“Wonder Woman” Simply…Blows

Yes, we saw the early trailers for “Wonder Woman” and thought we’d be in for a rip-roaring action adventure movie with a female lead.

Not since Luc Besson delivered “Lucy” in 2014 had we seen anything interesting with a female lead.

Of course now with “Wonder Woman” we were dealing with DC Comics and a Comic-Con, boys-with-their-fingers-up-their-noses sensibility.

And sure enough, the Little Boys Club School of Movie-making is on full-blown display in “Wonder Woman.”

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We know. We know. We’ve seen the director’s credit of Patty Jenkins splashed across the screen for “Wonder Woman.” Patty Jenkins, we’re told, is a woman.

Well, just as children are known to be cruel to pets, female directors can be cruel to their female protagonists.

Wonder Woman – Diana Prince -is not her own person. Once the boy – Steve Trevor -enters the picture, the picture becomes all about the boy.

The action follows Steve. The camera follows Steve. Director Jenkins even gives Trevor more prominent positioning within the film frame than Diana. Many times, it’s Diana that’s following Steve as they walk along, a subservient Wonder Woman.

In a British Parliament scene Steve actually shoves Diana out of the room.

Wonder Woman gets pushed out the door by a man? Yes!

Line readings? Trevor has more lines than Diana. Count them.

The film’s action is driven not by Diana but by the men in the film. Diana simply reacts to what the men in the film are doing, whether it’s hero Steve or his acolytic band of merry men.

How is THIS a female empowerment film?

At one point during a WWI battle scene Diana charges out alone onto the battlefield with her shield against hundreds of German troops. Ooops! She gets stuck! With all her superpowers, Wonder Woman gets stuck.

What’s a girl to do? Why, wait for the men to rescue her, like Hero Steve and the troops do here. Wonder Woman gets rescued by the boys. This is not the only example. Diana gets rescued numerous times by Steve and the boys.

Yeah. And this is a female empowerment film.

Did we forget to mention the film was written by some teenage boys? Oh. Well. It was. (Hmm…some editor just whispered in our ear we can’t print that about the screenwriters being teenaged boys, cause it’s not true. But, what the heck, if it seems true, we’ll write it anyway.)

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We saved the worst indignity for last:

The entire thrust of the film was supposed to be Wonder Woman’s “Inner Strength” coming from believing in herself – this was established in the very beginning of the film in scenes when she was a small child learning how to fight.

Flash forward to her Grand Battle Royale with the Evil god Ares. And Diana isn’t doing so good. In fact, she’s losing.

But wait! She finally gains that Inner Strength and belief in herself that all Enlightened, Modern Women seek!

And how is this miracle accomplished?

Wonder Woman gains all her power and becomes whole when – get this, now  – little ol’ Steve Trevor tells her that he luvs her wit all his iddy bitty heart.

Yes. A woman cannot be whole unless she has the love of a man.

To use the vernacular of these times – WTF!?

To drive home the point of who the real hero is of this film, at the end Director Jenkins gathers a huge London crowd adoringly around a shrine of the now dead Trevor as the soundtrack soars.

Diana, Wonder Woman, the real hero of the story who killed the evil god of war and ended WWI and brought peace to Earth, our female director Patty Jenkins has her positioned as just a small figure amongst the crowd.

Directed by a woman.

Touted by all as a female empowerment film.

Even more, touted in mass media publications as part of a Grand Movement for Women Everywhere.

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The media was sure Hillary Clinton was going to be the next President of these United States of America.

Just like the media now believes “Wonder Woman” is some conquering feminist hero film movement.

When The Trumpster does his ridiculous riffs about the media it resonates with his ignorant base. We tend to laugh it off.

Yet, there are other distinct narrative angles taken by the media that are in direct contrast to the facts.

Buying into these false media narratives without discernment or logical discourse by those who know better, well…whether it’s Rupert Murdoch’s Right-wing publications in Great Britain or Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr’s ragsheet here in New York, what does it lead to?

Lemmings to the sea.

Or, Trump to the presiden-cy.

PS: It cannot be discounted that the film “Wonder Woman” was largely backed with Chinese funding by Chinese Wanda Pictures and most of its profits will come from overseas. How much influence did the Chinese – who see NO interest in Women’s Rights – have over story content in this, the biggest tentpole film of 2017?

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Spielberg’s Film Dogged By Dog Abuse; Forget When His Film Murdered 3 Actors?

Some recent footage of an abused dog from the set of the Steven Spielberg produced “A Dog’s Purpose” brings back memories from the murderous set of 1983’s “The Twilight Zone.”

http://www.tmz.com/2017/01/18/a-dogs-purpose-video-suspension/

If you think a dog being abused is bad, how about a helicopter decapitating 2 actors and crushing a third? Two of them were child actors. The scene was being directed by John Landis but was under the supervision of producer Steven Speilberg.

http://cinetropolis.net/time-out-the-twilight-zone-movie-and-the-death-of-vic-morrow/

Kind of puts things in perspective.

And no one ever found justice for the murdered actor Vic Morrow and the two children.

That’s Hollywood!

 

Grayson Allen, (Yes!) Kicks BC Player! He Just Can’t Stop Himself

Duke played Boston College Saturday and what would a Duke game be without another high-kicking Grayson Allen move!

http://www.foxsports.com/college-basketball/story/grayson-allen-raised-eyebrows-awkward-leg-move-vs-boston-college-010817

It’s clearly time for Grayson Allen to just give up this basketball game and go ahead and join the high-stepping Radio City Rockettes.

At least on the stage he’ll finally be where he ought to be: Under the spotlights and getting paid for what he does best.

“La La Land” Lands With A Thud; It’s A Dud!

Here we go again.

It must be remembered that Hollywood is a world unto itself – a hubbub of a bubble; the ultimate echo chamber.

And this year the cries bouncing off that bubble and echoing around in that chamber is that Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” is the musical masterpiece of the year.

We beg to differ.

After a recent viewing of “La La Land” with an average audience – not an “industry” audience, mind you – the crowd upon exiting was left muttering “what were all those critics talking about?”

What we saw was a mumbling, disjointed mish-mash with not one memorable song or performance. Ryan Gosling did his best with the material he was given but playing against Emma Stone he might as well have been hitting tennis balls against a brick wall. Stone’s acting goes from A to Z with nothing in between. No shading. We get the tearing, blurting bits that we saw so well in, well, “Birdman,” for example. And she keeps throwing that back at us.

As musicals go, this one didn’t. Go.

From the opening sequence, once the actors open their mouths to sing the words got lost and we knew we were in the hands of a second-rate director. The composition within the frame was crowded and without perspective, not unlike a smartphone user who’s never sure where the action is so they just point where the movement goes. Cinematography is an art. A cinematographer has a grand vision that encompasses light, composition, movement, depth, color all in a complex language that conveys a dramatic purpose to a film.

In “La La Land” the cinematography was non-existent.

And don’t give any credence to those critics who cite the beauty of the “shots” such as Griffith Park. A camera held still and rolling “film” on an object is not cinematography.

Most of the scenes in “La La Land” were so underlit that Stone and Gosling’s faces were in shadow. And when they are supposed to be singing, audiences want to SEE the mouths of the actors.

Dramatic tension. As in Chazelle’s “Whiplash” this film has a tacked-on, fake dramatic turning point that comes out of nowhere and appears in one scene at a dining table. Coming from left field, audiences are blind-sided. “Well, guess we’re going in that direction.”

Chazelle is still an immature filmmaker. Here he’s not unlike a trolley car driver who’s got his passengers on a trip then decides to jump the track. Passengers – except for gullible Hollywood-ites – don’t enjoy bumpy rides.

The most egregious example of a director who is clueless over what to do with a musical bit is Stone’s little audition song toward the end. It’s meant to be powerful yet, Chazelle has Stone frozen in place, not moving a muscle, under a hard spot, for the entire song. We’ve never seen someone sing a song as if they were standing in front of a firing squad, but this bit would surely qualify.

The film’s ending is an example of what happens when you give a director final cut. They always find a way to make it longer and confusing and waste any goodwill they might have garnered from the audience up until that point.

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There’s more. Much, much more.

And we’ll write about that when we find the time.

At this point we’ll remind everyone to rush out and see Hollywood’s fav flick from last year – “The Revenant.”

Oh, you don’t want to waste your time on that boring slogfest, either.

New York Times Desecrates The Dead: Debbie Reynolds; George Michael

After the New York Times disastrous miscalculation on the 2016 election of Donald Trump, they have gone though a much ballyhooed reformation in order to present the world’s affairs to its readers in a – well, some kinda different format.

A very ugly example of this new format has been its coverage of the recent deaths of Pop star George Michael and Film star Debbie Reynolds.

NYT’s writer Wesley Morris threw out extended stories on Michael and Reynolds lives under the creepy title “An Appraisal.”

“An Appraisal?”

Those of us in the civilized world understand “An Appreciation” of someone’s life after they have passed on. But, an “appraisal?”

Appraisals are something you do to a used car. An appraisal is something you do to a piece of property.

After an artist has just died, you do NOT offer up an appraisal.

Unless, of course, you are a crass, wallowing-in-a-moral-morass NYT’s writer.

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Need an example of some “appraisals” from NYT’s writer Morris? How about:

“Who the hell is gonna be named Debbie?” on Ms. Reynolds.

Or calling Ms. Reynolds “a casually narcissistic gorgon of a mother.”

Or his vicious hits on George Michael, just a day after his death, ridiculing his “butch” style or making left-handed cuts about his homosexuality.

Incredulously, this quat writer Morris puts this stuff out in a – yes – casually narcissistic manner meant to be chatty and endearing.

If this dude were ever speaking at a wake, we’re sure he’d end up buried before the person in the casket.

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How about this: Since we can’t trust The New York Times to properly appraise our current political or world situations, why the HELL do they think they can appraise the lives of artists who have done much to add joy to this world?

Anti-Trump Protesters? Try Organizing. Not As Much Fun, But More Practical

An anecdote: A friend who is a university teacher told us of a post-election class where many of their students were so distraught about the Trump election. The teacher then asked how many had voted.

No one raised their hands.

Meanwhile, thousands are storming through the streets across America. We wonder how many of them can actually name their local congressman. Or how many had voted.

Before anyone goes out to cause a ruckus in the cites of America they need to show proof they actually showed up to vote last week. Otherwise, they are pretenders to this revolution.

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We had a record low voter turnout in this most-important election in 2016. Only 55%. A 20 year low according to news reports.

And everyone’s surprised about the results?

Shouldn’t that be news? That in the most important election in our recent history almost half the nation chose to say “I don’t care”?

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Earlier this year there were protests across the UK when the nation voted for the Brexit resolution, catching many of the young, urbanite population offguard. They hadn’t voted either. It was a big, rural voter turnout that enabled Brexit to go forward. So, those who didn’t vote, protested. Too late.

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There are times for protests. This isn’t one of them. If it makes you feel better, howl at the moon. Get it out of your system.

Then, go to work. Organize. Talk to other people. Go online and get information. Find your senator and representative. Contact them. Don’t be angry. Come up with some positive ideas. Know other people like yourself who are concerned? Form a group. Organize. Get more members. Meet at your local library. Don’t like what the Democrats/Republicans did? Start your own party. Or join the local Democratic/Republican party and see what you and your friends can do about making changes.

Go online. Do research. Find others who share your views or, possibly, talk reasonably with those who oppose you. Gain understanding.

Organize. Become the start of your own movement. Be a positive force for change. (Yes, crass politicians have co-opted that “change” thing, but it’s always possible to take it back.)

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Protesting may feel good in the short term. But, it’s America’s obsession with feeling good in the short term that has essentially brought us to where we are today.

Don’t like something? Tweet about it. Text someone. Post something on Facebook/Instagram/Whatever.

But that’s not going to change anything.  Real change takes a lot of work. Real change takes a lot of…organization. People-to-people work. Not staring into the smartphone stuff. And these days that’s all you see around you, people staring into their phones, attention span, well, wait, my phone just beeped!

Protesting is easy. Just check the location of the latest protest site on your phone and head over. Walk down the street. Hold a sign.Yell.

Protesting, at this point, is a sign of weakness. You may think you are empowering yourself. You may think you are validating your viewpoint or emotions. You may feel better about yourself. But, as any adult should tell you, feelings are short term.

Protesters? Essentially, you’re throwing a temper tantrum cause you lost and the other side won. 

And isn’t THAT what Trump and his minions threatened to do if they lost?

( Suggestion: If you happen to be at a protest, grab a bunch of them and take them home for a political organizing coffee-clatch where you can get some real work done!)

 

 

 

 

 

Why Trump? Corporate America, Corporate Media, Ignorant Americans

Walk into any Walmart Superstore. It’s full of Trump supporters. People whose incomes have been driven down and are left to scrounge around the aisles for Chinese-made products at “low prices” that for them are all they can afford.

And Sam Walton’s relatives are all Arkansas billionaires living off the backs of the poverty of the American people and thanks to the Chinese government’s trade policy and Chinese slave-level labor practices. (Yes, feel free to ignore those propaganda commercials Walmart runs about “Made In America.” Simply look at the boxes of every product on the shelves and see for yourself the Made In China facts.)

Do those Trump voters comprehend the economic forces behind this? No. And ignorance drives Trump’s supporters. (Note: ignorance here is merely a lack of knowledge, not a slur on intelligence.)

Starting in the 1980’s it has been common practice in top US business schools – yes, even Trump’s own alma mater Wharton School of Business- that a corporation must lower production costs at the expense of everything in order to enrich executives and shareholders. No longer was a company essentially a well-tuned operation of workers and management and executives all striving for the good of the company. It all became “Profits Uber Alles.”

[For one of the best dramatizations of this see the  1954 film “Executive Suite” Dir. by Robert Wise with William Holden. (Okay, you’ll have to put up with June Allyson’s saccharine act but try to ignore that.) William Holden’s inspiring performance alone could make any schoolchild want to be an entrepreneur!]

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How many Fox News viewers even know the history of their beloved network’s patriarch, Rupert Murdoch? How many know about the bastard out of Australia who bought up papers in the UK, honed in on yellow journalism and turned politics so ugly until they were illegally spying on the Royal Family and blackmailing politicians?

How many know that Murdoch had a specific, crass agenda when he made his huge Fox purchase to gain entry to the US? That he was going to use it to twist people ’round a rigid, very focused right-wing agenda? And then Murdoch followed through on that plan. And how he later purchased Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal so he could espouse crackpot right-wing theories through one of America’s most respected economic newspapers?

Really, how many know this?

And the joke is all those millions of Fox New-heads believe there is a Great Left Wing Media Conspiracy when they don’t know that they are the lemmings of the Weathered, Withering Lizard Rupert Murdoch. It’s great comedy. Really, it is.

In a Shakespearean way, Murdoch’s sons are ensconced in Hollywood running his entertainment empire and worried how the network’s right-wing politics might damage the brand’s West Coast business. At last word, the sons weren’t too worried and were even willing to let the network run wild, to the point of letting Fox run those vitriolic, anti-Semitic campaign commercials created by…the NRA. (And, really, isn’t that scary enough? Do you think Hollywood will just lie down for this, simply because Fox has money and, now, political power?)

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Our friends on the Left don’t get left out of this, either. Wednesday morning what did millions of Americans see on their doorsteps with their New York Times? The massive headline:

HER REIGN BEGINS

And inside:

WE HAVE A NEW LEADER: A WOMAN. LET US GIVE HER A CELEBRATION THAT IS BEFITTING OF THE WIND OF CHANGE SHE REPRESENTS: MODERN AND FORWARD-LOOKING.

And Americans wondered “What the f*ck?” until they realized The New York Times and Netflix had BOTH got it so wrong in their printed 4-page advert wraparound for a TV series about some queen on a VERY WRONG morning.

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/tim-graham/2016/11/09/pro-hillary-oops-netflix-wraps-ny-times-suggestive-her-reign-begins

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That’s how blindered, how off-base, how out of touch the New York Times and the Left Wing media is with the broad swath of America that actually voted for Donald J. Trump.

CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Huffington Post. They just don’t get it. They have created their own echo chambers of unquestioning non-journalistic thinking where all the hot button issues of economics, race, trade, immigration and foreign affairs have set answers.

And any discussion on those issues are dealt with as battles, face-offs between combatants.

Well, not exactly. There are the dunderheads like Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and Chuck Todd who have no concept of rhetoric or a pungent follow-up question and would have allowed Richard Nixon off the hook for Watergate. It is exceptional that these personalities – yes, personalities because we cannot call them journalists – do not accept the fundamental belief that it is their JOB to get to the TRUTH of a politician’s statement. They let a politician say whatever they want, and let the court of public opinion decide what is “true” or not.

Look where that got us.

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We cannot allow The Media to create the False Narratives that they have throughout this election cycle. 

The Media, left-wing, right-wing,  – in production meetings behind the scenes that the public is never privy to – set agendas. Those agendas are never in the cause of a Healthy Political Discourse. 

The Media wants friction. The Media wants and thrives on conflict.

When we are making decisions that will affect the course of our lives and the future of the nation we must have discourse that is cool and level-headed, even with those of opposing viewpoints. Because politics is always about compromise – Look at the past. Look at those oft-referenced Founding Fathers who compromised, compromised, compromised and eventually came up with some very good ground plans for a youthful nation.

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On a holistic level, go outside, look at Nature. It’s Fall. Everything is cyclical. Trees lose their leaves but they’ll be back come Spring. There are fallow periods and there are bountiful times.

Or, to go with a sports analogy: As the Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told all his panicked fans during a losing streak the team was having: “Hey, relax.”

And he was right. The Packers started winning again. And the world was okay, again.