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Linkspam doesn't want to float, thanks

I’m struggling to maintain enthusiasm for the new IT, which is depressing since it’s my favorite book of all time.

Look, the kids did all right, and while I thought it was goofy to put them in the 1980s, it had an okay Stranger Things vibe that I appreciated somewhat. And some of the changes were all right: I liked adding the painting to Stanley’s backstory and his struggles with the Torah; making Bev’s father’s creeper vibe stronger was risky but it worked (unlike adding the same vibe to Eddie’s mom, which didn’t).

Sadly, Pennywise himself just doesn’t scare me. It’s the teeth. Granted, no one could really live up to Tim Curry’s darkly gleeful Pennywise of 1990, but the new Pennywise could have been creepy… if they hadn’t given him Bugs Bunny teeth. Each time he waves at the kids, I expect to hear, “Wascally wabbit.”

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But what they did to Mike Hanlon’s character was unforgivable. He has no role in the Losers Club now, since the historian job shifted to Ben. Taking away the wonderful characters of his parents and replacing them with a horrible stereotype of the abusive black grandparent was simply wrong.

Now they’re doubling down and making Mike the adult a drug addict? Is there a Big Book of Hollywood Stereotypes they want to check off? Mike Hanlon grew up to be head librarian, a respected friendly bachelor uncle type with a passion for local history. Why oh why must they remove everything positive about his character? To be “edgy”? He was the one Loser who actually made it through without screwing his life all to hell. No, by all means, let’s make the black guy a drug addict! Clue bat requested for the writer’s room.

Never mind all that; we have a cast now. I have no real objections in casting, and am actually looking forward to James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough. Hopefully the actors can overcome whatever madness they’re doing with the script.

• It’s been a fortnight of bad news before I even get to finish Handmaid’s Tale season two, so I’m actually happy to see that Roseanne will be returning without Roseanne.

Resurrected as The Connors, the show will follow John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Sara GIlbert among others, hopefully focusing on the real lives of blue-collar Americans in this weird wild world we built since the original show of the 1980s-90s. Given Roseanne Barr’s cataclysmic explosion and subsequent firing, I am pleased to be given a reason to see these issues actually explored (and hopefully in a humorous way).

For my money: they’re gonna kill her off. And that actually could be interesting, watching these characters we know so well redefining themselves without the woman around whom their world centered, for better or worse. If nothing else, it should give John Goodman some great acting moments, and I personally believe him to be one of the greater unsung actors of our era.

• Scribblers! The St. Louis Writer’s Guild has launched 1764, a literary journal named after the year the city was founded. Submissions are open May 1 to July 31 for annual inclusion; micropay for poetry, flash fiction, essays, short stories and illustrations. Find out more here.

• I lost an entire dinner break to Cover Snark, a feature on Smart Bitches Trashy Books. No cheesy, poorly-designed romance cover is safe from their vicious pens.

Octavia Butler’s Dawn will be adapted for the small screen by director Ava DuVernay of Selma fame. Dawn was published in 1987 and kicked off the Xenogenesis trilogy, later collected in Lilith’s Brood. DuVernay is creating the series but has not signed it yet with a streaming service. Given her skillful work on A Wrinkle in Time, I think she’ll do just fine. Sadly, it was announced last summer (I missed it) and we haven’t heard much more since then. Here’s hoping it hasn’t fallen into developmental hell. If you haven’t read Butler (as sadly I haven’t, but plan to), here’s a good analysis and overview of her work. Butler died in 2006.

This Week in Sexual Harassment News: Terry Crews testifies before the U.S. Senate that he was harassed at a party by a male agent, and once he started speaking out, he was yanked off Expendables 4 after co-starring in the first three. Apparently he was told to drop his lawsuit against the agent, Adam Venit, or he would not be in the film. He stuck to his guns, so to speak. Venit, by the way, is Sylvester Stallone’s agent. Click the link and scan down to the part where he explains why he, a fairly large and muscular man, didn’t fight back. And then remember how many women get that question, and how no one believes them when they give the same answer: you can’t.

And if you thought Pixar was exempt (at least until you heard about John Lasseter)… I have bad news for you. It wasn't just Lasseter.

• A moment of silence for the Jerry Springer Show, inexplicably still running after 27 years and finally canceled, putting it out of our misery. Thus ends its long-running fiction - no, it was never real!

• The latest edition to the upcoming Watchmen show: Jeremy Irons. They aren’t doing a reproduction or reboot of the original graphic novel (they could only do a better job than Zach Snyder) but exploring the universe further.

• Eeek. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, because when you think about a fictionalization of the Manson Family and Tate murders, you naturally think Quentin Tarantino. But because he’s Tarantino, he’s got an amazing cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al pacino, Margot Robbie, Burt Reynolds, Dakota Fanning, Damian Lewis… and it opens on the 50th anniversary of the Manson-LaBianca murders.

• Locals: Shakespeare in the Park has wrapped. I wish I could say you missed a lot, but for the first time in many years, I was disappointed. The direction just felt off to me - maybe it was Romeo, who simply didn’t sell his character’s passion, or maybe it was in the attempts to make Romeo and Juliet more accessible to a younger audience. The initial contact during the dance played like lightweight flirting with no feeling behind it just didn’t fly for me. It was visually lovely, and Juliet was fairly strong with extra credit to Lord Capulet. But for my money, you’ll get a more emotionally resonant experience from the Baz Luhrmann film, with all its frenetic late-90s weirdness. Let me put it this way: I felt more emotional impact from Paris’ mourning of Juliet than Romeo’s, and that simply should not happen.

 

RIP

• Joe Jackson, 89, best known as the patriarch of the Jackson Five family, father to Michael and Janet (and nine others). He negotiated the kids’ first deals, and he also had a heavy hand with them, according to the kids. He died of pancreatic cancer Wednesday.

 

Trailer Park

Predator, not to be confused with Predator or Predators, has a new trailer out with plenty of dark shadows and violence.

Miami Love Affair, starring Burt Reynolds as an extravagant art dealer.

 

Coming This Weekend

Sicario: Day of the Soldado. Maybe it’s just me, but I have zero desire to see this movie about a killer who suddenly develops a soft spot for a little girl.

Uncle Drew, the basketball movie about the old-timer squad including Kyrie Irving, Shaquille O’Neal, etc.

Sanju, a subtitled Hindi film about actor Sanjay Dutt miraculously in wide release in the U.S.

 

Continuing:

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; Incredibles 2; Ocean’s 8; Deadpool 2; Tag; Superfly; Solo: A Star Wars Story.

 

Happy Independence Day!


CultureGeek ventures near the Murder House

Oh, American Horror Story. I’ve quit you. And then you do this.

Next season will be a crossover between Murder House and Coven, which were two seasons I actually managed to watch. Look, I stuck with it a long ways, but my taste for horror is of the creepy, chilling Twilight Zone variety, not “let’s count the ways we can rape” and eyeball-gouging with grapefruit spoons.

So AHS is trying to go back to its roots after last year’s politically-themed Cult dropped down from Roanoake’s levels set in 2016. Hilariously, the lowest-ranked premiere was the first season for Murder House in 2012, before anyone had the slightest idea what the hell American Horror Story was about.

I might be dragged kicking and screaming to try yet another season. But I’m honestly losing my patience with shows that only seem to exist in order to drag me from gory death to gory death (Walking Dead, I'm looking at you)

• Locals: The 18th annual Whitaker St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase will screen 20 films at Washington University on July 13-15 and 20-22, hosted by nonprofit Cinema St. Louis. Closing night awards will be presented at a free celebration at Blueberry Hill. Showcawe films will be chosen for inclusion in the St. Louis International Film Festival. Tickets are $13; $10 for students and Cinema St. Louis members and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com.

Uncancelled! Lucifer has been picked up by Netflix for a fourth season after it was cancelled by (wait for it) Fox. This comes after Brooklyn Nine-Nine was rescued by NBC after it was cancelled by… Fox. Not so lucky: Designated Survivor got the ax from not-Fox (NBC) and Netflix was thinking about it, but so far nothing.

• If you can bear it, scan through Newsweek’s recounting of the 50 best-selling singles in U.S. history, and the oldest one is from 1997. Oh, my youth hurts.

• Locals: SIUE’s Beauty and the Beast opens tonight and runs through June 24. I am in no way objective; it’s my son’s collegiate theatrical debut and he was co-designer on the project, helping to build and design the sets and some of the special effects. So if you go, watch for the Lonely Villager/Wolf/Spoon, and enjoy the show!

This Week in Sexual Harassment: Not long after Star Wars actresses Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran left Instagram due to constant harassment and abuse, 14-year-old Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things has left Twitter. It seems some idiot Photoshopped her into awful homophobic memes with a hashtag #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown, which just goes to show that the internet is entirely populated with cretins. She’s fourteen, you dipshits.

Also, follow this Twitter thread from Anne Wheaton on the horrific harassment she endured at BookExpo America, where apparently an attractive female writer cannot be taken seriously unless she’s willing to sleep with middle-aged buyers.

• Cue the fanwank! A released photo from Wonder Woman 2 appears to show a confused Steve Trevor in 1984, the setting for the sequel. Did Steve somehow survive the cataclysm of Wonder Woman’s finale? Is it Steve’s great-grandson, like in the comics? (Which is kinda squicky, but remember Captain America and Carter’s great-granddaughter? On second thought, don’t.) If it’s Steve, how come Diana still seems to be mourning him into the 21st century? Though I rather like the idea that this time, it's Steve who's the fish out of the cultural water. Filming has begun with Kristen Wiig as Cheetah and - we hope - a cameo for Lynda Carter.

Stevetrevor

• Ordinarily I’d be really happy that Ewan McGregor will play Danny Torrance in Doctor Sleep, based on Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining. Unfortunately, I was deeply disappointed in Doctor Sleep, which had an uneven plot structure and serious retcons - if you’re going to do a sequel or prequel, continuity is king. Still, Danny has had some serious demons to fight all these years, and McGregor has the ability to … shine in the role. (Hee.)

• Happy 81st birthday to my family’s namesake, Donald Duck! I do a fair Donald-quack, but it doesn’t translate well in print. So here’s a picture instead.

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Tony Awards went to The Band’s Visit, Laurie Metcalf of Edwardsville for Three Tall Women, and several other people who weren’t in Mean Girls. Details here.

• There will not be a Defenders Season 2. I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad about this; I was fairly neutral on Defenders and thought it could have been a lot of fun if not for the storyline drawn from Iron Fist, which we all hated. Oh well, at least we’ll get more time with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage - the latter’s second season hits June 22 and reviews say it’s one of the rare ones that outshines the original.

• Apex Books is helping to raise funds for author Brian Keene, who was badly burned in an accident and does not have health insurance. All proceeds of direct ebook sales of Keene’s solo novels with Apex will be donated directly to him. The GoFundMe continues and is within a few hundred of its $55,000 goal, but early estimates now put Keene’s medical costs as $300,000.

Firefly. Still bitter. You can’t take the sky from me.

 

RIP

• Jackson Odell, 20, best known for The Goldbergs and iCarly. An actor and singer/songwriter since the age of twelve, he was found unresponsive last Friday in a sober living facility.

Alan O’Neill, 47, best known as an Irish gun-runner on Sons of Anarchy, apparently of a heart attack. O’Neill was born in Ireland - so yes, the accent was real - and worked on the Irish TV series Fair City as well.

Jerry Maren, 98, last of the original 124 Wizard of Oz Munchkins who sang as part of the Lollipop Guild in the 1939 classic, presenting an oversized candy to Judy Garland. Maren also appeared in The Twilight Zone, Bewitched and Seinfeld, among many others.

Anthony Bourdain, 61, chef and travel journalist, of apparent suicide. I hardly need to expound on this, since it was extensively covered by everyone, but the repercussions on his death continue days later (and the idiotic conspiracy theories).

If you are in crisis, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255; or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

 

Trailer Park

Halloween. Again. For the last time. Again. #pleasedontsuck

Funny. Sometimes a trailer keeps you all the way to the end, then loses you at the title. Unfriended: Dark Web was probably trying to draw on audience from the first one, but in this case, a truly creepy trailer gravely disappointed me by being connected to that lameness.

I usually stick to feature films for the trailers because these days everything from books to TV episodes to Shakespeare in the Park gets a trailer. But this Netflixer of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects is particularly choice.

• Here’s my question about Serenity, which has nothing to do with Firefly, alas. Matthew McConoughey’s ex-wife, Anne Hathaway, asks him to help her do away with her current husband, who’s an abusive monster. Um. Is there any reason she can’t just call the police? Amazing cast includes Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong, Diane Lane… very high-end for a potboiler. So hopefully there’s more to it than just the tagline.

• If you haven’t had enough Conjuring jump scares, The Nun is now pending. The trailer is nicely creepy, though I have serious misgivings about the admittedly entertaining Conjuring series.

• I’m still dumb-founded about giving Disney’s Dumbo to Tim Burton. (See what I did there?) Longtime Disney fans are curled into fetal positions remembering Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The teaser is out, and so far we don’t hate it. It looks like there are big story changes - Colin Farrell has two kids who help take care of Dumbo, Michael Keaton is an entnrepreneur who recruits Dumbo (separate from ringmaster Danny Devito); and we don’t see Timothy the Mouse or wisecracking punster crows anywhere. 

 

Coming This Weekend

Incredibles 2, the movie we’ve all been waiting for seemingly forever. Reviews are strong, but it’s not like it matters: It’s Disney/Pixar, and we’re all going to see it because the first was… Incredible.

Tag, in which grown men disrupt each other’s lives in an annual dick-measuring contest to see who’s the best. Or something. Unimpressed.

Superfly, a remake of the blaxploitation original starring Trevor Jackson as Youngblood Priest. So far it’s not resonating with critics; 54 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Gotti, with John Travolta aiming for serious as the notorious crime boss of New York City. Someone pointed out that there are 44 credited producers on the movie, for which the reviewers rolled out their best terms: derivative, borderline nonsensical, connect-the-dots disaster, dismal mess… It has a zero percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Ouch.

 

Continuing:

Ocean’s 8, Solo, Deadpool 2, Hereditary, Avengers: Infinity War, Adrift, Book Club, Hotel Artemis, Upgrade, Life of the Party.

 

Finally: I made a big announcement this week, one that might affect this blog and definitely affects the rest of my work. Click here to find out what shenanigans are pending.

 

Happy Father’s Day!


Linkspam stands with artists in need

Mother Nature was one cranky lady two weeks ago, when a micro-cell storm hit the Art Outside festival at Schlafly Bottleworks. More than 60 local artists sustained terrible losses, both to their artwork and to their infrastructure - festival tents and display cases are not cheap, folks.

And speaking as a traveling artist myself, I am pretty sure my meager renter’s insurance doesn’t cover acts of God outside my home. I was not there, but if I had been, the loss of my stock and my  new tent would have been devastating. Some artists suffered a total loss; some tents were found hundreds of feet away on the other side of the brewery. Storm

A GoFundMe has been set up to support the artists, and EZ-UP has offered a discounted rate for artists who need to replace their tents. As of this writing they’ve raised $15,000 of a $25,000 goal, but remember that’s only $378 per artist divided equally. That barely covers the tent, much less fixtures and the lost art. Raising more would probably be greatly appreciated.

Not a fan of crowdfunding? The site also has a list and links to all the artists, so you can peruse their work - buying their stuff helps them too! Good luck to all the artists, and may Mother Nature stick to quiet browsing next time.

• Speaking of GoFundMe: horror author Brian Keene was badly burned in an accident Tuesday. He has first- and second-degree burns on his face and body, and is in a lot of pain. Like many freelancers, he does not have health insurance, so a GoFundMe has been started to help with his medical bills and lost wages. Best wishes to Brian, who has been a strong philanthropist and mentor to many beginning writers, and to his partner Mary San Giovanni.

• Locals: The St. Louis Symphony goes psychedelic on Friday with “Music of Pink Floyd,” including a full rock band, lights and lasers.

Pride. Mickey. Ears. They’re already selling out, even though they’re only available in the parks, not online. Naturally, there’s backlash, because being one of the first companies to offer benefits to same-sex partners, standing up to a national boycott in defense of Pride Days, and paying a salary 1.5 times that of the industry standard isn’t enough. (Am I the only one who remembers the ‘90s?) Hell with it. PRIDE MICKEY EARS, people.

(Not going to a park anytime soon? Neither am I, more’s the pity. You can get a Mickey rainbow pin online.)

• A really smart and thoughtful roundtable about women authors choosing to use pseudonyms and why. And then I spoke, and ruined the curve. Okay, okay, so I’m in the roundtable. It’s still an interesting piece from Sean Taylor’s blog. Did you catch the first roundtable, about challenges women authors face that aren’t usually faced by male authors? Here it is.

Beauty-Beast• Full disclosure: I am in no way objective about the upcoming performance of Beauty and the Beast at SIUE’s Summer Showbiz Theater. Why? It’s my son’s collegiate theatrical debut. Look for a sadly unmarried villager; the head of the wolfpack; and a really tall spoon. (Hint: He’s all three.) And you can watch the rest of it, too.

Director Kate Slovinski said when she first saw the animated film, she was delighted to see a heroine who was an active participant in resisting the forces opposing her. ““In addition to a relatable and admirable heroine, I found great comfort in the tale of the Beast as well,” continued Slovinski. “As a young lady contemplating a new life ahead of her, I was terrified of the consequences that could come from making a bad decision. The Beast suffers a curse for a terrible choice he made, with seemingly irrevocable consequences. Still, somehow, he finds redemption and a life better than he dared imagine.”

Opening night is nearing sold-out, so catch your tickets in advance! Beauty runs June 15-24 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. For more info, email theater-tickets@siue.edu.

• Many thanks to the Authors Guild and RWA for fighting back against #CockyGate. I hate the trend of tagging -gate on every controversy, but anything that keeps us aware of this kind of nonsense helps - especially since someone already tried to follow suit with “Forever.” Authors Guild and RWA joined forces to fight the “cocky” trademark in court and won. It’s not immediately apparent what will happen to authors whose books were pulled down or otherwise damaged during this utter nonsense, but other cocky books will go forward.

• In other crazy publishing news, Jim C. Hines has the smartest take yet on the agent-crook debacle. In short: a highly respected and prestigious literary agency is flailing after finding out its one and only money-man was embezzling, from the agency and from the authors. The fallout is still descending, but it doesn’t look good for the future of the company or for the authors who are now broke and owed more than $3 million. In the ensuing crazy, there’s been a call for better controls and/or eliminating agents entirely, which struck me as a bridge too far, especially considering how many publishers won’t deal with unagented authors.

SOLO is now at $148 million domestic, $264 million worldwide. Somehow this is still being termed as a terrible failure, a flop…. I really hate that, because I enjoyed it much more than I expected, and it left off with wide possibilities of a sequel or three and I was really looking forward to that. It’s still the highest-grossing Memorial Day release in four years, and not far below the all-time highest release for that time.

The TLJ-haters are insisting that it’s “payback” for having Star Wars movies about icky girls, but I’m betting the “soft” numbers are because it’s only five months since the last movie, and they really should avoid flooding the market. There are two other Geek Films still in the theaters and Black Panther just came out of Blu-ray. We only have so much money, guys - and this production got a lot of bad press when they originally put it in the hands of dudebros looking for a cheap laugh.

Alternative analysis pointed out, wisely, that “if the franchise was able to survive Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, we have a hard time believing Last Jedi could do that much damage.” Instead, they note “uncharacteristically (for Disney) poor marketing." The teaser had only 10 seconds of the lead actor’s face, which didn’t do enough to sell him as Han or as hero, he said.

After the first weekend, I was protesting tagging it as a flop altogether, because it really was strong for Memorial Day. However, it’s lost 65 percent in its second weekend, which doesn’t look good. Folks, see the movie. It was fun, worthy of inclusion in the franchise, and beats the hell out of a lot of the other stuff out there.

• A smart analysis of the next phases of the MCU by ScreenRant’s awesome Lauren Wethers. I’ve already argued against killing a Black Widow solo film, but otherwise she’s very much on target, especially advocacy for a Ms. Marvel film and mixing in the X-Men. (Also, I will fight anyone who says we don’t need more Captain America. Cap is my Superman while Superman is hibernating.)

• Muahahahaha. The Heathers reboot TV show is canceled without even airing. I think someone might actually have watched it. It was already delayed since it “didn’t feel right” to premiere a “hilarious” series about bullying and murder in a school after the Parkland shooting (and all the other shootings). I already made my opinion clear.

• Sequel alert: Maleficent is up next, with Angelina Jolie returning as Maleficent, Ellie Fanning as Aurora, Michelle Pfeiffer as a new Queen Ingrith, and Chiwetel Ejiofor showing up as an as-yet unknown character.

• In today’s Asshole Damage Report, Kelly Marie Tran had to delete her Instagram after months of horrifying sexist, racist harassment and threats against her life. She’s been abused on Twitter, and some asshat edited her Wookieepedia entry to fill it with racial slurs.

You have to wonder what actually passes for thought in the mind of a man who thinks an actress’s portrayal in a science fiction movie deserves threats of rape and murder. How does that seem rational to him? Daisy Ridley, by the way, also jumped off Instagram after she posted about gun control while attending a tribute to the victims of the Orlando Pulse shooting. Gasp! She had an opinion, and they were off to the races.

Yahoo U.K. points out that people were horrible to Jake Lloyd after Phantom Menace too, but that was before the internet became what it is now - and, frankly, the viciousness shown to women has always been especially ugly. As Chuck Wendig pointed out on Twitter, “Their names change - MRA, incel, gamer-gate, comics-gate, sad puppies, Real Star Wars Fans — but at the heart of it is the same fragile rage born of the poisonous chemical combination of white supremacy and toxic masculinity.” Naturally, Wendig is now facing nasty harassment online.

Brian De Palma is joining with two other producers for a movie allegedly inspired by Harvey Weinstein, using the Toronto Film Festival as backdrop, starring Rachel McAdams and titled Predator. All I’ve heard about it so far is complaints that the producers are all men - you know, like 95 percent of the movies made in Hollywood. I will reserve further judgment until I hear more.

You know, I should really just create a separate category for #MeToo and "Today in Sexual Harassment News," because sadly, I never run out of material.

• James Cameron will shoot the Avatar sequels using Sony Venice cameras with 3-D stereoscopic rigs with high dynamic range and incorporating high frame rates. If you know what all that means, you’re smarter than me. Fortunately, Hollywood Reporter translated that it’s a fancy 3-D native method of shooting, allowing the film to be basically the next step forward in 3-D.

Here’s my problem: if you can’t watch 3-D without a horrific headache, will you be able to watch the film? Cameron says the movie will be 3-D without the need for glasses — oookay — and I don’t know if that makes a difference to the small percentage who, like me, become terribly ill watching 3-D.

Also, might he remember to have a story this time? One that he didn’t crib from Dances With Wolves? The four sequels start hitting theaters in 2020, which explains why Disney created a whole new land in its Florida Animal Kingdom park around Avatar. (It’s pretty.)

• Locals: The St. Louis Public Library will serve free lunches to children Monday-Friday all summer. Partnered with Operation Food Search, six SLPL locations are participating: Carpenter, Carondolet, Divoli, Kingshighway, Julia Davis and the Central Library. According to Operation Food Search, one in four kids in the St. Louis bi-state area goes to bed hungry each night, and many only received a full daily meal at school. Details are here.

 

RIP

Gardner Dozois, 70, longtime science fiction editor and co-founder of Asimov’s Science Fiction. He was editor-in-chief from 1985 until retiring in 2004, won 15 Hugos and arguably helped shape the science fiction genre in the latter half of the 20th century. He was also an author in his own right, columnist, journalist, editor of more than 150 anthologies, critic… His wife, Susan Casper, predeceased him in February 2017. In his final year, he published five books, two of them works completed but not yet published by his wife before her death.

Kate Spade, 55, fashion designer and corporate leader, died by apparent suicide in her New York City apartment. The designer started her company in 1993 and has more than 140 retail shops domestic and 175 internationally, but she stepped away in 2007 a year after it was acquired by Neiman Marcus Group for $125 million. Coach Inc. announced plans last year to buy the brand for $2.4 billion. Spade had started a new handbag company, and changed her name to Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan Spade.

If you are in crisis, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255; or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

 

Trailer Park

It’s Star Trek 11: The Real One! Wait, no it’s not. It stars Doug Jones, Tim Russ, Marina Sirtis and Armin Shimerman. Fake-out. 5th Passenger is a sci-fi thriller with a pregnant officer trying to survive with her surviving crew in an escape pod when a mysterious life form attacks. Alien? I don’t care, it’s good enough to steal. Crowdfunded to life, this film caught attention at the Artemis Women in Action Film Festival, and sadly will be released on demand instead of in theaters, because we can’t have nice things.

 

Coming This Weekend

Ocean’s 8, where we’re remaking the remaking of a caper film but with all women. I’m kind of iffy on the trailers, and Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t have a score yet.

Hotel Artemis. This is that weird near-future thriller with Jodie Foster as the cranky doctor who runs a private hospital for criminals that depends on strict rules, and then someone breaks the rules. Wackiness ensues, if by wackiness you mean grim-faced criminals and a chain-smoking Foster. This might be too nihilistic even for me. Cast includes Jeff Goldblum, Zachary Quinto and Sterling K. Brown.

Hereditary. Grandma was bonkers, Mom is barely holding it together after Grandma’s death and Daughter is… possessed? Are we talking ghosts? Demons? Madness passed down from generation to generation? Rotten Tomatoes gives it 93 percent.

 

Continuing:

I’m not going to give it a full review, but I was dragged kicking and screaming to Upgrade and it was not nearly as bad as I was anticipating. I expected a bloody, awful, wish-fulfillment revenge-fantasy mess, and I only got part of that. The lead actor was surprisingly nuanced in his portrayal, and while I saw the twist coming a mile and a half away and there were few surprises, it was significantly more entertaining than I expected. Honestly, if it had tamed down some of the gore-for-gore’s-sake and delved a little further into the issues around bioengineering that it briefly raises, it might have been a truly good sci-fi thriller.

Also continuing: Deadpool 2, Adrift, Avengers: Infinity War, Book Club, SOLO, Life of the Party, Breaking In, Overboard.


Linkspam watches the bloodbath

Watch as so many of your favorite characters fade away to dust... 

No, I am not reviewing Infinity War. Ha ha. Gotcha. It should be apparent to those of you who read this column regularly (all six of you) that I don't often review the giant blockbusters. The fact is, the incessant yammering and Monday-morning quarterbacking on Avengers and The Last Jedi and other giant tentpole pictures pretty much renders my opinion moot. 

Besides, I'm not up for y'all screaming at me. I get enough of that at Ye Olde Day Job.

No, I'm talking about the mass bloodlettings that were the show cancellations this week. Yowsa, hope you hadn't gotten too attached to some (many?) of the shows floating around the networks, because it's the freaking Red Wedding here. 

Among the cancelled:

• Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Mourned by many, including a protest thread by Samwise Gangee - I mean, Sean Astin.

Marvel's Inhumans.

• Designated Survivor. I wanted to love this show, as a post-apocalyptic West Wing. But it was so unrelentingly dour, and the end of the world shouldn't be a delight, but every once in a while Our Heroes need to win something. They always lost, and the bad guys always won, and it just got to be too dull and disheartening. The key to "ordinary man accidentally ends up in charge" is that his inherent honesty and integrity eventually wins out, from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to Dave to President Josiah Bartlet (though he wasn't exactly ordinary). The plot of "ordinary man becomes president, everyone hates him and he gets nothing done" was a little too depressing. Apparently the viewers agreed.

The Exorcist.

• Lucifer. (Unrelated to the prior cancellation, we presume.)

• Once Upon a Time. I mean, that's not really fair; they're heading to their big series finale, it's not like they got the rug pulled out from under them. It's that show everyone loves that I never got around to watching, and once it's done, I guess I'll take a poll on whether it's worth catching the reruns?

• QuanticoSadly, I am unsurprised; I loved the first season, but the second season played like Heroes with a swift dive in quality, and apparently the third season has reached new lows in the ratings.

• The X-Files - again. (Then again, it will probably rise again, like its characters.)

• The Night Shift. Or is it? I heard it was cancelled in the fall, then someone said it got picked up after all, now they're saying cancelled again. I actually rather liked this show, but lost track of it a few years ago.

And yet Tim Allen's annoying Last Man Standing, AP Bio, and the Santa Clarita Diet live to fight. Still waiting to hear: Criminal Minds and other fine shows from CBS, which currently houses several of my favorites (don't let me down, Madam Secretary!) 

The Nobel Prize in Literature will not be awarded this year for only the second time since 1901. The reason? A powerful asshole harassed and assaulted women, and the organization allegedly did nothing. Organizers believe they need to get their gold-plated house in order before returning to awarding two prizes next year. The L.A. Times goes into detail why this is the wrong approach; the Washington Post disagrees

• Speaking of awards: The Tony nominations are here! Wait a minute... three of the four musical nominees began as movies. Now, I loved Frozen (Mean Girls and Spongebob not so much, and yet they are tied for the most nominations), but really, Broadway? There are actual playwrights doing actual writing, maybe we don't need to rely so heavily on Hollywood. Let's look at the non-musicals, surely... Harry Potter. Okay fine. Here's the list!

• Also in the category awards, the Locus Award finalists have been announced. They include John Scalzi, Jeff Vandermeer, Elizabeth Bear, N.K. Jemisin, Kit Reed, Peter S. Beagle, Seanan McGuire, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tobias Buckell, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, Catherynne Valente, and many others. 

Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski have been expelled from the Academy. Cosby, at least, has bigger problems right now. Polanski plans to sue. Planning to appear in court, Roman? 

• Cinema St. Louis is now accepting submissions for the 2018 Whitaker St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. The Showcase screens works that were written, directed, edited, or produced by St. Louis natives, or films with strong local ties. The 16 film programs that will screen from July 13-22 serve as the Showcase’s centerpiece, ranging from full-length fiction features and documentaries to multi-film compilations of fiction and documentary shorts. The 2018 event will take place over 2 consecutive weekends in mid-July at Washington University

• Speaking of film… can you make a movie in 48 hours? Filmmakers from all over the St. Louis area will compete to see who can make the best short film June 1-3. The winning film will go up against films from around the world at Filmapalooza 2019 for a chance at the grand prize and an opportunity to screen at the Cannes Film Festival 2019 Short Film Corner. Early Bird discounted registration ends May 7.

• Also speaking of film… the 23rd Annual St. Louis Jewish Film Festival opens Sunday, June 3. Offerings include Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel which follows Israel’s underdog national baseball team competing in the World Baseball Classic for the first time; Maktub, an Israeli comedy about criminals who survive a terrorist attack and vow to change their ways; a documentary about Sammy Davis Jr. titled I’ve Gotta Be Me; and much more. All films will screen at Frontenac Cinema, with varying prices. Find out more at the festival’s website.

 

Trailer Park

• Predator, another reboot. Will it be the surprisingly-effective Predators, sans movie boyfriend Adrien Brody, or will it be AvP II, which I am sorry to say I paid actual American dollars to see in the theater?

• I usually stick to film trailers in this section, but the Luke Cage trailer is so awesome it needs a link.

• I'm all for another Robin Hood movie - I watch them all like a sad fangirl - but this one looks to have all the brains of a Michael Bay fan film and all the heart of ... I honestly can't think of anything as humorless and dull as this trailer. Please be better.

 

Coming This Weekend

• Life of the Party. You know, an empowering female comedy about a divorced, overweight woman finding herself in college would have been terrific. Instead we get this. Melissa McCarthy, we know you can do better.

• Breaking In. Again, with actresses who can do better... Gabrielle Union graduates to the Mom Level, with what looks to be an utterly pedestrian thriller plot fighting against bad guys threatening her kids, cynically released for Mother's Day. 

 

Continuing:

Avengers: Infinity War; Overboard; A Quiet Place; Rampage; Tully; Black Panther; I Feel Pretty; Truth or Dare; Super Troopers 2; Blockers.

And Bad Samaritan, which I caught last weekend and surprised me by not sucking. Of course, I could watch David Tennant read the phone books - and he's done such marvelous villains since graduating from Doctor School. Most of these stock thrillers depend on the main character doing horribly stupid things that make you want to slap him, but in this case, the lead was charming and likable, not overly dumb, and the mistakes he makes are understandable mistakes. The movie also takes an extra step to build realistic backgrounds for tertiary characters, with personalities approaching three dimensions. It was tense enough that I didn't want to miss a moment to go for a soda, and I'd definitely watch it again.

 

Happy Mother's Day!


Linkspam hears the verdict

Unless you were living under a rock this week, you know that Bill Cosby was convicted on three counts of sexual assault Thursday.

Ever since this began, it seems my entire generation has struggled to reconcile our memory of the friendly, sweater-wearing Cliff Huxtable and the funnyman who voiced Fat Albert and sold pudding pops with the predator described in court. The impact seems to be twice as harsh for African-Americans who grew up watching The Cosby Show and A Different World, who saw positive reflections of middle- and upper-class black America presented on a national stage for the first time.

Some lamented that this seminal work is now tainted forever with Cosby's sins. And I am never going to be That Person and tell the black community what to think or how to feel. It’s not my place.

But I do think this is going to be one of the great struggles for us as a society, as social media now puts us in closer contact with the people we have previously idolized: how to separate art from artist. One nasty tweet can reveal that an artist we loved is actually a racist, or misogynist, or simply clueless and rude. We’ve gone through it many times, with allegations against Woody Allen and Kevin Spacey and so, so many others, going back to Orson Scott Card and before. How can we separate the person from the work? And is it fair to do so?

I know the choice I make: to try to separate art from artist up to the point that the artist’s malfeasance or problematic beliefs infects the art. But I also try to pay attention to the financial impact of my consumption of art, to ensure that little to none of my money goes to support causes I would stand against. That means, for example, if I simply must read a book from an author who espouses hateful homophobia, I can always get it from the library without giving him my money.

Can we really say that we should throw out The Cosby Show and A Different World because Cosby was a criminal? (Good luck finding either on streaming services, by the way.) There were so many artists who worked on those shows, writers and actors who did good work that deserves to be remembered. It wasn’t just cheap laughs that entertained us; it made us think, in ways that the modern sitcom often avoids, and busted stereotypes that go back decades.

It would be a sad thing for our collective culture if the fine work of so many people disappeared or was disparaged and dismissed because the lead actor was a criminal. The legacy of those shows does not belong to Cosby alone.

EDIT: A little birdie has informed me that you can find A Different World streaming on Amazon Prime.

• Speaking of artists doing very bad things… Smallville actress Allison Mack has been charged in the ongoing NXIVM sex cult weirdness. Mack is accused of assisting group leader Keith Raniere with coercing and enslaving unwilling women into the cult and forcing them to have sex with Raniere. As many as 50 women are alleged to be victims of the cult.

• Winter is not coming…. George R.R. Martin says The Winds of Winter will not be published in 2018. There hasn’t been a new Ice and Fire novel since 2011. Instead, there will be a 1,000-page history of the kings of Westeros, coming out in November. The fictional history has been compared by some as Martin’s Simarillion. Meanwhile, HBO is considering three to five possible spinoffs. Yikes.

• The first St. Louis Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival will take place at First Friday in May at the St. Louis Science Center. Attendees will be able to learn about cinematography, special effects, editing, directing, lighting, costuming and set design as well as screening the various short films. As it will be May the Fourth (be with you), the Planetarium will celebrate Star Wars Day. Finishing up with a screening of Ed Wood in the Planetarium, I’m really wishing I were off work.

• Ever since I saw this sillyMarvel Bunch” video, this song has been stuck in my head, so I gift it to you and you can have it stuck in your head. (Chris Evans, we gotta talk about the 'stache.) I think those guys have a movie coming out, have you heard anything?

Hamilton may be gone (don’t worry, it’ll be back) but there’s still theater in St. Louis! Highlights this week include The Dresser by Gaslight Theater, Falling by Bankside Reperatory Theater Company, The Fantasticks by the Hawthorne Players, and Jesus Christ Superstar by Stray Dog Theater.

• In case you were worried that you weren’t giving enough money to Amazon, they’re now raising the price of Amazon Prime from $99 to $119. The change goes into effect May 11 and will apply to renewals beginning June 16. Amazon has had cost increases, they say. Sign on the dotted line if you feel sorry for them.

• Locals: Afterwords Books in Edwardsville celebrates its ninth anniversary on Saturday, May 12! Drop by for baked goodies, a 20-percentn discount, storytime and a drawing for a $50 gift card. Congrats to one of the hidden jewels of Edwardsville!

• Is Thursday really Alien Day? Is that a real thing? Twitter thinks so.

• A recent study in the journal PLOS One found that authors with female names were paid 9 percent less than authors with male names; female-dominated genres such as romand are thought of with less value; and there are gender differences in the prices of books within the same genre. Who’s surprised?

• You could fill a whole column with the latest in WTF is Next for Star Trek, but this latest one is interesting. S.J Clarkson has been tapped for the next movie, which makes her the first female director in the franchise. Side-eye that it took that long, but if you’re hoping to find out what movie they’re doing… is it the flashback movie with Chris Hemsworth as George Kirk? Is it that weird-ass idea of letting Quentin Tarantino direct a Star Trek movie? Is it Prime Universe or Abramsverse? Stay tuned.

• You know what Hollywood thinks needs a sequel? If you answered A Quiet Place, you’re right. Not sure if Paramount is right, since the movie was one of those experiences that really works and would be hard to recapture. But that isn’t stopping them

 

RIP

• Bob Dorough, creator of Schoolhouse Rock, age 94. Sing along with “Conjunction Junction” and “I’m Just a Bill,” songs by Dorough the jazz pianist and vocalist. He was first hired by an ad exec to write a song to help his kids learn their times tables. The rest is television history.

Arthur Rubenstein, 80, movie composer who worked on more than 300 films and television programs. His music direction could be heard on Broadway in A Chorus Line, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and more. You’ve heard his scores in Wargames, Lost in America, Blue Thunder, Nick of Time and many other movies, frequently working with John Badham. He founded a symphony that presented more than 60 free classical concerts to 80,000 families and children. His composition “Observations” was performed at the Griffith Observatory in honor of the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s achievements.

 

Trailer Park

Jurassic World, which doesn’t look any less sexist or annoying, but I applaud Chris Pratt for his multi-tasking this year (although his Star-Lord and Owen the Raptor Whisperer appear to be roughly the same guy).

Kin, with Dennis Quaid and a young kid in a dystopian future, whose older brother just got back out of prison and is already getting back in trouble. Enter an alien body, funky ray guns, and wackiness ensues. It’s an interesting setup, but could someone turn on the lights? You can be grimdark and still light the set.

Deadpool 2, and I couldn’t get the silly thing to run, but given how I usually feel about Deadpool humor, it’s probably best. (In all fairness, I didn’t see the first one. But the menfolk did, and assured me that they found it hilarious and I would absolutely hate it. I trust their judgement.)

• In a completely different vein…. The Tale, pending from HBO and starring Laura Dern as a documentarian whose mother finds a short story she had written as a child that exposes long-buried secrets. Also starring Ellen Burstyn, John Heard (RIP), Jason Ritter and Isabelle Nelisse.

• Curious about the new Venom movie? Have a trailer that actually shows some plot! Tom Hardy plays a reporter who gets infected with the Venom symbiote, and who may or may not be an unethical turd. Can Marvel manage to produce one journalist who is competent, dedicated and ethical? We’ll see, but I’m not holding out hope.

 

Coming This Weekend

Avengers: Infinity War. You might heard a little something about it.

• Foolish enough to actually premiere the same weekend: Kings, about a foster family in South Central Los Angeles right before the Rodney King riots; and Disobedience, a starcrossed love story between two women in a conservative Jewish society. (Technically it premiered last year, starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams; this is its wide U.S. release.)

 

Continuing:

I Feel Pretty, Super Troopers 2, Traffik, Rampage, Truth or Dare, Isle of Dogs, Blockers, A Quiet Place, Ready Player One, A Wrinkle in Time, Pacific Rim Uprising, Acrimony, I Can Only Imagine, Love Simon, Sherlock Gnomes, Chappaquiddick, and The Miracle Season. And probably BLACK PANTHER.

 

Avengers assemble! 


Hollywood has run out of ideas, but Linkspam is still watching

In the category of “Hollywood has run out of ideas but we’re still there,” Zimbio did a roundup of prequels, sequels and remakes, some of which have already come out.

Believe it or not, many/most of them are not head-shaking exercises in whyyyyyy? We all know there will be another round of MCU films, most notably the next Avengers movie (see Trailer Park) and I may be dragged kicking and screaming to another Pacific Rim film, this time with bigger plot holes! Likewise Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, because my hate for Jurassic World won’t stop my eternally optimistic heart from remembering what it felt like to see the brontosaurus for the first time, even if the trailer shows us it’s going to be more of the same nasty, misogynistic claptrap.

Cautiously optimistic: Ocean’s 8, this time with an all-female caper. Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling and more. I am actually not hating this idea. And, strangely, the sequel to Mamma Mia, whose trailer actually tempted me to consider watching the first one. Bonus: Cher! Plus Mary Poppins Returns, which makes me veer from excitement to “should this exist?” - along with Bedknobs and Broomsticks, with Kate Winslet replacing Angela Lansbury in the trademark cardigan.

And despite myself, one (last? again?) Halloween movie, with Jamie Lee Curtis returning despite her previous death(s). And Nick Castle! #pleasedontsuck

Actually excited: Solo. Duh. Plus Incredibles 2: Finally, the live-action Mulan, and The Predator (What. I liked Predators. Unfortunately I also saw AvP 1 and 2.) I’m trying to be cautious about X-Men Dark Phoenix after the abomination that was X-3, but… I can’t help it. Only, how will they do it without Wolverine?

OMG Whyyyy: Overboard. Problematic premise that was funny because it was the 1980s and we didn’t really know better, now with less charm. Bonus The Crow Reborn, which replaces goth artist Brandon Lee with Jason Momoa of Aquaman bulk. Confession: I really rather hated the original, despite Lee’s undeniable charm, and I don’t know how I’ll feel about a bigger, badder, more violent Crow.

Huh?: A Star is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper with… Andrew Dice Clay? Also: Scarface, with Diego Luna in Al Pacino’s role? Meanwhile, Jungle Book gets yet another attempt - how many times will they try to make this movie?

And of course we must have the sequels: another Mission Impossible, Aquaman, Transformers (Bumblebee backstory), Wreck-it Ralph, Ant-Man, Deadpool, The Equalizer, and Fantastic Beasts.

But there is only one Grinch, people. And his name is Boris Karloff.

• And once again I am torn between “yay!” and “why does this exist?” Well, it doesn’t yet, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by the idea of more Buffy. Hey, most of the major players are (um) between gigs at the moment, and if they’re going to do more Buffy, best get at it while the vampire characters can still pass for their “ages.” I’m not knocking them; that’s what poor James Marsters said when beleaguered once again with rumors of Buffy or Spike: The Movie. “If it’s going to happen, it ought to be soon,” he said. “Vampires don’t age, but I do.” (I’m paraphrasing, I can’t find the original link.)

Hey Joss: If you’re looking for something to do, I hear there’s this really awesome space Western with built-in fans…

Duolingo is now offering Klingonese as an actual language you can learn. Qa’pla! (Or is it Qapla’?)

• Submissions are now open for the 2018 Whitaker St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, screening films written, directed, edited or produced by St. Louis natives. Check out the July event and how to submit YOUR film here. Likewise, check out the St. Louis Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival, a juried competition with cash prizes hosted by Cinema St. Louis. Details here.

• I am a long-time member of the Sarah Connor Charm School, and as they point out: “Do you want self-aware A.I. killing us all? This is how you create self-aware A.I. that will kill us all!”

• Tor.com has a series of “And Related Subjects” in which writers write about not-writing. This week it’s terrific tie-in author Keith DeCandido on his martial arts journey.

• The family of Marvin Gaye prevailed in Robin Thicke’s appeal on the copyright infringement suit over “Blurred Lines.” The suit awarded $5.3 million plus 50 percent royalties to Gaye’s estate after the trial judge ruled “Blurred Lines” was illegally copied from Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up.” Thicke has been appealing over the hit song, but the appeal was denied.

The death of Toys ‘R Us has all of us Gen-Xers in mourning. So if you feel like hysterical weeping over your lost childhood, check out a minor-key pop remix of the Toys ‘R Us jingle as dirge, going viral right now. Meanwhile, the founder of Toys ‘R Us died, ostensibly not because of the impending demise.

• Did you know that Timeless was un-cancelled? Did everyone know this but me? I remember mourning it, as a fun-if-occasionally-stupid show that qualified as my guilty pleasure. Season 2 is on its way after all!

 

RIP

• Stephen Hawking, renowned scientist and all-around genius. A former Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, he was known as much for his ability to popularize science as for his own theories. At 76, he outlived his original two-year diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis by more than 50 years. As several put it online, the collective IQ of the United States just dropped significantly. He did a brief cameo on Star Trek: The Next Generation, joining Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Data for a poker game. (Spoiler: They don’t get along well.) Allegedly, on his visit to the set, he asked to be put in the captain’s chair (a rare departure from his wheelchair) and when he saw the warp drive set, he said, “I’m working on that.”

Steve Reevis, Native American actor featured in Dances With Wolves, Fargo, Twins and many others. He grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation and began acting in 1987, with a long career in supporting and leading roles. He died in December, but his death was only recently announced online.

Kate Wilhelm, speculative fiction author. Co-founder of the Clarion Writers Workshop, Wilhelm has been published since 1963 in dozens of books, short stories, magazines and more. Her death adds to the number of founding mothers of speculative fiction, as we lose another generation of our mentors.

Floyd Carter Sr., 95, former Tuskagee airman who married one of the all-female repair crew. He joined George Lucas for the screening of the film Red Tails about the Airmen, who were the first black aviators in the U.S. military. He died last week.

Robert Scheerer, longtime television director who chalked up 11 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of Deep Space Nine and two Voyager in his era. Among his credits are “The Measure of a Man,” which I consider one of the finest hours of television, and “Shadowplay” as well as “Chain of Command, Pt. 1.” He was 89.

 

Trailer Park

Infinity War. Final trailer. If they kill Cap, I will riot. (It will be a small riot, but I will riot nonetheless.) Chris Evans said he’s probably done with Cap after Avengers 4, which is NOT good for me because he’s about 65 percent of the reason I watch, but good in that I guess that means he’s not dying in Infinity War.

An Ordinary Man, starring Sir Ben Kingsley as a war criminal in hiding. Final trailer.

• I don’t necessarily mind that the new Karate Kid movie is rehabilitating the bully from the first movie as the new Cobra Kai. I rather liked the idea that a) bullies are usually raised/taught by bullies, b) people can outgrow childish dickishness, and his character did congratulate Daniel at the end of the first one; and c) bonus points for an overweight girl fighting well. However, making Daniel into an utter prick of a car salesman tells me this falls more in the line of the ill-considered Heathers remake: See? The bullies are really the good guys! Underscored by the voiceover about “real” martial arts training a la military without all that weak self-control and inner strength meditation. We don’t need that! Entitled white heterosexuals are the ones who are picked on now! And will that heavyset girl be a real character, or a running fat joke? Stay tuned.

Broadway trailer for the upcoming Frozen looks promising!

 

Coming This Weekend

The Hallquist Brothers are playing at Knights of Columbus in Edwardsville this weekend. $6 in advance, $7 at the door. These kids are amazing, you should definitely catch the show.

Pacific Rim Uprising is here, god save us, and while I don’t think it’ll knock Black Panther off his throne, it should take the weekend. Also released this week: Sherlock Gnomes (no), Isle of Dogs, Unsane, Midnight Sun, and Paul, Apostle of Christ.

 

Continuing:

BLACK PANTHER because of course it is. Also A Wrinkle in Time, Love Simon, Annihilation, I Can Only Imagine, Thoroughbreds, Hurricane Heist, Death Wish, The Strangers, Gringo, Red Sparrow, Game Night, Tomb Raider and Peter Rabbit.

Limited: Jumanji,The Greatest Showman, The Shape of Water, Fifty Shades Freed and Three Billboards.


Thursday Linkspam

• A bunch of Disney flicks got their release dates, including a pushback for Indiana Jones 5: The Apology. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a December release this year, just as Force Awakens was, but the as-yet untitled Episode IX will be a May 2019 release, rather than sticking with the Christmas plan. That’s probably because Frozen 2 comes out that Christmas, and Disney doesn’t like to fight itself. (Please, Disney. We’re gonna go see both anyway. You have us.)

James Cameron’s Avatar 2 will come out in December 2020, with three more movies slated for 2021, 2024 and 2025. Somewhere in there he hopefully hired a screenwriter. In the meantime, Indiana 5 is moved from July 2019 to July 2020, just in time for poor Harrison Ford to turn 80. Also in 2019: the Lion King remake, Toy Story 4 and Avengers: Infinity War Part II, so just sign your soul over to Disney now. (They’ve had mine for years… crunchy.)

• Tor.com is offering a neat incentive to sign up for their eBook of the Month Club: A free ebook of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. The club is free, and you get a free book every month. So far I see no downside!

• Tracy K. Smith is the new poet laureate of the United States, the highest honor held by poets in the nation. Smith has 30 years of poetry publications and a Pulitzer Prize. She plans to be a “literary evangelist,’ taking poetry to places “where literary festivals don’t always go.” She is also director of the creative writing program at Princeton University.

The Dining Room was one of my favorite plays back when I was a struggling actress in Memphis. The playwright, A.R. Gurney, was a finalist for the Pulitzer for that one and two others - I always wanted to see Love Letters become a movie. Yes, he wrote about upper-class WASPs, because he wrote what he knew - but he told it with truth. Sadly, Gurney passed away this week. The stage lights are a little dimmer for his loss.

• RIP to one of the more famous bookstores in the country. Berkeley science fiction bookstore Dark Carnival will close its doors soon, and has launched its going-out-of-business sale.

• Variety has some theories about The Mummy’s troubles, and they start with two words: Tom Cruise. Not that he’s a bad actor (he’s not) or that the film was a bad idea (more debatable), but that he had a personal control over nearly everything from script to marketing. “There were differences of opinions about whether Cruise’s directions were improving a picture that had been troubled from its inception or whether they were turning a horror film into a Cruise informercial.” It has not yet been viewed here at CultureGeek Towers, so I’ll let you know…

The-mummy
Wait... sorry. This is the fun one. My mistake.

• In the Cool Stuff category, a photographer picked up a 1938 camera at Goodwill that still had a roll of undeveloped film inside. She had them developed, and found images of the 1980 explosion of Mt. St. Helens.

• Trailer Park: Goodbye Christopher Robin is a biopic of A.A. Milne and his young son who inspired the books of Winnie the Pooh. Flatliners gets a remake, which will have a long way to go before it matches the creepy-dark fun of the original. A documentary titled Nobody Speak examines the attacks on the press over the last few years, and hits Netflix in a week.

• For a little silliness, check out the trash-talking Twitter battle between Sue the T.rex at the Chicago Field Museum and the Merriam-Webster dictionary. I can’t make this stuff up.

 

On the local scene…

• Dunaway Books on Grand Boulevard will host “An Evening of Wine and Poetry” featuring local writers like Grace McGinnis, Hart L’Ecuyer and RC Patterson for a series of readings beginning at 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

• The Glen Carbon Public Library will host “Writing Your Breakout Book” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 19, presented by Rod Deutschmann of Outreach SIUE. Click the link to register.

• Insight Theater Company has opened its season with Next to Normal, a powerful and intense rock musical I was lucky enough to see several years ago at the Fox. Warning: This is very intense, dealing with mental illness and its impact on the family.

• River Styx Literary Magazine will host “Books & Brews* at Urban Chestnut on Manchester at 6 p.m. July 10. Readings from the authors, first glimpse at issue 98, and the first beer is free - sorta. Admission is $15.

• The St. Louis Women’s Artisan Pop Up Shop will take place Saturday, July 29 at Lemon Gem Kitchen Goods on Manchester. It will host women-owned small businesses with dozens of nifty vendors.

• Enjoying The Handmaid’s Tale? Meet author Margaret Atwood when she accepts the 2017 St. Louis Literary Award, to be presented by the St. Louis University Library Associates at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19 at Sheldon Concert Hall on Washington Boulevard.

Have a good weekend!


Monday Linkspam

The Tonys were held Sunday night, and I am pleased to announce that Edwardsville native Laurie Metcalf won best actress for A Doll’s House Part 2 - a production I did not know existed, but intrigues me. Trivia note: the Metcalf Theater on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is named after her father, James Metcalf. Laurie Metcalf is a founding member of Steppenwolf Theater, along with John Malkovich, Gary Sinise and others. Metcalf’s win “surprised no one,” according to the New York Times.

It’s no huge surprise that Bette Midler won best lead actress in a musical, since she’s been knocking down the walls in the revival of Hello, Dolly. Best line of the night was from her (apparently quite long) acceptance speech: “I’d like to thank all the Tony voters, many of whom I’ve actually dated.” — Bette Midler

 

Tony
Puttin' on the Ritz

 

Dear Evan Hansen won best new musical, an “unflinching” look at grief and loneliness about a high school student who insinuates himself into the family of a classmate who has killed himself. It also picked up best lead actor for Ben Platt.

Best play went to Oslo, set behind the scenes of the 1993 Middle East peace accords. It defeated A Doll’s House Part 2, which follows Nora’s return to face the consequences of her decision at the end of the classic Ibsen play. Two others up for best play - Sweat by Lynn Nottage and Indecent by Paula Vogel - were penned by Pulitzer winners, so competition was fierce. Cynthia Nixon won best featured actress for The Little Foxes; look for her in an intriguing biopic of Emily Dickinson titled A Quiet Passion, which was allegedly released in April, but I have yet to see it in local theaters.

Oh, and Kevin Kline picked up another Tony for a Noel Coward piece, speaking of surprising no one. But best revival went to Jitney by August Wilson. Full details at the New York Times.

 

• Congratulations to author Michael Knost for receiving the JUG Award (Just Uncommonly Good) from the West Virginia Writers organization this weekend.

RIP Adam West, who died on Friday of cancer. There was much mourning on social media, with remembrances of him as a good and decent fellow who came to terms with his typecasting as the tongue-in-cheek cheesy TV Batman.

 

Batman
Go on, sniffle. I'll wait.

 

 

• Steven Moffat reminds us all why we’re glad to see him go, as he tells io9 he never cast a woman as the Doctor because it never popped into his head, and of course the first idea that pops into your head is always the best one, right? Or as author Nicholas Kaufmann said, “The lesson here, apparently, is that if it takes even a smidgen of thought or effort, it isn’t worth doing.” My favorite is when Moffat insists he’s not misogynist because he’s “to the left of a lot of my detractors,” as though a liberal can’t be sexist. 

Moffat can insist all the time that he’s not sexist, but I threw the remote across the room and stopped watching the show after River Song declared in mid-regeneration, “Shhh, I’m concentrating on a dress size.” I’ve since caught up to the beginning of Capaldi, and I suppose I shall have to watch the rest in preparation for the next era. But good lord, am I tired of this trope that making a woman or a person of color a central character of any franchise is “a forced political choice” or “political correctness run amok.” I've read far too many comments insisting that they should never make the Doctor a woman "just because." Perhaps instead these showrunners (and the fans) could consider that women are 50 percent of the human population, and there are a very large number of human beings of any gender who are not white? That’s not political correctness, that’s math.

• And RIP Glenne Headly, best known to me as Tess Trueheart in the 1980s Dick Tracy. She was only 62 years old, and had built a strong career on TV shows like Monk, ER and films like Mr. Holland’s Opus as well as Dick Tracy. Maybe it’s just because I was a kid then, but she’ll always be Tess to me.

 

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Tess Trueheart

The Black Panther trailer has dropped. You know, I’m just gonna let you go see it. It speaks for itself pretty well. And because it is a day ending in Y, some people are upset about it. How many remains to be seen, but since the general reaction has been, “Oh, there aren’t THAT many racists in America, Marvel is just trying to stir controversy,” and Disney wouldn’t support anything dark, controversial or violent,” my facepalm is reaching epic proportions. (Note: Disney /= animated fairytales only. I can’t believe I have to keep saying this.) FYI, if you want to know if there are really racists upset about this, look no further than the comments section on pretty much any article about it. Better yet, check out Denny Upkins’ look at Shuri…. and, sadly, see that Marvel has canceled World of Wakanda less than 48 hours after the trailer blew up the internet. Seriously??

• Here on the local scene, Dance St. Louis has announced its 2017-18 season with new artistic consultant Terence Marling. This year’s season includes Chicago at the Fox, The Nutcracker at Touhill Performing Arts Center, TAP Dynamics at the Grandel and more. Find out more at Dance St. Louis’ website.

East St. Louis Poet Laureate Eugene Redmond and his daughter, poet and educator Treasure Shields Redmond, will deliver readings and performances in “Black Joy in the Mourning” at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation on Thursday, June 22 at 7 p.m. They will include a discussion of many influences on their work, including Miles Davis, the 1917 East St. Louis riots, migration, and the south.

And the BND is running the annual Readers’ Choice Awards, so click here to fill out your ballot! (It’s early on, so you may have to nominate some of your favorites.)


Thursday Linkspam

• This year’s WWDC conference had a bunch of gifts for Apple fans. Business Insider has an interesting analysis: instead of flashy new projects (though there are a few of those), Apple is laying out a strategy for the next 10 years. Personally I don’t care about the iWatch or augmented reality. The HomePod interests me much more, as a lifelong Apple user with a full-house Apple system. MacOS and iOS updates, App Store update, lots of other toys (and an iMac Pro that makes me long for the budget to acquire a $5,000 desktop). Wired hits the highlights so you don’t have to watch all two hours of the presentation. I cannot confirm or deny that I may have done precisely that, while fast-forwarding through the iWatch and the deep-dive programmer stuff. 

Wonder Woman is the gift that keeps on giving. Did you know Gal Gadot did reshoots while five months pregnant? Enjoy some hilarious Tweets. Bustle explains why women are crying during the fight scenes - I didn’t, but it’s been explained that I’m heartless. More love for General Buttercup - er, Antiope. EW lists some suggested comics, but doesn’t include Trinity, so I can’t take it too seriously. io9 wisely wonders why Patty Jenkins isn’t contracted to a sequel yet when David Ayer was signed for one after making the disastrous Suicide Squad. Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright are confirmed for Justice League. Mashable takes a look at the Diana-Steve romance and how well it works. And enjoy these nifty posters.

• Lest we forget that badass women have been in movies/TV before without getting their credit, the Mary Sue takes a new look at Evie of the Mummy movies - at least, the ones who count. I have a whole rant on the O’Connells as a model for romantic partnership… and compiling those Wikipedia links now makes me want to watch all those movies again. I already knew the new Mummy movie couldn’t hold a candle to those, but its prospects look even worse than that. I almost feel sorry for Tom Cruise… But not all the reviews are bad.

• Speaking of sequels, Mary Poppins Returns is on its way, with Emily Blunt taking the not-inconsiderable task of following in Julie Andrew’s practically-perfect-in-every-way bootsteps. Lin-Manuel Miranda takes up the lamplighter’s role (and if there is no cameo by Dick Van Dyke, I will personally march on Main Street, I swear by my magic umbrella). I’m actually hopeful about this one; from the looks of it, the only person who wouldn’t like it would be P.L. Travers.

• Romance is alive! Well, in a dark and twisted kind of way. Batman proposed to Catwoman (again) in the latest Batman issue as part of the DC Rebirth. Somehow I doubt they will live happily ever after, since this is comics and ol’ Bruce has… issues. (See what I did there?) Mazel tov, Bruce and Selina. For now.

• I have quite enjoyed watching Luke Cage the past week and a half, binging it in several sessions while the characters troll each other on Twitter. CBR has a rundown on what did and didn’t work, and halfway I agree, but with several quibbles. I disagree that the series was too long and dialed back “because it’s still a Disney property”; uh, guys? Did you actually watch Jessica Jones with the running theme of mental (and physical) rape? Dialed back my ass.

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I also strongly disagree that Mike Colter’s acting was a problem, though they’re dead-on about the inconsistency of Luke’s romances. He refuses a phone number from a nice, attractive woman he knows, then has a one-night stand with a total stranger, which then dissipates into thin air so he can romance Claire the Omnipresent Nurse, and did we all forget future wife Jessica Jones? Luke as a ladies’ man or Luke as grieving widower eschewing close relationships or Luke as serial monogamist - oh, make up your minds.

The music was actually hit or miss with me, but I fully recognize that my eclectic taste in music is not that of the wider world. Also: The only episode that didn’t work for me was the finale. The beatdown in the street with cops holding back the crowd was a tad too Lethal Weapon-dumb for me.

I’d really like to skip Iron Fist, though. Can I have two Jessica Jones and wait for the next season?

• Rest in peace, theater designer Mark Wilson. Wilson’s designs were seen at the Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, Shakespeare in the Streets, Opera Theater of St. Louis and many others. If you saw a theatrical performance in St. Louis in recent years, odds are good you saw a Wilson design. He died last week in a tractor accident, and this year’s Shakespeare Festival run is dedicated to his memory.

• For locals here in the sunny metro-east, it looks to be a big weekend! There’s the Glen Carbon Homecoming and the Route 66 Festival. If I may be permitted a moment of self-indulgence, I will be signing at Afterwords Books in Edwardsville on Saturday along with eight other authors as part of the Blue Corridor Route 66 celebration. No, my work has nothing to do with Route 66, but I live here, so shut it.

In addition, U2 is coming to town. Troy is playing Rogue One with plenty of Star Wars fun (including lightsaber giveaways and demonstrations, free hot dogs, and more) in Tri-Township Park. Thunderbirds are go at Scott Air Force Base. And the Shakespeare Festival’s Winter’s Tale is rolling.

• Finally, look at some lovely images of Central Park shot by a New Jersey photographer with terrible insomnia. It’s like something from another time.


Monday Linkspam

Welcome to a mega-edition of CultureGeek Linkspam, since we took Memorial Day-Week off. What? There were brats to grill.

• Apple Computer held its WWDC keynote today, announcing a number of fun stuff. Among them: Amazon Prime finally comes to Apple TV; the older iMac model gets a boost and they premiered a new iMac Pro; the HomePod; software updates…. oh, just read it.

• A review of Wonder Woman is pending after a rewatch. In the meantime, it’s a clear hit, with more than $100 million domestic and another $125+ million foreign in the first weekend alone. Critics like it too. It’s the biggest opening for a female director ever, and I take some special notice that the record it obliterated belonged to Fifty Shades of Grey. Heh. Actual athletes were recruited to play the Amazons, including Crossfit champions, cyclists, equestriennes and professional fighters. Tor.com’s Keith DeCandido looks back at Lynda Carter as role model. Indian Country Today celebrates an actual Native American actor speaking actual Blackfoot to Wonder Woman in the film. And of course there is a sequel already planned: in America. I’d ask y’all to name her potential villain(s), but maybe we shouldn’t go there… Texts From Superheroes says hello to WW, and Thor admits Wonder Woman would kick his ass. (P.S. Check out this vision of Mr. Rogers wielding Thor’s hammer. No, seriously.)

• Since everything old is new again, Steven Spielberg’s production company is reviving the Animaniacs. This is good news if you were a fan; I was not, but I did not have the outright dislike of the show as I did, say, Rugrats. The article does point out that shows as old as Full House were quite popular in resurrection, and now we are seeing Will & Grace and Roseanne return, among others. Yes, Hollywood has run out of ideas, but zombie series of good work is still better than *shudder* reality TV.

• Speaking of the return of the ‘90s, Zima is back. For a limited time only. Yikes.

• In commemoration of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie (which CultureGeek Jr. gave enormous applause and the critics… disagree), check out the pictures and radio commercial of the 1967 launch of the Disneyland ride. Yo ho yo ho…. Yes, your friendly neighborhood CultureGeek has seen it and a review is pending. Y’all, it’s summer. Things be busy.

• Cancel your plans for the weekend, because Orange is the New Black launches its next season after the trauma-inducing finale of last season. ScreenRant’s awesome Lauren Wethers details 15 OITNB characters you (and the writers) completely forgot.

• The story of the demise of Booksellers at Laurelwood, one of those marvelous anchor bookstores in Memphis, and how the phoenix is rising from the ashes. On the flip side, the New Yorker believes that Amazon’s brick-and-mortar bookstores “are not built for people who actually read.” Apparently they’re like the world’s biggest airport bookstores: the same titles you’ll see in every bookstore. Only 200 titles in fiction, 3,000 in the whole store. The charity sale my church runs on a quarterly basis has a wider selection than the most comprehensive bookseller in the nation.

• Speaking of books, learn the true stories behind The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Raise your hand if you loved that book, dreamed of running away to live in a museum and embarked on a lifelong fascination with the works of Michelangelo. Just me? I was also quite fond of Elain Konigsburg’s debut novel, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth.

• Ever wonder what they put in the recording in Voyager I? Other than, “Hello Borg: Please Come Assimilate Us”? Find out here, as Carl Sagan’s team unpacked the whole of human history and culture.

• Locals: LouFest has added Snoop Dogg among others to its lineup. As I scan the list, I recognize Huey Lewis & The News and that’s it, because I am desperately uncool and old. However, they are celebrating Chuck Berry, which is awesome.

• Nerds of Color’s Denny Upkins reviews why Cassandra Cain is really Batman 2.0. Check out the many heroes of Gotham City…

• And in case you missed them, Annie Leibovitz did amazing portraits of the characters of The Last Jedi for a spread in Vanity Fair. I’m not sure how she does what she does, but I may spend a lifetime trying to learn it. Kathleen Kennedy says of Carrie Fisher: “Harrison (Ford) was front and center on VII, and Mark (Hamill) is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.” Sniffle.