Cinequest 2020 was cut short. Three flicks I liked.

Fried Barry. My mind was bent! And not by the Mindbenders shorts, which were a bit tame in my opinion, maybe I am getting jaded. But in the movie Fried Barry, a drug addict is abducted by aliens, his body is taken over by one of them, and Barry/alien experiences stuff on Earth for the first time, mostly at night. Do not expect 3-act story structure. Barry goes from dance floor to flying over hills to rescuing child prisoners to giving a prostitute a big and very fast surprise, and Barry speaks very few words. Instead, Barry emotes with wide intense trying-to-comprehend eyes, a wild mop of hair, a mouth alternately stone-face Buster Keaton and Tina Turner’s Acid Queen, and a lanky, electro-shock moving body. Fried Barry reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix’s one-man-performance in Joker. The director told me others had made the same comparison. This movie pushes the hard-R line, but you have never seen anything like it. The soundtrack’s hard base beat is a match for Barry. He inspires me to create a character sorta like that, if that is physically possible. Fried Barry is one of a kind.

Asking For It. A comedy about a young woman being stalked, and stepping up to fight back. Actually, the young woman gets a lot of help from a tough, snarky, strong new roommate (Irene Morales). And no help at all from the police (best you-hate-him but he-makes-you-laugh obnoxious cop ever). I talked with Irene Morales, and she was much like her character, I wish I had more friends like her. When I asked the director and actress about what they like and dislike in women in today’s movies, and I said I have created a super heroine, the director said she disliked when the message is delivered with a overly heavy hand, and Irene said how can some superheroines run without their boobs flopping them off balance? I absolutely see her point, but I always wondered how their costumes do not give them super-wedgies while fighting the baddies. Maybe my mind is a bit lower than hers. They said the movie was about 10 percent improvised, and the cast knew how to toss in even better lines. Fun movie, great characters.

Breaking Fast. A gay muslim romantic comedy. I saw it in the California Theater in San Jose, and that was the right venue. It had the audience laughing and applauding. Before I saw it, I was concerned that the lead character would be too perfect, but the movie expertly played his niceness and his flaws. And when he meets his love interest, and they said they both loved Christopher Reeve’s Superman, I was rooting for them. But I loved even more the lead’s best buddy. A flamboyantly gay character: kinda swishy body language, his gay voice lets you know that he loves musicals, and I was a little surprised I liked him. A LOT! If you remember my review of the Catwoman movie (scroll to the last paragraph), its gay stereotype character made my blood pressure go nuclear. Why did I love the Breaking Fast best buddy? Because he was funny, confident, smart, and heartfelt. You laugh WITH him, not AT him. Breaking Fast knew the difference, and the director of Catwoman never will. (Did I mention that the food on the screen looked so good, I could have sworn I tasted it?)

The rest of Cinequest 2020 has been postponed to August. I intend to be there. I have other Cinequest movie reviews that I intend to post also. Stay tuned.

Kids at Avengers Endgame: To shuddup or not to shuddup?

Ooo!!! Ooo!!! I just saw Avengers: Endgame!!! Yuh wanna know who DIES?!?!? DO YUH, DO YUH, DO YUH?!?!?!

Well, I ain’t telling. Go see it yourself. I took advantage of being between technical writing gigs and I saw it today, the day it opened (if you don’t count Thursday night). It was tough to get a seat, but I got one at the Great Mall: front row center, the one luxury seat in the house that would not fully recline. Sigh. To my right were eight kids of various skin tones. (I know it was eight because my seat was A9.) They made a little noise.

I will pause here to let you think about them and about me. I am a fanboy in my early 60s. I am Swedish ancestry, meaning so white that if I stand next to a bright light, you can see some of my vital organs. You’d think I’d be grumpy at those dang-nab kids making noise. (I once believed that blabbing during a movie should be added to the death penalty list.)

You’d be wrong. When these kids did some whispering, I resisted the urge to hush them, they were not loud. Their eyes and ears stayed glued to that screen. Not one lit up their cell phone. During the big climactic battle scene was when they made noise. They cheered when Thanos was clobbered and when Spider-Man swung into the picture and when Captain Marvel flew in and did what she does so well. When a big bunch of Marvel superheroines stood side-by-side ready to take names and kick ass, the girls in those eight harmonized like cheerleaders. And when Black Panther showed up ready for battle, one black girl crowed with pure joy: “Black Panthah, Black Panthah!!!” That made me smile, a young girl getting to see someone who looked a little like her on the big screen.

I digress here for a moment. Many years ago, I was listening to (ugh!) Rush Limbaugh. (I believe in getting to know my enemy before striking a match.) A young black man had called in to say he wanted more role models in America. Rush responded with the most obnoxious sentence in this universe, nay, in the entire multiverse: “Why don’t you use me as a role model?” The young man laughed and said, “You?”

No, Rush. Just NO! I like vanilla, but there are other flavors, some people are other flavors, and that cry of joy from that young black girl blended into the movie like music. Those eight kids were the happiest, cheeringest, having-the-best-time-at-the-movies-EVERingest I have ever seen.

I have had a bad experience with kids at the movies. At the first JJ Abrams Star Trek movie, the theater was filled with kids (mostly white) who climbed over the seats like a jungle gym, wrestled, blabbed about anything except the movie, and never even once looked up at the screen. When I left, a young black lady asked me if I’d been in that theater. I said yes, rather unhappily. She said she’d been there too and had complained to the management, but the management didn’t do anything. I complained to the management and got a free ticket. I still wonder if that was white privilege in action.

Take your kids to see Avengers: Endgame. If they cheer, let ‘em. But if they blab or wrestle or climb or any combination of that triple, smack them in the back of the head and say in your best Chicago leg-breaking thug voice: SHUDDUP!!!

Michael Ironside and me at Cinequest!

For the past few days, I have gone to Cinequest 2018 in San Jose and Redwood City. The photo is Michael Ironside and I. You cannot see it, but he put his arm around me. Nice guy! He chuckled and poked me in the tummy when I told him I’d never forget Darryl Revok (the villain from the movie Scanners who made a guy’s head explode by thinking at him, although I think he could have done that with his evil smile). His performance in Knuckleball showed that he’s still GOT IT! I love older actors, their talent and skill age like fine wine. During Q&A for the movie Knuckleball, Michael pointed out so much about the movie’s themes (like love given and love withheld) that made me think, yeah, he is so right! He knows his craft!

Here is a rundown of the movies I have seen so far.

Short Film Program 1: Too Much Pressure. Too many sad violins. Okay, so I am a happy ending kind of guy. I liked the first short, Fighter, about a young man with Down’s Syndrome deciding if he really wants to step into the boxing ring (I was rooting for him). But as for the others? When they start with a long, drawn out, monotone violin note, I know I am in for a depressing time.

Short Film Program 2: Bending Space, Folding Time. The Apocalypse Will be Automated: Siri and zombies do not mix. Hybrids: Fantastic visuals. Rakka: Sigourney Weaver in an alien invasion short, and she’s still got it! Space Girls: Adorable! Tree House Time Machine: Best short film title ever, excellent kid actors!

Flin Flon: A Hockey Town. A feel good documentary. I am not a sports guy but I loved that high school hockey team!

The Go-Getters: Made me think of Repo Man, in a good way. The low I.Q. protagonists had rapid-fire dialog and the lowest goal ever: 50 bucks.

Peaches. Time travel comedy complete with retrofuture commercials!

Short Film Program 4: Animated Worlds. I missed the first short because Peaches ran a little long. Catherine had the best gloomy humor I’ve seen in years. Darrel and Our Wonderful Nature -The Common Chameleon were goofy rivals to Pixar. I Like Girls was cute and made me smile. The Edge of Alchemy was the longest short and had the least amount of story, funny how that happens.

From Baghdad to The Bay. Documentary about Ghazwan Alshari, a translator for the U.S. forces in Iraq, who was tortured for trying to help. I thought of George Carlin’s bit about oxymorons, like “Military intelligence.” Ghazwan came out as gay, which referenced another oxymoron: “Honor killings.” Homophobes have NO HONOR!!! Ghazwan is a gourmet chef, and the food looked YUMMY. I rooted for him. A lot. And I got my happy ending.

Skull. My good clone (my lookalike whom I met at Cinequest years ago, and we have been movie buddies ever since) picked this one. Science Fiction from Thailand. Unfortunately, the filmmaker needed to learn a big rule of writing: if a scene does not move the story forward, cut it. Skull was 2 hours and 10 minutes. With proper editing it could be a good film short. But I am rooting for that director, he made this with a lot of personal effort and on a very tight budget. Keep trying, kid, but study screenwriting.

Knuckleball: The director said the movie is a more realistic Home Alone. During Q&A, I made my usual comparison to Alfred Hitchcock, but the director said he was more inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and I can see that. Lotsa suspense served hot and cold!

Short Film Program 7: Something Funny. I love this, lots of laughs. My faves were Space Butthole (so many butt puns!!!), The Spectacular Summer of Weredog and Amy (sad ending but I still smiled), and Bigfoot’s Love Slave. It is hard to go wrong with this program.

Short Film Program 6: DocuNation. Good lineup. My fave was 6th Graders School Roy Moore’s Attorney. You’d think a highly paid lawyer would be able to put sentences together. Nope.

Pick of the Litter. Follow one litter of puppies growing up, in training to be guide dogs for the blind. Most do not make the cut. There was a row of little girls behind me going “Aw!” Dogs are cinematic naturals. And yes, I got my happy ending.

Speechless. Joined my good clone for this one. About a writer who is trying to care for his senile mother. Scandinavian, sad, but an uplifting ending. I have to admit that as a writer, I would have liked a little more about him as a writer.

You & Me. Romantic comedy. Deaf girl, blind guy, goofy relatives, and a baby at the end. Lots of great performances: the girl’s way-too-many-philosophy-classes father was a hoot.

My Tourette’s. I liked it a lot. I only saw part of it because I had to meet my good clone before it ended.

Justice League review: it’s humor and humanity, stupid.

I saw Justice League. Alone. I did not want to inflict it on anyone else. My expectations were low, like they were when my friend Brian “Mondo” called me up and wanted to see Dude, Where’s My Car? But I liked it. It was funny! (“We are hot babes.”)

I liked Justice League too. Sure, it grated on my writer brain. Some scenes felt glued together with library paste, I believe there was a payoff without setup, and too much dialog was blabby moody exposition. (Alfred Hitchcock said that exposition is a pill that must be sugar-coated.) Plenty of room for improvement. But this movie had two story elements that Man of Steel and Batman v Superman lacked: humor and humanity.

The Flash’s geeky, gawky enthusiasm and Aquaman’s heroic beer-chugging macho were especially fun. (The original Aquaman and Barry Allen Flash in DC Comics had the personalities of Macys mannequins, so this movie was right to revamp that.) Wonder Woman was again the fearless, ferocious fighter with a heart (although some of her fellow Amazons should not bare their bellies when going into battle). Batman showed his after-battle ouchie bruises and he stated his true superpower: “I’m rich.” When Superman stepped up to the villain, his voice was purehearted Christopher Reeve (it made my heart sing). Cyborg got to say his favorite line from Teen Titans Go (starts with a “B”). This movie gave the DC supers humanity to build upon. (Except Wonder Woman, she and her most excellent movie were slopping over with humanity to start with, even considering the goddess thing.) And its photography avoided a lot of the black bleak depressing sad angsty moody sepia dark tones of M of S and B v S.

Speaking of gods, a YouTube video that I saw (and lost) said it best: In the Marvel movies, the supers are human. In Man of Steel and Bats v Supes, they are gods above men. YUCK! My advice for DC movie makers: keep losing the Ayn Rand crap and you’ll keep improving.

Mary Jane Watson and one little drop.

Mary Jane Watson can’t be a non-redhead (translation: black), whines a little subset of white fanboys about actress Zendaya. (Even though she’s light-skinned, I hate that stupid one drop rule. Why doesn’t it work for us Swedes, we got wimpy DNA or something?)

That bugs this 60 year old white fart, I mean fanboy. I didn’t hear those drips, I mean fanboys, whine about Iris West being black in The Flash TV series. Maybe because I was bouncing off the ceiling in ecstatic fanboygasms because Law & Order’s Ed Green was her dad and I still bounce whenever he’s onscreen! In a totally hetero way, of course.

They didn’t whine much about Halle Barry playing Catwoman. I whined a lot about that movie in my first online review. It wasn’t about race, I just HATE when movies use zero percent of the source material!

They didn’t whine about Khan Noonien Singh being white in the Star Trek reboot (making Ricardo Montalbon thrash wildly in his grave). I noticed that whitewash. Khan was from Asia. He ruled over a big chunk of Asia. He was NOT a British colonizer, his dictatorship was home-grown!

Stan Lee is fine with Zendaya. So stop whining, you one drop drips!

By the power vested in me by over half a century of fanboyism, I hereby declare that any fanboy who whines about Zendaya is Scrappy-Doo screwy! Get a load of one of her super-selfies!

Zendaya-Spider-Man-Homecoming-826x620

To the guy who will play Spidey: Face it, tiger, you just hit the jackpot!

P.S. Provided Mary is written and played to be the strong, independent, edgy girl she is in the comics. We’ll see.

P.P.S. My sister-in-law’s mom told me that my superheroine Holly Hansson should be a redhead because of Holly’s hot temper. I admit I’d like to see red hair on Mary Jane. No problem. Dye it! Kristen Durst did.

X-Men Apocabully part 2

Just saw X-Men Apocalypse (I had credit on a Fandango gift card). My previous post on Apocalypse is still accurate, but he now has an annoying hissing bully voice, an ounce more personality than a deck chair, a couple ounces of explanation of his powers, and less than an ounce of personal motivation. Gimme some “so that’s why I’m a mutant GOD” backstory!

As for the four horses, is it mind control or isn’t it? Make up your minds! And please don’t say power corrupts, I have covered that!

Boy was I impatient with Jean Grey, c’mon and do the goddess in the machine thing already! On second thought, don’t. Clobber the big bully some other way, a way that works if you are not a comic book geek. And this is coming from a comic book geek.

And boy did I love Quicksilver, his scenes alone are almost worth the ticket price! More Quicksilver, more more more!

And at the risk of repeating myself, boy would Super Holly super-punch Apocalypse while taking his various dirty superpowered attacks and telling him what Popeye told Slag the Slugger: “I admit you’re giving me a tough fight, but you can’t win! You’re a crook! And I am fighting for what’s right!”

(I could not find that comic, so here is one comic from Popeye’s first fight with Bluto. A two-week slugfest. Boy, could E.C. Segar draw! Holly would kiss Popeye on sight.)

popeye v bluto

P.S. I got one more good thing out of this movie: an idea for a villain. Stinkupalips. An Apocalypse type villain whose power is super smelly stuff. A great guy to toss at Kittygirl and the Puppy Brothers.

X-Men: Apocalbully.

apocalypseI liked Captain America: Civil War. Fun ensemble fight scene, a decent take of the old Civil War story line (I was wondering how’d they spin its old “take off the mask or go directly to jail” storyline), and Spider-Man and Ant Man were a hoot! (I gotta develop my bug-based super.) And by the way, Abigail Nussbaum, as far as you saying it is really about men who solve their problems with violence instead of talking, the TV show At Midnight said it best: no one would sit through over two hours of Captain America: Civil Discussion.

I have not seen X-Men: Apocalypse yet, but I remember not reading every comic book Apocalypse strutted into. The big and really really really really really powerful mutant who thinks genocide is a snazzy way to accomplish world harmony. He’s John Galt without the 40 page screed and with so much superpower that the writers can’t figure out exactly what those powers are. (Decades later and I still don’t know and Wikipedia is kind of iffy.) Maybe one of them is mutant jumping-jacks, why else would his elbows and hips be cabled together? Every time I thumbed through those old X-comics (on the rack, try before you buy!), Apocalypse was standing tall, puffing out his chest like a teen bully about to shove a nerd into the swimming pool, and telling me how he was going to mutantly and powerfully destroy lots of people. I remember what Red Mask said about Captain Triumph in Grant Morrison’s Animal Man: “Nice guy, but he had the personality of a deck chair, you know?”

And that movie preview scene where Apocalypse is choking Mystique? Holly would kick him square on the nose. Hard. Sonic boom, 9.9 on the Richter scale hard. Super Holly Hansson hates guys who pick on people who cannot bench-press as much as they can. As a writer, she’d hate a boring bully worse.

Apocalypse, watch Biff in the Back to the Future movies. You can learn something.

P.S. I reserve the right to take some of this back if I like the movie.