. Why not bring it full circle? It’s kind of the only way to explain Fernando randomly making his way from Mexico to a small island in Greece…and working at a hotel owned by his true love’s granddaughter.

If you’re gonna jump a shark, might as well make it a big shark!

While were transitioning toward my small finish…can I just mention how weird it is to watch Lily James play a young Meryl?

It’s a little jarring, since she looks exactly like a young Jessica Lange!

But don’t take my word for it…

Just me?

Nah…unless I’m the only one right about this!

Not that I’d ever want to work a little Cher magic and turn back time to cast Jessica as Donna just so the looks lined up. Still

You’d think that while I was grabbing those pics off of the Google, I would have bothered to check and see if there was a familial relation.

Lazy.

Not that you’re worried that I’ve given away the whole movie, don’t be. If you haven’t seen it, go. On top of all of this happening, there are little moments strung along the way that sometimes help resolve a plot hole and other times are just fun.

Trust me, keep an eye out for the Greek customs agent at the boat dock. He’s friggin’ hilarious. I think there’s a reason he and Cher don’t appear together in any scenes. He’s totally steal them. Or Cher would kill him on screen for critiquing her look as he does with everyone else that happens by his little customs shack.

Remember him as the movie’s final scene plays out. It might help you not completely lose it as Sophie and Sky’s baby christening takes place and Spirit Donna pops in to sing My Love, My Life with her daughter.

It’s a killer. Never in danger of becoming my favorite ABBA song, but it was the perfect way to end this sequel.

Maybe see this movie at night so it’s dark when you leave the theater and no one notices your “been crying” face.

Pro Tip.

Oh, and if you enjoy my writing, please don’t forget to…

And

some more!

Here We Go…Again!

72-81-72-65

The title is the ages of each actress in the promo pic for the movie Book Club above.

I went to see it the other day to escape a harsh reality that had crashed down on my Facebook world. Briefly, a friend and former colleague shared a story of an idyllic vacation day he and his wife had recently shared.

Recently, like within the previous two days.

“This has been the best day of my life”, she said.

24 hours later, she had killed herself.

Needless to say, I was shaken by proxy. I literally could not imagine what this family was experiencing.

A loving relationship.

Kids.

Financial security.

Exotic vacations.

But you just never can tell. That’s what shook me up. Well, that and comparing what she leaves behind to what I have…which is super not healthy.

So, I needed an escape.

Book Club was a pretty good lever to pull for that need.

I surveyed the small theater for a quasi-isolated seat near the middle rows and noticed that there were groups on each end of the middle rows. I didn’t want to crowd anyone, nor risk having to walk over people if I needed a bathroom bug out mid-movie, so I planted myself at the near end of the second row of seats.

You know why I mention this?

Yeah, you know.

The three rows behind me as well as the row in front of me were all empty. The lady that walked in after me decided not to risk isolating herself in that vast wasteland of open seating and dropped her girthiness right behind me. I could sense her presence, but being a giver, she decided to make her presence known and announced herself by kicking the back of my chair a few times.

C’mon, lady.

I decamp to the far end of my row, which I hate doing because it’s so obvious, but having this woman kick my seat every time she repositioned herself was not my idea of a relaxing time. Five minutes after the lights went down, three friends joined her. I understood the why of her choice of seats, but was glad I’d decided to move!

It was a bit challenging at first. The characters are in their mid to late 60s and that is obviously not the reality. The other thing that I thought I noticed – and it distracted me, initially – was the random use of green screen. Maybe I was wrong about it, but some of the vistas just looked more real than the action taking place in the foreground.

Obviously, I was having some trouble getting out of my head.

But before me on the screen were four actresses that I love. It didn’t take me too long to relax into the story. The popcorn helped get me there…

My last thought before really sinking in was particularly amusing. The small crowd had laughed at something, I didn’t remember what…just became aware of the suddenness and cohesiveness of the crowd laughing.

I had not.

The sound I heard was decidedly feminine, prompting me to turn and scan the theater’s crowd.

Women.

100%.

I was the only guy.

This made me laugh.

Out loud.

When no one else was laughing.

Which made me laugh more, and soon I was laughing through tears.

The thing that got me laughing wasn’t the realization that I was the only guy in the theater, rather the juxtaposition of that observation compared to the crowd composition of the last movies I’d seen.

Deadpool 2.

Infinity War.

Very heavily skewed toward a male crowd. This was a refreshing change of energy. Plus, when I’m in a nerd movie crowd, I usually joke to myself about how I might be the only non-virgin person in the crowd. Or, at the very least, the only one currently having sex.

I didn’t experience that same snarky thought about this group of women while I laughed at my realization. Thinking back to that moment, it wasn’t intentional, it’s just that getting laid isn’t the modus operandi for women like it is for men.

Right?

Yeah…I knew what this movie was about. I’d seen the trailer. So, I think my crowd profiling amusement just ended up making the film that much more enjoyable for me.

Soon, my laughter was in sync with the rest of the crowd. My disbelief was suspended and my reality was expelled for the next 90 minutes.

Star Trek or Wars.

Thrillers.

Superhero stories.

Murder mysteries.

Those are the movies I typically go in for.

But I freely admit – when it comes up – that a good chick flick is also a movie experience that I really enjoy.

Under the Tuscan Sun.

When Harry Met Sally.

13 Going on 30 – what? It wS good!

That type of thing. None of those How to Lose a Guy In Ten Days stories fall into the good category for me. They are good popcorn movies, but what’s the real bigger picture message?

This movie was definitely not a classic chick flick. As a matter of fact, the Silver Fox had asked if I wanted to see it and I knew he’d be miffed that I went without him. I dodged that bullet by telling him to wait til it hit Netflix.

That said…I did enjoy this movie. It had a message. Not only was it a chance to see some of my favorite actresses, but a chance to see them together. Also, it gave each of them a fun storyline with a solid arc as they rediscovered their sexuality at a time in life where society tells us it should be retired.

To paraphrase what Candy hilariously observes in the trailer, “If nature wanted us to have sex at this point in our lives she wouldn’t do what she does to our bodies”…smash cut to her crawling out of the backseat of her Mercedes with Richard Dreyfus. If this movie helps redefine sexual equality for supposed sixty-somethings, I’m all in. There’s a movement I can support. I just wish it could have been written with Age Pride intact and had Fonda proudly owning her octogenarian sexuality.

To Candy’s point, our bodies as they age fall further and further from the Hollywood standard of beauty. More openly sex positive seniors could help redefine that norm and hopefully awaken our culture to something more inclusive of all and less divisive across generations.

And maybe, just maybe…that gives us all a little something more to look forward to when things today look impossibly dark.

Think anyone would get mad if they hash tagged this as #UsToo?

Get it, girls!

72-81-72-65

The Avengers: Redux

I’m sure I’ll be asking myself why I did this to myself again in abut 3 hours. But, in reality, I’m interested not only in finding out if this movie treats my heart like a speed bag the second time around, but also in figuring out why I feel it so strongly.

It’s not just the movie.

We’ll see…give me a few hours and I’ll finish this up.

I like to answer the question, “How was the movie?” by responding, “They all died at the end.”

But holy shit!

By my count, 13 of our beloved superheroes bite it in Infinity War, 15 if you count the superhero “extras” that ash out during the credits. I don’t, since they don’t actually possess super powers or qualify as gods in the Marvel universe. Still, 13…

Holy shit.

The first time seeing this was a late night date night with the Filipina Fox on the Thursday that this movie opened. You can imagine the nerd quotient of the crowd, but she insisted. I joked that she was the only chick in the crowd, which was very nearly true.

Even though I walked out stunned at the movie’s death toll – not just the 13 lost superheroes, but half the population of the universe – I was glad that she insisted!

The exiting crowd was talking about how Marvel could walk back what they’d just witnessed. How some of the ashed supers had sequels with release dates – valid point – and how “Thanos Will Return” at the end of the credits pointed out the sequel/Avengers 4 that would be needed in order to make either of those last two points happen.

Facebook was having a mild meltdown as people started vaguebooking their reaction to the movie.

I knew the feeling. Two days later, I was still stunned as I walked into Thelonious Wines. One of the owners asked what I’d been up to as I sipped my wine and I told her I’d seen the movie. She told me that her friend was in the movie and I thought “extra” until she went on to say that her friend’s Instafeed had been all about the movie for the last few weeks.

“Who is this friend?”, I asked, reassessing my earlier assumption.

As if running one small business wasn’t enough to guarantee that one doesn’t have time to see a movie, the owners of TW were in the endgame of opening a restaurant just a few blocks away, so I was absolutely unsurprised to hear her say that she wasn’t sure what character her friend played, but that her name is Elizabeth Olsen in real life.

Mentally, I took her hand in mine and patted her shoulder with a look of deep sadness.

Outwardly, I just showed her the whites of my eyes all the way around my irises and said, “Oh, yeah…well, I’m not saying anything about anything!”…which is quite out of character for me.

The nerd stampede at the end of the movie was also chock a block full of blaming characters for what happened in the movie, and they were all pretty right with the coulda/woulda/shoulda talk, but that didn’t change anything. It was kinda fun to listen to as we escalated down to street level from the top story theater.

That said, I left the theater today with my own versions of those scenarios. It wasn’t that I was re-writing what I’d just seen out of denial, but was very amused to catch myself thinking, “What was going through Doctor Strange’s mind when he traded his Infinity Stone for Tony Stark’s life?!? I’d only be hadn…”

Who’s the nerd now, Xtopher?

Let’s just call them obvious plot holes, suspend our disbelief and move on, shall we?

I felt like I was able to really follow the 2D version of this second viewing better than the 3D format that I saw originally. While the 3D version gave me an extra jolt during some of the exceptional action scenes, I lost a lot of the minute details in the non-action scenes.

Amusingly, one of those details was Black Panther’s codpiece. Sweet Jesus, I’m not aroused by men who can be described as blessed, but watching Black Panther and his decidedly not little friend kick ass, I found myself thinking, “That right there is why Wakanda needed a protective shield. I know several people who would have stopped at nothing to tame that beast.

By comparison, Thanos – who is a titan, btw – sports a modest package that doesn’t have enough gravity to drag your eyes to it from the actual movie. No wonder he’s so pissed off.

Then again, you know how I enjoy pointing out stereotypes, good or bad. Let’s just say that the stereotypes involving black men (Black Panther) and body builders (Thanos) were both borne out in this case.

When all is said and done, I’m glad I went to see this again. Definitely a good use of my Regal reward points…way better than throwing them away on I Feel Pretty. But I had to face the reality that when my imaginary boyfriend ashed out, I still nearly walked out in protest.

But, back to the original point…why did it affect me so harshly?!?

Here’s what I came up with:

America.

Also, politics.

Why?

Well, in the beginning, we see Loki die. Seriously, like five minutes in. It was shocking and pretty unexpected, but I moved on quickly because even though this character occasionally does the right thing…still, he’s basically a self-serving shitheel so he got what was coming to him.

Then the movie goes about assembling the cast of superheroes for an hour and a half until suddenly, Gomorrah gets killed. Ok, let this sum up how I felt about that little plot development.

I spend the next hour thinking about how it’s so wrong to kill off a good character like that – not to mention a diversity double whammy of an actress since she’s both black and a she – and then wondering if it was a plot point hate crime or equal rights in action…because I live in 2018 Portland, Oregon and we overthink shit like that.

That kept me busy until the last ten minutes of the film where the amount of shit they threw at the fan shorted the fan out.

It was like the 2016 election.

Bernie goes down.

Hillary gets defeated.

Trump wins…and no one can believe it.

And then, when Spidey dies, he improvises everything that Americans felt at the end of the last election cycle. We kinda knew what was ahead of us, something didn’t feel right, we were scared, and we didn’t want to accept the surreality of what lay ahead for us.

That’s why I felt it so hard.

Parallels.

Leaving the theater, I was in denial about the massive devastation I had basically witnessed. It wasn’t the type of parallel that helped reinforce why I enjoy going to movies: the escape from reality that they offer. Listening to the Nerd Squad hypothesize what Avengers 4 would bring us was a lot like listening to the American electorate blaming candidates for the outcome of the last election and then looking forward to how the situation will resolve itself.

My bet?

Avengers 4 shows Thanos getting defeated by Oprah.

Roll credits.

The Avengers: Redux

TIL 8: Dad Crying

Did you know there’s such a thing as Dad Crying?

No?

Me, either!

And I’m not even a parent.

It’s so humiliating.

Definitely not cool.

Or grumpy.

But it’s a thing, and I think I fucking have it.

This isn’t what I planned on writing about today.  You’re just going to have to wait to hear Myrtle’s latest attempts on my life.

Soon, though.

Because right now, I gotta get this out of me.  I think it’s been a thing I was aware of for quite some time, dating back to Rib’s accomplishments in Culinary School.  It was a slow trickle then, these feelings.

But it’s getting worse.

Mostly, this phenomenon occurs in darkened theaters, thank gawd.  The last three movies I’ve seen have opened the tap.

Speaking of taps, no…I wasn’t drinking during these shows.  Well, soda.

It started with Love, Simon.  This gay teen coming of age slash love story made a reasonable case for my tearing up.  

I wrote about it, and that link above will take you there.  But one of the comments I got on that entry made me think – which I like.

The point made was that Love, Simon Glee-coated thisbperson’s coming out story and wasn’t representative of the traumatic experience coming out can be for many gays…check that, many LBGQTI peeps.

It’s a valid point.

Totally.

But I think why I liked it was exactly that.  Sure, he struggled with coming out to himself and then his friends and family…and then it wasn’t that bad.  He’d – or the writers – had built his fears up to something larger than they were and the process was resolved in tidy fashion.

I know the feeling.  Luckily.

But I know that’s not always the case.

Given the political climate in America, even the world, where equal rights for LBGTQI people aren’t the default, the stories of bravery and struggle need to be told.

At the same time, I think part of what got me emotional about this flick – besides that I’m a total sucker for a good chick flick…key word, good – was that it was Glee/washable.

Acceptance isn’t the default, not by a long shot, but the work of previous generations has gotten us to the point that at least this type of movie can be made without being relegated to the LOGO network or an art house only release.

But then Ready Player One got ahold of those same heart strings and played me.  It had to be a fluke of nostalgia, right?

Testing that theory, I went and saw it again when I couldn’t get it off my mind.

Nope.

Played those same strings.

Harder.

Fighting those same urges to go see it again, I went today to a matinee of Blockers.

John Cena was brilliantly funny in his role as a stay at home Dad with hair trigger water works…and I left the theater with a name for my affliction: Dad Crying.

I also left the theater with a salty residue on my cheeks that wasn’t  from the popcorn I shame ate.  Don’t make that dirty, Diezel.

Thank gawd I was in the theater alone!

I have prepared for and accepted two truths about the back 9 of my life:

First, I’m going alone; and,

Second, I’m going to get grumpier as I go along.

EOG paradigm: shattered.

And this after being reminded that my “only” nephew graduates from high school this June.  I hope that takes place in a dark room, too.  Just in case, I better go sunglass shopping.

TIL 8: Dad Crying

Thanks For The Self Love, Simon!

This was the worst movie.

But more on that later, and if you haven’t seen it…fair warning: Here there be spoilers.  Possibly.

In all honesty, this movie was delightful.  I quite enjoyed it.

I am quite a sucker for a coming of age story.  This one didn’t disappoint.  I had warned the Silver Fox when he expressed interest in seeing it together that I was going to be a sappy, emotional mess – I cried at Rocky – but he still wanted to see it with me.

Instead of my regular Regal theater, though, he wanted to go to the Living Room theater, which is actually closer.  Still, I considered making it a wedge issue so I could go cry into my popcorn alone, but let it lie.

Then there was timing.  He has a busy day of appointments and it’s my day off.  When I broached the subject of timing, he declared he was in as long as it started around noon.

So that happened.

There were struggles.  

An ideal family.

Teen angst and awkwardness.

All wrapped around this so personal topic of coming out.

Having been down the path where Simon strode, I felt a connection to him right away.  It was more personal by proxy than straight up vicarious.  Unlike Call Me By Your Name, where I felt more like a voyeur, this movie pulled me into it.  I felt those struggles, the awkwardness and the support.

And I felt the connection, the so tenuous bond between two gay teens as they tried to define themselves publicly by labeling what they wanted to do privately.  It all started when a boy code named Blue posted an anonymous coming out letter to the high school’s message board.

Simon takes this opportunity to reach out, also anonymously via email.

Humorously, these email exchanges spark Simon’s inner Colombo and his days are suddenly filled with both his usual straight subterfuge and now his secret mission to figure out who Blue is based on any incidental clues he could discern from their emails.  The faceless actor playing Blue morphs into whichever classmate Simon pegs as the potential Blue.

It’s optimistic agony to watch.

On the side is the accidental story of Martin, who happens upon Simon’s emails on a school computer after he forgets to log off.

“It’s cool, my brother’s gay”, Martin says before blackmailing Simon into manipulating one of his friends into going out with him.

Martin, you little piece of shit.

And Simon does it.  Poor, terrified kid.  To be threatened with outing in the crucible of high school…such heartlessness.

But, lessons are learned!

Don’t make assumptions.

Stand up for what’s right.

Be true to yourself.

Don’t sell out the people you love.

Of course, Simon has to lose it all before he learns these lessons.

Martin, an excruciatingly awkward personality…grating, as he is, courageously flames out with a grand gesture to his crush that turns into a very crushing, public failure.

Of course, to draw attention from his very public humiliation, he uncorageously posts all of Simon’s emails anonymously on the school’s message board.

Then, all the kids do what kids do and get selfish for a while, circling their wagons around Camp Me. Y’know, like American adults do…

Simon digs deep and finds his character, giving Jennifer Garner a beautiful Mom Moment.  Nothing on Michael Stulbarg’s Dad Moment in CMBYN, but lovely in its own distinct way,  Where Elio’s Dad is sensitive but stoic in Csll Me By Your Name, Simon’s Mom is more raw, you can feel her pain at the helplessness she experiences in protecting her son from this process.

After all is said and done, Simon, and the audience and the high school get the big, Blue reveal.

If this were my life, it would have been the epitome of the beautiful on the inside, fat and pimply on the outside – this is why I’m single – guy.  

But, no.  

This is Hollyweird.

Simon gets his impossibly romantic albeit excruciating An Affair to Remember/Sleepless in Seattle moment to wrap up the storyline.

Blue turns out to be the black, Jewish – and gay, as it turns out – classmate:  the triple threat guy that we all wanted him to be in the first place.

It was tres romantic.

Yes, I slow cried several times.  Thank gawd…this face doesn’t need ugly crying in public!  I’m single enough as it is.

Why was a movie I obviously enjoyed and connected to the worst movie?

A) because I said so.

B) the barely pubescent villain anonymously outs Simon after telling us he has a gay brother…what a pig-fucker.

And,

C) Simon and Blue finally meet and (hopefully) consummate their virtual affair 17 days before graduation?

No, unacceptable.

My inner romantic won’t allow for the reality that Simon and The Triple Threat will only have summer break plus 17 days before being torn apart by college.

It’s terrible.

Thanks For The Self Love, Simon!