2021, The Year To Try To Enjoy Films Again
This is a blog that I have pondered putting together for some months now and a new year led me to think that now may well be the right time. I spend, probably too much, time on Social Media because I adore watching films and I like talking about them. My hope was that I would find many like minded people, on Twitter in particular. Twitter is a place where I have very few followers who know me personally so I could be somewhat anonymous, a wry stranger who would occasionally drop into a conversation uninvited and deliver a line of Shakespearean wit and then disappear, leaving the gang of merry tweeters to wonder who the humourous stranger was that had just interrupted their discussion on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Fortunately, there are many such people on Twitter, who find and take great comfort in this dazzling of artistic mediums. They generally appear to share my love and fascination with the World of Cinema, appreciating the beauty and skill involved in every frame of celluloid (or whatever the digital equivalent is). Films have always been about escapism, they have been a comfort blanket when the World has thrown crap in my general direction. “There are always movies” I would be heard to yell, after Liverpool got thumped at home, or a school exam had been failed brilliantly, or mum had decided tonight would be the night for the infamous fish pie.* Films were there to take the burden of life’s pressures from me. They were like a friend. If life appeared to be filled with excrement, stick on Back to the Future, watch Indy get chased down by a bolder, watch the Ghostbusters cross the streams, watch the three men sing the little lady to sleep with a rap song, within minutes the World would be right again.
What I didn’t expect from my trips to Twitterland was to be encountered by the dark side. There is a popular # called #FilmTwitter which if you use at the start or end of one of your tweets will notify it to large parts of the film fan community on Twitter and hopefully start a fun conversation. However, what this hashtag does more often than not is similar to when that dude opens the puzzle box at the start of Hellraiser, it unleashes the Cenobite dwellers of Film Twitter. These are the people who hate everything, the people who’s childhoods have been ruined more times than those of us who used to watch every episode of Rolf’s Cartoon Time.
There is a more sinister side to the FilmTwitter dark troopers, and that is that their hatred now has a platform, and in most occasions a pseudonym or anonymous platform for them to spout their views. Now before I go any further, I am not for one minute suggesting that people are not allowed to dislike a film, or for that matter comment on it explaining why they don’t, of course they are. If everyone in the World liked the same things then it would be quite boring, however we would also probably be now onto Three Men and a gaggle of Great Grandkids (not sure that title would clear the censors but whatever).
The problem we have now is that people love a “like”, a “retweet” a “share”, it’s what makes the unpopular popular, and the best way to do that, is to launch into a film and let it (a piece of art designed to entertain, lest we forget) have it with two Uzi 9 millimeters.
There is an unfair phrase banded around that nobody hates Star Wars more than Star Wars fans. This all came about after the release of Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII The Last Jedi in 2018. Now personally, I thought it was fantastic, and here is why. I thought it dared to be different, I thought it wanted to tell a new story, with familiar characters in a Universe that had from day one embraced diversity and shown that regardless of who or what you are you can become all you are meant to be. As Yoda famously uttered in Empire Strikes Back “judge me by my size do you?”. The online response to this film (again piece of art designed primarily to entertain) was quite frightening. Again, I must reiterate, you don’t have to like a film, whether that be Star Wars, Jaws or Police Academy 7, it is perfectly ok to not like a film. But this wasn’t a dislike, this was pure hatred.
Here comes that sinister side, I was mentioning earlier. Some people hated this film so much that they PAID to watch it several times just to build up the evidence, just to back up their arguments. I followed one Twitter user who knew The Last Jedi to the most finite detail, that can only be achieved by studying the film, like a scholar of Shakespeare would. He knew so much about this film, more than I (someone who loved it) hadn’t even noticed. He knew everything about it, and hated it. There was a teeny tiny part of me that admired his dedication to his loathing, but generally I actually felt quite sorry for him. Not because he didn’t like the film, like I said perfectly entitled to that, but he seemed to be dedicating every minute to attempting to destroy this film, with every bead of energy he could muster.
Now obviously he was never going to succeed, he was a nameless faceless keyboard warrior, but he obviously felt it was important enough to him to do all of this. He launched an online petition (he wasn’t the only one) to get Episode VIII officially removed from the Star Wars cannon. This was pure dedication. The reason I felt sorry for him was, I couldn’t help thinking, what a waste of time and energy, why make yourself this miserable. Why not watch something you do like and put that amount of time and energy into promoting that film so that more people can see it? By constantly going on about Star Wars either in a positive or negative way you arouse the interest of people who are yet to see it.
The repetition doesn’t help either, there is always one joker who thinks, when asked which is his favourite of the 4 Indiana Jones, that they are the first person to come up with the not very witty response “pah, not sure what you mean there are only 3 films to me (smug face, smug face). Toxic fandoms, they achieve nothing. Actually that is not strictly true, crying, basement dwelling man babies managed to force Daisy Ridley and Kellie Marie Tran off social media, bleating on about ruined childhoods like some entitled toddler who has been told to turn Paw Patrol off as its past bedtime.
The other sinister side of Social Media is that there are films that no-one has even seen yet that are apparently awful. Steven Spielberg is due to release a re-imagination of West Side Story in December 2021 (delayed from 2020). This is a film that is designed for Twitter to tear it apart before even so much of a trailer has been seen.
So here is the thing. Lets make 2021 the year that we just get back to why we are interested in Movies in the first place, and that is to be entertained. We don’t need to think too deeply about them, they are there to take people away from their every day lives and offer some escapism. Yes of course they are there to make money and obviously there are a lot of films about social realism and other such issues, but they are still films and the primary aim is to entertain as an artform.
Think back to the first time you saw the Star Destroyer, engulf the big screen at the start of Star Wars, or when Marty realised what the serious shit he would experience at 88mph was, or when Sally inspired half the patrons in a New York deli to order what ever she was having, or when Cap heard a distant radio signal informing him that help was “on your left”.
Think about Donald O’Connor singing Make em’ Laugh, Harold Lloyd hanging precariously from a clock face, Charlie Chaplin making bread rolls dance, Mary Poppins inventing words like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, or Michael telling Fredo that he knew it was him, or Red walking across the beach to meet Andy, or Brody’s realisation that a bigger boat was required, or Buzz flying with Woody in Toy Story, or Axel Foley disarming an unmarked Police car with a banana, and Ripley advising the Alien Queen to step away.
These are all magic moments that have been revered for decades. We are now at a stage where we are not allowed to enjoy such things, because ultimately waxing lyrically about things doesn’t get any likes, or retweets, it doesn’t get any attention.
Movies are a wondrous thing, the artform of my generation. They give out hope, they give credible diverse roll models. It’s time to stop trying so hard to find fault and just let yourself go. Life is way to short to be this angry about everything.
If you are the sort of person who finds fault in most films, then my guess is that its not the films that are the problem……….it’s you.
Here’s to a wonderful year of Cinema in 2021. If you let it, it could be the best ever.
My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.
You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH
You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com
*my mums is a phenomenal cook, just the fish pie really never again.
Three Things Todd Phillips’ Joker Sequel Can Do To Surpass The First
By now, we all know that Todd Phillips is helming the sequel to the Oscar-winning comic-book adaptation Joker. It was reported that Joaquin Phoenix will be reprising his role as the menacing clown prince of crime known as Arthur Fleck while , in a shocking twist, Lady Gaga will be playing Harley Quinn instead of Margot Robbie coming back as the Joker’s favorite love interest.
People are still somewhat in shock that the sequel to the 2019 smash hit is going to be a musical that will actually feature our lead character singing, which is already something new for a DC film. Despite all of that, fans are understandably worried that this sequel will not perform on the same level as its predecessor.
Here is how it can be great:
Technically, we already saw Batman in the last movie. Many people don’t count it because it was just a young Bruce Wayne up until he lost his parents. However, if fans want to be truly satisfied with the outcome of the film, Todd Phillips needs to have Batman come into his Caped Crusading glory once again. Whether they use Robert Pattinson, or decide to bring Ben Affleck back again, it would be so amazing so see the two go at it in this universe.
Fans might groan and roll their eyes at the prospect of these two characters duking it out yet again, but, whether we like it or not, Joker is the greatest Batman villain in his rogues gallery and a Joker without a Batman, especially in this sequel, does not look like it would bode well with audiences.
Joker must kill Robin
In the comics, Jason Todd’s Robin is kidnapped and held captive by the Joker only to be ultimately killed by the clown prince of crime. To really make this movie compelling, there has to be some sort of stakes. Robin may be the equalizer in those stakes and up the ante in the film to make it more heartfelt and poetic if the Joker were to kill him.
This would most likely culminate into an ultimate showdown of blood, justice and vengeance between Joker and Batman.
Kill the Musical Numbers
It might be impossible at this point but if the filmmakers want this film to succeed, it makes only sense to get the musical genre clear out of the film. DC comic-book films and musicals don’t sound like they mix well together. WIth that being said, it only makes sense that the two remain separate.
To be honest, could you imagine seeing Joker singing a power ballad with Harley Quinn in a DC film, or better yet, singing it with Batman? Moreover, could you imagine Joker looming over Robin as he belts out a villain song? I couldn’t imagine that either.
Why ‘Return to Oz’ is one of my favorite films now
I have said it once and I’ll say it again. Nothing could match the sheer brilliance of the 1939 Judy Garland-led film The Wizard of Oz, but there is another film that was flown under the radar that was forgotten by many Oz fans after its release. That film was Return to Oz.
The movie is the unofficial sequel to the 1939 classic film. It follows a young Dorothy Gale six months after she came back from the Land of Oz. She is sent a key by the scarecrow via a shooting star and gets back to the magical land of Oz using a raft on a floating river. She is accompanied by a talking chicken, a metalhead named Tik-Tok, a Gump and Jack Pumpkinhead.
The gang battles the evil Princess Mombi and her boss the Nome King. They must find the Scarecrow and unfreeze all of the inhabitants of the Emerald City.
The film bombed at the box-office and only received mixed reviews, but, over the years, it has gained popularity, thanks to the internet and other Oz fans.
As a child, I have always been fascinated with the idea of a person or a group of people traveling to a distant and fantastical land of wonder and amazement. That’s why I love movies like Alice In Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia but this Walter Murch film from 1985 seems to capture my attention whenever I’m on Disney+ trying to kill some time.
The story is so simple that it takes the journey of the hero and breathes new life into the marvelous land of Oz and the films that inspired it. It has a certain kinship to the nostalgic movies that I previously watched as a child in the 2000s.
Another reason that I love this film so much is because of the magnificent score by David Shire. His music is so beautifully crafted that it makes one weak in the knees and the heart. Each note is a transformative thrill into Murch’s vision of what L. Frank Baum’s Oz was. The film uses every single strand of filmmaking techniques that the 1939 film originally hosted.
Since its release, it has been acclaimed as a cult classic and its nostalgic charm is what makes it so likable and watchworthy.
Why ‘Joker’ Is Better Than ‘Captain Marvel’
The 2010s proved to be the age of the comic-book movies and I’m not just talking about the Avengers movies, although they certainly changed the game for superhero movies, today I will be discussing are two of the most divided comic-book films of the 2010s and they are Captain Marvel and Joker or better yet, why ‘Joker’ proves to be a much better film than ‘Captain Marvel’.
I will start with what makes the ‘Joker’ movie better than Captain Marvel. For those that have not seen the ‘Joker’ movie, major spoilers ahead. Although, if you haven’t seen it by now, shame on you. It made over a billion dollars at the box office and became Joaquin Phoenix’s most successful film.
But anyway, the joker is about a struggling stand up comedian named Arthur Fleck who is constantly bullied and disregarded by society. Fleck lives with his mother Penny working as a party clown until he is fired from his job for bringing a gun into a children’s hospital.
Afterwards, Fleck is beaten by three businessmen on a train. Fleck draws his gun and kills all three men, beginning his dark descent as one of the greatest comic book villains of all time. Now, let’s talk about Captain Marvel. Yeah I know, but it’s still part of the essay.
Captain Marvel is about a young US Fighter Pilot named Carol Danvers who is the victim of a terrible crash that gives her immeasurable powers after a Kree causes her plane engine to explode. And I’m only saying this not because I remember exactly what happened but because I’m reading that from Wikipedia.
Now, before I break down anymore differences, let me break down how both of these movies are similar. Both movies address a character that is looking for more purpose in life. I understand that that seems like a very broad explanation but that is the case in these films. Both characters have something or a series of traumatic events occur in their lives, both characters go up against a powerful group. In the Joker, Arthur Fleck goes up against the Waynes and in Captain Marvel Carol Danvers goes up against the Kree, both characters find out who they truly are: It’s revealed in Joker that Fleck was adopted and abused as a child and in Captain Marvel Danvers figures out that she was captured by the Kree after she gained her powers and lost her memory and after discovering their true selves, they decide to use their newfound persona for either evil or for good.
Now the reason audiences loved the Joker movie could be surrounded in the fact that the filmmakers brought light to a comic book villain that was never shown in a film until now, while Captain Marvel was divided amongst fans because in my opinion it seemed more like a filler in between avengers infinity war and endgame.
And that brings me to my first point. Unlike Captain Marvel, Joker was designed to be a standalone film and not be part of a cinematic universe, despite the fact that a sequel is possible. But anyway, one of the reasons that makes the Joker movie so much better than Captain Marvel is the fact that it was meant to be a standalone film, which makes it unique.
Captain Marvel on the other side of the Marvel spectrum is a movie within a collection of movies, which means that if it wants to really stand out among the comic book film genre, it needs to do something new that hasn’t been seen before and I don’t want to use these guys as a source, but rotten tomatoes consensus sounds like Captain Marvel just recycles old material.
The consensus reads: “Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU’s latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula”.
Did you guys hear that last part? It makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula. It never said that Captain Marvel adds anything new in the Marvel Pantheon, it just makes effective use of an already done-before formula.
Joker’s consensus reads: “Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star — and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema”.
The consensus says that it is an evolution for the comic book film genre….and it is. It changed the game for comic book films and it did it with simplicity. It didn’t need to use extended CGI battles and epic fight scenes and that’s what made it so special. It was a departure from other superhero or villain films that rely on special effects to draw a crowd and that is what brings me to my second point as to what makes Joker better than Captain Marvel.
Joker is grounded in reality. Joker doesn’t reference any other superheroes with the exception of young Bruce Wayne, because it’s a film that attempts to tell a story about a mentally ill man that has been ignored, abused and disregarded by society and critics have been taken aback by the results. Many liberal critics are triggered by the fact that director Todd Phillips is shedding a light on a white male character that becomes a supervillain and ends up killing many people in the future. In fact, it’s so stirring for moviegoers that people have claimed it would incite violence or more mass shootings…and it didn’t. With that logic you could say the same thing about Tom Hardy’s Venom or Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool, but I won’t get into that.
Anyway, when you compare the plausibility–and that’s what Joker’s consensus says. Plausibility.–when you compare it to that of Captain Marvel, you realize that Captain Marvel by comparison is a fairy tale compared to the Joker because in reality you don’t get powers from a plane crash, you don’t have women fall out of the sky get chased by aliens and later on in the film blast an entire spaceship armada effortlessly. It….does….not….happen.
The Joker however is more plausible. It addresses the fact that there are people with mental illness, which is a real thing. It addresses neighborhood poverty, which is a real thing. It addresses the poor protesting the rich, which is a real thing and it addresses people inciting violence which is a real thing.
Had Todd Phillips taken a different direction to the origin story, like the Joker falling in a vat of acid, we would be having a very différent conversation because it would be a lot less plausible. In Detective Comics #168 in 1951, and revised in Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, where the Joker, before he became the joker, fell into a vat of acid after a scuffle with Batman, giving him a white complexion, red scarred lips, green hair and a frightening cackle and that explanation is so lazy. It doesn’t cut deep within the motivations of why this character is the way he is.
Captain Marvel’s origin is just as implausible, except with aliens, spaceships and devices that allow you to look inside a person’s mind. I’m actually hoping that there isn’t a sequel to the Joker because if there’s a sequel and/or cinematic universe based on this one movie, Joker would lose its uniqueness and end up being lost in a slew of movies that are only being made to make money, because the best things in life must always come to an end….you know what I’m talking about Star Wars.
Three Things Todd Phillips’ Joker Sequel Can Do To Surpass The First
By now, we all know that Todd Phillips is helming the sequel to the Oscar-winning comic-book adaptation Joker. It was...
Why ‘Return to Oz’ is one of my favorite films now
I have said it once and I’ll say it again. Nothing could match the sheer brilliance of the 1939 Judy...
Why ‘Joker’ Is Better Than ‘Captain Marvel’
The 2010s proved to be the age of the comic-book movies and I’m not just talking about the Avengers movies,...
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