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Captain Marvel is good

Posted March 11 into Movies by John Birmingham

I took in this film on the weekend with Jane. It was good. That's really all the review you need, but this being the internet, fapping wankbadgers require I do more.

I'll fess up that I didn't know the Captain Marvel character before watching this film. I did read a long, explanatory thread on the Twitz, by the author Wesley Chu as I recall, who laid out the entire fascinating history while standing in a car park after a date.

His date abandoned him, but at least I got a great thread to read. Long story short, Captain Marvel go caught up in an IP dispute between US and UK comic publishers who finally swapped the character's gender and name to avoid a copyright suit.

Perfect. I love it.

Having no investment the canon I came at the movie without preconceptions. Honestly, I found the first Act a little confusing. But it quickly became obvious why. Brie Larson's character Carol Danvers is still discovering her own history and her imperfect memory is far from a reliable narrator. If you find yourself thinking, "What the fuck is going on here?" it's because the writers and producers WANT you to be thinking exactly that.

For fans of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, the main narrative sequence predates the events of last year's Infinity War by about twenty years. Larson's character, who undergoes a number of name changes as she recovers her memories and personal history (but is never once called Captain Marvel) arrives on Earth in the 1990s, literally dropping into a Blockbuster Video store. Even back then, it's looking dilapidated and I did enjoy this piece of proactive retrofuturist nostalgia.

Speaking of which, Agents Coulson and Fury are much younger and largely unknown to each other. They haven't yet gone full to Men in Black mode, and Danver's arrival is a large part of the reason why they do, and why Fury eventually sets up the Avengers Initiative.

You dont need to know the plot. There's an alien war, it spill's over here. A lot of preconceptions are set up and turned over.

My bottom line is I enjoyed it hugely. Larson really makes the story and character arc work. By the end of the movie she is effectively Superman with a double X chromosome. Seriously, she would kick the Man of Steel's shiny ass. She'll be a great addition to the roster when the Avengers return.

11 Responses to ‘Captain Marvel is good’

Vovchara reckons...

Posted March 11
I will not say I am surprised. You liked "Last Ship" after all, and that show is a steaming pile of garbage. Good thing your taste in entertainment does not translate to your writing. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here.

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jl puts forth...

Posted March 11
I've not been in a theatre in a while, this film may do. Been curious about it since I saw the trailer.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 11
It was good fun.

jl reckons...

Posted March 12
Sold. Think I'll take my daughter this weekend.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon puts forth...

Posted March 12
I take it you didn't take the kids? I'm finding that i give movies a better personal review if i watched it with the kids and they enjoyed it. If it gives them joy it notches my joy in the viewing experience up a few bars.

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HAVOCK21 asserts...

Posted March 12
mmm sounds god, though I must say , she is a little hippy, but that's no real draw back I guess..

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Leftarc has opinions thus...

Posted March 12
Loved it. Took the daughter and she enjoyed it too (not as much as Wonder Woman, but I think that is due to more people knowing about Wonder Woman than Captain Marvel). Funny, clever, confused at first but understanding at the end. Ticked all the boxes.
And as a white, middle aged, middle to upper class, straight, married male I did not feel threatened by this film in anyway.
Also, I reckon she will be able to lift Thor's hammer in End Game. Captain America moved it, and we know what he was made from.

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted March 12
I have to admit I was on board just for Nick Fury as Crazy Cat Gentleman, looking forward to this :)

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted March 12
I caught it last weekend and enjoyed immensely, a delightfuly snarky, confident character. My favourite line was when she told Jude Law's character she owed him nothing.

For those that read the comics a lot of excellent easter eggs, including the Stan lee cameo, and its always satisfying to see Australia's Ben Mendelsohn in scifi films.

Looking forward to seeing her kick Thanos ass.

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Oldy is gonna tell you...

Posted March 15
I saw it last Sunday. Loved it.

Coming at it from 45yrs of Marvel (and DC) comics nerddom, I did enjoy the spin on different characters and... things.

It's just a scratch!

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she_jedi reckons...

Posted March 18
Now that I've seen it, it was awesome, and I loved it. Any movie where a cat is the MVP is instantly my new favourite :)

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Hot for Dick

Posted October 4 into Movies by John Birmingham

Can't believe how much I'm looking forward to watching a movie about Dubya's Veep. But I am. The Big Short, by the same guy, was the just about the best explanation of the Great Recession I ever saw, read or heard. This looks even better.

2 Responses to ‘Hot for Dick’

insomniac reckons...

Posted October 5
Is that video SFW?

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Dave W reckons...

Posted October 8
Looks great!

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Marvel at the Captain

Posted September 19 into Movies by John Birmingham

This looks great.

1 Responses to ‘Marvel at the Captain’

jl puts forth...

Posted September 19
Agreed, this looks amazing. Shame it's so far out.

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The Animal House Awkward Rewatch

Posted September 10 into Movies by John Birmingham

Animal House popped up on one of the streamers a few weeks ago—just checked, it was Netflix—and I started it rolling for no reason other than a quick nostalgia fix. I think I first watched that movie in Canberra when I was working for defence and sharing with a couple of other blokes, one of whom nowadays might not be a million miles removed from the office of the Secretary of the Department of Defence.
We were all newly stranded in Canberra, first year out of uni, and most Saturday nights we'd get a few beers on board and rent some video tapes.
That's how long ago this was.
No DVDs, just tapes.
I knew about Animal House of course. It'd been out for a years but was already a pop cultural touchstone. We watched it and probably watched it again before returning the tape. I rewatched it many times afterwards and retained fond if slightly hazy memories decades later.
It was kind of odd going back.
It was still funny in parts, but the humour felt more elegiac — funny because I recalled that it had been funny once upon a time. There was a sort of naive quality to it, which was only partly a function of setting the story in 1962 before the violent atomisation of the later Sixties. There was also something new. Real awkwardness. Not so much with the white monocultural cast. That was historically on point, although I doubt any film maker would get away with it now.

Rather, the sexual politics of Animal House feel... a little uncomfortable. There are no outright rape jokes, unlike a period 'classic' such as the original Ocean's Eleven, for instance.
But jeez, there's some problematic content, as the kids might say... If the kids are into policing the boundaries of acceptable discourse.
The racial inequities of the time, especially the clueless liberalism of the monied elites, are actually well neatly caught in the byplay between the Delta's and Otis Day and the Knights.
But in the #MeToo era its the film's gender biases that strike a loud, discordant note. Two moments in particular; chapter president Robert Hoover's winking joke at 'taking a few liberties with their dates', and Eric Stratton's gross seduction of the hottie from Emily Dickinson College. There are more, and the movie is doubtless a pale reflection of a much darker reality... but I was struck by how differently it played now than when I first watched it all the back in the 1980s.

5 Responses to ‘The Animal House Awkward Rewatch’

DNABeast is gonna tell you...

Posted September 10
I really like how functional the word 'problematic' is. It doesn't denote that anything need be done about it. It's not pushing down your throat that you need to be offended. But it also gives you permission to justifiably do so if you wish.

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted September 10
I was pleased by the use of the elegiac.

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damian would have you know...

Posted September 10
The other way to talk about problematic things is to point out they would be challenging to explain to certain audiences, or that they only work if you deny some category of people have a legitimate perspective.

But Revenge of the Nerds is worse - one of its “hero” moments depicts a sequence we would now consider rape, and probably should have back when it was new. Not sure I remember myself, I remember not thinking it was particularly good but that’s about it.

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Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted September 11
Most kids I know don't give two fucks about policing anything other than their appetites akin to what one might see in, well, Animal House.

Me thinks we worry too much about the ranks of the sniveling few.

Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted September 14
the endless tiring one upmanship of who can be more politically correct than everyone else, who can be more offended and outraged than everyone else. Or who can be more glib, cynical and sarcastic than everyone else. Those poor kids have removed all joy from their lives and replaced it with the politics of an outraged 15 year old.

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Posted July 10 into Movies by John Birmingham

I know it's late but I finally got to the movies to watch Solo last night. I've missed all of the big releases in the fist half of the year. Haven't caught a single Marvel episode. So it was nice to finally find the time to get out.

I really enjoyed it. Solo is not a perfect film, but it's not deserving of the shit it's had heaped on it either. (Just this morning I saw somebody on the twitterz running it down as bland and pointless — but they were more concerned about the easy ride Alden Ehrenreich got compared to Kelly Marie Tran).

I like space opera. I like westerns. I like noir. And Solo was a mash up of all three. It was action-driven, but it's a space adventure, not a 12 hour character drama on Hulu or Netflix. I dont think Ehrenreich did nearly as good a job of capturing young Solo as, say, Chris Pine did with his varsity Jim Kirk.

But the rest of cast picked up the slack. Woody Harrelson was brilliant. Jane didn't dig on Emilia Cark's Qi'ra, but my problem with her was my own. I kept waiting for the Mother of Dragons to ride in on a wave of fire. It was only in the last part of the film when I relaised the sort of archetypal noir character she was playing that I began to understand Clarke's performance.

Only real quibble I had was the odd choice to wash out the colour palate. You can have a western with vibrant colours but this one seemed to be permanently soaked in sepia tones. It was distracting.

Still, I enjoyed the film and I'm glad I caught it on the big screen.

8 Responses to ‘Solo’

she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted July 10
I enjoyed it much more than the pasting it got led me to expect I would. I did have a moment of doubt as the movie started, in which I wondered if I really needed to know Han Solo's back story (I'm looking at you prequel trilogy), but in the end I thought it was pretty good. All of the supporting roles absolutely smashed it out of the park, which I think contributed to Ehrenreich not quite achieving the Solo swagger, but overall it answered some questions I didn't know I had, and tied in nicely to a few things in the original trilogy that had me going "Ah! I see what you did there!" I thought Lando's suffragette droid co pilot was an absolute standout too.

I still feel Rogue One is the absolute benchmark on Star Wars spin offs, but Solo was a really enjoyable way to waste a couple of hours.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted July 10
Yeah. The droid was great.
Interesting thing about the Solo swagger; it's mostly on display in A New Hope. He's an old school Saturday matinee rogue there. In the later eps of the first trilogy, Han is a much more conventional hero. Ehrenreich's portrayal is faithful to the later Han.

she_jedi asserts...

Posted July 10
That's a really good point! I always put the disappearance of Han the rogue in Empire and Jedi down to the growth of his character once he teamed up with Luke and Leia et al.

Maybe the swagger develops after the end credits of Solo, when he's got the Falcon and Chewie and is off to try his luck with the gangster on Tatooine? If it had been a huge hit I can see them shoe-horning in a sequel for some exposition that would lead directly into a New Hope.

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Bernie swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 10
I really enjoyed Solo, apart from the stupid space kraken, and my mate snoring right in the middle ( he claimed it was because his new GF had been shagging him silly, I recon it was just old man-itis), did I mention how stupid I thought the space kraken was?
It was pretty stupid.

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Bernie mutters...

Posted July 10
Post Script,
Did anyone else think that Qi'ra may be well on the path to the dark side - I'd love to see her in a sequel as a sith lord.

Nocturnalist is gonna tell you...

Posted July 11
Yep. For most of the last act I thought she was just on her way to stepping into the now-empty crime boss' shoes, but then you get that closeup where the red sabre is reflected in her eyes - reckon that was in there very much on purpose.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted July 11
i keep forgetting to go see it. I might have to wait for a streaming service for this one. I also saw that tweet from what i usually consider a reasonably reliable source. Might have hit them on a bad day.

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Vovchara swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 20
I guess it all depends on how you like prequels. I don't. I have something around 2k books on my kindle in addition to innumerable kindle unlimited books I've read in the last 7 years. And around 20 of them are prequels. And I didn't like a single one of them. They all lack suspense, most of them break the continuity, and even if they don't like for example "Manticore Ascendant" by David Weber, they still present a world where we know how it all ends.
And Star Wars universe is the worse when it comes to continuity or making sense in general. There is just too much stuff created in all those movies and books with no one taking continuity or world building serious.
There is only one exception - and sadly it's a fanfic - which creates a cohesive narrative, pays attention to lore and worldbuilding and subverts expectations in a meaningful way.
For those who haven't read it, I can only recommend to try it out. by Charles Sonnenburg. Chuck uses canon and lore from both Star Trek and Star Wars in the way we all wish the original authors did. It's a true saga, with 6 books where everything we've ever seen from Star Wars and Star Trek used to it's best.
At least for me, after I've read it I couldn't watch atrocities Hollywood creates in those Universes anymore.

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Death Wish

Posted January 29, 2018 into Movies by John Birmingham

I rewatched this Charlie Bronson classic on Netflix a week or so back. A couple of things struck me. First, it's really badly made – in the way that lots of classic 70s flicks are really badly made. Choppy editing. Shitty music. Some terrible, terrible acting.

But I watched it all the way through because I'd never seen it before, and it is a pop cultural touchstone. I aslo enjoyed it, the same way I enjoy beer and tacos, or greasy hamburgers. If they are true to themselves they can still be great.

A couple of observations.

The fight choreography is awful, but the violence is more realisitc because of it. The home invasion and rape which provide the 'inciting incident' are difficult to watch. They are intimate but not voyeuristic. It's like watching CCTV footage.

Jeff Goldblum is one of the baddies!

But you never see him again. Bronson's architect doent hunt down the men who attacked his wife and daughter. The city is so full of scum there is no chance of ever finding them.

In this way, Death Wish is a revenge movie, but one firmly rooted in realism. In the dozens, even hundreds of later movies and TV shows inspired by it, the grieving father always gets his man. Liam Neeson's Taken series even dispenses with the grief and cuts straight to the vengeance in response to the mere threat of violation. Bronson's character would be impressed.

The other thing that stands out? The lack of guns. This is actually a lietmotiv for the movie; the disarming and emasculation of the American male by an earlier and very different 'gun lobby'. The anti-gun lobby. I found it weird to spend time an America so denuded of guns that one man with a pistol could constitute a clear and present danger to the civilised order, as Bronson does.

In searching for an image to run with this, I discovered that Bruce Williss has a reboot of DW coming out this year. Tere is more cinematic artistry in the two and half minutes of the trailer than in the entire running time of Bronson's original. But the realism is gone. And I have no doubt Bruce will have his revenge.

5 Responses to ‘Death Wish’

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted January 31, 2018
DW was on TV last year sometime, and I'd never seen it either. I started watching but I can still say I've never seen (all of) it, mainly due to the crappy acting etc, but if you really want to see truly bad acting try Murder on the Cape (or something like that) on Netflix. Any movie where the lead "actress" is the wife of the writer/producer/director probably isn't going to be a masterpiece.

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Surtac mutters...

Posted January 31, 2018

I've never seen this film, but I did read the original book it was based on some years ago. I'm pretty sure I still have my copy somewhere. And you're absolutely right. The lack of readily available guns stands out quite starkly.

The Bronson film I do quite like and rewatch reasonably often is Death Hunt - Bronson as the suspected 'mad trapper' with Lee Marvin and Carl Weathers as RCMP guys trying to catch up with him.

And he's pretty good in 'Once Upon a Time in the West' as well.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted January 31, 2018
Yeah, quite a few people have praised Death Hunt since I posted this.

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HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted January 31, 2018
never thought too much of it, but that bloke in the vid clip above sure does fkn look like me. FOR I AM A FKN GOD!....Dam good loking the pair of us!

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w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted February 1, 2018
To be fair, the acting never looks great in the cheesy genre style of the director, Michael Winner.

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