The X-Files

I am going to let my geek flag fly a bit with this post. I have never been happier then when I sat down to start watching The X-Files. From the second the voice over by Mulder started til the end of the first episode I was giddy.

In my opinion we are talking about a Sci-Fi show that defined a generation and made a mark on pop culture unlike any show since. (Ok a bit of an overreach but forgive me I love this show)

This show for me at the time of its original run was THE show. Everyone in my life knew to not bother me when it was on. No phone, no drop by’s, NOTHING. I own every series/episode, both movies and have bought the season pass for the 10th season 6 episode special.

To say that this show was a favorite is a major understatement. The case of the week with a consistent underlying continuous conspiracy story-line was my bread and butter. I loved it.

With the 10th season starting the first two episodes aired (to pretty impressive ratings) I have to say I am back where I was when the show was in its prime. Now I do not know if this means they will try and resurrect the show for a few more seasons, or if this is just a one off that will satiate fans like myself knowing that the stories of Mulder and Scully continue. If this is indeed a reboot for potential future seasons my only hope is that they stay true to the spirit of the show.

For all its flaws (including the second movie) this show has always been fairly true to its overall premise of The Truth is Out There. Creating intrigue with both science and fiction to keep viewers returning each week. I have much respect for Chris Carter and aside from a few missteps (like the aforementioned second movie) I feel that if this series does indeed continue he will continue it in a way that stays true, and will also have the sense to know that when it is over it is time to be over.

Either way it goes, I am going to enjoy it while it is here and eat up every second.

Remember kids, The TRUTH IS OUT THERE.

Academy Awards vs. Race

This is a definite hot topic right now due to the lack of diversity seen within the nominations in recent years of the Academy Award Nominations. Now the Oscars have been known as THE award for movies, actors and every other facet of the movie industry.

Before I go any further I want to be clear that I am not saying that there is racism that is tainting the awards or that there is not. I am simply trying to be devil’s advocate in whereas this topic is concerned.

My first reaction was to research how the nominations are made. All members within a specific branch, actors, directors, etc. are to vote on their choices for nominees. All members of the Academy can vote on nominees for Best Motion Picture. To become a member you must be A. Invited by the Academy or B. Be sponsored for membership by two members who are in the same branch for which membership is sought.

In 2012 the Los Angeles Times did a survey and found “that academy voters are markedly less diverse than the movie-going public, and even more monolithic than many in the film industry may suspect. Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%.”. They go on further to add “The Times found that some of the academy’s 15 branches are almost exclusively white and male. Caucasians currently make up 90% or more of every academy branch except actors, whose roster is 88% white”.

So the bulk of diversity is found within the actor branch of the Academy. My initial thought on this is that maybe the white actors just had better performances. This is not a wholly implausible scenario. I mean for myself would I want a nomination or award because I had a performance worthy of it or do I want it because there is some necessary diversity quota that is to be met?

I do not claim nor have I ever as far as I can remember seen every movie made in a particular Academy Award year. So for me as a fan of movies it is highly unlikely for me to watch 305 movies. (This is the number of movies that qualified for best picture for this year’s Oscars) I think even if I had nothing better to do I would still struggle with watching 305 movies. So how about an Oscar voter? Do you think they have time to watch 305 movies in a year? My gut says it is highly unlikely.

This makes me think then how do you stand out in a large amount of movies? I once again defer to how I choose what movies to watch and pass on. Marketing and word of mouth have a lot to do with what movies I choose. As well as my interests and preferences. In any given year I am lucky to have seen ONE of the final nominees much less all of them. I think in the case of academy voters there is a similar process enter another potential influence: Politics.

Now I am not talking democrat/republican politics I am talking about politics from within the Academy itself. Movies have been known to take out full page ads promoting their product and begging for nominations in trade publications.  Think of how politics/politicians work for the government. Now take that and apply the same behaviors and apply them to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Just a theory but it certainly makes sense… I mean while several nominees each year for best picture are well known there are always those that I have to question. I have not heard of the movie, seen the movie much less have no information what so ever about the movie. Yet there it is nominated for Best Picture.

So when taking into consideration the sheer amount that goes into even attaining a nomination for best picture (with 305 movies) to the acting which the amount of nominees can increase significantly, it is possible that the nominated actors and actresses simply put the best performances forth that the majority of the voters have seen. To tread a bit on thin ice here… movies were being batted around like Straight Outta Compton, Concussion, Creed etc. as having been snubbed for acting/picture Oscars. I have not seen any of these films because for the biggest reason they do not appeal to me. As a white male does this make me racist? ignorant? or more simply I want to invest time in movies that appeal to me?

So while I do not personally think that the Academy Awards are being racist, I think that if diversity is to be found in the nominations there first needs to be diversity among the membership of the Academy. I do believe in this day an age for a statistic of 94% white when there is a wealth of talent from a diversified ethnicity is appalling, and the academy needs to improve their statistics drastically. For me I do not see this as racism, but merely a desperate need to ensure that all races, genders, etc are equally represented in the voting majority of the Academy.

If the Academy is going to continue on its pledge of awarding the best in movies, they need to ensure that all movies get a fair shot. Not just the movie preferences of the majority of their current voters. (I refer back to my reasoning for not watching some of the movies that were “snubbed”) Yes maybe I should be more open to watching more diverse movies vs. Comic Book, Sci Fi and Horror but I enjoy what I enjoy and should not be faulted for that, much less labeled racist or ignorant. I feel the same can be said about the majority of the Academy voters.

I can promise you this, the outcome of this issue will go one of two ways or even both ways… 1. There will start being token nominations, or 2. There will be increased diversity in the membership of the Academy and the diversity that is craved in nominations will right itself. The second of the two will take time due to getting a current voting membership from 94% white to a representation that will reflect all races equally(especially considering how difficult it is to get into the academy). You also have to take into consideration that the Academy has been around since a time when diversity was not something that was considered a necessity.

So is there blatant racism running rampant through the Academy? or is there more simply a lack of diversity from within?

 

February Movies

As we are heading in to the last week of January I thought now would be a good time to highlight some of the movies I am interested in for February.

So to get started my first choice is a comedy called How to be Single. Watch…

The main reason is for Rebel Wilson, she makes me laugh and in my opinion is much more fun to watch than Melissa McCarthy. This looks like it could be a semi-raunchy comedy with a chick flick twist. Of course all that aside the likelihood we have seen the funniest moments in the trailer is a bit high. It releases on 02/12/16.

Second on my list is from the Coen Brothers a movie called Hail! Caesar. Watch…

This one looks like it might hearken back a bit to my favorite Coen Brothers film Fargo. Humor, Mystery and a touch Thriller. Not to mention a pretty good cast, Clooney, Johansson, Brolin, Tatum, Fiennes, and Hill. I genuinely have high hopes that this one will be a surprise hit in the theaters. It releases on 02/05/16.

The next movie is one a few horror movies that are releasing in February yet of all of them is certainly looking to be the best by a long shot. The others are squeezing the last of the found footage fad and just seem to be a regurgitation of things we have already seen. This stands out because the trailer looks genuinely creepy. Watch the trailer for The Witch…

I think there is a good twist to be had in this film too. It looks creepy and the addition of it being a period horror film seem to raise it up and make it something worth watching. This one is to be released on 02/19/16.

The next movie is a long-awaited sequel and regardless of the BS boycotting and drama that seem to have followed the release of the trailer still looks like it will be a pretty brain off funny movie. Watch the trailer for Zoolander 2…

While this is no doubt an attempt at returning to some semblance of relevancy by Ben Stiller, he has added some pretty awesome supporting talent in the form of Wiig and Cumberbatch. Not to mention a slew of cameos and cast members from the original. Is the world ready for more Ben Stiller? I guess that remains to be seen. This movie is due 02/12/16.

Finally the movie I am most excited for and will probably without a doubt see in the theaters is Deadpool. An infamous character in the comics, and cosplayed to perfection at many pop culture events around the globe, this movie has the chance to be awesome. Watch…

This movie looks to be amazing. R-rating, Ryan Reynolds and the humor and action that I want to see in a Deadpool movie. I know, I can hear the collective groans of those who loathe Ryan Reynolds because of his pretty much hated (not by me) turn as Green Lantern, but for me I have hope due to the fact that Ryan is not only a fan but this project has been something he has worked towards for a long time. This is not going to be the Deadpool we saw in the Wolverine movie this is going to be the Deadpool that comic fans, and movie goers deserve. This movie is also due on 02/12/16.

So while there are many more movies due in theaters in February these are my choices for the best.

Television’s New Age

We are certainly living in a special time where TV is concerned. With streaming services throwing their hat in the ring to create original programming we are getting an avalanche of new shows to watch.

The one thing I love about this is we are getting shows thanks to these services we might not have ever seen and in several cases the streaming services are giving the middle finger to the networks and even some of the cable networks. I remember being skeptical about the quality we would get with these originals, smaller budgets, lesser known actors and the like. I would bet most of the networks were thinking the same thing.

What we got instead is quality television that is going toe to toe with some of the networks not only in quality but in awards contention as well. The streaming services are changing the game, not only are we getting some quality television but how we watch is changing as well. Enter Binge-watching, the practice of watching a television season from beginning to end in a short amount of time. I have found for me it is a preferable viewing experience, no having to wait a week for a cliffhanger that needs resolve ASAP. Of course the drawbacks, having to wait even longer for a new season, and getting a cliffhanger after you have already designated “only one more” 3 previous times.

All that aside the main thing that made me feel the desire to write this post is to question…. How many shows have we missed that would have been amazing but the networks felt like it was not for them. How many series have we loved but had the plug pulled on them because the network decided that the ratings were not worth the production costs. I understand everyone has bills to pay and sometimes a labor of love just is not worth it. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime et. al. have just as much to gain and/or lose by getting into the original series game. Most streaming services have no ads or ad free options so the possibility of earning revenue by selling ad space is not as much of a priority.

I guess my hope is not only will we get the opportunity to see some amazing television shows but that the streaming services might have a more sympathetic ear to the fans that make or break shows to begin with. Many network shows have fallen because the networks did not see the worth, fans be damned. I know, I know bills… but you know can it really go along way with fans to at least give them a decent wrap up. For the most part the major networks have forgotten why they are where they are to begin with (and some are remembering). I just hope that the streaming services while keeping an eye on the bottom line can also keep the fans in their consideration.

Sadly with networks one viewer is not a great loss but with the streaming services one subscriber lost means a whole lot more.

Transparent

I thought I would just post a quick review of Transparent on Amazon Prime. I think the plight of transgender people is not often portrayed in today’s media. While Transparent may not be the end all it is certainly a beginning.

Rather than come at this from a political standpoint, I would rather keep this review from an entertainment stand point. Apart from the more obvious differences to your typical network show this one certainly holds its own. The first season deals primarily with adult children learning and coping with the fact that their father is a woman. The second season continues this story but moves forward with some struggles that a transgender woman suffers as she tries to find her place in the world.

Those statements are very broad in terms of the nuances of this show. The writer has created a menagerie of complications in relationships and in the lives of the central characters. This is all done with a humor and sensitivity not seen on many shows. I think the one thing that this show does is handles some of the more difficult situations faced in life not only by trans people but by people in general.

I watched in general because of the buzz about the show, when going into it I did not expect to find much that would help me to relate to the characters. I was wrong as the humanity portrayed in this show in my opinion gives many people something to relate to. The other thing notable is how the actors bring these characters and their struggles to life. While there have been some acting nominations for this show I would suggest that there is not nearly enough.

One of my favorite parts of the second season is the portrayal of the history of Maura’s parents. Maura is played brilliantly by Jeffrey Tambor and he has actually won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his performance.

In many shows of this nature one would expect a level of political agenda to be blatantly plastered through the narrative but one thing I have found is that this show lets the agenda happen beyond the show. (At least that is my interpretation) To me when I watch I see a show of unique characters dealing with the situations they are presented with. If there is an intentional political agenda it is lost on me, I get caught up with the characters and their lives and the enlightenment that comes from trying to understand the characters is just a by product.

This show is not for everyone, but like everything in life I would say at least give it a good go, watch several episodes and make the decision for yourself whether this is something you would like to continue to watch. It is certainly a good show and worth watching should you choose to.

 

Death and the Celebrity

It is a common thing to put celebrities on a pedestal. They often times seem as greater than, and at a status that is perceived unattainable by the regular every day joe. It sometimes is hard to remember that celebrities are humans just like us and of all the ways a celebrity can show this, the most notable is death. It makes us realize that they face mortality too. Whether from illness, old age, overdose, or just a random accident. Just because they are a household name they are no less human than  we are.

Do not get me wrong I understand that for every one celebrity that dies for one reason or another there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of non celebrities who die from the same reasons as the celebrity. Celebrities have a unique difference in their death that goes beyond the fact that most people know who they are and their death is part of every headline.  In many cases they have had an impact on people. Not just people in their everyday lives but people across the globe.

David Bowie is a great example of this. Earlier this week I mentioned how I never really listened to him and only knew a few songs. As the week progressed I have realized how many actual songs I know and how I did in fact listen to the man, as well as the impact he has had in not only music but the entertainment industry as a whole. Heroes is  certainly one of my all time favorite songs.

It is easy to gloss over the death of a celebrity but when you start to think of the ways they have infiltrated your life it begins to make you realize that even though you may not have listened/watched them on a daily basis, or known them in real life, they have made their impression.

Then there is the more obvious (especially for me) such as the death of Alan Rickman. He was my ultimate villain (Die Hard), he was my Snape, he was my Metatron and I begin to realize how much I will miss his talent. For me Hans Gruber is the villain that every other villain will be compared to. His casting as Snape for me was a no-brainer.   Galaxy Quest, Dogma, Sense and Sensibility, Hitchhikers Guide, Alice in Wonderland and the only worthy thing that Robin Hood Prince of Thieves had.

Of course with these deaths I also reflect on the passing of David Marguiles. You may not recognize the name as much as the other two but you no doubt remember him. His most memorable role was the Mayor in the original Ghostbusters film. While that is his most memorable role for me, looking at his IMDB profile I realize I have seen him in many other roles.

The world moves on, people die, but it is always just a touch sad when someone who is talented passes away. Whether their impact was as global as Bowie or Rickman or a bit more peripheral as Marguiles.

RIP to all of these talented gentlemen.

Celebrity Big Brother

As with many shows the US took Big Brother from the UK and while the shows are inherently different monsters, one thing the US has yet to do is to do a Celebrity version of Big Brother which is actually quite popular in the UK. I am not sure if they can not get enough interest from celebrities or if they are just concerned about the logistics.

I started watching on You Tube when Michelle Visage and Perez Hilton went into the Celebrity Big Brother house, I believe it was two seasons ago. (I highly recommend it as it was quite the season) I am not overly familiar with UK celebrities so my guess it most of the folks who agree to be on the show are not quite the “A” list of UK stars. This does not make it any less a complete joy to watch and in many respects could be considered a GP but as you have all seen I have no shame in my GPs.

I think what makes the UK Celebrity Big Brother so polarizing is the fact that you have a group of people thrown in to a social experiment with massive egos. Not to say that everyday folks can not have egos but with celebrities whether it be A list or Z list there is a form of ego that accompanies celebrities that most regular folk do not carry.

In the seasons I have watched (and for the record you can find them on You Tube) it seems the drama starts from the second they walk into the house which after 16 seasons of the US version of Big Brother is definitely not a common occurrence. Let me be even more blunt in saying the past couple of seasons have been downright predictable and boring.

I think that CBS should think about doing a “celebrity” version. I am sure there are enough people (not so much celebrities but reality show personalities) that would love to give it a round. The other thing is with the UK celebrity version it is only 30 days versus the regular version which clocks in around 3 months.

The current season has some US “celebrities” as Tiffany Pollard and David Gest (the now infamous ex of Liza Minelli) I honestly have no clue who any of the UK celebrities are. Google really helps with this. As my experience with UK Television is what you can find on BBC America, most of the shows the celebrities have been on I have never seen, and my research has shown that several are reality show personalities from shows in the UK.

I would recommend to anyone reading, especially with most of our shows on winter break, give it  a shot (a link to the most recent season is above and some previous seasons can be found here). Especially if you have a taste for reality shows with some drama.