Month: May 2016

Why Black Widow Is the “Realest” Superheroine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Yes, Even After All Those Tropes)

Film & TV, Opinion May 27, 2016

Originally published for Bitch Flicks’ May 2016 theme of “Superheroines” and still available in full (26/05/16).

Black Widow: the original female Avenger. Actually, up until recently, she was the only female Avenger. Scarlett Johansson had her work cut out in carrying the unspoken burden of representing women everywhere in one of the highest profile, highest-grossing franchises to ever exist onscreen.

To date, her character has only ever been written by and directed by men. It is apparent that the linchpins of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are very male skewed, with the only woman currently having contributed to screenplays being Guardians of the Galaxy’s Nicole Perlman, who is returning for Captain Marvel alongside recent recruit Meg LeFauve. Perlman herself stated that writing Captain Marvel has been a far more stressful project than Guardians of the Galaxy ever was, and that she and LeFauve will catch themselves saying:

“‘Wait a minute, what are we saying [here] about women in power?’ Then we have to say, ‘Why are we getting so hung up on that? We should just tell the best story and build the best character.’”

As nice – and preferable – as that would be, it simply is not possible currently. Every woman onscreen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a minority compared to the sheer amount of male characters and therefore automatically complicit in representing every woman, everywhere, all at once.

Read the piece in full over at Bitch Flicks!

Watch The Throne: Game Of Thrones – “The Door” (Season 6 Episode 5)

Film & TV, Latest Reviews, Watch The Throne May 26, 2016

Originally published on Post-Modern Sleaze (26/05/16).

OK, so, you know when you usually get told that this review is ‘MAJOR SPOILER’? Well this one is M.A.J.O.R  S.P.O.I.L.E.R! Please take heed and watch episode 6 before reading this; any damage done here is irreparable.

As so above. If you were situated on the wrong side of the Atlantic come Monday morning, then the Internet was a dangerous place to be, especially social media, and especially Twitter. There’s only so many times you can see the hashtag #HoldTheDoor before you clutch your face, delete your apps and put your phone on aeroplane mode, but alas, this is what we are dealing with here. It’s one of those ones.

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Watch The Throne: Game Of Thrones – “Book Of The Stranger” (Season 6 Episode 4)

Film & TV, Latest Reviews, Watch The Throne May 26, 2016

Originally published on Post-Modern Sleaze (17/05/16).

As is always, MAJOR SPOILER! If you’ve yet to watch, take heed; it’s a goodun (you’ll need a cuppa after this one).

After years of misfortune and misery, it seems dear Sansa (Sophie Turner) is on a stroke of luck. After escaping Ramsay Bolton’s clutches by jumping from Winterfell with Theon/Reek and being found by Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod, she has now been delivered (finally) to one of the remaining members of her family after 239751 false starts. Seeing Sansa and Jon set eyes on each other for the first time since Season 1 Episode 2 (yes, really) is surprisingly emotional; she’s all grown up whilst he is dead-undead. If the laws of nature were paramount, then their reunion would never have happened and we would have false-start-part-239752 on our hands – but alas, thankfully, they are not, and deservedly so; that poor girls needs a break.

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

Film & TV, Latest Reviews May 26, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (13/05/16).

The third Captain America instalment sees The Avengers confront international politics, their moral ethos – and each other. ★★★★☆

Come 2016 and one would presume that the world would be completely Marvelled out. It’s been eight years since Iron Man, the first instalment of in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and since then we have been met with a barrage of establishing films (Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger and the aforementioned Iron Man and its sequel), secondary progression (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, culminating with Ant-Man) and the upscaled, end-of-the-world menageries also known as The Avengers and Age Of Ultron.

At a quick count, that’s 12 films in seven years. That’s an unprecedented amount for a wider integrated franchise. That’s a lot for any series. Luckily – for viewers and the company alike – Marvel are savvy to the worldwide superhero fatigue, and in entering “Phase 3 ” they are looking to deconstruct the alliance that they took so long to painfully establish. As such, Captain America: Civil War immediately takes a different tone to all of the aforementioned films. There is no hypothetical “big bad” in the conventional sense, and for the most part it is a refreshing departure that pays off, and in the lack of a full-scale “big bad” assault, all of the Avengers’ pent-up energy is spent inflicting it on each other.

It is the last of these fate-of-the-world initiatives that sparks the main dilemma: following their triumph (or consequential travesty, depending on whether or not you were situated on or under the floating town of Sokovia) in Age Of Ultron and after the full-throttle opening sequence in Africa results in a large amount of collateral damage, the United Nations intend to clamp down on the superhero team thanks to their disregard for accidental civilian death. They are presented with the Sokovia Accords whereby, in complying, the Avengers would only be legally allowed to act should a UN panel vote in favour of action.

It is ironic, with their main initiative being to save the world and everyone in it etc, but nevertheless, from the human perspective, who would want a bunch of strange super-able vigilantes acting as they see fit and claiming it to be in the benefit of the human world? Who is to say if, or when, those superheroes would turn on those they intend to help? Why should they get to wreak untold havoc in their quest to aid the world, without any regard for the consequences?

Continue reading over at Post-Modern Sleaze.

MUNA – “Loudspeaker” EP

EP, Music, Reviews May 13, 2016

Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (12/05/16).

Being on the cusp of change, on the brink of no return that is burgeoning adulthood, it is tempting to latch tooth-and-nail onto the vestiges of your adolescence to avoid the discomfort of growing up. Formed in their college days in an autumn bunk up in their university dorms, MUNA is, first and foremost, a sisterly bonding experience between three friends who are in the middle of crossing that void, with a detour via heartache. Except where many of us left that experience at bitching over pizza and singing Fleetwood Mac songs into our hairbrushes, the trio – namely, Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson – picked up their journals and synths and put our own sanctimonious wallowing to shame.

In this manner, the journey through their debut EP Loudspeaker is akin to flicking through the pages of your sister’s diary; you know that you shouldn’t, but its impulsive reading, so yes – just one more page, and you’ll tuck it back under the mattress like the good sibling you are. It is a confessional compilation of pop songs; you can relate to the pangs of longing and hesitation when your object of desire looks that hot in that shirt, until you remember how much of a douchebag they were when they said that thing the other day, and – in your defiance – you come to the conclusion that they’re really not worth it.

Continue reading on The Girls Are!

Watch The Throne: Game Of Thrones – “Oathbreaker” (Season 6 Episode 3)

Film & TV, Latest Reviews, Watch The Throne May 10, 2016

MAJOR SPOILER. Watch it before you read it, etc, etc.

After the rip-roaring, mass murdering (like, more than usual) affair that was last week’s episode it is only fair that we have a bit of a break to recover, so thank you, Beinhoff, Weiss and co., for giving us the comparatively lull-some “Oathbreaker”, and letting us gather our wits to speculate wherever this is going next.

Not to say that nothing happened, of course it did, and as any viewer knows by now, when there is a slowing down of action it is normally putting all of the pieces into place to boggle our brains thereafter. Episode 3 was packed full of important information, so let us begin the breakdown.

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HIGH-RISE

Film & TV, Latest Reviews May 3, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (02/05/16).

Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G Ballard’s iconic urban dystopia is a visual onslaught that chills and bedazzles. 

J.G Ballard once remarked in an interview that “In a completely sane world, madness is the only freedom”[1]and in an overwhelmingly invasive, capitalist, post-9/11 world it can be gleaned that the iconic science fiction novelist was not far off.

Since his death in 2009, society has fostered a new and unprecedented level of narcissism in a social media world where we, as users, are bombarded with a constant barrage of useless useful information and subsequently struggle to find our place within it. Austerity in capitalist nations sees the average Joe pretend and parade that he has when he has-not, whilst consumerism amongst the Jones’ has spiraled into the superfluous.

In its entitlement and consumerism it almost seems apt then that, nigh on 40 years since the novel was published and the film rights were bought, High Rise should be released now. Ben Wheatley takes obvious relish in the unveiling of this 70s imbued alternate reality, and it is heartening that so much of Ballard’s tone has translated onscreen; after all, not much can compare with the iconic opening of “Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.” Reflection doesn’t quite cover it, however, for as soon as Laing (Tom Hiddleston) steps over the threshold we are complicit in every fragment of the hierarchy, tension and debauchery as the web of this highly intensified microcosm begins to unravel.

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White Lung – “Paradise”

Album, Music, Reviews May 3, 2016

This piece was originally published and is still available in its entirety on The Girls Are (02/05/16).

Common consensus dictates that if you’re going to do punk, then you’d better be perpetually pissed off about something – or everything. There is no harm in that, of course; the majority of us would much rather hear a voice stout and passion-fuelled over a blathering Bieber-lite any day, but what if you just got sick of being the vessel for vital issues? What if those issues are no longer your own? What if you just weren’t as angry as you used to be?

Being content or, god-forbid – happy – can be make or break for a band that has constructed their identity from its antithesis and were you even just to flit around their back catalogue to date, Canadian trio White Lung would have sat comfortably inside that vein – until now, for whilst their unchecked fury of yesteryear has seen them obliterate our perception of what modern-day punk is or should be, their fourth album, Paradise, is extracted from a more peaceful place.

That is not to brand it mellow (definitely not); the band attacks its imaginary adversary with true grit and relish. Cramming ten songs into 29 minutes is 29 minutes well spent when each track is as well-crafted and deliberate as the ones that assemble Paradise. The vigour of Anne-Marie Vassiliou’s drumming is paralleled only by Kenneth William’s squealing/whirring/gurning guitar (delete as applicable) and through songs like the rampant savagery of ‘Dead Weight’ or ‘I Beg You’, vocalist Mish Barber-Way is a steadfast and commanding presence; if the full-throttle melodic riot has failed to grab you by the throat, then she is pinning you to the floor and ramming it down your until you change your mind or be damned.

Continue reading the review….