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#1 Movie of All-Time
#1 Romantic Comedy
#1 Movie Character
Today started off as any other day. I woke up under a bright, sunny Florida sky and went about my morning by driving to my 8-5 (I put an extra hour in for Jesus) listening to that slice of Americana we all lovingly refer to as Morning Zoo-Style radio. The work-day went swimmingly. I typed away at my computer, whose illuminated screen with an American Flag desktop wallpaper kept my eye balls warm and energized, aiding my honest day's work. But it was as if Andrew had come to produce it's own sequel to the mayhem he caused all those years ago, because the day suddenly grew DARK.
How dark you say?
AS DARK AS THE ACTOR/FORMER CHICAGO BULLS ATHLETE MICHAEL B. JORDAN.
Listen up, Hollywood. I am a FAN of The Fantastic Four. Do you know what that means? Of course you don't. Let me explain: I have a righteous, unforgiving LOVE for America's First Superhero Family that runs so deep that the slightest change caused by some LIBERAL HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR'S "VISION" could quite possibly cause an aneurism in my precious, Fantastic-Four-Filled brain so bad that it would EXPLODE. Why, my love for this comic book property is so enormous, that sometimes I forget that they're fictional characters. So imagine my surprise, when I discover that Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, was cast in Josh Trank's (aka The Next Stalin) adaptation of Fantastic Four - the pain in my head was so unbearable, that I had to cover my face in 10 pounds of apple pie filling and and consume three loafs of White Wonder Bread (my nickname on my High School Lacrosse team, bee-tee-dubz. LAX BROz 4 LIFE).
Let me tell you why this casting decision doesn't work.
1. He Looks Nothing Like How I Have Envisioned Johnny Storm Despite the Fact That 100s If Not 1000s of Artists Have Added Their Own Style to His Design in Comic Books, Cartoons, Comic Strips and Movies. The movie business is not "show art," my friends, it's "show business," we don't really care about some movie-maker's "vision," because us fans want to see all of the images that we have consumed as opposed to getting laid to literally jump out of the page and onto the big screen.. That's what every comic book reader wants to see! IT'S COMMON SENSE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!
2. ADAPTATION-SHMADAPTATION- Look I don't know much about the word "adaptation" outside of the overrated Spike Lee movie starring Nicholas Cage, but I think it has something to do with taking a piece of art from one medium and modifying it to fit with another medium or something to preserve the integrity of the medium attempting to adapt the product? Or something? Look, who cares. It's difficult enough trying to keep my mind from expanding from learning new pieces of information that could possibly change my out-dated opinions, and now you want me to just accept the possibility that Johnny Storm or Sue Storm were adopted? Or...or...oh Jesus...COME FROM A MIXED RACE FAMILY?! I'm not racist, ok? I have black friends, ok? But Fantastic Four was first written in 1961. There was this little thing happening back then called "segregation." It was a dark time in Our Nation's Blessed History, for sure. Back then it was pretty controversial to portray an African-American in a comic book, or in any kind of media for that matter - and we need to keep that vision alive. WAIT. STOP. HEAR ME OUT. How can we as a Christian Nation expect to
progress move forward if we forget about these atrocious times? We need to constantly remind ourselves of the mistakes we made by continuing the status quo of a bygone era in our adaptations from said era. DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
3. THIS DECISION IS LITERALLY RACIST. What's really been plaguing me all day is the thought that a white actor doesn't get to fulfill his dream of playing Johnny Storm. I mean there was probably some kid who read Fantastic Four comic books growing up, watched the cartoons, spent countless hours training at Acting School, only to be told at the Casting Office of Hollywood, "Nope, sorry, we're not hiring white people for this role." HOW IS THAT NOT RACIST???? His dreams are probably shattered, having to settle for some job where he makes a measly 45k a year with benefits. Ugh, it just makes me sick to my stomach.
I've already been dealt some oppression over these views after I vehemently expressed them at work. The Liberal Elite and the Civil Rights Goon Squad need to check their privilege and remember that they are LITERALLY EXEGETING GOSPEL when they make a comic book movie; and die hard fans, who have devoted countless dollars and time and bodily fluids to these properties are the ones who should always come to mind when making any kind of decision. But no, Hollywood has deserted us! I don't care how good your script is, or how competent your directing is, or that you were able to take a property that was mostly forgotten about and turned it into something digestible, fresh, relevant, blah blah blah. I want what I grew up with!
Now, I'm sure Michael B. Jordan is a great guy. I haven't seen any of his movies nor have I heard of any of them, and I sure as hell have never been to a basketball game before. But he's just not right for the part. Not by a long shot. And that's a fact, Jack.
I have two different critiques of this film. One is based purely on whether or not it was a well-crafted film with memorable performances and an engaging story, and the other is based on how suburban white kids need to shut up.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is obviously a fantasy, and it offers a twist on the genre by having it set in a very familiar 21st Century-ish New Orleans in a somewhat flooded land called Bathtub, or as I call it, Not-New Orleans. When the world is thrown out of whack by a massive storm that causes the town to be completely flooded, a young girl by the name of Hushpuppy sets out with her father and company to bring stability back to their home. If you could call what they had "stability."
See, the people in Bathtub are poor. And like most poor people perceived by suburban white kids that free wheel on cargo trains every summer, they have way better lives in their poorness than we do. They reject healthcare because who needs it, they drink every day because it's not a crutch for the standards of living, they're just living in the moment! And Wink, Hushpuppy's father, well, smacking his daughter repeatedly in the face is just a trial for Hushpuppy to overcome for her to find her own inner strength!
Yes, life in the Bathtub, though not exactly glamorous, is something to be envied by us all, because they've totally rejected society, man.
Dear lord, where do I even begin.
I'm conflicted. When Spike Jonze made Where The Wild Things Are, I wanted to love it because of its gorgeous visuals and authenticity within its own fantasy world. But the film's lack of a true narrative, no engaging story, and a less-than-stellar performance by its lead made what could be a memorable experience into something forgettable and mediocre.
That's not the case with Beasts. For one, the performances are incredible. In fact, the acting alone is, I'm sure, the reason it has been so embraced by the Academy. Quvenzhané Wallis is an acting warrioress, and the amount of energy and presence she exudes is baffling considering her size. I hope she sticks to acting, and I hope she takes it in the right direction, because I think she has what it takes to transcend child-stardom and become a true actress. There's also Dwight Henry as Wink, Hushpuppy's troubled father. Like Wallis, Henry has no background in acting, and is in fact a baker in New Orleans, yet he delivers a powerful and tragic (albeit frustrating - I hate his character. More on that later.) performance.
The story is about finding one's inner strength while searching for stability in a world turned upside down. The story may not make sense at first but the more I dwelled on it the more sense it made, and I understood the point. And unlike Where The Wild Things Are, it had a direction to accompany the amazing visual language and gorgeous score.
Having said that…
There is nothing charming about poverty. It isn't kitschy or cute, and I found the relationship between Wink and Hushpuppy way too disturbing, and thought that it hit way too close to home for me to even begin to root or even feel for a character like Wink. I know I'm letting my moral flag fly with this one, and I'll most likely be looked at as oversensitive. But the presentation of their relationship isn't cautionary, it isn't used to display the dangers of abuse, but as a way of life that we should accept and celebrate, because it's part of what molds Hushpuppy on her journey. And I hate that. I feel like this a prevailing theme in cinema, television, literature, hell, even comics, that the only way a woman can become strong and independent is to have the shit beat out of her by someone abusive and controlling. I'm sure Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar were well-intentioned, but to me they missed the mark. I think they told a good story, and I think they crafted a well-made film, but it's subtext is what bothers me, and the representation of America's poor that a lot of suburban white kids completely misconstrue. It's on par with the college kid that travels to Africa and takes hundreds of pictures of themselves holding malnourished babies, only to go home two weeks later and return to their spin classes and Pinterest parties.
I'm glad that the Academy continues to recognize films of this scope, as this is a prime example of what I would consider to be a true independent film, and I continue to support that. But even though it's well-made, I can't completely support the film's views. Though I'm sure it is being recognized for its performances and visual language, I'm not so naive to think the Academy isn't once again patting themselves on their backs and reveling in their misguided views and exaggerated affection for the downtrodden of this country, and even the world.