The Handmaid’s Tale

Margret Atwood’s classic work of speculative fiction The Handmaid’s Tale is soon to be a Hulu series and readers are lining up in droves to read the book before the series begins. According to The Huffington Post libraries across the country are struggling to keep up with the waitlist. The NYPL has currently 546 holds on 96 copies of The Handmaid’s Tale and the same is true across the country in Chicago of the 160 copies all but two physical copies have been checked out in and even the e-book has similar waits. This is like the phenomenon when 1984 was the must read book as day by day these dystopian societies depicted in the book seem all to real.

Margret Atwood has said recently that the book is more relevant than ever today. As it seems like a religious fundamentalist society, led by the government, takes away women’s autonomy — and their rights to their own bodies. Sure with all the anti abortion laws going on the books across the nation. The New Yorker has an interesting profile on Atwood. I read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school  about 3 lustra ago and it’s been one of those that I’d like to re-read for some time as I never finished the epilogue. If you haven’t read the book it is a good book, not sure if the movie or television adaptations are any good.

Five Came Back (2017)

The latest documentary Five Came Back on Netflix focuses on five directors who went to and fought in World War II and came back from it alive. This documentary was interesting as when it comes to World War II we some 70 years out all know the broad strokes of it, there Hitler takes power, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Holocaust, Bombings at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Sure HBO’s two brilliant miniseries focusing on the Army (Band of Brothers) and the Marines (The Pacific) telling the stories of the two theaters of war and there are a bunch of great films on World War II but this documentary tells an interesting story of the people who went to war and how it changed them.

Five Came Back focuses on John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens all of whom are directors who joined the War effort Ford joined the Navy while Wyler, Huston, Capra and Stevens all were members of the Army Signal Corp. All of them were involved in filming World War II. The documentary features famous directors all talking about one individual Steven Spielberg talks about Wyler, Francis Ford Coppola talks about Huston, Guillermo del Toro talks about Capra, Paul Greengrass talks about Ford, and Lawrence Kasdan talks about Stevens. In the first hour we hear about how they made names for themselves before the war, the second hours is about their time at war and the third hours from D-Day to after the war and what became of them afterwards. If you are a fan of film history this is a very interesting film to watch.

One of the coolest things that I’ve discovered after watching is that you can watch the films that they made during WWII which were talked about in the documentary on Netflix as they have a handful available to watch. If you have some time I would recommend that everyone watch this.

Netflix Ratings

According to Netflix they are replacing the star rating system with a thumbs up/down model. This is a good idea as it makes it a whole lot easier in a general sense, instead of debating if it was a 3 star or 4 star movie you just have to decide if you liked it or not. I was one of those people hoping that Netflix would add like half star ratings to pinpoint exactually how I felt about a film. Yet a thumbs up or down seems like a much simpler solution.Netflix is saying that this will lead to better predictions about what shows/movie would be of interest to you. It sounds better as I hardly ever watched what Netflix recommends that I could like based on the show/movie. It’s a nice move but it’s taken them long enough to figure out a better way to rate things.

NBC Olympic coverage

After years of complaints NBC has finally heard the groaning and decided to broadcast the upcoming Winter Olympics live across all time zones. Now this is in part that the next three Olympics will be in Asia roughly 12 hours ahead of the East Coast of the US. One of my biggest questions is will the Opening Ceremonies be broadcast live and/or tape delayed as well as edited. Also, Bob Costas has stepped down from the Primetime Olympics host chair and Mike Tirico will be taking over. If NBC could also pick up the broadcast rights to the Paralympics and Youth Olympics and actually show them that would be wonderful. By broadcasting the Olympics live NBC is taking a step forward and joining the rest of the world who already do this. Will they increased live coverage curb the human interest pieces that seem to pop up during the games or will they still exist on some of the other NBC networks. We will have to wait and see what will happen in about 11 months.

Record Store Day

According to this article from the AV Club the Space Jam soundtrack is going to be released on vinyl for Record Store Day. Record Store Day is on April 22 and like you expect there are several special release records coming out, a bunch make sense Prince and David Bowie as well as other like Thelonious Monk and Fleetwood Mac but Space Jam seems like an odd choice to put on vinyl. Sure I own the soundtrack on Compact Disc and it is a pretty solid album. If I didn’t own a physical copy already I would so want to get a copy. Record Store Day is an event that brings the focus of music back to the physical media and the root of the music industry. It supports local small businesses as well. Some people claim that records are the only way to listen to music, if you have a chance and have a record player please support your local record stores.

Last Orson Welles film to be released by Netflix

This is some pretty cool news as that the final film Orson Welles worked on, The Other Side of the Wind will soon be released. It has taken a while for this film to get finished as filming ended in 1976 and it’s now 2017. This a a bizarre story but hopefully it will have a happy ending with the latest Welles film being worth the wait. The film itself is sort of a mockumentary on Hollywood of the 70s with the ‘Classic Hollywood’ of the 20s-60s passing away and being replaced with the new wave of avant-garde young directors in ‘New Hollywood’. The film is about a 70th birthday party of an director who wants to make a comeback. It is said to use a mix of still photos, and 8mm, 16mm and 35mm color and black-and-white film shot at the party, along with scenes from his unfinished movie, and the film would be a collage of all these various types of film. It sounds like a unique film as I can’t think of a film that uses all these different types of film gauges.

Star Wars

This is some interesting developments as Lucasfilm has stopped adding the episode number to films. Sure most everyone in the world already did this, look at the Special Edition when they were released on VHS back in the day as Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. It is a nice change of pace and it might indicate a further plan to make more Star Wars saga films after the Sequel Trilogy ends in 2019. I find it funny as in the article they state that “If you’re merely talking about them as titles, and not episode numbers, it’s harder to group them together as “Prequel,” “Original,” and “Sequel” trilogies.” but we all know which is which. They hope that this will cause fans to focus on the Saga rather than the three trilogies. It also ties in nicely with the animated series Rebels and Clone Wars as they do that already. I hope that if this moves over to the Star Wars Stories and they just drop that part of the title, since it’s what people are doing with Rogue One. However we will have to wait a while to find out if this part of it is true the Han Solo film comes out in 2018. The Last Jedi is only about 270 something days until it’s release and we should be seeing a teaser or trailer in April or May.

Kubo and the Two Strings

Since Kubo was nominated for an Oscar I though that I should watch this movie it’s the only film that might have had a chance to beat Disney. Kubo comes from Laika which has put out some remarkable stop motion films all of which have been nominated for Best Animated Feature but they have yet to break though and beat Disney. Spoilers to follow.

Kubo and the Two Strings is set in ancient Japan is about stories. As the film begins we have a great hook “If you must blink, do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see and hear, no matter how unusual it may seem. And please be warned: If you fidget, if you look away, if you forget any part of what I tell you – even for an instant – then our hero will surely perish. ” Then we see a mother and her child trying to escape something and they wash up on shore. Time passes and Kubo is a young boy with one eye and he lives with his ill mother, Sariatu in a cave atop a mountain by a village. Everyday Kubo goes down to the village where he goes and tells the story of Hanzo, a brave samurai who happens to be Kubo’s father using origami and music. As the bell rings signaling sunset Kubo need to head home as his mother warns him that her sisters and father would come and try and steal his other eye. After hearing about the Bon festival, which is a Buddhist custom that honors the spirit of your ancestors, Kubo decides to talk to his father’s spirit however father doesn’t answer Kubo leaves angry but it’s too late as it is after dark and his aunts attack him. Kubo barely escapes with the help of his mother who sacrifices herself so Kubo can go find the magic armor that his father was looking for.

Kubo is awoken by a monkey, it is his monkey charm that has been brought to life. So Monkey and Kubo begin on their quest after a day they rest and over night Kubo dreams and a little Hanzo has been folded and came to life. Little Hanzo now leads them on the quest for the armor. As they follow Hanzo, Kubo falls and stumbles upon a giant beetle, a samurai who was cursed and was an apprentice of Hanzo. After hearing that Kubo is Hanzo’s son Beetle decides to joins the quest. They go out to look for the Sword Unbreakable, the Breastplate Impenetrable, and Invulnerable Helmet. Will they find them before Kubo is discovered by his aunts and the Moon King takes his remaining eye?

The film is about stories and memory as most of the stories that are told are memories of Hanzo. If you want to watch a film that’s gotten raves from everywhere that’s not from Disney this is where to start. It’s a simple story but it has such emotional depth and reflection upon what is family. Kubo is a great little film and if you haven’t seen it you are surely missing out.

Oscars and Razzies Recap

Well, it was a fairly uneventful Oscar night as about all the projected winners those that had already won all the other awards took home an Oscar as well. La La Land was the big winner of the night taking home 6 of the 14 awards. The biggest surprise of the night was Moonlight taking home Best Picture and it was for a surprise for everyone as La La Land was announced and then it turned out that Moonlight was the real winner. Viola Davis with her win became the most recent to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting (Emmy, Oscar, and Tony), is only the 23rd person to do so and the first African American to do it. Lin-Manuel Miranda will have to wait another year or two to get his EGOT, but now we’ve got to add Pasek and Paul to this list as it seems like Dear Evan Hansen has a chance to win them a couple Tony awards come June. The OJ Simpson documentary won an Oscar and seems like the odd on favorite to bring home an Emmy as well. Disney got another Animated Feature Oscar for Zootopia.

On Saturday at the Razzies there was also a bit of a shocker as Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party took home the big award (Worst Picture, Director, Actor, Actress) and the suspected Batman v Superman movie won almost everything else.

Oscar/Razzie Predictions

This is going to be a tough one to predict this year as I haven’t seen many of these movies, but thanks to all the other award shows it’s a bit easier. The Golden Raspberry Awards are handed out on Saturday before the Oscars are handed out on Sunday

For the Razzies it seems likely that Batman v Superman will be taking home a bunch of awards but it won’t be a sweep since there were like three women and none were very important in the film.

On to the Oscars: Will it be a La La Land sweep as many people are predicting since it’s another film about Hollywood being so amazing and they like to award these masturbatory films about themselves as seen with Argo and The Artist.

Best Picture: La La Land or It could also be one of the films about actual people like Hacksaw Ridge or Hidden Figures, however it’ll be La La Land.
Director: The guy who Directed La La Land has won this award at every other award show so Damien Chazelle is the best guess here.
Actor: This is going to Casey Affleck, although Denzel Washington could sneak in and win it.
Actress: Emma Stone might win but it might go to Natalie Portman or even Isabella Huppert it seems likely a new actress will win it.
Supporting Actor: It’s a two horse race Dev Patel took home the BAFTA but Mahershala Ali won the SAG. This is one of the harder categories to pick.
Supporting Actress: Viola Davis
Animated: Once again Disney seems to have this locked up it looks like Zootopia will bring home the award over Moana.
Song: City of Stars from La La Land has won the other awards for best song but who really knows will they just give it to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s song from Moana so he can EGOT or will he have to wait another year or two.