To be baptised, or to not be baptised— that is the question for Sabrina.
UPDATE: I received a wonderful message via Twitter from Leslie Jones. After you’ve read this post, please go see the follow-up.
I’d like to take a time out from my regular format. Usually it’s film, film, film reviews.
But something happened this evening on Twitter, it really pissed me off. To no end. Now, I gave up social media until the middle of last year, I’d given it up almost 2 years. Reason being because I’m an emotional, invested man. Though I am sensible, I tend to let things just hound me until they run me ragged. Often it’s mainly for a good cause – these things latch onto me mostly due to people being ignorant, the hateful things you can see over the internet and how nobody seems to want to just be friends, be friendly, to talk and discuss and even debate things in a sensible and friendly manner.
Today, however, something different went down.
I consider myself a happy supporter of equal rights. I’ve always been that way because my parents raised me to be respectful of others, the differences between us, and all that. So naturally, when the new Ghostbusters film directed by Paul Feig was announced, and the cast happened to be all female, I thought it was great. Not to mention the fact Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, and Kristen Wiig were then announced as the actual Ghostbusters themselves. I love all these ladies, especially McKinnon and Wiig. Recently I caught Leslie Jones’ stand-up show on Netflix, Problem Child, and it was downright fucking hilarious; she has tons of charisma, she’s funny, and has a lot of presence onstage. Then I went back to watch some SNL bits I missed, or didn’t pay enough attention to originally, and realized not only was Leslie Jones great at stand-up, she is even better with improv and live comedy.
Then came all the backlash. Continually, all you see now are fanboys whining and crying about their latest franchises being ruined. Worst part is half of the time they’re not even waiting for a trailer, barely even pictures from the set, yet still they trash it and try to blast their biased opinions all over the internet. And sure, we all have the right to an opinion, just some opinions aren’t worth shit when it comes down to the bottom line.
With the new Ghostbusters, it’s a little different. When I said fanboys are ruining things on the internet before films are even out with a trailer, film critic Scott Weinberg made the intelligent point of noting these aren’t fanboys – these people don’t like women.
And he’s right.
He made another point on his Twitter feed around the same time, or afterwards, and basically said if you don’t know anything about a film other than a cast is female and you still hate it then there may be important questions you need to ask yourself. Or rather, they probably know.
Some men just don’t want to accept the fact they’re misogynists, or they know and they don’t care what anyone else thinks of that.
Make no mistake – the people out ragging on this movie, making extremely bold and idiotic statements such as the preemptive “this movie will bomb trust me” and other foolishness, these people are misogynistic and they are the same types of people who fall in with Disney douchebag Michael Eisner with his assertion that there aren’t many funny, good-looking women.
It just doesn’t matter – if you’re talking about being funny, or acting, or whatever – if someone is a woman or not.
If you can’t relate to films or enjoy them just because the characters in them are female, then you have problems. Yes, that’s right, you’ve got problems, and you need to reevaluate your way of thinking because that’s total madness.
However, I digress. To the point.
I was on Twitter earlier today, and I was reading all the hatefulness users were tweeting out to/about the cast of the new Ghostbusters movie. I nearly boiled over with anger, most of it was absolute stupidity. That didn’t surprise, but as I said – I’m a little emotional, even if it’s only Twitter.
So I decided to tweet out a little support. Only a pebble in the digital sea, but whatever. I’ve had contact with people like Justin Benson & Aaron Moorehead (directors of the fantastic horror-romance Spring), and even director William Friedkin who graciously followed my account/retweeted a retrospective review I did on his movie The Hunted. So I figured, why not? Even if no one involved with the movie sees it, who cares? I just wanted to put my positive two cents in and be a supporter. I couldn’t wait to see these ladies in action as the Ghostbusters team! Plus, Paul Feig created Freaks and Geeks, so I’m always up to see what he’s doing.
To my surprise, Leslie Jones saw what I’d tweeted. In fact, she saw it, and hated it, and proceeded to insult me (insinuating I do nothing except probably flip burgers), then block me on Twitter.
What did I say? Well, why don’t you have a read, along with Leslie’s “appropriate” response.
Notice, if you actually take the time to read unlike Ms. Jones, that I was supportive. What I essentially said (if you can’t read it for some unknown reason – just like Ms. Jones) is that I think they’re hilarious, all four of them – and notice I didn’t even say funny women? I said funny people. Because I don’t care if you’re a woman, I don’t care if you’re a man, or transgendered, I don’t care if you’re old, or young – if you’re funny, you are a funny person.
So, I got other tweets back saying “give her a break – she’s seeing a lot of negative things lately”, and I understand that. Totally, I get she and the other ladies cast in Ghostbusters are seeing a wave of negativity from the internet. However, there are plenty of positive people.
And furthermore, is really that confusing what I said? If I said, “Kristen Wii is not funny. Melissa McCarthy is not funny. Neither are Leslie Jones or Kate McKinnon. Whatever the fuck ever” then I could understand her thinking I was being negative; it would be obvious. But it’s painfully clear what I was saying is in no way bashing them. Yet Ms. Jones proceeds to not just block me – her “Order up” implies that I’m just doing nothing except working at a fast food joint or something (because I guess they aren’t real jobs? Hmmm maybe tell that to the people who serve you next time you’re out for a burger…). Regardless, I’m at the tail end of my B.A.H, currently getting ready to write an Honours Thesis essay in the winter, as well as writing a novel, and also editing the novel of a well-known Canadian author Earl Pilgrim. So, yeah, Leslie Jones – I’m not doing ANYTHING worthwhile over here.
In the end, I just want to thank Ms. Jones.
Thanks for making me not want to watch Ghostbusters. Not because its cast is all female – I don’t want to see it now because you were rude, as well as ignorant, you were presumptuous about my life and who I am because you thought I was being negative when I was trying to dispel the idea you aren’t funny by saying YOU ARE INDEED HILARIOUS, and you jumped the gun, treating me like some asshole who is hateful. I don’t get on the internet and spew hatred. Despite all the reviews I do and the time I spend online, I have a life – a great one. I’m a film lover/reviewer, a writer, an editor, and I’m also a proud man who doesn’t take shit from people when I don’t deserve it.
So I’m not trying to shame anybody here, but I’m pissed off.
I know it’s not like Leslie Jones will see this, nor do I really intend her to either. But I had to get this off my chest.
There’s tons of negativity on the internet, but why don’t we all take the time to read? Don’t get hot under the collar without reading something carefully, make sure you know what it’s saying and what you’re meant to get out of it – don’t jump all over people immediately without understanding what it is they are saying to you.
Because Leslie Jones lost a fan today, and I couldn’t be bothered to ever watch anything she’s in again. Too bad – super funny, lots of talent. Hopefully she won’t drive too many people away like this, I’m sure she won’t. In the long run I make no difference as an individual. I just think it’s sad and disappointing to see someone whose talent you admire act like a complete knobhead.
Not to mention, I was trying to support the idea of the female version of this film. I could care less about their being female, but if people are trying to act like that’s the only reason this movie will do bad then this movie needs support from all the fans out there! I don’t expect a medal, but I don’t expect to be treated like some idiot who is out trolling on the internet about a female remake of an older movie. I don’t expect to be insulted by anybody for not “doing anything with my life” when that person doesn’t even know me, and I wasn’t even trying to bash on anybody. I mean – do I need to keep repeating that part?
Ghostbusters will, no doubt, make a great profit. Even if people don’t think it now, it will, and most of the naysayers will still go to the theatres just to see it – regardless if they like it – and contribute to its success.
But, even if I am just one dude, they’ll have to make their money without me. I don’t care if it gets the best reviews and it breaks box-office records, or any of that, because one actor’s nonsense can really sour things. I couldn’t care any less now who hates this and who doesn’t – fuck the Ghostbusters.
Mad Max: Fury Road. 2015. Directed by George Miller. Written by Nick Lathouris, Brendan MCarthy, and George Miller. Starring Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton. Village Roadshow Pictures. Rated 14A. 120 minutes. Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
To start, I’m a fan of the original Mad Max films. Even Beyond Thunderdome, for all its faults, was some good fun; not saying it was great or anything, but fun indeed. I wasn’t exactly hyped about George Miller going back and revisiting Max Rockatansky. Although the addition of Tom Hardy and then Charlize Theron really intrigued me, I like them both, I do like Miller, so it was worth a shot.
What came out is a pretty good action film, with that post-apocalyptic-Max feel. However, it isn’t all perfect. Yet even with a few blemishes I do think this is absolutely the best action film I’ve seen since 2000, and probably up there with some of the best action flicks in the past 20-25 years. A lot of fun practical effects mixed with the familiar Mad Max story, plus an excellent duo in Hardy and Theron, make this a real fun movie.
Fury Road sees Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) in a predicament immediately, and though he leads an amazing, fast-paced chase he just can’t seem to shake the ragged crew of post-apocalyptic savages chasing him down. The opening sequence is real fun, real fast, and gets the adrenaline prepped for a non-stop action chase scene for about two hours. Things really kick off as Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) decides to detour and take some precious “breeders“, as they’re called in Miller’s film, away from the horror they face at the hands of the wretched, dried out Immortan Joe (familiar Mad Max face Hugh Keays-Byrne) and to a greener, happier place. As Furiosa takes the women and a War Rig off-route, they eventually come across Max who is trying to escape the War Boys, especially the lunatic Nux (Nicholas Hoult) who used Max as a “blood bag” sucking him dry of type-O blood. After an initial rough patch Furiosa and Max, each for their own reasons, decides to face down the evil Immortan Joe and take back the Wasteland from his awful grip.
I really enjoyed how Miller took the Mad Max world he’d already created and basically added on, like building pieces onto a house once you’ve got more money. Sure, I like the simplicity of the first film, and the second. I think one of the reasons people weren’t into Beyond Thunderdome, aside from it not particularly being well-written or directed due to Miller sharing duties with George Ogilvie, is because the plot of the third film was so much more out there even within the universe of Mad Max that this set it apart too far from the original movie and its sequel.
What works for Fury Road is the fact that Miller had much more money to work with this time around – the difference between Beyond Thunderdome (somewhere near $13-million) and Fury Road (about $150-million) is roughly $137-million, whereas the very first was only around $650,000 and the sequel at $2-million. So with a big budget comes not just the ability to spend more on effects and costumes and cars and overall design, Miller also secured Hardy and Theron, as well as a nice cast of secondary characters, plus the returning Keays-Byrne who played Toecutter in the first Mad Max. Miller really put the budget to use when it comes to effects – of course there are bits and pieces which are pure CGI, but the real important work is all done practically. It’s actually a wonder that nobody was killed or seriously injured on the set during some of the wild stunts. It’s equally wonderful that Miller is 70 and directing the most high-octane film of his career. There’s the same weirdness of Beyond Thunderdome here, only the actors in Fury Road are better than those he worked with then – and yes, I also include Mel Gibson who didn’t step it up for Thunderdome either. Plus, the budget allows for Miller to not really need to worry too much about one set, one single location, and instead he put all his energy into coming up with the most inventive chases, cars, weaponry I’ve seen in a film since The Matrix.
My only real complaints about this movie have to do with the fact that Fury Road is almost totally one long chase right until the end. That’s not entirely true, as there are moments where things break down, and of course the moments before the big chase is ignited, as well as the film’s finish. But, yes – most of the movie is a big chase. I’m not saying that’s bad. I really enjoyed it, the adrenaline was pumping from start to finish; my girlfriend and I each rocked in our seats, back and forth sometimes with the punches and blasts and other events. All the same, SPOILER AHEAD: at the end when it’s like “Oh the Green Place doesn’t exist – let’s head back to where we came from”, it personally felt a bit frustrating.
Yet some of the pieces of this film really begged to be explored, and Miller was unable to go too deeply into any of the characters and their backstory while they were all fighting, driving, trying to get away constantly from Immortan Joe in the bleak desert. Not saying there is nothing in the way of backstory. Max goes through many a moment of deep trauma, flashing back to the obvious death of his wife and child in the Wasteland.
What really gets me about the lack of character development is the women. I thought they were excellent characters, what little we knew of them, but there was so much more could have been done with them if Miller could’ve allowed a few points where the action ceased long enough for more dialogue to happen. I’m not a person who needs constant expository dialogue – not at all, as a writer myself I don’t particularly like too much exposition or dialogue in general, I like short, succinct information in the best and most fluent way possible. I just wish we could’ve learned more about the society these women were forced to endure; I don’t need any graphic depictions, but at least let us hear them chat about it more than the brief pieces we were allowed in the film. I guess there are plans for sequels – I heard at one point Hardy was either willing to sign or already had signed on for at least another Max film. So maybe we’ll see more in those about it all. I just think that sometimes, even in action movies, we really need a bit more character development, in order to both care for the characters more and also to get our fill of them, like we always want to do with great characters. That being said, the dialogue was good stuff, and I think they did a perfect job making the female characters less typical than we normally expect (my favourite bit is when one of the women says “doesn’t anybody notice the flashing lights and the approaching gunfire?” or something along those lines, which I thought was funny and clever). Not to rag on Miller, he does a great job, I just wanted to know more about the characters.
I think my problem with the female characters stems from the hype on this film about how Miller had a feminist come in to oversee the dialogue, so that the women in the movie wouldn’t seem like they do in all other mainstream Hollywood films, and to ensure they weren’t under-represented as so often happens. Yet, there’s really no big difference. Other than the fact these women are fighting against the patriarchy and trying to escape, there isn’t much else in the way of their characters, or their dialogue, that spoke to me as having been looked over thoroughly by a feminist. Aside from Furiosa, we don’t get a whole lot out of the other female characters.
Another major problem I have is that stupid guitar playing character. Why, George? Did you not stop and think about this future apocalyptic wasteland, its lack of fuel, and how that big rig would’ve had to be converting gas to electricity with such a massive amplifier and all that? Sure, it’s fun to see a wild guitar player almost playing a kind of battle anthem, but does it need to be there? No. Does it make any sense? Nah. You can try to say other things don’t make sense, I just think that this little character was unnecessary and foolish, and just another excuse for something weird to add in. I liked a lot of the other wild-looking maniacs, this guy was just dumb, and the whole truck with the amp on it and him playing looked ridiculous.
There is a lot of great work going on in Fury Road, from the costumes, to the weird cast of extras and characters on the various cars, to the car designs themselves to the acting.
Hardy doesn’t have much to say, which fits for Rockatansky’s character. He plays the tough and silent deal well. Hardy also further infuses the character with a quiet humour, which comes out more clearly in certain cases than others.
Theron is always a great actor and she does good work here with the character of Furiosa. She is tough, and there are also times where we see the vulnerability lurking inside her. I think Theron is very expressive when it comes to the looks she gives, especially with her eyes, and this gives Furiosa character and soul underneath all the anger she is containing. Her and Hardy work well together, as well as look like they kicked each other’s ass in the initial fight scene they share – good pairing.
There’s no doubt Mad Max: Fury Road is a real fun and great post-apocalyptic action film. For me? A 3.5 out of 5 star movie. It has a few flaws – Miller opts not to go for too much character development and instead works well with the movie’s design/atmosphere, relying on the performance of a couple fantastic actors to make the characters interesting enough to care about. Not to say they’re bare bones characters, but they’re not exactly fleshed out much either. Regardless, this is non-stop adrenaline, and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself. There were times I wished the runtime were a little shorter. Other times I was hooting at the War Boys springing around on their bending poles, the explosives going off every so often, and generally having a good time. It isn’t the smartest action film out there – no matter what people tell you. Though, I like how Miller opted to have Furiosa push a very feminist-type agenda saving the so-called “breeders” from Immortan Joe and no doubt most of their primitive, creepy society. Perhaps if there are sequels Miller could continue to fight the patriarchy through his balls-to-the-wall action like he did here because that is something I found highly interesting, certainly when compared to so many run of the mill action flicks out there these days.
In a sea of crap films, a 70-year old George Miller does what many young action filmmakers are not doing: generally thrilling the hell out of people. His use of practical effects and stunts instead of going for CGI-laden scenes from one shot to the next, in a day and age where The Avengers and all the rest of Marvel’s garbage is the latest hot thing, is really refreshing, and it helps to show young filmmakers in general that they don’t need to rely on computers, they can get things done perfectly on the day of shooting, in certain cases anyways. See this movie, enjoy – don’t try and let people make this into something it isn’t – but take it for what it’s worth, and see that Fury Road delivers as a great action adventure in the post-apocalyptic world of Max Rockatansky and George Miller.
Bound to Vengeance. 2015. Directed by Jose Manuel Cravioto. Written by Keith Kjornes and Rock Shaink Jr.
Starring Tina Ivlev and Richard Tyson. Dark Factory Entertainment. Unrated. 80 minutes.
For the so-called “meninists” out there (which is a stupid term to begin with because feminist is derived from feminine, the male term being masculine, so wouldn’t it be masculinist if we’re being correct?), you’re in for a real rough go of it with Bound to Vengeance. I love it, so much. Like a dose of cinematic vengeance, poetic justice.
The trick to director Jose Manuel Cravioto’s film being a great, entertaining, and horrific feminist film, in my opinion, is the lens through which he captures all the action.
Bound to Vengeance starts very typically with a man holding a young woman in a dark, dank looking basement. The man is Phil (Richardy Tyson). The woman is Eve (Tina Ivlev). But where most films might show us all the torturous events which lead to there, or maybe even more to follow, where Eve is treated like a wild animal – beaten, starved, hurt – and even worse than that, raped, sexually abused, and so on. Not so for Bound to Vengeance – the opening reel begins as Eve smashes a brick across Phil’s face. She runs and heads to get away. Only she stops. Eve finds evidence that there are other girls – many more – than her, stuck in places like this, kept hidden away to be used for the pleasure of others. This prompts Eve to threaten Phil: either show her where the other girls are, or die a brutal death. Phil complies. Yet things get tricky.
I think the atypical beginning, the whole opening segment (the titlecard BOUND TO VENGEANCE doesn’t appear until about the 20-minute mark, I believe) is really awesome. It subverts the expectations. You almost want to sigh as the whole thing begins – Phil walks down to a room where Eve is laying on a dirty mattress, chained up – but then suddenly the brick, and WHAM – things are on another course.
Tina Ivlev does a fantastic job at selling this film. Richard Tyson works well, too, but it’s Tina who is the star. She is strong and at the same time vulnerable at the right points. She is not perfect, nor should she be. For a small horror-thriller film, good acting is always the key. No matter what. Here, Ivlev does great. I think had the female lead here been weak, things could’ve easily fallen apart. Regardless of how well Tyson or anyone else played the character of Phil, having a weak Eve wouldn’t have been any good. Ivlev makes this a strong female driven film.
The aspect I love most about this film is how it’s a story of sexual abuse and victimization of women without having to resort to showing graphic representations of the violence itself – unlike such modern films like the remake of Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, among others. This way, it really becomes a great revenge horror-thriller, and also one that I find specifically geared towards women. I don’t mean that it should be marketed solely to women; not one bit. This is a great movie. What I mean is that it works great in an equal sense. As men, we get tons and tons of these rape-revenge fantasies, which in a way are unhealthy because it promotes this maidenic ideal of women that we as men have to be the shining white knights and charge in to save the girls from their attackers. Bound to Vengeance doesn’t sacrifice a woman’s power or sexualize women to do anything.
I consider this a feminist film, in the best sense of the word, and I don’t think it’s so because men are being killed. That’s a lame, and dangerous, assumption to make about what anything means to be feminist. I believe it’s feminist, first and foremost, because the women in the film don’t require being shamed graphically in front of our eyes the way it is in most films especially nowadays (think of the remake and following sequels for I Spit on Your Grave) to also receive retribution. Of course it’s implied, we know what’s happened, but it doesn’t have to be shown, we don’t have to see it sexualized and have women paraded naked and raped on camera. Furthermore, the fact it is a woman getting revenge does not fetter her to needing a man for protection, or to protect any of the other women – Eve does it all on her own. I think this is one of the best revenge films of the last decade for sure. Not perfect, but excellently done in the sense of how it treats violence against women.
I especially enjoyed the editing. As time goes on, the videos of happier times being weaved throughout and edited into the present tense become more chilling. At first it’s very reminiscent of something sweeter, a better day than what Eve was experience there and then with Phil, everything after him. But then things get worse and worse. I thought that part of the film worked really well, and it’s something that can go unnoticed. Not saying it’s the most genius thing ever conceived, I just believe it worked effectively for this film. The ending has a good impact with the way things are edited in this sense.
The whole movie had an interesting tone. There was a gritty feel and an almost retro look yet not quite; grainy, at times bright and glaring. I enjoyed how everything, from scene to scene, had a raw and realistic feel, which is always something that helps towards setting the mood. Also, the score was some good stuff and I like the way it worked with the overall atmosphere of the film.
This is definitely a 4 out of 5 star film for me. Bound to Vengeance treats really horrifying subject matter in a way not too often done. As of late I’ve been much more interested in gender issues, and regardless of how others feel I’ve always approached fiction in a way that helps me also confront real life – you don’t always have to consciously think of it, but it’s always there working that way. We incorporate everything we take in – no matter if it’s fiction, non-fiction, weather, social structures, et cetera – and it becomes a part of our daily lives. So, I really found that this movie works in a feminist perspective. Very well, in fact. The image above is the most graphic thing in regards to sexual violence shown throughout the entire film – it’s disturbing without being full-on graphic. That’s a part of what I liked about Bound to Vengeance, is that we don’t need to see all the dirty, disgusting, terrible details to enjoy what happens afterwards. We can see the consequences without requiring to have seen the acts perpetrated. Death Wish and other much more brutal, graphic movies about rape-revenge fantasies need to go for that shock, the awe of rape or sexual torture whether it’s completely physical or possibly just psychological. This movie does not have to go that way, and I think it really work great, even better than if it had opted to show any of that sort of thing. For that, I applaud Cravioto, and I think this is hands down one of the best revenge horror/thriller I’ve seen since the beginning of the 2000s.