C.B. Cebulski and Akira Yoshida

Elektra Hand 4

The big comics news of the last week is that C.B. Celuski, the new Marvel Editor in Chief, once wrote some comics (about 50 issues worth) under the name Akira Yoshida. There are three angles to this which might jeopardize his ability to do his job: Was it unforgivable that he lied to his coworkers/ violated Marvel policy? What does the cultural appropriation suggest about him as a person? What are the optics? This has gotten media attention in comics websites, as well as general interest publications.

While this isn’t the aspect that has gotten the attention in the press, it seems that Marvel’s big initial concern was the internal politics of an editor writing under a pseudonym. Writing for CBR, Jon Arverdon noted potential financial gains, due to restrictions at the time against paying editors to write.

According to the Bleeding Cool report, at the height of Yoshida’s prominence, Marvel had a policy in place against editors writing or drawing comics. Others, such as Newsarama editor Chris Arrant, state that it wasn’t so much a hard and fast rule as it was simply discouraged. In any case, the general consensus is that if and when a salaried Marvel staffer wrote and/or drew comics, they couldn’t be paid an additional sum as this merely fell into the wider gamut of their overall job responsibilities. But what if, unbeknownst to Marvel, you were both a freelance writer and a staff editor with two separate identities? That would certainly put you in a favorable position.

Part of the angle is the idea that the policy against editors writing was a mistake, pushed by then-publisher Bill Jemas. Cebulski went pretty far to keep up the illusion, coming up with an elaborate backstory, and seemingly convincing others at Marvel that a Japanese translator was the real Akira Yoshida.

P.J. Gladnick of Newsbusters, a website that focuses on the perceived shortcomings of the liberal media, summed up his views in the headline “Marvel Editor assumed Japanese identity to Advance Career.” That’s not entirely fair since there’s no indication that Cebulski’s career benefited from what he did. This might be because his work didn’t take off in any significant way–it would have helped his reputation if once he had his foot in the door, he was able to write as well as Warren Ellis –although I don’t think he can be accused of using his position as editor to make sure Akira Yoshida worked with Marvel’s best artists.


The people most knowledgeable about the internal politics were the ones to made the decision to promote him to Editor-in-Chief, and they’d be the ones to know the extent to which this strange decision should define his career. What might surprise Marvel is that the the topic that’s blown up now is the question of cultural appropriation, since C.B. Cebulski is a white guy who pretended to be a member of a minority group.

A mitigating factor is that these questions have gained mainstream prominence in the last few years, and weren’t discussed the same way fifteen years ago. There have been some recent excesses, like a brouhaha about a webcomic in 2015 that was cancelled when the white creative team decided it wasn’t worth upsetting the community to publish a series about going to Japan, or the idea that anime turned into American films should consist of Asian characters. There’s no indication that Cebulski made any effort to trick members of the Asian-American fan community into supporting his work. I’d also imagine someone trying to come up with a pseudonym and backstory is going to pick a different background, just to avoid anyone making the connection. However, noting that it was a different time and putting it in a different context is going to be a messy defense.

An underappreciated question is whether the optics of what Cebulski did are going to restrict him as Editor-in-Chief. Sana Amanat—director of content and character development— endorsed his cultural sensitivity.

“I think we have to be very sensitive about cultural appropriation and whitewashing,” Amanat continued. “But I do think, fundamentally, that if there’s an opportunity to create more awareness about a particular type of character, whether it’s an Asian character or a black character, that should be our primary goal – telling as authentic, as honest, as fun, as real a story as possible about that character. Because that’s what’s really going to build more awareness about a particular cultural group. Of course we want cultural authenticity and make sure we’re casting those people behind the scenes, but the primary goal is getting those kinds of characters out there.”

Amanat went on to reference longtime Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis, who co-created the African-American/Latino Miles Morales Spider-Man.

“[Bendis] is as white as they come (but) he happens to have a daughter who’s African American,” she said. “So it meant something to him. We have to stop dismissing people when they want to be able to promote that. Because then we’re actually going to create a deepening dividing line between cultures in a way that is antagonistic. We have to start communicating and not being so angry.”

Liberals, as well as others, are going to worry about whether someone who pretended to be an Asian man understand the needs of minority readers. The Mary Sue had a piece on problematic aspects of his work in the context of an outsider writing about particular cultures. However, there is the possibility of overcompensation. Can someone who was caught pretending to be an Asian man make hard decisions that aren’t Politically Correct? Will he feel additional pressure to keep publishing material with diverse talent/ characters? Will he greenlight books that perhaps he shouldn’t?

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From minor statewide office to President

There was an interesting question on a politics discussion board recently that got me thinking: Can someone who has only held “minor” statewide office (Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, etc.) get elected directly as President without getting elected as Governor or to Congress, or getting appointed to the US Cabinet? So, this would not apply to a state treasurer appointed HUD Secretary.

It seems to me that it’s kind of like asking if anyone from the Dakotas or Nebraska will become President. It’s possible, but so few people do end up becoming President, that it is quite unlikely.

There are still a few potential scenarios.

1. A rising star explodes as a lower-level statewide officeholder, and gets elevated to the White House before becoming Governor or Senator. This could happen with increasing partisanship, if you have a state Attorney General who is instrumental in stopping Presidents. Prosecutors can often be involved in fights against national boogeymen. In 1940, Tom Dewey won more in the Republican primary than anyone else, as a Manhattan District Attorney who had sent a corrupt former New York Stock Exchange president, and some Tammany Hall politicians to jail.

2. Someone in lower office comes very close in a major statewide race and gains a lot of credibility. Imagine a one term Republican California Attorney General or Texas Attorney General who gets a lot of attention as a candidate for Senate/ Governor. In the 1940 presidential election, Dewey was helped by a close loss in the 1938 New York gubernatorial race. There’s a bit of chatter about Jason Kander in this way, as his narrow loss in a race for Senate in Missouri is seen as an indication of tremendous political strength, under the assumption a close loss in a conservative state is akin to a clear win in a swing state.

3. Someone in lower office goes on to major celebrity. There are plenty of politicians who become major media figures (Jerry Springer, Joe Scarborough) and Trump has demonstrated that celebrity can help in presidential races. A TV show can make a former comptroller as well known as any Governor, while the stint as comptroller would provide an appearance of experience.

It would be especially helpful if there’s a political environment in which one party took a major shellacking, so that there are less incumbent statewide officeholders for the former state treasurer to compete against.

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What Marvel’s Missing



With C.B. Cebulski replacing Alex Alonso as the new Marvel Editor-in-Chief, it’s worth looking at the steps the company can take to regain their mojo. Some of Marvel’s franchises aren’t doing too well (The Avengers and X-Men, the books that might be regulars in the top ten under ideal circumstances) and are in need of some kind of creative overhaul/ new direction (and they’re probably getting it, too.) However, there is one intangible that is difficult to plan in advance, but that is typically found in a successful comics company.  It’s another reason Alonso’s out the door: there isn’t something unexpected connecting with fans enough to light sales charts on fire, and perhaps help elevate other titles. We don’t have an unexpected hit, the book that’s doing better than expected.

In a piece on 1980s Marvel, it was mentioned that New Mutants was Marvel’s second best-selling book when Bill Sienkiewicz came on board as artist.  That isn’t a brand that we associate with high sales now (it was relaunched as X-Force in the 1990s, which to be fair was one of Marvel’s best-selling titles then too.) There have often been times when something that wasn’t Spider-Man or the X-Men sold quite well. (Punisher in the 90s, The Millar/ Hitch Ultimates, The Ultimate Fantastic Four, Dark Avengers, Jeph Loeb’s Hulk,)


thor 169 kirby

In 1969, Amazing Spider-Man was Marvel’s one book in the top ten. A little behind in twelth place was the Fantasric Four. And just behind in thirteenth place was Thor, Stan lee and Jack Kirby’s other title. At that point, the Avengers and the X-Men were outsold by The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Daredevil, and Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos so this isn’t a new development.

There is one additional series that has helped Marvel in its darkest times, saving the company from bankruptcy in the 1970s, and serving as the most popular ongoing now: Star Wars. But it’s not as helpful, since it’s in its own world of books, and not going to have much impact on Iron Man or Punisher as a series in a shared Marvel Universe that can provide guest starrs or reverberations in other tittles. As an aside to the aside, I’m pretty sure that with the success of Rebirth and Doomsday Clock, Marvel is trying to see if there’s any way to bring Star Wars characters to the Marvel U. I don’t endorse the idea; I just think it’s being discussed.C

There is the point that Marvel might’ve snuffed out potential hits through immediate overexposure like when Coates’ Black Panther got two spinoffs before the first arc finished. Brian Hibbs summed it up in Tilting for the Windmills.

People who say the new audience inherently don’t want super-heroes or don’t want periodicals are fundamentally wrong. They just don’t want them in the way they’re being offered.

With “Black Panther”, it was tons of new faces, diverse faces, genuinely excited about comics. And they were vibing on it… until Marvel saw it had a hit on its hand, and decided to push out “Black Panther: World of Wakanda”, and then “Black Panther: The Crew”. And this new audience began to leap off in droves because they don’t grasp (or want) Marvel’s publishing plan.

Seriously, our sales drop-off on “Black Panther” is significantly worse than similar titles and launches, and you can see the deflection points accelerate as the additional titles are released. Less is more when it comes to entertainment and branding – something that I said all the way back in my ninth column in 1993 – which is mostly just copying something that Joe Brancatelli said back in 1976 (!) (We’re just about to move our website, so I’m pretty positive that link is going to break in a week or two…. If it 404s when you read this try a search on “Hibbs Tilting Brancatelli”… or email me!) Adding a second “Black Panther” title doesn’t double your sales; instead it causes x% of Panther readers to walk away instead.

The same thing happened with “Doctor Strange”, when “Sorcerors Supreme” launched, the same thing happened when Marvel published two different “Squirrel Girl” issue #1’s in a single year, or when they expanded “Guardians of the Galaxy” into like six books or more a month – the new audience? The ones who have been freshly minted this decade? They don’t understand Marvel’s publishing plans.

They’re not looking for a LINE of comics… they’re looking for a comic. That new young woman who is buying “Squirrel Girl”? For the most part she’s not looking for five more female heroines to go along with it. That’s not to say that maybe she couldn’t be convinced to buy five more comics (she can!), but they have to be different flavors. They emphatically don’t want a line, like we did when we were kids.

This all has to be carefully managed.


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Why Did Republicans Go For Trump?

Trump Ryan

A question that comes up in political discussions is why Republican voters went for Trump. There are three main categories: Why did he win the primary? Why did he get so much institutional support as the nominee that he was able to become President? And why wasn’t his bigotry a dealbreaker?

The first part of the question is why enough primary voters went for Trump. Part of the reality is that primary voters are a small section of the electorate, so if Trump was able to get new people to the polls he would have a strong chance. And he did. In terms of sheer numbers, he had less support in the primary than Ross Perot had as a third party candidate in 1992, but it made much more of a difference. Trump was helped by a media that gave him more coverage than the other primary candidates combined. Individual Republican candidates probably engaged in poor strategy figuring that someone else will take him out, or that he’ll collapse on his own. A crowded field also limited the chance for anyone else to stand out, and for the race to be a binary choice. But it also seems clear that the voters were in the mood for an outsider, as evident by strong showings for Herman Cain in 2012 polls, and Ron Paul in earlier primaries. Polls also showed that voters wanted a general sense of fairness, believing that the candidate who got the most votes should get the nomination, which made it tougher for anyone to get support maneuvering against Trump on technicalities.

I’ll address briefly the racism, sexism and Islamophobia. There is a part of that in the Republican party, just because it is the party of the majority—in other words, the party supported by cis heterosexual white Christians. There will be bigots among the Republicans, just as there will be different types of weirdos among the Democrats (socialists, radical minorities, etc.) There’s also a larger sense among right-leaning voters that political correctness is going too far, and that we’re not able to discuss potential policy solutions because the elected officials and the commentators are afraid of left-wing pushback. When previous accusations are unmerited, it also inoculates the next case. If McCain is called racist, or Romney is called sexist for having “a binder full of women”—which in context was the exact type of policy initiative liberals and anyone who wants to reduce the gender gap would prefer powerful men to engage in—it becomes tougher to recognize that in Trump. Democratic campaign surrogates had cried wolf too many times in the past.

The last part is why the party stuck behind Trump as the nominee. There the answer is simple. He had a better chance of offering the policy initiatives they wanted than Hillary Clinton, who made no serious effort to assuage conservatives. I’ve heard the argument that she needed to be more explicit in her policy proposals than Obama who was able to get better turnout among progressives based on his background (they knew they could trust a younger African American community organizer/ law professor.) However, the message that Donald Trump posed an existential threat to the republic was undercut by the lack of any concessions from Democrats to get nervous Republicans on their side, to convince them that it wouldn’t represent a significant change in policy should the party get control of three branches of government. Maybe it was a gamble that would’ve worked in most cases, and that was worth it so as to avoid tying the hands of a Clinton administration. Except in this case, enough Republicans thought the devil they didn’t know was better than the devil they did.

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13 Horror Movies in October


I’m continuing with a list of the films I watched, except this this time with a theme, focusing on thirteen horror movies.

Movie #133/ 1970s Movie #14: Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979- English language version)
This was the Herzog/ Kinski/ Adjani/ Ganz version of the Murnau classic. It’s an art film shot largely like a period drama, which makes Kinski’s vampire initially seem like a weird intruder, an entirely appropriate artistic choice. It takes some interesting turns, especially when Nosferatu reaches Germany, and we see the effects of the “plague.” It was shot in German and in English- I watched the English version, which was perfectly fine. This is easily one of the strongest takes on the Dracula story, and probably the best made by people who are still alive today.

Movie #134/ New Movie #96/ 1970s Movie #15: A Bay of Blood
An over the top 1970s slasher film with more victims than usual, and more people willing to murder those around them in an argument about real estate.

Movie #135/ New Movie #97/ 1970s Movie #16/ French Film #8: The Demons
I think I mistook Jesus Franco’s film for another European film with a similar name (the one produced by Dario Argento in 1985.) This one about the hunt for the descendants of a witch, and two sisters’ responses is a lot pornier than I expected, although it does cover the hypocrisy of the establishment well. The soundtrack is excellent.

Movie #136/ 2000s Movie #15: Trick ‘r Treat
A nicely produced take on interrelated stories in a small city in Ohio, even if the idea of all of this stuff happening at once further stretches credulity. It’s a lot of fun, and it certainly doesn’t drag.

trick r treat

Movie #137/ 1930s Movie #12: Dracula (1931- Spanish Edition)
The Spanish language version of the Bela Lugosi Dracula that was filmed at night using the same sets and many of the same costumes is a pretty decent horror classic. The camerawork is impressive, as the director was more interested in making a film than adapting a play, and made some changes based on dailies of the English language version. It’s half an hour longer, so many of the scenes have room to breathe, and quite a few of the performances are strong. This version of Renfield (Dracula’s mad assistant) is more manic and conflicted. The Van Helsing has gravitas enough to carry a film. Lupita Tovar’s female lead (named Eva in this film) gives the sense of someone transforming. Carlos Villarías’ Dracula is comparatively bland.

Movie #138/ 1930s Movie #13: The Mummy (1932)
Structurally different from what I expected (the mummy pops up in bandages early in the film, but then takes a different form.) The sets are decent in a story about explorers and ancient conflicts, with leads who find themselves out of their element against an unexpected type of enemy.

Movie #139/ New Movie #98/ 1950s Movie #13: Creature from the Black Lagoon
The story’s a bit generic (a lot of King Kong and The Mummy with the kidnapping of the girl, and the theme of modernity vs the unknown) but the setting makes for a decent story of explorers versus a new kind of monster.

Movie #140/ New Movie #99/ 1960s Movie #13: The Revenge of Frankenstein
The second Hammer Frankenstein is an unconventional sequel in that Peter Cushing’s scientist is the villain rather than the monster (who doesn’t even pop up, although there is a new attempt at creating life.) Cushing’s mad scientist is well above-average, and the rest of the cast plays off him well. The sets are fantastic.


Movie #141/ 1930s Movie #14: The Old Dark House
Gloomy atmospheric and fun story of travelers stuck in a very strange old house. The sets are incredible, and the mystery takes some interesting turns. I’ll note I did not see the restored version.

Movie #142/ New Movie #100/ 1930s Movie #15: Secret of the Blue Room
This was one of the more obscure of the early Universal horror films, though it’s more of a locked door mystery. The first half sets up the mystery of a seemingly haunted room, and the disappearance of a schmuck who wants to stay there to prove his courage for the girl he loves. Then the detectives get involved, and the story gets a bit blander, although there is an interesting lack of clarity on what exactly happened twenty years ago.

Movie #143/ New Movie #101/ 1940s Movie #13: The Ghost Train
I admit it’s a stretch to list this as horror. Vaudevillian Arthur Askey’s lead turns this film about passengers stranded in a haunted train station into the comedy genre, although it’s a stretch for the subject matter. The most interesting parts about the film are the matter of fact treatment of life in World War 2 Britain.


Movie #144/ New Movie #102/ 1970s Movie #17/ Criterion Edition #26: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
This surrealist fable is full of spectacular imagery, and a story that is intentionally vague, mysterious and more than a little perverted, although with tremendous artistic merit in depicting a teenager’s subconscious nightmares.

Movie #145/ 1930s Movie #16: The Invisible Man
I decided to finish with this one because The Old Dark House renewed my appreciation for director James Whale. His take on the Invisible Man is iconic and fun, with Claude Rains giving the unseen character an appropriate level of menace and insanity.

And a ranking.

  • 13. The Ghost Train
  • 12. The Secret of the Blue Room
  • 11. A Bay of Blood
  • 10. The Demons
  • 9. Creature From the Black Lagoon
  • 8. The Mummy
  • 7. The Old Dark House
  • 6. The Revenge of Frankenstein
  • 5. Trick r’ Treat
  • 4. The Invisible Man
  • 3. Dracula (Spanish Edition)
  • 2. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
  • 1. Nosferatu the Vampyre
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Disagreeing without believing the other person is crazy

2 plus 2 is 5

In political discussions, I’ve sometimes observed a conflation between views someone disagrees with and views they think no reasonable person can hold, when there should be space for views you disagree with but understand can be held by people you believe to be acting in good faith. This gets dangerous when any heresy is seen as proof of bigotry. So a disagreement with someone on an aspect of one issue (IE-race based affirmative action in the college application process, government solutions to gender wage gaps, the age of consent for gender reassignment surgery) first becomes a proxy for the larger issue, and then becomes evidence of bigotry. That can push away people who would otherwise be on your side, get people to avoid solutions to problems that touch controversial topics, or reduce your credibility when pushed into an extreme stance by a refusal to compromise.

There’s an example on the difference between these types of views in a Latino/a Studies professor’s view on the politics of Math. 

There are parts of her position that I disagree with, but I can see where she’s coming from.

Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”

From a policy standpoint, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to change the names that have been used for centuries for Math terms, but I can understand the argument that something objective shouldn’t have a Eurocentric name.

But I think her other arguments are rather dopey.

Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white.

“Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asks, further wondering why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.

She seems to ignore the economic good that results from an understanding of Math, and that might not result from an understanding of social studies or English.

And then there’s this gem.

Gutierrez stresses that all knowledge is “relational,” asserting that “Things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively.”
The entire point of Math is that a lot of information is objective. 2 + 2 will never equal 5. The circumference of a circle will always be the diameter times π, and the area of a circle will always be found by multiplying the radius squared by π. In any right triangle, the square of the side opposite the right angle will be equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. This will be true regardless of what you call pi or the pythagorean theorem


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Movies Watched in 2017 Part 6


I finished my personal goal of seeing ten movies each from ten decades. but I’m still keeping track of the films I watch. “New movie” just refers to something I hadn’t seen yet, so it could have come out in the 1920s and it’ll still be new to me. Like…

Movie #107/ New Movie #79/ Silent Movie Era #11: The Crowd
I sought out this film because it’s on a Top 100, and I’m really unfamiliar with the work of King Vidor. The visuals are striking, looking at the monotony and scale of life in the 1920s, and it’s also a story that is entertaining and about something simultaneously specific to the lead (his challenges in becoming a self-sufficient man), and universal.

Movie #108/ New Movie #80/ 1940s Movie #11: All the King’s Men
Well-acted political noir that might have been breathtakingly cynical when it came out. This is a pattern with political films I’ve watched.

Movie #109/ New Movie #81/ 2010s Movie #14: T2- Trainspotting 2
I really enjoyed Trainspotting, so I was curious about the sequel. It managed to bring together the old gang with some new adventures (robbing a social club fixated on Catholics and protestants) with characters who were nostalgic for their drug-addled youth.

Movie #110/ 1950s Movie #12/ Musical #6: Singing in the Rain
It’s easily the best and most satisfying musical ever made, with a witty script and some exceptional numbers, with a funny take on the transition of the film industry from silents to talkies (and musicals.)

Movie #111/ 1990s Movie #11/ Animated Film #7/ Musical #7: Beauty and the Beast (Disney)
It’s easy to forget how many classic songs popped up in this animated musical. Beyond that, it has an excellent ensemble and a witty script.

Movie #112/ New Movie #82/ 1980s Movie #11: Stand By Me
This movie has an excellent and specific take on kids just becoming adolescents, and learning about life in the world around them, while on a somewhat naive trip to go see a kid’s body.


Movie #113/ New Movie #83/ 1990s Movie #12: Devil in a Blue Dress
This was a pretty solid neo-noir that was able to address racial questions the films of the era couldn’t, and also had standout performances by Denzel Washington in the origin story of a noir detective, and Don Cheadle as the ultimate loose cannon.

Movie #114/ New Movie #84/ 2010s Movie #15: Miss Sloane
This is a fascinating mess, a film that’s preaching to the converted on gun reform while also telling a story about a self-destructive lead played by Jessica Chastain (who is quite good in it.) It probably failed at the box office because it was meant for the beltway, and unfortunately not as good as Spotlight, or the Aaron Sorkin films it imitates.

Movie #115/ New Movie #85/ 2010s Movie #16: Get Out
Entertaining film that functions as paranoid thriller, horror and commentary on racial issues.

Movie #116/ 2000s Movie #11/ Superhero Film #10: The Dark Knight
It’s easily the best superhero film ever made, although one thing that surprises me still is just how well it holds up. The danger of one guy willing to break all the rules, and disrupt things for the hell of it remains relevant in the Trump/ antifa era.

Movie #117/ New Movie #86/ 2010s Movie #17: Beauty and the Beast (Disney)
It’s a well-made live action version of a great animated film, although largely unnecessary.


Movie #118/ New Movie #87/ 1970s Movie #11: The Black Windmill
A Dull British thriller. Ebert’s review is largely on point.

Movie #119/ 1930s Movie #11/ French Movie #6: The Grand Illusion
Weirdly available on streaming only through a Tribeca shortlist add-on for Amazon. This was an excellent prison escape film that’s a bit more episodic than I remember, but excellent at highlighting the problems of war in a changing era, as well as the struggles of the main characters.

Movie #120/ New Movie #88/ 1990s Movie #12: The Hurricane
Slow start, but it gets interesting later. As much of a focus on how to survive in prison as it is a sports film and a legal drama.

Movie #121/ New Movie #89/ 1960s Movie #11: Topkapi
Fun caper, with an excellent cast, and a standout Oscar winning performance by Peter Usinov as a schmo who is hired by thieves, and later recruited by authorities to spy on them under the assumption that they’re terrorists.

Movie #122/ 2000s Movie #12: 300
Decently cast mythic drama. Often over the top, but appropriately so.


Movie #123/ 1960s Movie #12/ Criterion Edition #24/ French Film #7: 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
It’s a video essay that’s tough to grade as a film. As something so one of a kind that addresses interesting topics in addition to form, it’s worth seeing more than a typical 7/10 grade film. But you might enjoy it less.

Movie #124/ New Movie #90/ 1990s Movie #13: The Piano
Well-acted drama about the love affair between Holly Hunter’s mute woman who doesn’t care for her era, and Harey Keitel’s illiterate sailor with an appreciation for some of the fine things in life. I’m very curious about the inevitable essays on how it’s problematic.

Movie #125/ 2000s Movie #13/ Science Fiction Film #11: Star Trek
An excellent relaunch/ sequel that introduces a new cast on par with anything we’ve seen before in the series, and has some truly impressive action set pieces. It’s also a lot of fun.

Movie #126/ 1970s Movie #12/ Science Fiction Film #12: Close Encounters of the Third Kind
One thing the film has to have credit for is how unlike anything else it is. It’s a sci-fi story in which a guy tries to sneak past government checkpoints, but it’s also a family drama and it’s about inspiration.

Movie #127/ New Movie #91/ 1980s Movie #12: Moonstruck
Witty romantic drama about members of an oddball family (well- two I suppose given Danny Aiello and Nicholas Cage’s brothers) on the verge of making major romantic choices.


Movie #128/ New Movie #92/ 1940s Movie #12/ Criterion Edition #25: The Red Shoes
Visually, it’s a stunning film, especially in the restoration, but it’s a fascinating conflict as the lead tries to choose between greatness and a good life.

Movie #129/ New Movie #93/ 1970s Movie #13/ Musical #8/ Norman Jewison Movie #3: Jesus Christ Superstar
It’s a solid hippie musical about the betrayal of Christ.

Movie #130/ 2000s Movie #14: The Manchurian Candidate
Well-directed relatively modern paranoid thriller. It has an excellent cast, and there are some smart decisions in the changes, as Denzel Washington’s lead becomes more dangerous than we’d expect.

Movie #131/ New Movie #94/ 1990s Movie #13: Absolute Power
At the time, it was seen as outrageous and unrealistic. Now this political thriller might be seen as sober and restrained. Lesser Eastwood, but decent.

Movie #132/ New Movie #95/ 2010s Movie #18/ Science Fiction Film #13: Blade Runner 2049
The cinematography by Roger Deakins is stunning, and the score is exceptional. There’s a bit of a trend towards generation-later sequels (Creed, Force Awakens) and Blade Runner 2049 may be the best, building on the mythos and the key characters, keeping old mysteries while giving us new questions to debate about, especially when it comes to Ryan Gosling’s lead and the hologram he loves.


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