Category Archives: film

Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero

Warning: This post contains (mild) spoilers.

Yesterday, Rick and I went to see Captain Marvel in theaters.

Strangely, I’d heard almost nothing about it after it was released on March 8th. The only thing that had passed through my social media was some headline about an old white guy upset about the MCU’s mightiest hero being a woman.

Over dinner last week, my dad, who coincidentally is also an old white guy, and who has not yet seen the movie, expressed his own confusion about Captain Marvel being a woman. Having grown up with the kind of Captain Marvel who starts out as a little boy, shouts “Shazam!” and channels the powers of several ancient male heroes by morphing into a well-muscled, fully-grown man, he wondered how all of that was going to work.

First of all, there’s no reason a girl couldn’t channel the powers of male heroes, given the opportunity–their maleness and their powers are not mutually inclusive. Secondly, I’m not sure what the deal is with kids having to grow into adults in order to use their powers (this also confused me when I first read the W.i.t.c.h. series).

But, most importantly, DC’s Captain Marvel/”Shazam” is not the same character as Marvel’s Captain Marvel. And, as I’ve learned from my good friend Wikipedia (because I am in fact not a comic book nerd), Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel’s civilian identity) has been a fixture of Marvel Comics since 1977, when she first appeared as Ms. Marvel, in a new series of that name, after having gained her powers from events that transpired in the Captain Marvel comics. She finally took up the mantle of Captain Marvel herself in 2012 (although it appears there were a couple other women who also held Captain Marvel’s title and/or powers, at some point or another). So, yes, the first Captain Marvel was a guy, but Carol Danvers certainly has a legitimate claim to the role.

And Marvel nailed it with this movie.

It is the most normal movie I have ever seen.

“Vers” (played by Brie Larson) as she’s known when the story begins, is apparently an alien soldier from another planet, fighting a war against another race of aliens called Skrulls. When the Skrulls capture her and take her to 1990’s Earth (this is a prequel), she works with a young Nick Fury to find and defeat the Skrulls before they can infiltrate Shield and steal an essential piece of technology.

It sounds pretty straightforward, for a superhero mission, but along the way, Vers, who can’t remember anything about her past and has trouble controlling her powers (read: obeying; getting things right), manages to discover who she is and what she is really capable of.

I cried watching her self-actualization play out. This wasn’t a story about a woman being powerful despite being a woman or because she was a woman. This was a story about a human being–who just miraculously happened to look and act like me–realizing their full potential.

Brie Larson is beautiful, make no mistake, but they don’t make her up like a supermodel (cough cough, Wonder Woman), and she’s dressed from head to toe in a practical uniform which sufficiently protects her from both the elements and the vacuum of space. She’s fit, like I imagine anyone with military training would be, but she looks like a normal person, not somebody’s ridiculous ideal.

And our hero’s defining relationship? Carol Danvers’s friendship with Maria Rambeau, a black single mother and badass pilot, replaced what could have easily been a meaningless long-lost love interest, if this were a different movie.

Captain Marvel, despite the horrendous line of advertisement I found on this AMC theater page, is not a “(her)o.” What a strange and belittling advertisement for such an amazing and worthy character.

She is a hero.

Captain Marvel is smart, brave, and human, in addition to having powers on par with those of DC’s Superman. I’m excited to see her take down Thanos in Avengers: End Game next month.

In the meantime, go see Captain Marvel. (Go experience it in IMAX, too.)

Take your friends and your children with you.

Everyone should see this movie.

“Leve Som Dem”

Hej. Mit navn er Mariah, og jeg kan godt lide den farv grøn. Jeg snakker dansk ikke godt, men jeg lærer det. Jeg har lært det i et år. Jeg underviser mig selv med Duolingo. Jeg er ikke en “polyglot” (de taler meget sprogene flydende) men jeg ønsker at være en dag.

Hi. My name is Mariah, and I like the color green. I don’t speak Danish well, but I am learning it. I have learned it for a year [on and off–I’m worse at practicing than I like to think]. I am teaching myself with Duolingo. I am not a “polyglot” (they speak many languages fluently) but I wish to be one day.

Watch this excellent TED talk by Lýdia Machová on the secret to becoming a polyglot.

One of the things that I do to make language learning fun is to listen to music and learn the lyrics. I recently found the Danish version of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid on YouTube, and was excited to discover that, by the fifth listen or so, I could understand some of the lines and sing along.

It’s not an exact translation from the English version–even the title of the song, “Leve Som Dem,” means “live like them,” not “part of your world”–but it’s even more interesting, because the Danish version still rhymes. While the lyrics were altered from an exact translation, they still have roughly the same meaning, and they also maintain that sort of musical poetry that we would expect in a Disney/children’s song. That’s super cool on a number of different levels.

I really want to find a copy of the whole movie. The utter appropriateness of a Danish Little Mermaid is indescribably appealing.

(I’m a total nerd, so I couldn’t write an introductory post without going all-in. So hey. Hi. This is me. Nice to meet ya.)

Good MOURNING

I’ve always thought the saying, “Good Morning”, to be quite funny and also, punny. When I wake up early, the first thing I do is mourn my past self that was blissfully sleeping just minutes ago. Also, my favorite response to “Good Morning” is always the sarcastic, “Is it?”

I have many interests, but a few of the most important are reading, writing, basketball, camping, traveling and even video games. I am pretty political, especially lately; and I try to be bipartisan, but my viewpoints tend to stray to the left. I also really enjoy watching movies, reading movie reviews and screenplays. I love to watch behind the scenes stuff and my biggest goal in life is to write a movie/ direct a film/documentary and using my communications and writing major to bring social change through film.

Anyways, Good morning and good mourning; however you feel about it. It’s nice to meet you all and I hope we have some fun this semester.

Signing off,

Katie

 

Was Vermeer a human camera?

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing the movie Tim’s Vermeera documentary about a genius inventor obsessed with creating his own Vermeer painting. Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter born in 1632 who specialized in recreating scenes of domestic life in vivid detail. The painting below is a good example of his work.

Johannes Vermeer "The Geographer"
Johannes Vermeer “The Geographer”

The subject of the film is Tim Jenison, a video graphics specialist who made a fortune as a 3D innovator. Jenison believes the photographic quality of Vermeer’s work would be impossible for a human to paint by sight alone. Instead, Jenison suggests the painter used a specialized “camera obscura” to create a mirror image of whatever he wanted to paint. Then he would blend color on the canvas until it matched the reflection.

Jenison isn’t the first to suggest Vermeer used this type of technology to assist in his paintings, but he is the first person who ever set out to prove it. Since no real documentation exists other than the paintings themselves, Jenison decided to recreate a Vermeer painting using only the technology available at the time the painter was alive. The catch? Jenison had no prior painting experience.

Jenison with the optical tools he used  (Tim's Vermeer)
Jenison with the optical tools he used (Tim’s Vermeer)

Through a painstaking process that took over two years, Jenison eventually completes a painting that looks nearly identical to the Vermeer he was imitating. While this doesn’t prove that Vermeer used this method, it certainly shows that it is possible and maybe even likely. How else could the colors and detail in his paintings be so life-like?

Rather than trying to defame or cheapen Vermeer’s work, this film does a great job of showing that art is not always what it seems. It clearly shows the blurred lines between art and invention, painter and tinkerer, and even genius and madness. The movie was directed by Teller (of Penn and Teller fame), and although it was a little dry even for a documentary, I’d still highly recommend seeing it.

vermeer-big
Can you tell the difference? Tim’s Vermeer, left, and actual Vermeer, right (The Music Lesson).

A comparison on zombie movies – ([REC] vs Quarantine)

[REC] Trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAnbWCjmOkA

Quarantine Trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoBh5S_aWwk

Sets:
The sets from both films are practically identical. So there’s no noticeable differences/effects there.

Scare factor:
This is a rather subjective topic, though both films do a good job of making the viewer much more involved than the stereotypical horror films we’re so used to. Now you could say seeing Rec prior to Quarantine may have made it seem less scary one might experience while watching Quarantine, but the same can be said for the reverse scenario. Though Quarantine has added a few new scares to the mix. Another thing people seem to be constantly complaining about in Quarantine is the final “infected creature” wasn’t nearly as intimidating as the girl in Rec. But how they shoot that final ten minutes still has everyone’s heart pounding.

Gore:
Neither movie is tame when it comes to the graphic factor, but Quarantine is definitely more extreme. With the camera man mauling a zombie, and witnessing a dog in the elevator succumb to the same fate. The effects in both films are amazing, but if you’re simply  looking for bloodshed Quarantine spills  gallons more.

Characters:
First major difference: In Rec the cameraman never makes an appearance, where as in Quarantine the cameraman is seen at least partially multiple times. In both films, the relationship between the reporter (Angela) and the cameraman (Pablo/Scott) is very established. So in Quarantine the relationship isn’t soured the least bit by having Scott on screen from time to time as so many people say it does. In fact, one could say it adds more depth to their relationship.

Second: The two main firefighters (Manu and Alex in Rec, Jake and Fletcher in Quarantine) are quite different between the two films. In Rec, we are meet them and liking them is a given. But we’re not supposed to feel much sympathy for them. Where as in Quarantine gives us more face time with the two at the beginning at the fire station so we feel more of a loss when they’re taken out of the picture.

Third: The reporter (Angela) is somewhat likable in both films, but in Rec she has a bitchier, more career-oriented attitude. Where as in Quarantine, Angela is younger, less seasoned, and overall a nicer person. Both can characters play the lead role quite well, but Quarantine’s Angela seems to feel the impact of the situation and has a genuine fear. As shown in the scenes displaying her mental breakdown. Neither portrayal is better than the other, they are just two slightly different Angela’s.

Fourth: The residents differ slightly, but does it matter? Everyone dies in the end anyways! However in Quarantine the residents do play a larger role as the group slowly gets picked off.

Story:
From shot to shot, there isn’t much variation between the two films– but there are a few things one would notice on a second or third viewing. Such as added scenes and dialogue at the fire station in Quarantine to make us identify with the main group of characters further. There is also more creature set-pieces in Quarantine, to be more specific the old lady watching television scene, and the “infected” dog in the elevator scenes. One big change between the two is the origin of the infection. Which one is better is something you must decide for yourself.  Personally I lean in Rec’s because it’s the original. When viewing Quarantine be on the watch for the extra scenes as really do add that extra impact when it comes to character depth and relation.

Now on to the real question.
(Since you most likely just scrolled all the way through looking for a snip-it to reply /post your opinion on.)

Which film do you think was better, scared you more, or was more realistic? If you’ve seen both that is. Also how did you feel about Rec 2 and Quarantine 2?

The Bully Project–Update!

Now this is great news.  I just got an email from the young lady who started the petition on change.org to get Bully a decent rating, and the MPAA granted it a PG-13! If you aren’t already on the email list because you had signed her petition, here’s the email:

Judson –
I have some amazing news to share.
Last month, I saw the new documentary, Bully, which reveals the raw and honest reality behind bullying in high schools and middle schools. I cried when I watched the movie because I was horribly bullied in middle school. That’s why I was shocked to find out that other young people like me might not be able to see the movie because the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave it an “R” rating.
Outraged, I started a petition on Change.org asking the MPAA to change the rating to PG-13. After more than half a million people signed — including you! — the MPAA agreed. When Bully is released on April 13, it will be rated PG-13, and the most controversial scene in the film will remain unchanged, reflecting the reality and brutality of bullying.
This happened because people like you — 500,000 strong — came together to say that we think the issue of bullying in schools is important, and if this movie can help, then kids should be able to see it. We were even joined by people like Ellen DeGeneres, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Michael Jordan, Drew Brees, Justin Bieber, and 35 members of Congress. My petition was covered by almost every major TV station and newspaper in America.
When I was bullied, I felt alone. But today I feel the power of half a million people standing beside me. Thank you so much.
– Katy
 If this doesn’t give you hope that we can affect change via social media, then I don’t know what will.