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PopCult on Patreon

2021 is the year I make a big push to grow PopCult into something beyond what it has been. Readership jump tremendously in 2020 with a 29% increase in page views and a 32% jump in visitors. Part of our growth will be centered around Patreon. I don’t expect I will live independently off of Patreon, but I think I could generate enough to pay a couple of bills a month. For more on what’s going on with me at the start of the year, read up on last week’s Weekly Wonderings.

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TV Review – Wandavision Episode 3

Wandavision Episode 3 (Disney+)
Written by Megan McDonnell
Directed by Matt Shakman

As promised by the trailers, this episode moves us into yet another era of the American sitcom. This time around, we’re in something around the late 1960s/early 1970s. The faux theme song has hints of The Partridge Family, while Wanda & Vision’s house’s interior is a definite nod to The Brady Bunch. We’re also introduced to the fact that Wanda is experiencing an accelerated pregnancy, going through trimesters in a matter of hours. This is something the couple tries to keep hidden from the neighbors along with their powers, but it proves difficult when Wanda’s powers go haywire as she goes into labor.

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Movie Review – Bliss (1985)

Bliss (1985)
Written by Ray Lawrence & Peter Carey
Directed by Ray Lawrence

In twenty-one years, Australian filmmaker Ray Lawrence made three movies with a sixteen-year gap between his first two. His first film, Bliss, caused hundreds to walk out of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and won the 1985 Australian Academy Award. Lawrence was born in London in 1948 and moved to Australia when he was 11. After he graduated from high school, Lawrence attended and subsequently dropped out of university. This lead to his work in advertising in Sydney and then a move back to London producing commercials. When he finally returned to Australia, Lawrence started his own production company that became one of the top producers of commercials in the continent. It was during his time in advertising that Lawrence met author Peter Carey and they became quick friends. This led to a screenwriting partnership that led to two full-length screenplays. Eventually, they decided to adapt Carey’s award-winning novel Bliss for the big screen.

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Movie Review – Koko-Di Koko-Da

Koko Di Koko Da (2020)
Written & Directed by Johannes Nyholm

I’ve recently tried to pin down what specific type of horror that resonates most with me. I know people who love over the top gore and what veers into comedy. Others enjoy the haunted house jumpscare ride experience. The horror I am drawn to is often based on human grief and is a slow burn. It doesn’t fall back onto cheap spooks and actually delivers horrifying moments that sink in and stick with the viewer.

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Movie Review – The Climb

The Climb (2019)
Written by Michael Angelo Covino & Kyle Marvin
Directed by Michael Angelo Covino

Two men toil up a road in rural France, barely enjoying the countryside, one more slightly out of breath than the other. A secret is revealed, and suddenly the friendship crumbles. This is one of many deaths and rebirths we will see of these two guys as they rekindle their bond, only for one of them to continually stomp it out through selfishness. The Climb is a remarkable indie comedy that manages to be quirky without falling over into the cliches around this genre. The two lead actors are genuinely hilarious, and the film is masterfully shot. Many Steadicam and long takes with hidden cuts make the story feel a little more sweeping than you would expect.

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Movie Review – His House

His House (2020)
Written by Felicity Evans, Toby Venables, and Remi Weekes
Directed by Remi Weekes

In the 19th, 20th, and now 21st centuries, Africa’s history is a testament to colonialism’s evil. There are constant think pieces published in the papers and magazines of note in the United States & Europe attempting to figure out what went so wrong for the continent. Recently, I saw one blaming it all on the tsetse fly. Colonists will do everything in their power to not accept their role in creating the horror inflicted upon the African people through the rabid extraction of resources. Sudan is an oil-rich country, and therefore massive conflict exists. Many people from Sudan and refugees that settled there having fled conflicts in their own regions have taken the dangerous trek up the Atlantic with dreams of possibly reaching Europe and the United Kingdom. His House is the story of two of these refugees and the horrors they face in their new home and those they bring with them.

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Weekly Wonderings – January 19th, 2021

If you enjoy what you read here on PopCult, please think about becoming a supporter on my Patreon. I want to grow this blog into something special in 2021. To learn more about the exciting reward tiers that let you decide what we will feature check out my Patreon page.

Last week I talked about nostalgia some, and that made me think about libraries. When I was a kid, going to the library every week was one of my favorite things in the world. I can remember libraries I visited going back to when I was about six or seven years old and even books I checked out and read from those places. I definitely do not to libraries much at all anymore, even before COVID-19. I think with the digital age, I can access books much more quickly. Part of that is thanks in part to my local library adapting to this new world and subscribing to ebook services. Here’s my weekly Spotify playlist first:

When my family lived in Rutherford County, Tennessee, I remember going to the public library and discovering mythology and comic books. Because I was so young, the order of events is muddled, so I’m not sure if I had already been given a comic book before checking out a reprint book at the library. Regardless, I remember bringing home Robin Meets Man-Bat. This was a transferring of a comic book read-aloud on a record to cassette tape format. The story came from a Neal Adams era Batman comic book, I’m guessing from Detective or Batman Family. I was horrified by the grotesque Man-Bat but loved the horror element of the comic.

That allure of horror is probably what drew me to Greek mythology stories in the non-fiction section. Doing a search online, I think my library had the Monsters of Mythology book series, with each volume chronicling the stories surrounding a creature from Greek folklore. I distinctly remember the Medusa book and learning about the Gorgons and the Graeae. The latter stood out to me because of the illustrations showing them sharing their singular eye.

It was this same library where I came across the D’Aulaires’ Book of North Mythology. The D’Aulaires were a husband and wife who wrote and illustrated massive children’s books about facets of folklore and mythology. It was in this book that I learned about Odin, Thor, and the Asgardian pantheon. I first saw the name Loki and learned about the tragedy of Balder. I was horrified by Loki’s children: the wolf Fenrir, the serpent Jörmungandr, and Hel. There’s a gorgeous illustration of Ragnarok in this book that gets across the epic scope of that fabled event. This book was a very formative one for me.

We moved around when I was nine, which meant a new, smaller library but with books I’d never encountered before. On one of those early trips to the Robertson County library, I discovered a Spider-Man book that was amazing. It reprinted Amazing Fantasy #15, Amazing Spider-Man #80, and many villain pin-ups and short features about Spider-Man’s powers. I think there were some text pieces inbetween to give context. I cannot for the life of me find the name of this book online, but I checked it out so many times.

Additionally, there was a Superman book in the adult non-fiction I came across as a kid. I learned the Dewey decimal system enough to know where the books on movies and comics would be. This Superman collection was published around his 50th anniversary in 1988, I’m guessing. It contained a reprint of his first appearance in Action Comics #1. I also remember a reprint of the first appearance of Brainiac, a team-up between Luthor, Toyman, and Prankster, and the first appearance of Mr. Myxzptlk. Because this was a book aimed at adults, there was a lot more text about the character’s publication history, and I ate all that up. This book, along with Richard Donner’s Superman the Movie, is responsible for starting my love of the Man of Steel and building my background knowledge on his mythos.

The third book from this same library that sparked my imagination is yet another title forgotten to the ages. It was a history of the Silver Age era of comics. No reprints but lots of covers were used throughout the book. I was pretty sure at the time this was part of a series, but my library didn’t have the Golden Age or Bronze Age parts. This was likely my first formal introduction to the idea that there was more than Flash and Green Lantern. In the DC Comics section, it detailed the crossovers between the Justice League and the Justice Society. I absolutely loved that, and it really got my imagination going about the possibilities.

I know I certainly can’t recreate these experiences. They were very much the things of childhood, discovery pre-Internet. As much as I absolutely love the internet, it has taken away the kind of exploration and discovery I used to have. That’s okay, though. I have seen kids still filled with the same sense of wonder whether they are online or handling a physical book. My nephew, who is in the first grade, will have his mom Facetime me every few weeks with a question about superheroes. Most recently, he wanted to share with me a story from one of his superhero books about Spider-Man and the Hulk getting combined into one character. Things just become less new with time, so we start to think we’ve lost some spark. We just know more now, so our joy can come from being those who help the kids of today become filled with wonder as they discover what was new to us once upon a time.

Movie Review – Marnie

Marnie (1964)
Written by Jay Presson Allen
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

All good things must come to an end. Marnie would mark the downturn of Alfred Hitchcock’s directorial career. He’d just come off a fantastic streak of films: Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds. That many consecutive movies that immediately became iconic is quite an achievement, so it is a little unfair that critics turned their noses up so hard at what Hitch released for the rest of his career. On the other hand, he set the standard so high that we expect something brilliant. Marnie has all those things you expect in a Hitchcock movie but done so much more clunkily, with a deep strain of misogyny boring through the entire production. In some ways, Marnie is Hitch letting the mask slipping and showing too much of his true self to us.

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Movie Review – The Birds

The Birds (1963)
Written by Daphne du Maurier & Evan Hunter
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

The Birds is unlike any Hitchcock film I have ever seen. Three years after shocking audiences with Psycho, a film that is also slightly off from most of the director’s work but still sharing some psychological traits, we get this straight up man versus nature horror film. The first half is very slow, almost a comedy-drama, and every once in a while, we get a hint that something is off. Then the second half hits, and the film slides into total chaos. What we get is what I see as a reasonably angry film that expresses some of Hitchcock’s misanthropy in horrifying and comedically absurd ways.

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TV Review – The Best of Amazing Stories Part 2

Remote Control Man (Season 1, Episode 10)
Original airdate: December 8, 1985
Written by Douglas Lloyd McIntosh & Steven Spielberg
Directed by Bob Clark

By 1986, Bob Clark had directed films like Black Christmas, Porky’s, and A Christmas Story. Quite an eclectic filmography. He was brought on to helm this comedic entry into Amazing Stories. Walter Poindexter is a paper pusher at the bottom of his corporate ladder, put upon by a shrieking housewife and two rotten sons. All Walter wants to do when he gets home is watch some television, but his wife sells the set while he is at work. Driving through the city, the man comes across a strange store that seems to grant the person’s ultimate wish. In this instance, Walter is given a magical television whose remote control brings the people out of the shows and into his home. 

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TV Review – Wandavision Episodes 1 & 2

Wandavision (Disney+)
Episodes 1 & 2
Written by Jac Schaeffer
Directed by Matt Shakman

Many people genuinely love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I am glad they have movies they can rewatch and enjoy like that. I wouldn’t count myself as someone enamored with superhero movies of any kind, though I do always give them a viewing. I am entertained by them, but I don’t think too much about the films when they are over. The most I revisit them is with my niece and nephew, who they honestly are intended for. The people who should get the most excited about superhero movies, Star Wars, and the like are little kids. 

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