Saturday, September 18, 2021

Channingography, part 2: Jump Streets

 

I do faintly remember seeing a trailer for 22 Jump Street in cinema. My wife and I instantly knew that it was silly, stupid trash that we didn't need to watch. People drinking in college? How funny and entertaining. I'm not a party person, never were, and so, this movie wasn't in any way interesting to us. Getting 21 Jump Street and its sequel therefore in order to continue my Channingography project felt a bit like a chore. But as with Magic Mike, I was pleasently surprised. Quite a lot, actually. 
 
And that really is surprising, because the genre itself isn't usually something I like. I'd describe it as action comedy with a lot of parody elements. Let me give you a quick synopsis before we go into a discussion. 
 
In 2005, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenk (Channing Tatum) pass High School. Jenko is a jock, Schmidt is a nerd. Both go to the police, and fast forward in 2012, they're at the lowest spot in the pecking order, still basically children if now in adult's bodies, and desperate to get ahead. After a fuck-up they get assigned to undercover unit 21 Jump Street and an assignment to infiltrate High School to flush out a drug dealer. 
 
In 2014, they do the exact same thing again, this time in 22 Jump Street (get it?). Only this time, they're in college, not in High School. But it's the exact same plot otherwise, a fact that the movie points out with alarming regularity. 
 
The humor in these movies is not exactly subtle. The unit commander, played by Ice Cube, resides in a cube. His name is Captain Dickson, and if you think the penis jokes stop there, you're sorely mistaken. Meta jokes also abound; the characters are all genre savvy. And so on. 
 
This should be a simple paint-by-numbers thing, using Hill's and Tatum's natural chemistry and charisma, but surprisingly, it's much more than that. A good deal of that comes from the fact that all characters are genre savvy, because this allows the movies to subtely subvert expectations of audience and characters alike, but it's also poignant in how it defies several of the more clicheed tropes that are harmful and instead try to say something of substance. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. 
 
The throughline joke of both movies is that it's utterly ridiculous anyone would believe these 30ish men could pass as High Schoolers or even College attendees. While everyone likes to point out how old they look, nobody ever seriously questions it (which basically extends to other characters as well, it's not like James Franco would look the High School part, either). 
 
The same is true about the ridiculouness of the Jump Street unit itself, which is treated as an utter joke (including a cameo by Johnny Depp in 22 Jump Street), while at the same time dumping on the idea of sequels that are doing the same thing, only bigger (EVERYONE in 22 Jump Street comments on this concept, and the whole credits are an extended riff on uninspired sequels). In that context, the biggest gag these movies pull is that there's no third one to fill up a trilogy. 
 
But there are subtler things going on than these enjoyable meta-jokes. They're very progressive considering their release dates in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Jenko, Channing Tatum's character, for example harangues everyone for making homophobic jokes or comments. Women refuse to play the parts these movies usually reserve for them (including a Walk of Shame for Schmidt!), and so on.
The thing I loved best, though, was the subversion of the jock-nerd-dynamic. While Schmidt and Jenko are introduced in a slightly antagonistic way - Schmidt is asking the hot girl out for prom and gets rejected to the laughter of Jenko - the two of them become best buddies in police academy, playing into their respective strengths and developing mutual respect. It's not so much that they were adversaries in High School; they just lived in different universes that practically didn't cross. 
 
But the genius comes when they return to High School. It's been only seven years, but everything changed. Jenko quickly has to realize that his attempts at teaching Schmidt how to be cool are utterly wasted, not because Schmidt couldn't perform, but because Jenko's jock coolness is out of fashion. It's the nerd's world now, full in the grip of Nerdstream, and while Schmidt is able to gain all the recognition from a new generation of students that he never got, Jenko is relegated to the sidelines - only to fall in with the geeks. They're not oppressed like Schmidt back in the day, more secluded.
That way, there are surprisingly deep character arcs, character arcs that feel incredibly true. I concluded the Germany's High School equivalent in 2005 as well, and I finished university in 2011, returning to school as a trainee teacher in 2012, so this feels incredibly personal for me - and true. There is a new generation of students, and the amount of bullying, shaming and exclusion has gone down considerably. I can feel for Jenko's experiences, because I can see them every day, but I feel A LOT for Schmidt - including the temptations he falls for. He has the chance to basically relive the final year of High School in an absolute dream state. This is a fantasy a lot of people can emphasize with, I guess, and the central conflict of the movie isn't to catch the damn dealer, it's to resist that temptation. 
 
The script is subtly flipped again in 22 Jump Street. Neither Jenko nor Schmidt went to College, obviously, so this chance is new. But defying expectations, it's not Schmidt who is tempted here, but Jenko. Quarterback Zoot (Wyatt Russell, of "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" fame) includes Jenko in the team, offering him a chance for a scholarship and a way out of the police into a better life - drug dealers be damned. This character conflict drives the action in the second movie, and it's once again played entirely straight. 
 
So is College. While there's a lot of partying, it still feels like a realistic experience, because it's clear that all these young people are torn between the urge to enjoy themselves as much as possible and taste the fruits of youth that Schmidt and Jenko pointedly missed and are now trying to recreate on the one hand and the realization of their live goals on the other hand. 
 
That way, the movies piognantly tell something about do-overs, nostalgia, High School and College. Below the veneer of unseriousness and screwball comedy that the trailers promised (and sold to great success) there's a surprisingly deep well of things to reflect.
 
The movies are also wickedly funny, though.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Book report: Game of Thrones

Like most of you (I gather), I reread "A Song of Ice and Fire" about once per year, or near enough as makes no matter. For this reread, I want to focus on the structure of "A Game of Thrones", a kind of meta-analysis, if you will, and especially concentrate on "early installment weirdness". That term relates to the first volume of a series, or the first episode, or whatever your medium might be, and how it usually is a bit rough on the edges. Ideas are not fully formed yet, characters not really "there", and there are elements that didn't work and were consequently dropped.

There's a surprisingly big amount of that. It shouldn't really be surprising, given that Martin started writing this almost thirty years ago (in 1993!), but compared to the later novels or the (finished!) TV series, it is rather noticable. For example, there is Tyrion's artistic ability, never brought up again until Martin retroactively put a lid on it in "A Dance with Dragons" by explaining it as an artifact of his backstory.
 
Such details pale towards plot elements that stem from Martin's original outline. There is the groundwork laid for the later three-way-romance between Tyrion, Jon and Arya (mercifully dropped already by the end of the novel, but if you know that Martin planned for this, it's clear to see). Jon's relationship with Arya is strongly established and has little payoff in the novels following it; Robb is the much more important fixpoint for Jon's memories of home.
 
There's the groundwork laid for the later planned destruction of Winterfell at Tyrion's hands. The wolves' aggression towards Tyrion, his strong connection to the place, the tragic of his friendship to Jon - both in terms of the planned romance with Arya and the destruction of his childhood home - all point towards that direction.
 
There's the groundwork laid for Catelyn's journey beyond the Wall, as when she is the primary conduit for the dark premonitions about the Land Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder and the Others. When she hopes that Eddard will have gotten her pregnant again after they had sex in her first chapter, we see an echo of the child birth that was supposed to be her death in that frozen wasteland (a plot thread that Martin returned to with alarming regularity since).
 
There are also many elements that, would he write "A Game of Thrones" now, would be there but are absent. The most glaring for me is the lack of references. Eddard Stark becomes Hand of the King, but no one compares him to Cregan Stark, which would be an obvious comparison, especially for Pycelle, Varys and Littlefinger. The behavior of people towards Eddard as the first Stark Hand since Cregan makes no sense at all now that "The Hour of the Wolf" is a thing, but of course, it was not yet conceived back then.
 
People instead tread Ned as a provincial, a bit unrefined and straightforward, much as he is written. But given what we know about Targaryen history by now, there should be a lot darker and much more concrete biases at work. The same goes for kingsguard, king and nobility in general, the Dothraki and the role of the Free Cities - none of it is grounded in the detailed history Martin has written since. One can debate, I guess, the wisdom of creating all that stuff afterwards.
 
The same is true of several regions: the Iron Islands are treated as an afterthought; they will be developed as a solution after Tyrion cannot destroy Winterfell anymore because his plot leads to King's Landing. Dorne is only mentioned in passing. The Tyrells likewise. There's no mention of the Crownlands. And so on.
 
The novel itself remains the weakest of the entire series when we talk about intricacy of plotting and depth of character. It is "only" an extremely well written political thriller set in a low-fantasy world. The main threads are Ned's investigation in Jon Arryn's death - a mystery that will only be solved in the finale of "A Storm of Swords"! - and the political fallout of the Lannister intrigue against Robert Baratheon.
 
What is very noticable is the tight plotting on the one hand - chapters are following directly on each other and deliver the consequences of the actions of the previous chapter much of the time, instead of following unconnected threads, with the notable exception of Daenerys' arc. But even Dany gets connected to the main plot via the murder attempt and the fears of Robert in a way that will not be true in the following novels.
 
It's even more pronounced with Jon's arc, which is so carefully plotted that each revelation comes just too late for Jon to take a different course, perfectly calibrated to play out his inner struggles with his dual identity between Stark and Night's Watch.
 
That is not to take away from an, once again, extremely well written novel. But especially compared to Feastdance, the lack of themes, the close interconnectedness of character arcs with the plot, and above all, the careful construction of the plot stick out. It is incredible on how many chances and coincidences the plot hinges. The fates in the person of Martin have their thumbs on the scales, HARD.
 
Once again, all of that is not take away from "A Game of Thrones". It makes it, however, the least "A Song of Ice and Fire"-y of all the novels. It's no wonder that Martin was able to write the first three novels so much faster than the last three. The main challenge here is to think about which character best to tell which event through, as to obfuscate and set up most effectively. But there is no question who is present where when; Martin only needs to choose. There is no Meereenese Knot, no question of which character will arrive when where to which effect, how to make time jumps and so on. It's almost quaint. And if you know "A Game of Thrones", you know what that means for the series at large. It's a breathtaking accomplishment. One can only stand in awe of Martin's abilities.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Channingography, part 1: Magic Mike

This is the beginning of a series in which I watch movies with Channing Tatum. This guy hasn't been on my radar in like forever. I've seen "Jupiter Ascending" a while back, but nothing else I can remember. What I do remember is having seen a trailer to "22 Jump Street" in cinema back in 2014 and filed it under cheap trash. For a reason I can't even remember I read a glowing review of "Magic Mike", and I decided to check the movie out. I watched it, and only after I finished watching it I realized that I actually watched the sequel, "Magic Mike XXL". So I went back and also watched the original. 
 
"Magic Mike" is a story about male strippers. The titular Mike is our protagonist, but he doesn't take center stage; there's room enough for other abs and pairs of biceps to go around. I was very sceptical, I have to admit. Tatum is just the kind of actor starring in the kinds of movies that usually aren't for me, and male strippers isn't a subject matter I was particularily engaged in. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

The problem with telling "Alien" stories

Fox has announced that they're going to produce a TV series set in the "Alien" universe done by the creator of Fargo. Esteemed colleague Matt Zoller Seitz already laid out his predictions for the series: 

1 It's an anthology telling stories in seasons 
2 Jumps through the franchise timeline a la Fargo 
3 Weyland-Yutani is the connecting thread a la gang wars in Fargo 
4 Established characters cameo as younger/older versions of themselves

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Revenge is no tasty dish

Warning: Spoilers for "Promising Young Woman" incoming. 

Revenge stories are a classic in movies. Usually they involve some wronged manly man who then goes on a rampage to rectify things, usually by killing everyone, which somehow makes it okay. Look no further than half the filmography of Gerard Butler (especially the atrocious "Law Abiding Citizen"). Tarantino mixed the genre up by switching the manly man into a female woman, but that has gone stale since then, too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Kevinography, part 16: McFarland, USA (2015)

This is part 16 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them.

Synopsis: Mr. White (Kevin Costner) is a football teacher who gets angry quickly and cycles through jobs quickly. Now he hits the end of the line in southern California immigrant community McFarland, where he's hired as teacher and assistant coach. He quickly gets into another fight that leads to his dismissal from the football team, but he discovers something else: the Mexican-American kids that make up the school are damn good runners. So he trains them for cross-country running - and they train him in becoming a member of the community. When the team qualifies for the statewide competition, the stakes get a lot higher...

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Kevinography, part 15 - No way out (1987)

This is part 15 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them.

Synopsis: Navy officer Tom Farell (Kevin Costner) gets an assignment as personal liasion to the shady Secretary of Defense Brice (Gene Hackman) and his slimy assistant, Duvall (Will Patton). Things get complicated when Farell falls in love with the same woman that Brice has enlisted as his mistress, Susan Atwell (Sean Young). In a fit of jealous rage, Brice kills his mistress - not knowing who her lover is. Farell knows, and he's now an integral part of the investigation - an investigation that Brice is trying to steer into the direction of fingering an unknown Russian agent. Said agent would be Farell, who needs to prove his innocence before Brice finds out who exactly is leading his "investigation"...

Friday, May 21, 2021

Kevinography, part 14 - Let him go (2020)

This is part 14 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them.
 
Synopsis: In 1967, a man falls off a horse and dies. He leaves behind his young wife (Kayli Carter), their babe and his parents (Kevin Costner, Diane Lane). The wife remarries, and the husband turns out to be abusive. Before the parents can do something about it, he forces his family to North Dakota, back to where his clan lives. The parents follow, realizing too late just what kind of people their son-in-law descends from...

Sunday, May 9, 2021

In the maw of catastrophe - a review of Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Ministry of the Future"

I have a chequered history with Kim Stanley Robinson. I tried to read the Martian trilogy and finished "Red Mars", but then I gave up a few chapters in of "Green Mars". I read about the first third of "2312" before I gave that one up. I was tempted by the premises of "New York 2140" as well as "Aurora", but I never quite dared to get disappointed again, even though they intrigued me. I can happily report that I finished his latest book, "The Ministry of the Future". 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Kevinography, part 12: Bull Durham (1988)

This is part 12 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them.

Synopsis: The Minor League baseball team Durham Bulls has a new player, "Nuke" (Tim Robinson), with some promise who might help them break their losing streak, but he's his own worst enemy. So the manager brings in aging pitcher Crash Davies (Kevin Costner), whose job it is to mature the boy. This job is complicated by Annie (Susan Sarandon). She sleeps with one up-and-coming player per season, and she can't decide whether it shall be Nuke or Crash. What follows is a journey through the love life of three people, interspersed with a lot of bad baseball.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Kevinography, part 11: "The Untouchables" (1987)

This is part 11 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them.

Synopsis: In 1930, Chicago is in the grip of Al Capone and his thugs. Elliot Ness (Costner), Treasury Agent, is fresh on the job trying to bust Capone. But the police is corrupted to the core, and so, when Ness meets honest cop Jimmy (Sean Connery), he founds a new task force of untouchable cops. Taking the fight to Capone carries its own risks, though, as the mobster is gunning for lives and families....

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Kevinography, part 10: Thirteen Days (2000)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 3 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them.

Synopsis: In 1962, the Soviet Union secretly deployed nuclear missiles to Cuba. When the US found out, a deadly game of cat and mouse started as the US administration tried to find a course of action not drawing the world into nuclear war. While the military tries to goad the cabinet into war, Kenneth O'Donnel (Costner), Special Assistant to the President, is among those trying to find a political solution. But events take on a dynamic of their own, and it seems like the world will soon bust in flames...

Monday, February 8, 2021

Kevinography, part 9: Testament (1983)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 9 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: In the spring of 1983, the United States are suffering a nuclear attack. The eastern seaboard is immediately blown to pieces, as are most major cities. The citizens of the small suburban town of Hamlin, California, experience the apocalypse as an incremental breakdown. They try to preserve as much of their previous life-styles as possible, but resources dwindle and the body-count ever increases. We follow the fate of a young family through these travails. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Kevinography, part 13 - The Highwaymen (2019)

This is part 13 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them.

Synopsis: In 1934, Bonnie and Clyde are on a murderous killing spree throughout Texas and the lower Midwest. The police is powerless to stop them. Texas governor "Ma" Ferguson employs two former Texas Rangers (Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson) to use their unique talents in employing violence to bring them down without much regard for the law. The two old veterans prepare for one final shootout... 

Analysis: This Netflix production flew under my radar when it arrived in 2019, despite being right up my wheelhouse, at least in theory: It's a period piece set in the 1930s and there's some gangsters. What's not to like?

Plenty, as it turns out. I've remarked often in this series by now that Costner tends to play roles on the conservative spectrum, and while it sure is true that Hollywood as a whole tends to hew to the progressive side of things, it's not like there aren't any right-wing movies. For every Avengers, there's an American Sniper, and every Get Out gets matched by its own Zero Dark Thirty.

This movie is clearly in the right-wing ballhouse, much like the Untouchables. We have gruff cops who have an iron sense of morality, not burdened by such details as the letter of the law. These cops are oh so very male, and violence is of course the only recourse. Sissy politicians and media people do not understand that, of course, which is why we need these manly men to take responsibility into their own firm hands and deliver us from evil, selflessly foregoing our thanks.

I hate this formula, and stuff like this just reinforces a mindset in and about police that fuels police violence all over the world, but especially so in the US. When a movie starts off my introducing our protagonists as belonging to an essentially extralegal killing squad that was dissolved because of the trail of bodies it left behind and I'm supposed to take this as a good thing, you know there's something off.

Things don't improve with the introduction of our main killer-cop, played by a Kevin Costner with a potbelly and rasping voice. He has married well and lives the American Dream, untroubled by the Great Depression, including even randomly having a pet boar in his house. His resolute wife of course "knows who I have married" and makes sandwiches for him to ease his way into a killing spree. Nothing to sweeten up retirement.

Woody Harrelson, on the other hand, plays the other veteran, down on his luck and trying to get away from booze, swaying with every step. Have you seen Harrelson in this role before? Congratulation. It's about as interesting and deep as that.

It's all downhill from there. Costner barks monologues about "the law" at people, as if he and his colleague weren't sent into retirement because they were involved in quite a lot of extralegal violence themselves (and should have been rather sent to prison for it, along with the whole corrupt government functionary caste that allowed for this shit, if you ask me). Magically, getting barked at by a 60-year-old reactionary shows everyone the error of their paths, and along with a bit of intimidation and torture the two cops manage to get the drop on the FBI and other forces of law enforcement and pump Bonnie and Clyde full of lead. Hooray.

I don't think that the one central conceit of the movie is that bad: That the lionization of Bonnie and Clyde isn't good. Those two were killers, a murderous pair, and nothing in their life and career is worth getting idolized. But in setting a counter-point to the famous 60s movie of "Bonnie and Clyde", this one only manages to be a dreary, reactionary rump with nothing much to say other than to let violent men handle stuff and get out of their way. That's an even worse message than the original had, with its allusions to counter-culture and all.

Harrelson himself started his career with the same concept, basically, which makes all of this darkly ironic. In "Natural Born Killers", he played a serial killer who got lionized by the media. In that movie, violence is also glorified, but the role of the media is explored in much more depth and nuance than here, where every democratic element of society is made into the bad guys. Weird. 

Verdict: Another Netflix production you don't need to watch, another modern Costner movie you don't need to watch. I'm starting to sense a pattern here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Kevinography, part 8: Field of Dreams (1989)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 8 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: Ray (Kevin Costner) is an amateur farmer in Iowa who, out in the fields, hears a voice telling him to "build it" and that "he will come". Ray is instinctively sure that he's supposed to build a baseball field and that Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta), who died in 1951, will then come. He does so, and indeed, Jackson's ghost appears. This strangeness is only the beginning. The rest of the White Socks also appear, and Ray gets a new message that gets him into contact with writer Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones). Together, the two of them go on a quest chasing ghosts of the past, while the farm is in danger of being foreclosed...

Friday, January 8, 2021

Kevinography, part 7: The Bodyguard (1992)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 7 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is a professional bodyguard. Reluctantly, he takes the job to protect the pop singer and actress Rachel Marran (Whitney Houston) who, her manager believes, is in danger from some obsessive fan. Said manager keeps the news from her, and unsurprisingly, she's in no mood to cooperate. This changes after Farmer protects her in a club, and she falls in love with him. Belatedly he realizes it interferes with the job, they seperate and later reunite, all the while a dangerous killer is on the loose. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Kevinography, part 6: The Postman (1997)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 6 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: In the distant post-apocalyptic future of 2013, a man (Kevin Costner) wanders around rural America with his ass (not Kevin Costner). He shuns civilization, but he's in need of food, and so he makes a living by performing a crude version of Shakespeare in the villages. He gets swept up by the evil General Bethlehem (Will Patton), who recruits him into his army. The man manages to escape and stumbles on the remains of a postman. He opts for a desperate gambit, pretending to be a postman of the "Restored United States" to get some food. It works way better than intended, and soon a fan founds a copycat enterprise that starts a revolution against Bethlehem, drafting the wayward Postman into it as a leading figure...

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Kevinography, part 5: Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves (1991)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 5 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: During the crusades, spoiled aristocrat Robin of Locksley gets captured and tortured by Saracens. During a break-out, he teams up with moor Azeem (Morgan Freeman) with whom he returns home to England, only to find out that the evil Sheriff of Notthingham (an absolutely scene-stealing Alan Rickman) burned down his home and killed his family. Trying to make good on his promise to protect the Lady Marian, he is driven into Sherwood Forest by the sherrif's goons. In the forest, he teams up with a band of outlaws and forges them into a fighting force that carries the fight back to the sheriff....

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Kevinography, part 4: "Waterworld" (1995)

This post comes out of a series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to the audio version. For 5$, you get access to the mini-podcasts I'm doing with illustrious co-hosts answering questions by listeners of the podcast. At 10$, you get exclusive access to the Boiled Leather Audio Conversation bonus podcasts. Give the Patreon a look!

This is part 4 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: After the polar ice caps melted, the whole world is covered in water. The few survivors roughly divide between the inhabitants of artificial atolls, the nomadic Drifters and the ravenous Smokers. The unnamed Mariner, played by Costner, arrives at an Atoll only to be found out as a mutant who can breathe under water. His execution is short-circuited by an attack of the Smokers, who want to get their hands on a girl on whose back there's a tattoo allegedly showing the path to the fabled Dryland. Against his preferences, the lonely Mariner comes to care for the girl and her adoptive mom and protects them against the Smokers. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Kevinography, part 3: "Dances with Wolves" (1990)

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This is part 3 in a series in which, for reasons not really clear, I watch all watchable movies with Kevin Costner. And maybe even some unwatchable ones. I will then comment on them here for you, including a synopsis in case you aren't familiar with them. 
 
Synopsis: John Dunbar wants to see the West "before it's gone" and gets an assigment on the edge of nowhere. Arriving at his post, he has to realize no one is there. He settles into a life of solitude that gets disrupted by first contact with the local Sioux tribe. Dunbar tries to get to know them, and after initial hesitation, their medicine man "Kicking Bird" is also curious. Both sides come closer, leading to Dunbar essentially joining the tribe and marrying Kicking Bird's adopted daughter Stands-with-a-fist. The harmony is disturbed violently when the army comes back, incarcerating Dunbar for treason.