Marvelous

So, I recently wrote about how some feared what the success of Deadpool meant for the future of comic book and superhero films.  And it looked like we were getting a glimpse of those fears being realized.  There was first the announcement that the Superman vs Batman Blu-Ray would have an ‘R-Rated’ edition.  Then they announced a go for the third Wolverine as an ‘R’.

There are reasons I think those were possible before Deadpool, but I think it did play at least a minor role.

However, proving that this may not be the trend it appeared to be, Marvel has announced they will not be making their Cinematic Universe a haven of ‘R-Rated’ super-hero films.  This is welcome news.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe has skewed comfortably PG-13.  They are not little kid safe…but older kids on up have been able to enjoy them.  Parents have been able to take older kids and teens and enjoy the films.  They were not to risqué (Guardians of the Galaxy pushed that envelope the most).

I am glad to see Marvel sticking to the plan, rather than being distracted by Deadpool dollars.

Diversify

So, last Sunday’s Oscars happened.  There was much questioning in advance of how Chris Rock would address the #OscarsSoWhite controversies.  Some felt he should drop out.  Some felt he should use the the night to stick it to Hollywood racism.  And, he did pretty good.  Rock had some good jokes that called out the racism at play…Hollywood’s “Sorority style Racism” as Rock noted.  But Rock’s bits could have been better.

It started to become apparent that Rock’s calls to diversity were somewhat single dimensional.  In fact people on twitter started noting that Diversity is a bit bigger than Rock’s focus.  Aasif Mandvi tweeted:

hey , diversity is not just and .

He was met with a response that stated that because Chris Rock is black, he was focusing on black performers.  Which, to be frank, is a pretty bullshit excuse.  Rock was hosting the Oscars to a broader public.  Asians and Latinos (just to name two groups left out) had every right to be frustrated by Rock’s extraordinarily narrow observations.

In a bit of irony, Rock’s race themed bits all highlighted white versus black.  He only spoke of black actors vs white actors.  There was a distinct lack of diversity.  Heck, it even looked as if he  and his writers lifted the Martian Gag from the Nightly Show.*

All of Rock’s bits would have been funnier with an expanded racial scope.  Of course, pointing this out has gotten some hit with accusations of saying the same thing as “All Lives Matter”.  Which is absolutely false.  Let me cut folks off at the pass.  This is false.  Period.  There is no discussion to be had.  Pointing out that other races were not recognized by Rock is not the equivalent of saying all lives matter.  Why don’t we look at some facts  about Oscar Diversity.  It is not a pretty picture.

There has not been an Asian Best Actor nomination since Ben Kingsly in 2003.  There has not been an Asian Winner since 1982, which was also Ben Kingsly.  It was 26 years earlier that there was another Asian nominated.  That was Yul Brenner in 1956.  And he won.  You have two Asian winners in the Best Actor category.  There was one Asian woman nominated for Best Actress.  Merle Oberon in 1935. Not a single Asian Actress has been nominated since.  Not even from the Joy Luck Club, which got no nominations for it’s actors.

Surely it is better for the supporting roles, right?  Between 1957 and now?  Best Supporting actor has nominated Asian Actors six times.  Of those six?  Two are Ben Kingsly.  The only win was Haing S. Ngor for the Killing Fields in 1984.  The last nomination was Ken Watanabe in 2003.

Supporting Actress?  Since 1957? Again, six.  The last being Hailee Standfield in 2010’s True Grit.  Only one win, that was to Miyoshi Umeki in 1957.

So, what about Latinos?  Surely, they fared way better in acting nominations and wins, right?

Well, for best actor?  Five since 1950.  Last nomination was Demián Bichir in 2011.  Last win? 1950’s José Ferrer for Cyrano de Bergerac.  For supporting role, there six nominations. One was for José Ferrer in 1948.  Anthony Quinn was nominated and won twice.  Andy Garcia and the other two went to Benicio del Toro, who won in 2000 for Traffic.

Best Actress had three nominations between 1998 and 2004.  That is all, no wins.  Just three nominations in the history of the Oscars.  Supporting Actress?  Six nominations between 1954 and 2013.  And I bet that 2013 nomination would catch people off guard, because it is Lupita Nyong’o.  She and Rita Moreno are the only wins.

Native Americans have three nominations in the history of the Oscars.  Three.

While looking for that last one I found this article which sums all the information up nicely.

Chris Rock focused heavily on the lack of Black actors.  Since 1958, there has been 18 nominations.  This includes Will Smith (Twice), by the way.    Morgan Freeman was nominated three times.  Denzel Washington four times.  There have been four wins (Sidney Poitier, Washington, Jamie Fox and Forrest Whitaker).  Best actress has only had ten nominations since 1954 and only a single win (Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball in 2001).

Best supporting actor has seen sixteen nominations and four wins since 1969.  The wins were Louis Gossett Jr., Denzel Washington, Cuba Gooding Jr and Morgan Freeman.  Best supporting actress?  Eighteen nominations with six wins (Hattie McDaniel, Whoopie Goldberg, Jennifer Hudson, Mo’Nique, Octavia Spencer and Lupita Nyong’o) between 1939 and 2013.

Going by the actual numbers, those individuals who were telling Asians, Native Americans, Latinos and other minority groups to just accept that they were being ignored?  They have the bigger gripe.  Asians, Latinos, Native American performances are far less recognized.  In comparison, black performers are getting more of the opportunities.

Hollywood needs more diversity.  Hollywood needs to expand it’s recognition.  But Rock made his bits all about black actors, every single bit featured only black actors (or in one case Black “Man on the Street” interviewees), and Rock gave no recognition to the lack of diversity other races (who have had even less recognition in Oscar History).  But he did manage a racist Asian joke.  Way to go with the appeal to diversity.

*The Nightly show did the “What if Mark Watney Was Black” gag a few weeks back.  It is entirely possible that the Oscar version was recorded in “competition” and it was coincidence…but it was the exact same joke, just the Oscar version got the original white actors.

Boys and Ghouls At the Movies Part 3 (Ritual, 2006)

TFtC_RitualThe third and final (to date) Tales From the Crypt film is Ritual.  You would not realize it is a Tales From the Crypt film though.  The reception to Bordello of Blood resulted in the third film being released scrubbed of any Tales From the Crypt Connections.  The “Tales from the Crypt Presents” was added to the DVD Box when it was released in the U.S. as a direct to video release, but the film remained as it was in theaters.

This means that the film lacks anything connecting it to the series.  Unlike the first to films (which opened and closed with the Crypt Keeper voiced by John Kassir) There is no Crypt Keeper host. No actual references in the titles, no entering the Crypt Keeper’s house and no comic book cover.  The irony here is that while they removed those things to avoid the connection after the failure of Bordello of Blood, this generic Voodoo horror thriller desperately could use the flavor of Tales from the Crypt, or at least an actual alteration to the formula as Demon Knight had done.

Written by the Director of the first Fast and Furious film Rob Cohen and the film’s Director Avi Nesher it is loosely based on the 1943 film I Walked With a Zombie.

It tells the tale (get it???) of a disgraced Doctor named Alice (Played by Jennifer Grey) who takes a job in Jamaica tending to a young man with encephalitis.  He believes he is a zombie under a curse.  And someone seems to be using Jamaican Voodoo to attack Alice.

There is a bit of humor to see that as the films went on, they had less star power than the original show.  But the film tackles a topic the show already did, and the show did it in the so much better.  This film lacks the humor that was such a big part of the TV series.  Which results in a dull and boring film with low level effects.  It is not that the film lacks talent, it is that they have a guy like Tim Curry and just give him nothing to do.  Why would you want to do that?

Of course, based on this image?  Maybe leaving the Dreadlocks sporting Crypt Keeper out of the film was a good idea…

Tales-From-the-Crypt-Presents-Ritual-tales-from-the-crypt-18665943-900-506

 

Boys and Ghouls Goes to the Movies Part 2 (Tales From the Crypt Presents Bordello of Blood, 1996)

TFtC_Bordello_PosterDemon Knight was received well enough to not deter the Tales From the Crypt Crew to keep on with their plan of a franchise with Bordello of Blood a year later.  The film had an all new story, though they included a tie to the last in that the magical macguffin is the “key” from the previous film.  But this time it is the only thing that can keep Lilith (Angie Everhart)  the Queen and Mother of All Vampires in check.

Bordello of Blood feels like a regular episode simply stretched to long and thin.  The little brother (Corey Feldman) of young Katherine Verdoux (Erika Eleniak) has disappeared.  She ends up enlisting skeevy P.I. Rafe Guttman (Dennis Miller in his first and really last leading role) to find her brother.  We viewers know he went to a new bordello (hint, it is the titular Bordello of Blood).  There we discovered that Lilith has apparently made a ton of attractive women into vampires who kill their customers.

Then there is a subplot involving Katherine’s employer.  She works for a megachurch televangelist named Reverend Current (he has an “electric” theme) played by Chris Sarandon.  He apparently employed man of adventure Vincent Prather (Phil Fondacaro in a role that is not all about his height, which is a nice surprise) to get Lilith for him.  So, the Preacher is controlling Lilith to be used in his battle against…Satan or…Something?

The film is more in line with the the TV series.  It has lots of slapstick type of jokes, gratuitous gore, and it has HBO’s trademarked “Tons O’ Nudity”.

According to one of the producers, Miller flat out stated he would not say any of the written dialog, instead making up his own, usually the day of.  If this is accurate at all, it only ended up hurting the film.  The jokes from everyone tend to fall flat. The plot makes little sense (What exactly does Reverend Current hope to accomplish with a vampire?!) and even by “Dumb Horror Film” standards, it is not entertaining even in a terrible way.

The characters are not particularly likable.  They are sleazy jerks, or in the case of Katherine, uptight and overly prudish.  Miller has his trademark snark in full display, but it works against him, because his character (technically our hero) is a real douche.

All the roles for women are based on being sexually desirable, which is frustrating, especially when you consider that in Demon Knight, character was more important and the roles for women were more substantial.

It is no surprise that the film franchise took a hit, and enough that the third movie was released with all hints of the franchise cut out.

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