Django is NOT The Hero Black People Deserve

Django is NOT The Hero Black People Deserve

There was a lot of talk about the excessive use of violence and the n-word in Django. The criticism is personally hard for me to get. As a non-American, it’s hard to understand the powerful connotation of the word. I know the context, I know some of the facts, but the concept of eliminating a word from your vocabulary, except for a chosen few – black people and Louie CK – is hard to understand. There’s just a single comparison that arises: most of the times I hear the n-word (not nigger by the way, but actually the n-word), it takes me back 10 years, back to when I was reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the first time; sitting in the Hogwarts Express, watching people shivering and twitching, adjusting in their seats, and contorting their faces at the mention of a word, “Harry, it’s He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

Despite the fact the horror for a particular word feels alien to me, I can understand it. It’s associated with a dark period in America’s history. It’s both synonym of pain and oppression for African-Americans, and shame and guilt for white people. Even understanding its power, if I had a problem with the word, I don’t think I’d have a problem with its use in Django; historical accuracy should be enough to make it a non-issue.

Tarantino explained it:

“Personally, I find [the criticism] ridiculous. Because it would be one thing if people are out there saying, “You use it much more excessively in this movie than it was used in 1858 in Mississippi.” Well, nobody’s saying that. And if you’re not Continue reading “Django is NOT The Hero Black People Deserve”

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5 Issues With Today’s Blockbusters

Blockbuster, now you see me, wwz, world war z, poster, new on dvd

In the past years some blockbusters had an exponential increase in IQ. The people behind some of them have actually started treating the audiences as people who know the meaning of the word exponential. Nolan’s Batman and Inception, The Avengers, Iron Men (the plural of Iron Man I, II and III). Even last year’s action flicks Dredd and The Raid: Redemption, despite their brainless action, managed to treat audiences as educated members of society, who simply wanted to watch people’s brains spluttered on walls. It’s not completely my fault that I expected too much from WWZ. I was just spoiled.

Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof, J. Michael Straczynski and Matthew Michael Carnahan. These were the four writers of WWZ. Five if you count Max Brooks, the writer of the novel (amazingly narrated). But I don’t know why you’d do that; as it’s been repeated to exhaustion, the movie took only three words from the novel: World War Z.

Its first scene made me look into these four men’s biographies. To my surprise, none had worked in advertising. The way they tried to cram so much information in the first sentences seemed more appropriate in a commercial than in a feature film. It should be the example used in lesson number one of screenwriting classes, under the title:

Common Pitfalls of Character Development.

Instead of an organic way to develop the background story of Brad Pitt’s character, the writers decided to make his kids ask him what they felt the audience needed to know. They chose that exact morning breakfast to have a conversation that would demonstrate all of our hero’s backstory. Show, don’t tell, was a rule completely ignored throughout the movie:

“Brad, we need you ‘cause of that thing that you did in that place.”

“Brad, he’s the leading figure of that thing with the thing we need the most right now.”

“Brad, you are 5’10’’, with blond hair and dreamy grey blue eyes.”

Yes, we can see that. Stop treating the audience like a bunch of brainless zombies! Write some intelligent and Continue reading “5 Issues With Today’s Blockbusters”

José & Pilar

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I used to try to shake off my mother whenever she tried to make me look more presentable. She’d try to clean a smudge of dirt of my freckled nose and I’d push her away yelling “Leave me alone, Hermione!” She’d try to button my shirt properly and I’d push her away, “I’ve missed a case, but I like it this way.” And I’d walk out the door with one collar near my ear and the other close to my chest. My mother no longer cares how messy I look, or simply learned to look as if she doesn’t care. Ironically to me, inevitably to her, now I’m the one who asks her for help to straighten out a sweater and make sure my shirt peaks out evenly underneath it.

“… the best way of killing a rose is to force it open when it is still only the promise of a bud.”

That was an excerpt of José Saramago’s The Cave. Saramago is a Portuguese writer and Nobel Laureate, who was born in Azinhaga, Iberian Peninsula, in 1922. I learned about his writing in high-school. One of his books was part of the curriculum so, naturally, due to my very cool rebellious teen spirit, I proceeded to ignore it, which was my mo. with any book I HAD to read. A few months after finishing high-school, after I could do nothing to change my paltry grades, I decided to read it. He slowly climbed up the ladder of my favourite writers to the top. It was a small ladder, Enid Blyton was there, as was J.K. Rowling and a Maxim Magazine erotica writer, whose writing helped me a lot in the pre-adsl days. It was still, by no means, a small accomplishment.

Saramago deals with daunting subjects. His most recognized work is Blindness. It paints a vivid image of violence, chaos, and Continue reading “José & Pilar”

Classic Quotes Updated

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Gone with the Wind [Click for more] updated classic movie quotes

Original: “You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”

Clark Gable would now have no time for subtleties. A 50 year old man knows what he wants and kissing is just a little step along the way. This is 2013, after all.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

ET [Click for more] updated classic movie quotes

Original: “E.T. phone home.”

Who uses phones anymore? Even text messages are outdated. Plus, you’re a big boy now. Tell your mother you’ll be home late. You’ll get there when you get there.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump [Click for more] updated classic movie quotes

Original: “Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Continue reading “Classic Quotes Updated”

Why I’ll Never Love a Book More Than Harry Potter

[click the image for the reasons] Why I'll Never Love a Book Like Harry Potter - Source: (azevedosreviews.com)

I wear glasses and say words like “derogatory”. I watched Arrested Development. So, yeah, I’m pretty smart. I’m not an expert in literature, but I’ve read a few of the Slavics, some Dickens, all of Bukowski’s novels and most of Vonnegut’s. Of my countrymen, I’ve read almost everything by Saramago and Eça; I read one or two other authors, but I don’t bother with the rest. But when people ask me which is my favorite book, I’ll always proudly reply: Harry Potter. It doesn’t matter which big words I use or the way I arrange my glasses when I reply, they’ll always be, in this order, surprised and condescending. “Don’t give me that derogatory look just yet”, I tell them “let me explain”.

There’s a very simple reason for Harry Potter remaining in the top of my favourite books: I read it as a child. I grew up with it. I was lucky to be the same age as Hermione, Harry and Ron. I went through the same things they did, at the same time. I was accepted in a very exclusive school, top 10 in the country at the time. My sister went there before me, but I still felt like a mudblood (sorry for the language). Before the school year I had to buy my supplies. Like a Weasley, everything I could re-use from my older siblings I did. Fortunately, my parents had TV’s, so I had only a 5 year older sister, smaller than me; I got some books, pens, notebooks, rulers, erasers, half of a set-square, and one particularly large summer dress. What I couldn’t get second hand, I had to buy at the lowest price, so I had to scourge Diagon Alley for the best bargains. I was either 10 or 11, I thought I was big and brave, but like Harry I was also scared when Olivander helped me choose my wand. I mean, when he helped me getting chosen by my wand. I also bought my cauldron, 1 set of crystal phials, gym clothes, 2 gridded notebooks, 1 telescope, 1 drawing pad, 15 different pencils, 1 set of brass scales and the required books I hadn’t inherited: Portuguese, English, History, Sciences, Defense Against The Dark Arts and Geography. I also had to buy new clothes. I wanted a pair of loose jeans, with a cartoon on the back and metal chains, which connected from the beginning of the pocket to the end, and hung almost to the knees. I got the cheap imitation and which still made me happy.

You might have noticed I have some difficulty separating reality from fantasy. That’s the muggle in you talking. Tell him to quiet down for the next few hundred words. Continue reading “Why I’ll Never Love a Book More Than Harry Potter”

Martin Scorcese’s 20 Quotes on Film

(Click the image) for 19 more of Martin Scorcese's quotes on directing

1. “Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our life time, we need to keep them alive.”

2. “Film is history. With every foot of film that is lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves.”

3. “Black and white is never really black and white. It’s shades of grey.”

4. on Akira Kurosawa: “The term ‘giant’ is used too often to describe artists. But in the case of Akira Kurosawa, we have one of the rare instances where the term fits.”

5. “L’avventura” gave me one of the most profound shocks I’ve ever had at the movies, greater even than “Breathless” or “Hiroshima, mon amour”. Or “La Dolce Vita”. At the time there were two camps, the people who liked the Fellini film and the ones who liked L’Avventura. I knew I was firmly on Antonioni’s side of the line, but if you’d asked me at the time, I’m not sure I would have been able to explain why. I loved Fellini’s pictures and I admired La Dolce Vita, but I was challenged by L’ Avventura. Fellini’s film moved me and entertained me, but Antonioni’s film changed my perception of cinema, and the world around me, and made both seem limitless. I was mesmerized by L’Avventura and by Antonioni’s subsequent films, and it was the fact that they were unresolved in any conventional sense that kept drawing me back. They posed mysteries – or rather the mystery, of who we are, what we are, to each other, to ourselves, to time. You could say that Antonioni was looking directly at the mysteries of the soul. That’s why I kept going back. I wanted to keep experiencing these pictures, wandering through them. I still do.” Continue reading “Martin Scorcese’s 20 Quotes on Film”

Stanley Kubrick’s 20 Quotes on Film

(Click the image) for 20 Stanley Kubrick's quotes on film

1. “I never learned anything at all in school and didn’t read a book for pleasure until I was 19 years old.”

2. “How could we possibly appreciate the Mona Lisa if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the canvas: ‘The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.’ This would shackle the viewer to reality, and I don’t want this to happen to 2001.

3. “Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all.”

4. “I don’t think that writers or painters or filmmakers function because they have something they particularly want to say. They have something that they feel. And they like the art form; they like words, or the smell of paint, or celluloid and photographic images and working with actors. I don’t think that any genuine artist has ever been oriented by some didactic point of view, even if he thought he was.”

5. “Heroic violence in the Hollywood sense is a great deal like the motivational researchers’ problem in selling candy. The problem with candy is not to convince people that it’s good…but to free them from the guilt of eating it. We have seen so many times that the body of a film serves merely as an excuse for motivating a final blood-crazed slaughter by the heroes of his enemies, and at the same time to relieve the audience’s guilt of enjoying this mayhem.” Continue reading “Stanley Kubrick’s 20 Quotes on Film”

Shift in Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Zombie Survival Guide HERE
Zombie Survival Guide HERE

On a previous post I grazed a subject slightly tongue-in-cheek. I had paused my The Last of Us game at an interesting moment. Joe, the apocalypse survivor resignedly explained a massacre that occurred by saying, “You sacrifice the few to save the many.” Ellie, the 14 year old girl that accompanies him says, “That’s kind of shitty.” I jokingly extrapolated from this, by comparing these two apparently inconsequential states to the opposite utilitarian and Kantian moral philosophies. By opposing minimalism with an overwrought idea I intended to make humour happen. I failed in that, but the idea stayed with me.

In The Last of Us, like in all post-apocalyptic books, movies, TV shows, there is a shift of moral codes. In this setting your mortgage payments cease to be a priority, and fucking your new nanny loses, in the battle of importance, to filling your reserves with Twinkies*. In this setting it’s probably justified to kill your new nanny to get those Twinkies; but not to fuck her. No, necrophilia is still not cool in Zombieland.

The issue of morality and economic systems in a post-apocalyptic world is so rich, that I don’t know where to start. I’ll start randomly, a system of organization as good as any other and very dear to my heart:

One of the first things that would happen, should be the inversion of importance of roles. Basically, the people whose skillset we value the most and the people with the least valued skill-set would switch places (the only exception being immediate health care specialists). By value, I mean pay. Entertainers, professional athletes, highly specialized professionals and scholars would see their skills completely devalued. Army men, Handy men, plumbers, electricians, would see their value increase diametrally. This was covered for the first time (as far as I know) in World War Z. In the second moment of the zombie apocalypse, after survival to the first wave of zombies and the creation of a new society, famous artists were taught by plumbers or electricians a new trade. Imagine Jay Leno lisping “Oh, but this shit isn’t going down!”

This specific example shows the volatility of the current system of free enterprise. It can be used as the perfect argument for socialism: Cringe, Americans! While in World War Z this isn’t stated, the flaws of capitalism become evident. What we value today is decided by our society; the fact that Jay Leno gets millions of dollars for talking in front of a camera is decided by the people who want to sit and watch him. Easily enough, the paradigm in which his skillset is valued shifts. The same is true for any other profession. Michael Jordan made millions as a basketball player, because in the eighties and Continue reading “Shift in Post-Apocalyptic Fiction”