RACE CARD: Of Course They Think Black Panther is a FLUKE

Never Freezes lol

Now that Black Panther has cracked into the top 3 highest earning movies of all-time there are a couple things we have to consider. Firstly, based on the film’s success you’d think it would lead to an uptick into the development of material with a POC-audience in mind, right? Secondly, in the grand scheme of Marvel’s cinematic universe the center seems to have settled somewhere between Tom Holland’s Spiderman, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange. With that being said, is this next phase of Marvel going to be able to continue the success of the last decade or so?

Earlier this year I (along with the rest of The Nexcrew) hosted a Black Panther event at Dragon’s Lair in Austin. One of our big goals in planning the gig, was that we really wanted attendees to gain a genuine appreciation of who and what Black Panther is. I felt like the ‘preview’ of sorts fans got in Captain America: Civil War was solid, but didn’t do a whole lot to establish who T’Challa was. Thankfully, one of the biggest compliments we received about the event was how informative it turned out to be. People really enjoyed the history and cultural importance of the character.

Now during the success of the movie’s run in theaters (which is still going as of this post), a number of Hollywood execs have started to believe the movie’s triumph a sort of fluke. A billion dollar fluke, apparently. Marvel is a trusted brand in the realm of cinematic entertainment now, so some believe they could have turned any IP into a billion dollar movie.

Thor, Ant Man, and Dr Strange all say hello, by the way.

The criticism may be valid on some terms, but it completely overlooks one crucial aspect of what Black Panther so appealing to some many people.

CULTURE.

What is Iron Man? A rich white guy in a crazy, tech-suit.

What is Captain America? A soldier with a big, noble heart and super-human abilities

Spider-man? Nerdy kid with spider-based powers

Black Panther? King of a sovereign nation who is forced to take over after the death of his father, the former King. Oh yeah, and he’s also the super-powered, super wealthy, highly trained protector of his people.

 

It’s no secret that there were thousands (if not millions) of moviegoers who went to see Black Panther who hadn’t watched a single Marvel movie prior to. And why’d they go. Because of the sheer hype the Black Panther press tour generated. The stars, director, and producers were so visible and so likable that it convinced people who were otherwise on the fence to see the movie.

Not only that but the African culture and mystic that surrounded the film cast the whole project in a more uplifting and positive light. Instead of gang bangers and dope pushers–we were getting warriors, kings, and a what’s essentially a sci-fic action adventure. We as black people were so ecstatic to see ourselves in such a way, that the presale of the movie’s tickets also made history.

So then..why do Hollywood execs think the movie’s success is a fluke?

Because it’s discrimination, you twits! Remember the Sony email leaks of yesteryear? (2014?) Hollywood already doesn’t think black movie stars aren’t profitable. Of course they think set design, music, brand (Marvel), and big budget are the reasons for the billion dollar earnings. They also like to pretend other Marvel stinkers like the old Hulk movies and the mostly forgettable Ant Man and Thor sequels don’t exist too. Granted the budgets weren’t as big, but Thor has 3 movies!? THREE? Keep in mind rumors of a Black Panther movie had been around since 2005. So we get 3 Iron Man, 3 Captain America, and 3 Thor movies before one Black Panther? And Black Panther outperformed them all?

How about 2-3 more Black Panther movies, a Static Shock trilogy, and a Blue Marvel run? NO? Why not? Let’s stop asking ‘why not’ and instead hold these studios accountable. One way to do that is to show overwhelming support for this kind of diversity. Thank god Chris Evans (my favorite Marvel actor) is done after Avengers 4. Now hopefully, the spotlight can be shone down on characters like Captain Marvel and Black Panther, Falcon, War Machine and the Dora Milaje. And god save the queen if we get a Iron Heart (Shuri) in this cinematic universe! *Cues God’s Plan* It would be…MARVELOUS. I’ll stop.

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The powerful, captivating Dora Milaje

Recapped!: “Tokyo Noir” (2004)

“A Day in the life of those alone and repressed…”

 

words: Desmond Childs

As I was watching the three different tales unfold on-screen, I kept trying to remember what it meant for something “noir”. I listen to a lot of podcasts based on movies and even when someone used the term “noir” to describe a movie; I only sort of understood what they meant. The image that always comes to my mind when I hear the word “noir” is of like some detective (probably Sam Spade) sitting at his desk, with his legs propped up, waiting for business. I actually use to think any movie from Hollywood that used black and white was a “noir” film. At the time I was in elementary and I thought the term was some fancy way to describe old, ugly-looking movies. After the movie ended, the first thing I did was look the darn thing up on Webster.com. Here it is for all of you still not in the know on what “noir” means:

Noir : crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings

Interesting right? The characters in this movie, Tokyo Noir, are not involved in any crime. However, I do believe the women depicted in the film are in their own ways, “hard-boiled”, and they most certainly live in bleak, sleazy settings.

“You know what they say. Two outta three ain’t bad, right?”

The mega-city of Tokyo serves as the setting for the three stories in this movie:

The first story deals with an aging, women working for what looks like an internet service provider. She seems to work for the marketing department and serves as the chief. At least that’s what gathered. She still had only one person to answer to so maybe I’m off on her real position in the company. Anyway,  for the majority of her life (she’s in her late thirties) she has had “tragedies” happen on her birthday. And not even just tragedies, but things that were already bad and made worse by occurring on her birthday. Her father runs off and later declared dead because he’s been missing for so long. Her dog/cat(?) dies. She talks about things of this nature happening and basically making her a miserable person inside. She’s also a virgin. Which wouldn’t really matter except the doctor mentions something to her about needing to have sex so she doesn’t get cervical cancer? Yeah, I dunno, that was weird. She finds a “hole in the wall” beauty shop where this guy (on her birthday) makes her look very beautiful. Like “several years younger” beautiful.  She leaves the shop and heads home and is ogled at by every guy she passes for looking so attractive. I also forgot to mention earlier, but before she goes to the beauty shop she tries a little experiment. She simply applies lipstick on while at work and a potential client can’t keep from staring at her while she’s trying to present her product. She wipes off the lipstick later, no doubt full of shame, but also intrigued at the hidden potential she held inside. I guess.

I don’t want to spoil the entire first-third of the film, so I’ll talk about what the story of “Birthday” seems to be getting at. I think it’s about the past. Or rather, letting the past find your future for you. By allowing the past to continuously demoralize her, this woman looked toward a future of annual disappointment. The beauty shop she begins to frequent represented a way out of her “trap”. It symbolized another path she could take toward living the life she maybe wanted to live all along, but was afraid too. The fear she had of her own birthday blocked this woman from savoring life. Going out. Meeting new people. Falling in love. Having a family. That sort of thing. I don’t equate having sex to “freeing yourself” to a new world. But it happens here. The movie wants us to see the women as a new person, one not afraid of the challenges life sends her way. Which I like the message. And I kind of liked the tone of this third of the movie the most as well. I even thought it was interesting how rape was used in this story. It really made me think about the old idiom, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”.

 The middle story, which I submit is the less coherent of the two I saw, centers around a college student who lives a double life as a host club celebrity. She’s known all over in the gross, seedy business district (^_^) of Tokyo. She goes to school and has a small but close group of friends. Then later heads on over to the other side of town to entertain clients and make a substantial amount of money. And for those of you who are curious about the way host clubs work, check out my review of The Great Happiness Space here. The story then becomes really convoluted in the way certain characters are introduced and used in the last act. The girl’s boyfriend desperately wants her back and she vehemently refuses him. Then they have sex. And then she refuses him again, kind of? Or maybe she accepts him but doesn’t really seem to want to change her life. Anyway, I won’t ruin the ending. What I got from this story is a little tougher for me to transcribe. I think the most I could get out of this had to do with the girl herself. She wanted to find someone she could be loyal to, even if that someone (or something) ended up being bad for her. The story itself is a fleshed out example of this lesson.

I’m surprised to learn that there is in fact a third story in this movie. I watched it on a widget-site on my Roku player. Apparently the story is also a sex-laden tale of some women’s want to experiment sexually. Sounds like something Amanda would review. But not me. Regardless, even the theme of the third part of this movie seems to line up with the other two tales. Sexual freedom. I have to frank, watching a movie containing a plethora of awkwardly filmed love scenes did not make this movie any more entertaining. I, like many people, believe in the “less is more” approach to scenes of the sexual nature. Tokyo Noir is not choice material I’d recommend to a friend or cousin. The sex is actually filmed tastefully. But the purpose behind this film is clear. Directors Masato Ishioka and Naoto Kumazawa seem to want “sexual freedom” as the greatest escape for all these repressed women. For a little more information, including a lot of spoilers, click here for  asianwiki.com’s article on Tokyo Noir.

Keanu Reeves’ Generation Um…Review – IGN

Aside

English: Actor Keanu Reeves in Mexico

English: Actor Keanu Reeves in Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keanu Reeves’ Generation Um…Review – IGN.

Recapped!: “War of the Arrows”

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I’m not positive about it, but I feel there are countless ways movies can build tension; with many of the methods being mixed-n-mashed together. While Hollywood seems content on using around 5 ways to build tension, I’ve noticed the other countinents looking to be a little more creative and their approach. An example of an action movie where tension is built, not necessarily in the fighting itself, but the scenes inbetween. The chasing, the hiding, the outmanuvering of an opponet then cutting them down; these elements of building tension are what makeup “War of the Arrows“.

A movie directed by Han-min Kim whose other credits include Handphone (2009), and Paradise Murdered (2007). He also wrote Handphone as well as War of the Arrows; while acting in Paradise Murdered. A very intense style of directing was used during the action sequences in War of the Arrows; and it was balanced by some scenes of slacker comedy early on. 

The hero of the film is not a hero, at least not at first. He’s a coward. In fact he’s the very definition of one. At a young age, he and his younger sister were the children of a traitor to the throne. Their father sent them off to a safe kingdom nearby before being killed. Unfortunately, both kids witnessed the death of their father. The only thing Nam Yi (the hero) has to remember his father is a (soon to be legendary) bow and a few arrows. Soon, Nam Yi grows up to be the greatest archer in Korea and practices his skills daily. However, he is ultimately looked down upon for having no ambition only then to be a hunter. His sister, is constantly courted by the men in the region. Without spoiling too much, the Qing Dynasty attacks and in the ensuing battle Nam Yi’s sister (Ja In) is captured. It’s now up to Nam Yi, and his friends to save his people from slavery and persecution. 

War of the Arrows is pretty amazing in what it’s able to accomplish. It’s entertaining, it keeps things simple and visceral; and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Not only all that but Nam Yi being the unsure hero he is makes watching his adventure all that more unpredictable. Nam Yi’s skill is unequaled and throughout the movie he is tested by the warriors from the Qing Dynasty. Even after watching Nam Yi best dozens of his pursuers in intense scenes of sniping; the end of the movie still had me in doubt as to whether he could truly survive this insane, blood thirsy pursuit. The pace also begins to rev up as for every warrior Nam Yi slains, his comrade swears revenge and doubles their pursuit of him. One thing that Nam Yi has on his side? He knows the terrain of the forests better than anyone. Afterall, they were his hunting grounds. Anyway, this is a film I recommend for a friday night. Send out for pizza and enjoy yourself, it’s a great ride.

 

SVMB: ‘City of Life and Death’

Running Time: 1hr. 22min. 6sec.

  • Box Office Breakdown
  • Top3/Bottom3
  • Discussion of ‘City of Life and Death’
  • BONUS: 7 songs after the end of the show

 

Extra notes: There is a point when I take a break and all of a ‘transition’ song is played. It’s about 2 minutes so if you want to skip ahead abit, it’s fine.

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