My Issue With Disney Live-Action Remakes (and Some Suggestions)

After going off about the soon-to-be-released Mulan live-action adaptation, (and seeing that they are remaking the animated Robin Hood,) I do need to give credit where it’s due on that film because it does not have the issue that I most take with Disney’s live-action remake:

The live-action movies should be human stories. Any non-human characters are unsettling and live in the Uncanny Valley.

The example I get most heated about is the 2017 Beauty and the Beast remake. (I’ll talk about 2019’s Lion King in a minute.) When the movie was first announced, I’ll admit even I was excited, even about the casting of Emma Watson! (Who among us did not fall for that Tumblr rumor that she was cast years and years ago with Guillermo Del Toro to direct?) But then I saw the trailer… with the creepy live-action Mrs. Potts and Lumiere and Cogsworth…

NO THANKS

I can never unsee them. I actually stopped wanting to see the movie and only watched it on a streaming service much later because my husband is a big Emma Watson fan. (I can’t get into the music in this post…) It is just really unnerving to have so much time spent on non-human characters.Read More »

Thoughts on the Upcoming “Mulan”

The Mulan live-action adaptation release date has been pushed back to July 24, after being delayed indefinitely and after the red carpet premiere took place earlier last month, before Hollywood was shut down.

Amazon.com: Mulan 2020 Poster 27x40 Original D/S Movie Poster ...

Will I watch it? Absolutely.
Am I excited to watch it? No. I’m really really skeptical of how much I will like this movie, even though I do really want to like it. Watching the first trailer planted many doubts in my mind that I’ve ranted about enough to friends that I figured it was worth it to write it all down to save everyone some time the next time I need to get this off my chest.

Read More »

Orlando

I am heartbroken. My thoughts and heavy heart are with the victims and their families. With the people around the country and around the world who feel a little less safe leaving their house. With the parents who have to explain to their children why people died. Please keep love in your hearts and hatred […]

Reprehensible

I don’t have too much to say today. So I’ll just share a few links that might help shed some light on what’s been on my mind for the past few hours.

Recently, the University of Oklahoma cut ties with its chapter of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon in light of a video surfacing where members were chanting racial slurs.

While appropriate disciplinary action against the fraternity is being explored, many people are pushing for something more valuable: a change in the culture. This one chapter of SAE is definitely not the only group guilty of this kind of behavior, as evidenced by the trending Twitter hashtag #NotJustSAE.

Last night, I learned that my alma mater has its own problems with Greek life culture. An email from January 2014 went viral among the student community. I won’t share the email here, but the language was just awful. When I saw it, I thought it was a joke. I mean, the kind of language that was used was almost a caricature of privileged frat bro mentality, how could it be REAL? At the school I attended, no less?

In this email, the author expressed his excitement for rush week, as many people would; it’s an exciting time for anyone in a Greek organization. However, in this very short, 3-sentence email, he is able to do a few things:

  • Use 3 racial slurs in a row, seemingly in an attempt to impress with how many he can use in one breath
  • Demean women
  • Write the phrase “f*ck consent”

I think I stared at my computer screen when I saw this and then immediately hopped over to Twitter. I know that my school community is active on Twitter, especially the POC community. My alma mater was out for blood.

The president of our university released a relatively tame statement last night. This was rather late at night, so I understand why it wasn’t thorough. Today, he took to Twitter to answer the many student concerns about this email. After all, folks were calling for expulsion, banning the fraternity. They were criticizing the weak “diversity training” that was going to be mandated for that fraternity, the lack of attention to more effective sexual assault education for Greek organizations.

I don’t have much else to add that hasn’t already been said. Something needs to be done. Free speech does not infringe upon freedom to be offended. People felt unsafe after reading this email, especially WOC (women of color). That doesn’t mean that the student should be doxxed or have to feel unsafe himself, but something needs to be done. It is not a coincidence that people associate Greek life with these types of incidents. It is not a smear campaign designed to paint them in a bad light. There is a problem within these organizations, maybe stemming from the fact that many of them date back over a century and, because of the insular nature of fraternities and sororities, have not had external checks on their culture.

Not really in the mood to say much else about these incidents at this time. But please do let me know what you think.

What is the best way to respond when something like this happens in your community? I was wondering this last night and stopped wondering when I checked Twitter to see that students were alerting not only the school administration but as many news outlets as they could @reply.
What would you do if you received an email like this from your rush chair?
What if the sender of this email was someone you knew well? Maybe a friend or a roommate?
What should be the disciplinary action in response to an incident like this? 
We get into tricky free speech territory, and SAE is already planning on seeking legal action against their university. What is appropriate? What action is best?

87th Academy Awards

Ahhh the Oscars. The only awards show that I care about in any industry. I look forward to them all year long!

This year, I made a true effort to watch more of the Best Picture nominees although I still missed several. (Hey, there have been years where I’ve seen NONE of the Best Picture nominees.) Of course, that didn’t stop me from having opinions based on other folks’ reviews of those movies. (Boyhood? I was very surprised at how much buzz it was getting considering how much critics disliked it when it was released.)

I’m not professing to be any sort of film expert or critic. I’m an enthusiast at most, and I read a lot of what other folks think. So I had leanings for which movies and people were going to win awards.

Going into the awards, I was already a bit surprised by a few things. Of course, the Lego Movie snub was pretty surprising. I was also surprised that Interstellar got so little love outside of visual effects and sound work. I have zero idea how sound mixing and editing are judged (or even what the precise difference is… between the two?) but I was counting on Interstellar to win visual effects. I mean, it was such an accurate portrayal of cosmic phenomenon that have never been seen that 2 academic paper were written based on the work in the movie. But I did expect more nominations for Chris Nolan’s latest.

I didn’t watch the red carpet, because it’s just not a priority to me what everyone is wearing. I do have to say something though: These interviewers are awful. They are not very charismatic, and you’d think that was the only real job requirement? Interviewers are supposed to be charismatic and easy to talk to? But I felt so uncomfortable watching, the actors looked VERY uncomfortable, the interviewers were very forced. Add this to the several incompetent interviews we’ve been seeing of late (e.g. calling Rashida Jones “tan” when she is, in fact, half-black) and I feel like no one would be upset if Hollywood just completely overhauled all of their red carpet interviewers. Can we do that please?

ONTO THE ACTUAL AWARDS SHOW.

Let’s talk about this year’s host, Neil Patrick Harris. Now, I love NPH, I truly do, with all my heart, I think he’s fantastic and wonderful in every way. That being said, he is not going to go down as one of the best Oscar hosts. What happened? He’s so charismatic usually, and we know he’s a great host for so many other awards shows. What happened while they were doing the writing for the Oscars this year? The show wasn’t terribly exciting for most people (I liked it) and so many of Neil’s jokes fell really flat. I was really saddened by how disappointed I was. Especially because I think that the jokes just didn’t plan very well? ESPECIALLY that stupid black briefcase gag. Why was that a thing. It would only have been redeemed if he had done some actual illusions (NPH is an actual magician and is often asked to incorporate magic tricks into his roles)  rather than lame “predictions”. I hated that running gag the most, it was the biggest flop by far and Neil was trying so hard to make it funny but even he seemed exasperated by it.

neil patrick harris animated GIF

He did lead with a fantastic musical opening number written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (aka the duo behind the Frozen soundtrack). Even though at this point, it’s not novel or exciting when NPH does a musical number, it was still a great number. I liked the homages paid to cinema and how creatively it was done. (I can’t help but think of 10-time host – Billy Crystal – who I remember put himself in movies when he last hosted in 2003. I remember it being 2003 because he donned a Legolas wig the year Return of the King was nominated.) I liked Anna Kendrick showing up in her Into the Woods Cinderella dress (and she was more animated on that stage than she was in the movie, in my opinion) although I think I actually winced when she sang a spoiler for Gone Girl. (“… spoiler alert.” – NPH) (NPH was in Gone Girl, just to clarify) I was really really confused about Jack Black joining in on the number (“Screen in your jeans!”) because I just don’t know what he has been doing lately? As in why he is relevant in 2014-2015 film culture? Anyway, it was a fun number.

I want to first do a shout-out for two folks who got their first wins. Every year, I am surprised by people whose names are so respected in the industry but somehow don’t have Oscars. In fact, we often hear their names at the Oscars and only realize when they win that they’ve just been nominated several times. (For example, when Christopher Plummer won his first Oscar, he became the oldest first-time recipient in Oscar history. Seriously!)

  1. Alejandro González Iñárritu, who was previously nominated 4 times, won 3 awards for Birdman. (Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture) Well-deserved, that movie was fantastic.
  2. Alexandre Desplat, who was previously nominated 6 times, won his first Best Original Score award for Grand Budapest Hotel. Strangely, he was actually nominated TWICE in this category this year; his second nomination was for The Imitation Game. I was stunned that this was his first win, considering how many stellar soundtrack’s he has done.

Also, can we talk about the amazing speeches that were given? Oscar movies are getting at very real issues and winners are using their speeches as a platform to say something real and not just thank their agents and the studios. To name a few memorable ones:

  • Patricia Arquette (Best Supporting Actress, Boyhood): feminism

    Which gave us this beautiful moment
  • Common & John Legend (Best Original Song, “Glory” from Selma): race and social justice
  • J.K. Simmons (Best Supporting Actor, Whiplash): loving and calling your parents
  • Graham Moore (Best Adapted Screenplay, The Imitation Game): gay right and suicide prevention
  • Eddie Redmayne (Best Actor, Theory of Everything): ALS
  • Julianne Moore (Best Actress, Still Alice): Alzheimers

It’s easy to be cynical and say that these speeches don’t change anything but you know what? It’s also easy for these folks to thank their agents and their parents and be on their merry ways. I, for one, am really pleased that they are using their speech time for a cause greater than themselves. Because at the end of the day, people’s parents and coworkers know that they were important to these winners; audience member and folks at home (like me!) don’t always know about the issues that the movies touch on. Especially with arthouse films that don’t receive a wide release, I think it’s crucial to drive the point of your film home if you are honored with an award.

OF COURSE I NEED TO SAY that it was a problem that a) we had so little racial diversity in our nominees this year (and even with our presenters) and b) that all of the Best Picture nominees that weren’t Selma were about a white man’s struggles. Most of these stories were really worth telling, but are others not? It was a problem. We need to address that and I hope that Hollywood and the Academy take note.

I had so many thoughts during the Oscars so, at Christine‘s prodding, I live-tweeted again this year. There were a lot of moments I couldn’t even capture through my live-tweeting, but I really enjoyed the Oscars this year. I’ve put together a little Storify with my Tweets in chronological order if you’re curious to see what kind of manic episode I was in last night.

Do you usually watch the Oscars?
Did you predict the winners correctly?
What were your favorite moments?