Yesterday marked the North American premiere of The Magnificent Seven, a movie that I’ve been looking forward to ever since I saw the trailer some months back. The reason for that is far more simple than you might have guessed: I’m a sucker for Westerns. A large part of that can probably be traced back to my playthrough of Red Dead Redemption back in college-
-but even before that there had always been something appealing about the clink of spurs, the arid desert heat, and towns that weren’t big enough for two particular individuals. That being said, I did with The Magnificent Seven what I do with everything I’m excited about, which is research it obsessively.
Eventually my search led me to a thread in /r/movies sharing the new poster for the film, which you can see on the right. Clicking on the image should help you get a better look at the titular cast of characters, and reveal an additional reason for my interest you might have expected me to be more upfront about.
Of the seven men four are people of colour.
Denzel Washington, emphasized by the number that outlines him, is bounty hunter Sam Chisholm and leader of the group. On his far right is Martin Sensmeier, of First Nations descent, playing Comanche warrior Red Harvest. Skipping past Chris Pratt on his left are Byung-hun Lee as assassin Billy Rocks and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Vasquez, a Mexican outlaw.
Now if there’s anything enthusiasm likes it’s company, and as I scrolled down through the thread seeing if anyone else shared my excitement for the film I came across this comment:
Posted in art, feminism, film, history, race
Tagged Bass Reeves, black, black cowboys, cowboys, Cowboys & Aliens, Denzel Washington, diversity, film, genre, historical negationism, history, inaccurate, past, race, racism, realism, representation, suspension of disbelief, The Forgotten Black Cowboys, The Magnificent Seven, The Multicultural Seven, unrealistic, western
I came to the 90’s action party late.
Sure, I watched a few Arnie movies as a kid, but those were the blatantly child-friendly movies. I’m talking Kindergarten Cop and Jingle All The Way, fun romps to be sure, but nothing to prepare me for the awakening I had last year.
It all began when John convinced me to watch his favourite films from the 90’s (and a few from the 80’s). I decided to indulge my husband’s nostalgia. How was I to know it would end in an movie obsession that would leave me with a classic-action-movie-sized hole, never to be filled? I’ve had a hard time identifying what it is about these action movies that is still so appealing, so I thought I’d write a post trying to figure it out.
They’re Intensely Optimistic
I recently watched Sicario. It was an intense action (/crime/thriller) flick that follows the story of Kate Macer “an idealistic FBI agent [who] is enlisted by a government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico”. While it was certainly a thought-provoking and well-executed film, it was also reeeaaaalllllllllyyy depressing.
Have you ever noticed that? Some of the “best” films out there also happen to be the ones that leave you feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut. Perhaps it’s the gritty realism of contemporary films that sets them apart from previous action films, but that realism also prevents them from being a true escape from real-world troubles.
If you go back and watch almost any 90’s action movie you can go into it knowing your protagonist won’t come out of his adventure emotionally scarred. Instead, you know he’ll just rampage across your screen, kicking butt and taking names.
With an endless amount of bullets.
Posted in film, writing
Tagged 80s, 90s, action movies, antagonist, Arnold schwarzenegger, bad, bad guy, depressing, Expendables, female, film, genre, good, good guy, hero, imaginary, male, millennium, one liners, one-dimensional, protagonist, reflect, Sarah Connor, sarcastic, Sicario, side-kick, superhero, thought-provoking, wish fullfillment
You can read a better introduction at the beginning of last year’s awards, but I can quickly fill in for any new readers out there that I began reading at a fairly young age and continued on to study literature in college. That being said reading and literature have been a part of my life for about as far back as I can remember.
This second installment of the Evan Yeong Literary Awards seeks to once again call attention to the artistic medium that I love most, taking note of the books I read in the past year and [at least this time around, solely] praising the standouts. A lot of pages were put away in 2015, and it was actually a challenge this year to keep the number of winners to just under a dozen.
In 2015 I once again resolved to read 52 books and this time met my goal; sweet success. You can check out a full list [with the exact dates of when I read each one] at this link.
book that most helps “the cause/mission”
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
The former as used by the hosts of the podcast Black Men Can’t Jump and the latter being the name of Joseph Philip Illidge’s column on Comic Book Resources, both terms are ultimately defined as work that progresses diversity. To that effect, White British author Gaiman is one of its truest champions, crafting a fantastical novel that lets its characters fall under the default race of reader’s assumptions only to have that torn away, much to even [or especially] my chagrin, in later pages. Fantasy as a genre is not often populated by men and women of colour, at least in Western fiction, and to have this novel exist, as well as be supported by such an unshakable talent, is a wonderful thing.
novel that doesn’t, and then does, live up to the hype
The Catcher in the Rye in J. D. Salinger
Published in 1951
The only thing I knew about this [in]famous work of fiction prior to reading it is that the murderer of one of The Beatles was obsessed with it and that it has been a frequently banned book, so I was not at all expecting the tale of a teenager who just wanted to drink some drinks and go on some dates and figure out what adolescence is really about. On that same note, I also didn’t think I would be exposed to some of the most raw and honest writing about what it’s like to be a dumb, lost kid. I still don’t fully understand what all the hubbub was about, but I also see why so many dating profiles have it featured as their favourite book. Continue reading
Posted in Comedy, literature, race, religion, review, sex, writing, Youth
Tagged Anansi Boys, Angus Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, awards, best, books, Claire Messud, Cynthia Bond, Dave Eggers, Evan Yeong Literary Awards, fantasy, genre, Guy Gavriel Kay, J. D. Salinger, Larissa Lai, Louise Rennison, Miranda July, Neil Gaiman, Pink Moon, race, romance, Ruby, sad lady lit, Salt Fish Girl, Stef Ann Holm, The Catcher in the Rye, The First Bad Man, The Woman Upstairs, Tigana, virgin, Your Fathers Where Are They? And the Prophets Do They Live Forever?
The Wolves that Live in Skin and Space is Christopher Zeischegg’s, better known as adult performer Danny Wylde, second novel. It’s also a deeply personal one that he described as “an autobiography horror hybrid” in an interview I conducted with him last month.
Given the first person point of view used throughout and the idea that the events taking place were based on, or were actually, “things that were happening in [his] life at the time” it became impossible for this reader and reviewer not to make his way through the book without mentally hearing the words in Zeischegg’s voice. Upon finishing the final, chilling page I was forced to ask myself the question: Does this novel only succeed given a reader’s connection with Chris himself?
While knowing the author, either as a performer or otherwise, may add another dimension to reading it I ultimately decided that it wasn’t necessary, and may even be unadvised as far as fully experiencing The Wolves that Live in Skin and Space is concerned.
Posted in art, internet, literature, pornography, review, sex
Tagged Barnacle, book, Christopher Zeischegg, Danny Wylde, fiction, genre, horror, literature novel, porn, pornography, Rare Bird Books, review, sex
Well boys and ghouls, it’s once again that time of the year! The annual Culture War Reporters Halloween Recommendations! As always, details will be kept light to avoid spoilers and to maximize your viewing pleasure- that’s just how thoughtful we are.
Let’s dig in.
If I could give someone an example of what I think the standard should be for horror movies, it’d probably be Jacob’s Ladder.
In spite of having hit theaters a quarter century ago, Jacob’s Ladder is an absolutely chilling story that’ll unnerve even the most jaded audience of today. This is one of those all-too-rare horror movies- the kind that remember their goal is to horrify the audience, rather than create an iconic monster or lay the groundwork for a franchise. Unassuming, intelligent, and artistic, Jacob’s Ladder provides a relentless march straight through the heart of darkness, and will drag you along (kicking and screaming if need be).
In an age when footage of films are leaked on a daily basis, where the internet churns out speculation 24/7, where whole scripts can be accidentally (or “accidentally”) uncovered by the ravenous denizens of cyberspace, it can be hard to keep a film surprising.
And against all odds, Honeymoon does just that.
Forgoing jump-scares for haunting character development and unsettling atmosphere, this exquisitely acted movie manages to remain truly frightening even after its whole hideous design has been laid bare. Definitely one worth watching. Continue reading
Posted in bizarreness, film
Tagged 1973, Body Horror, Contracted, Eraserhead, genre, halloween, hitchcock, honeymoon, horror, In the Mouth of Madness, It Follows, Jacob's Ladder, Lovecraft, movie, Recommendations, The Babadook, The Wicker Man
That’s right, boys and ghouls-
Good for you.
That’s not something you’d expect someone to say about the genre, is it?
Sure, you might hear about horror “classics”. There are plenty of fans out there who’ll talk about their personal favorites. You might even hear critics fondly contemplate how certain horror flicks were telling of their times. But morally edifying?
Well that’s the argument I’m going to be presenting to you today.
Be warned- spoilers may follow.
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to champion the macabre. I don’t expect it to be the last either- not considering the reaction folks give me when I say I enjoy the stuff.
And before we really dig in here- let me get the obvious out of the way.
Yes, a lot of horror movies are garbage. The slasher/”teen-scream” subgenres use cheap gore and excessive nudity as a crutch for plot. More serious attempts still rely on the same cliches that have been around for decades. Plenty are poorly acted and have production values that could be outstripped by a middle school enactment of Romeo & Juliet.
But that’s hardly unique to horror. Continue reading
Posted in art, bizarreness, crime, film, media, morality
Tagged action, advertising, art, Cinema, comedy, evil, Fear, film, genre, horror, machete, memphis three, morality, movie, Panic, quality, rom-com, satire, slasher, society, teen scream, why horror movies are good for you