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PopCult June 2019 Digest

Features
Best of the 2010s: My Favorite Films of 2013
Best Pillar of Light Movies
The X-Men Films: Ranked
My Favorite Bill Murray Movies
Birthday Cinema: A Movie For Every Year I’ve Been Alive
Book Update 2019 (April-June)

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Comic Book Review – 52 Volume Three

52 Volume 3
Reprints 52 #27-39
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art by Keith Giffen, Joe Bennett, Drew Johnson, Chris Batista, Patrick Olliffe, Tom Derenick, Joe Prado, Phil Jimenez, Dan Jurgens, Jamal Igle, and Andy Smith

The third volume of 52 is all about bringing our characters to those moments of darkness, showing that all hope may be lost to set up the conclusion for the fourth volume. Volume three is probably my favorite of the four collections for that reason, and it does some impressive things, like make the Lost in Space storyline enjoyable. Lobo is still there, but a new enemy is introduced that truly feels dangerous.

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Movie Review – Birdboy: The Forgotten Children

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (2015)
Written & Directed by Alberto Vázquez & Pedro Rivero

On an island in a seemingly endless sea, where a factory in the industrial zone exploded, leaving this place a decaying hell, lives Birdboy. Birdboy is a teenager possessed by a demonic force that makes its home in the lighthouse just off the shoreline. Despite his dark nature and dependency on meds to keep this demon at bay, Birdboy is loved by Dinky, a mouse girl from a troubled family. Dinky is a runaway who, with her friends Sandra the rabbit and Little Fox, have pooled their money to try and buy a boat so they can finally escape this place. This animated Spanish-language picture is very dark and most definitely a mature adult-oriented film dealing in themes of mental illness, addiction, and abuse.

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Movie Review – Zama

Zama (2017)
Written & Directed by Lucrecia Martel

Don Diego de Zama was sent by the Spanish crown to a remote colony in South America to serve as a functionary under the governor. When we meet Zama, he is standing on the shore, staring off into the ocean anticipating a vessel to carry him back to his family, a ship that will never arrive. This is the living nightmare that Zama exists in, a place where the governors come and go but where he is trapped. He suffers the temptations of the flesh, has belongings stripped from him, and has to reside in a haunted shack. Finally, Zama volunteers to be part of a doomed expedition to capture the infamous Vicuña Porto.

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Movie Review – The Last Black Man in San Francisco

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)
Written by Jimmie Falls, Joe Talbot, and Rob Richert
Directed by Joe Talbot

San Francisco has existed since 1846, formerly the Spanish town of Yerba Buena renamed in the wake of the Mexican-American War. The city boomed with the Gold Rush and despite destructive earthquakes hasn’t seemed to stop growing ever since. These days, San Francisco is at the center of the tech boom, neighborhoods gobbled up by startups and associated service industries that cater to these companies. The long-time residents of San Fran, whose family lineages go back to the first boom of the Gold Rush and the subsequent migrations, are being pushed to the fringes. The gentrification is even crossing the Bay into Oakland. Like every city center in our nation afflicted by “urban revitalization,” the result is always the local is pushed out for the transplant or the tourist.

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Movie Review – Lethal Weapon

Lethal Weapon (1986)
Written by Shane Black
Directed by Richard Donner

I was looking over the films that came out in 1989 to find some 30th-anniversary content and saw Lethal Weapon 2 came out this weekend that many years ago. I realized I’d never seen the first Lethal Weapon and decided to sit down and watch this flick finally. I like both gentlemen involved in the making of this picture. Shane Black is a pretty good screenwriter, and I enjoyed both Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. Richard Donner is the filmmaker behind The Omen, The Goonies, and one of my all-time favorites Superman the Movie. I am a bit more negative on one of the film’s stars, Mel Gibson for obvious reasons if you have kept up with pop culture for the last twenty years. But I decided to give the picture a shot and see if it made sense there’d be three more movies and television series in this franchise.

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Comic Book Review – 52 Book Two

52 Book Two
Reprints 52 #14-26
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art by Keith Giffen, Dale Eaglesham, Shawn Moll, Joe Bennett, Chris Batista, Eddy Barrows, Patrick Oliffe, Drew Johnson, and Phil Jimenez

Book Two of 52 is all about building out the world of the story without really answering any questions. It’s only the halfway point, so there’s plenty of wandering around to stretch out the narrative. That said, there are great moments, and some plots are much better than others. One thing I’ve tried to do through this second readthrough of the series is trying to determine who wrote what and that has led to some deep internet dives to confirm or deny my assumptions. On the surface, it’s relatively easy to determine the authors of individual plots. Based on subsequent comics Greg Rucka is most definitely writing the Montoya/Question/Batwoman story. Geoff Johns is penning the Black Adam story continuing plot threads he started back in JSA. Grant Morrison is mainly writing the Lost in Space story featuring Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man. I’m reasonably sure Mark Waid is over the Steel/Luthor/Everyman plot.

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Movie Review – Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Written by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis
Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Alita is a movie almost 20 years in the making. In 2000, James Cameron registered website domain names that involved this property as a film. In 2003, he confirmed he was going to direct a movie based on the early 90s manga. And then delays began, and Avatar went into production, and other projects came about. Eventually, Cameron stepped aside, taking credit as screenwriter and producer. Robert Rodriguez came onboard in 2016 with the film set to be released in July of 2018. That didn’t happen, and the movie was delayed to a primo January release in 2019. All this is to say that this film has had so much time to be worked on tweaked and improved so it should be great. But there is a common theme in Hollywood where a film has a window between enough pre-production and too much that it overbakes. Alita was burnt to a crisp.

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