Movie Review – Brazil

Brazil (1985)
Written by Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, and Charles McKeown
Directed by Terry Gilliam

Brazil has often been explained as George Orwell’s 1984 played as a comedy, and that is not too far off. I don’t think the art deco world of the film is as authoritarian as 1984, but the flow of disinformation is just as crucial to the narrative. Brazil presents a prophecy of the world we live in now where the specter of faceless terrorism is used to cow people into apathy. The power is not sleek and sharp but buffoonish, making fatal errors and killing innocent people. But the stratified class system and a fear of being targeted if you speak up keeps the ordinary person docile.

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Comic Book Review – Funeral for a Friend

Funeral for a Friend (2016)
Reprints Action Comics #685-686, Adventures of Superman #498-500, Justice League America #70, Legacy of Superman, Supergirl and Team Luthor Special, Superman #76-77, and Superman: The Man of Steel #20-21
Written by Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, William Messner-Loebs, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern
Art by Jon Bogdanove, June Brigman, Rick Burchett, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice, Dennis Janke, Dan Jurgens, Denis Rodier, Walt Simonson, Curt Swan, Brett Breeding, Butch Guice, Doug Hazlewood, Mike Machlan, Ande Parks, Josef Rubenstein, and Trevor Scott

For a couple of months, the four Superman monthly titles had no Superman. Instead, these issues and couple special one-shots focused on how the citizens of Metropolis and the world dealt with the death of the Man of Steel. There’s little action or typical superhero antics in these titles, and it’s a strangely introspective collection for the time. The story opens immediately after the final page of Superman #75, with Lois still holding Superman’s lifeless body. The writers don’t feel afraid to embrace the tragedy and loss, though they have some tricks up their sleeve coming in the next volume, and any reader would know the hero wasn’t going to be permanently gone.

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Movie Review – Desert Hearts

Desert Hearts (1985)
Written by Natalie Cooper
Directed by Donna Deitch

It wasn’t too long ago that even in what is considered the “liberal bastion of Hollywood,” being out of the closet or even depicting a loving gay relationship was taboo. LGBTQ characters were relegated to supporting roles or, in sadly too many cases villains. Lesbian parts were often either psychologically manipulative of straight women or tragically destined to be alone or kill themselves. If you were an LGBTQ teen, there weren’t many positive media representations to help you get through adolescence and understand what romantic love looked like for someone like you. Director Donna Deitch set out to find a story that featured a lesbian romance outside of the urban and bohemian. She wanted a Middle America to help showcase how normal it was to everyone.

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Nintendo Switch – One Year Later

It’s been a full year since I first purchased my Nintendo Switch, and I thought it would be a good time to reflect. I’ve never been a big console video gaming person, and even when it came to the PC, I was a casual player of things like Civilization and The Binding Isaac. I just don’t get caught up in first-person shooters or even the stories of games, really. However, if something is just an open playground, I get bored easily. Roguelikes have quickly become my favorite game genre as they encourage replayability, and I love unlocking new stuff. That’s sort of who I am as a “gamer,” which informs my decisions in what games I purchase and spend the most time playing.

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TV Tryouts – Stargirl

Stargirl (The CW)
Season One, Episode One – “Pilot”
Written by Geoff Johns
Directed by Glen Winter

I am a huge fan of Geoff Johns’s contributions to DC Comics, mostly as the Justice Society writer. He was able to present aging heroes and those who took up their legacies in a way no writer since Roy Thomas had done since All-Star Squadron in the early 1980s. There’s always a rich sense of history that is reasonably accessible to the unfamiliar and resonates powerfully with those who know the backstories of characters. Making a series based on Stargirl, which I reviewed the comic earlier this month, is a brilliant choice to introduce lesser-known heroes and villains.

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Movie Review – Mishima: A Life in Four Parts

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
Written by Leonard & Paul Schraeder
Directed by Paul Schraeder

I don’t know much about Yukio Mishima, and after watching Paul Schrader’s film, I still can’t say I developed a vast knowledge of his history. My comments in this review on Mishima come from additional research I did to try and give myself a context for what happened in the film. This adaptation of the Japanese author’s work and life is aesthetically brilliant. I particularly love Paul Schraeder’s choice of colors and cinematography to differentiate the past, present, and the dramatization of Mishima’s novels. However, he doesn’t provide the needed history and context for a Westerner to fully understand what is happening. I don’t like overly expository films, but I think just a bit might have been needed here.

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Movie Review – Blood Simple

Blood Simple (1985)
Written by Joel & Ethan Coen
Directed by Joel Coen

Nothing in Blood Simple feels unnecessary. Each frame, each character action, every twist in the plot feels like it clicks right into place to tell a classic neo-noir tale. The Coens direct with confidence that they know every character and the perfect flow of the story. The title comes from Dashiell Hammet’s novel Red Harvest to describe the mindset immersed in violence and how it becomes addled with fear & terror. That perfectly describes this quartet of souls as they make bad choices, communicate poorly, and allow paranoia to take over their psyche. The result is a movie dripping with noir, reminiscent of old classics but paving its own country-fried way.

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