Category Archives: media

The K’un-Lun of Netflix’s Iron Fist [Within the Larger Context]

Technically my posts are supposed to go up on Friday. As loyal readers may have noticed, and much to my chagrin, my tendency as of late has been to put them up on Saturday, and sometimes even Sunday. This is one of those very rare instances where I’m glad I took some time to get to a particular topic.

See, this Thursday I came across the Comic Book Resources headline “Finn Jones On Iron Fist Criticism: ‘Danny Is Not A White Savior’”, which I ended up clicking on against my better judgement.

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The actor begins by empathizing with those who might be upset about Netflix’s latest upcoming Marvel project, saying:

“I understand where this frustration comes from. I understand the need for more diversity in television and films, especially for Asian actors. I understand that frustration. I agree with it, and I stand in solidarity with that voice.”

I filled my lifetime quota for Well-Meaning White Person™ responses with Tilda Swinton last year, though, so there’s only so much Jones’ attempts at allyship could do to affect me. What really riled me up, to the point where I was going to lean hard into the style of my co-writer Gordon’s profanity-laden rage posts, was what he mentioned a little later on:

“People from all over the world, all different cultures come from K’un-Lun, so it isn’t just this Asian-specific culture. You have people from Brazil there, you have people from Europe there. It’s a multicultural intergalactic alternate dimension.”

Fortunately I’ve since been able to calm down, so let’s take a few steps back and start from the top. Continue reading

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Dance Like Somebody’s Watching: Director Juanjo Giménez on His Short Film Timecode

mv5bodvkymrjm2qtnmy1os00zda1lthmzgety2u1mti0n2vhzde3xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynti5njiymw-_v1_sy1000_cr007031000_al_With the 89th Academy Awards coming in just a few short days I’m grateful for the opportunity to interview director Juanjo Giménez and pick his brain about Timecode, which has been nominated for Best Short Film.

This comes roughly two weeks after my review, and I made the most of the occasion by trying to unpack so much of what I enjoyed about this particular piece of work. While I was only able to ask so many questions, I hope that Giménez’s answers help shine a little light on why Timecode was considered for this great honour, as well as why it might deserve it.


To start with, it’s almost no surprise that Timecode was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Goya Award given your impressive filmography. Has having written, directed, and produced so much award-winning work changed your approach with each new project?

I don’t think so. I think that no filmmaker thinks about awards or recognition when making a new film. In our case, financing every new project has always been difficult, even if the previous film has been a successful one. The only thing that is essential for approaching a new project is the need to make it.

 It’s notable that much of the work you’ve received the most attention for are your short films. What is it that appeals to you about that particular format?

Timecode is my ninth short film as director. I learned that short films usually fit the way I approach filmmaking better. And what’s more important, there’s nothing wrong with that! That doesn’t mean I won’t make a feature film again, but shorts provide a great platform for experimenting without the financial struggles that usually constrain a fiction feature. Even if I speak as a producer, in terms of financial results, my shorts have always been more profitable than my features.  Continue reading

Animus: Our Soul Searching Interview With Johnny Sachon

mv5bowrioda2ngmtntvjns00nzizlwjkzgqtmwe1yjhmmdlly2qzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymju5otazmzi-_v1_sy1000_cr006581000_al_Last week, CWR published our review of Animus, a short but powerful film directed by Mark J. Blackman. This writer had an opportunity to put a few questions to Animus actor/producer Johnny Sachon, who was nice enough to take the time to respond.

What inspired the story behind Animus?

It all came about quite organically. I’d worked with Katie [Goldfinch] a few times before. We both felt that we brought the best out in each other and wanted to challenge each other. As we’ve both produced films as well we made the decision to develop something together.

I met Mark [J. Blackman] in Cannes 2012 and had been following his work since. Out of the blue Mark contacted me regarding another project which sadly didn’t come work out for me. However, Mark asked me if I had anything else I was working on… and it just so happened I did. I guess everything happens for a reason.

2016 was a strange year for a lot of people and from my point of view I felt a lot happened in my own life as well that I wanted to explore and even exorcise in some way. The three of us met, and again, quite organically began discussing all of this and found a mutual subjects and ground to build upon. We spoke about absolutes – we wanted to produce a drama set in one location that focused on the performances.  Having recently worked on projects that were bold and intensive when it came to their scale of production  Animus was quite a refreshing challenge we all looked forward to. Out of these meetings Mark wrote Animus. The first draft was remarkably close to what you see on screen. Continue reading

The 2017 Women’s March: A Q&A Guide for Dummies

What rights have been taken away during Trump’s first 24 hours in office?

The ACA is presently being dismantled, meaning millions of Americans will be deprived of health insurance. Of this number, women are uniquely affected. As explained in The New York Times:

Until now, it has been perfectly legal in most states for companies selling individual health policies — for people who do not have group coverage through employers — to engage in “gender rating,” that is, charging women more than men for the same coverage, even for policies that do not include maternity care.

As deeply flawed a system as the ACA is, outright elimination will result in a sudden and fundamentally arbitrary penalization of women on the basis of their sex. The added cost will be especially detrimental to women in or near poverty (besides sucking for everyone in general).

So this is about Obamacare?

Not necessarily. The dismantling of the ACA is merely one of the many issues being protested by the millions of women marching in the US and around the world. Points include (but are not limited to):

  • Gay Rights – As the vice president has openly stated that gay marriage signal “societal collapse“, and has actively legislated the exclusion of gays from the military and a number of other civil rights issues.
  • Public Services – Which have been threatened with reduced funding, if not complete elimination, by high ranking members of the administration.
  • Defense of Racial and Religious Minorities – particularly people of color and Muslims, who have received ample disparagement and hostility from almost everyone within the administration.
  • Environmental Issues – The very existence of which Trump has denied, claiming global warming to be a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
  • And easily a dozen more…

Bah! These protesters should be grateful for how easy they have it. Now women living in the third world, they experience real oppression. Why isn’t anyone speaking up for them?

imxzs1v Continue reading

How Marvel Ruined The Movies

Over the past decade, we’ve been witness to something unprecedented in the history of film: the rise of the cinematic universe.

Pioneered by Marvel with their ever-expanding Avengers universe, this innovative and impressive model has been swiftly copied by others, and we’re already seeing attempts at DC’s Justice League universe, an expanded Star Wars, and even Harry Potter. While the success has certainly been varied, it would seem the standard is here to stay.

And here’re the reasons why that sucks.

Bigger Audiences Don’t Mean Better Movies

And while that goes without saying, the issue becomes especially apparent when movies become global phenomena in the way the MCU has become.

In his posts about the whitewashing of Doctor Strange, Evan brought up the case of film-critic-turned-writer C. Robert Cargill. In a podcast, Cargill discussed the whitewashing of “The Ancient One” and how the character of an old man from the Himalayas got turned into middle-aged woman from Scotland.

“The Ancient One… comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion [Chinese] people who think that that’s bullshit…”

-C. Robert Cargill, Double Toasted Podcast

While my co-author pointed out that the character of The Ancient One was set in Nepal, not Tibet, and while Cargill swiftly clarified that these were his thoughts, not Marvel’s, I do think he’s got a point. China has become a major consumer of western films, and the effects of that are already apparent.

2014’s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction surpassed Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar in Chinese theaters, and presently stands as the 4th highest-grossing film in the nation.

“The long and the short of it: Bay made a movie set and filmed in China, starring Chinese actors, using Chinese resources and pushing Chinese products, and in exchange, the movie gets a timely premiere across the country’s 18,000-plus movie screens.”

Nash Jenkins, TIME Magazine, 2014

The remake of Red Dawn, originally based on the idea of a Chinese invasion of the US, was hastily changed to cast North Korea as the principal villain for fear of offending Chinese viewers. Because the US getting conquered by a country smaller than the state of Louisiana is somehow believable.

tewaame

Now that’s not to say that Red Dawn would’ve been a good movie otherwise (it wouldn’t have)- just that it was made even more stupid in a greedy effort to rake in more cash. While we certainly didn’t lose a cinema classic in catering to political correctness, it does set a disturbing precedent for the future. Will films purposefully cut reference to Tibet, Taiwan, or the Uighurs? Will China’s despicable record on human rights and the environment be glossed over for box office sales?

And they’re not the only problem. Continue reading

Miley Cyrus Bashing Supergirl Justifies Exactly Why We Need It

mileysupergirl

I’ll be the first to admit that I could broaden my scope regarding how I engage with current events. It’s much to my chagrin that my primary news sources are Facebook’s trending sidebar and whenever my grandfather changes the channel to CP24, in that order. That said, every now and then one of the comic book news sites I visit daily will offer me a glimpse of what’s happening outside that bubble.

In the case of this topic, I was informed not of what actually happened but of the response to it, days after the fact. The “event” in question took place during Miley Cyrus’s interview with Variety, which as the title would suggest was largely focused on her role on The Voice, Donald Trump, and coming out. To be more specific, it was the following question and answer [and yes, it is in fact related to comics]:

Why do you think inequality still exists for women in Hollywood?

A lot of it could be changed if we had a female president. That would give us a subconscious boost. I think people will have to realize they’re looking really dated. For example, there’s a show called “Supergirl.” I think having a show with a gender attached to it is weird. One, it’s a woman on that fucking billboard — it’s not a little girl. Two, what if you’re a little boy who wants to be a girl so bad that this makes you feel bad? I think having a title like “Supergirl” doesn’t give the power that people think it does.

Continue reading

When Life Gives You Don Lemon IV: If A Lemon Tree Falls In The Forest…

In 2014, I became familiar with the career of one Mr. Don Lemon, a young, charismatic news anchor over at CNN. I say “news anchor” because that’s what they call him. I assume the more accurate title of “Shameless Propagator of Tabloid Drivel Making A Mockery of Journalism” wouldn’t fit on the business cards.

Yeah, I’m not a fan.

In fact I went so far as to dub Lemon “one of the most destructive forces in culture.” A harsh accusation, but I’d argue not an unfair one. And so I try to keep tabs on the guy, hoping against hope that a Google search of his name will not result in some fresh wave of misinformation, Islamophobia, and general fearmongering nonsense. So is this our lucky year?

I’m afraid not.

Here’s what the country’s lousiest news anchor has been up to since we last checked in:

Asking A Muslim Lawyer If He “Supports ISIS”

By Muslim lawyer, I mean Arsalan Iftikhar, esteemed human rights lawyer, adjunct professor at DuPaul, and internationally recognized author and intellectual. And no, Lemon did not ask Iftikhar that question to establish for the audience that Muslims don’t automatically support terror. You can see the pained shock on Iftikhar’s face and the obliviousness on Lemon’s. And to be clear here, Lemon’s exact words were:

“Do you support ISIS?”

jtfp

That was it.

No set-up, no context, no follow-up. Just an insulting question that was (if intentional) designed to rile up Iftikhar or (if unintentional) so blithely dumb that it could have come from-

-well, the likes of Don Lemon.

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That said, baiting Muslim guests for for ratings is par for the course where Lemon is concerned, but the blatancy here seems just plain painful. I shouldn’t have to explain that one might ask with equal legitimacy if Don Lemon supports the Crips on the basis of his race, or if he supports the LRA on the basis of his religion.

But asking for a bit of incisiveness from news anchors is clearly demanding too much. Continue reading