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 an Iraq has 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.

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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.

“The formula simply makes you more of what you already are.” (Swamp Thing)

In her May 5 review of Captain America: Civil War, science fiction essayist and reviewer Abigail Nussbaum writes that “any fictional world that houses more than a handful of (superheroes) will inevitably devolve into a horrifying dystopia in which the rule of law and the authority of democratic government are meaningless.”

No. Do not tell me what themes to stuff into my writing. I will not turn Super Holly’s action-comedy universe into another done-to-death dystopia. It’s not power that corrupts, it’s the love of power. In my novel (yeah, yeah, I’m still working on it), superpower does not corrupt, it makes people more of what they already are. In Super Holly’s graphic novel, The Last Super, she covers the super-dictatorship thing: those who want power most handle it worst.

No! I hate the “power corrupts, and absolute power blah blah blah” cliche, it is a cop out that lets bad behavior off the hook. Do not tell me that I’d be Donald Trump too if money and power got dumped on me, it insults my intelligence AND my morality!

NO! Abigail, my stories are MINE, they have happy endings, my superheroes are people too (and by the way, you know they’re not real, right?), and I AM NOT GOING TO PLAY YOUR WAY!

lucy not play your way

Gimme a girl fight!

Marvel WomenI saw Batman V Superman, and I repeat to its director: BATMAN AIN’T DUMB! The movie is grim and sad and darkly dark except for the desert scene shot in eyeball-scorching sunlight. The only fun in it is Wonder Woman’s all too brief kick-ass fighting, let’s hope some other director does her movie and realizes that the audience would like to smile once every decade or so. Oh, and dream sequences make lousy motivators (almost as much as clouds being lousy villains), what’s wrong with reality doing that?

Have not seen it yet, but I know Captain America: Civil War will be a lot more fun. But Salon beat me to the punch and listed twelve Marvel superheroines who could have fixed its lack of women problem. How could they not have Carol Danver’s Captain Marvel? She’s military, she’s tough, she’s smart, she’s gonna have a Marvel movie, she’d have been perfect! And I’d have given a couple pints of blood if She-Hulk (tall, green, Raquel-Welch-esque amazon, and Bruce Banner’s cousin) could have gone toe-to-toe with Captain Marvel! Strength vs. strength! Super-jumping vs. flying! Hulk fists vs. energy blasts! Every fanboy’s dream: A SUPER-STRENGTH GIRL FIGHT!

P.S. She-Hulk is a lawyer, a superpower if there ever was one. A courtroom scene would have been neat: She-Hulk kicks butt in that vicious battlefield! Unless the other side hires Saul Goodman.

P.P.S. I won’t know which side Super Holly would be on until after I see the movie. She’s very independent, but she has a job on a superpowered peace corp: if she’s going to punch bad guys, she might as well get paid for it. She’d growl if Tony Stark/Iron Man hit on her, and she’d seriously crush on Steve Rogers/Captain America.