A few entries ago I asked whether director James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy is misogynist, as at least one of its critics has suggested. Because Guardians is a Hollywood action film, such a question might seem naïve, so here’s some context (and some summary for anyone arriving late).
Indeed, Guardians is a big ol’ hit that cost millions and made millions. One reason I place greater faith in television than in cinema these days is money. Swollen price tags for Hollywood movies have made studios risk averse and led them to partnerships with China and other such markets. The diminishment of complex dramas in favor of movies wherein shit blows up is ongoing, and it makes sense because explosions transcend language barriers.
Marvel’s multimedia approach involves cinema, games, broadcast and narrowcast TV, and comics. Marvel’s comics have long leaned progressive in many aspects, but superhero comics overall still target a putatively mature male readership through objectified images of female characters. Guardians in many ways strokes those same expectations of that same audience. Worse, its most prominent female characters, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), have malnourished roles that are also inconsistent (Gamora is far more of an ass-kicker in her early scenes than in the prison setting, where her role devolves to more of a damsel-in-distress) or one-note (Gillan* as Nebula better earns the ill-written, ill-delivered “pouty child” line that Josh Brolin’s Thanos directs at Ronan). Perhaps worst of all, though, albeit in a subtle way: The Guardians characters who drew the greatest sympathy during my second viewing were (again) Rocket and Groot.
“Perhaps” because both are triumphant collaborations between actors and squadrons of CGI animators. Each is a product of motion capture coupled with voice work by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, respectively. Forget the uncanny valley of yore and consider a different conundrum: Moviemaking technology is fast nearing the obviation of performers. As worrisome as the misogyny Guardians embraces, which is on par with what we expect from Hollywood product, is the dehumanization it may point toward. Movies without human actors? You might laugh at the prospect, but I bet buggy whip makers laughed at Henry Ford, too.
Whatever technological fallout might come from this movie, though, it'd be nice to see its sequel defy sociological expectations, Mr. Gunn.
Which Guardians character(s) won your heart and why?
* Despite what I wrote previously, it was Gillan, not director James Gunn, who reportedly claimed the film passes the Bechdel test.
>> The new Vacation film, starring Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, and maybe Leslie Mann, is in production. Jennifer Brett has some pictures from the set. The film has been spotted on 14th St. toward Howell Mill.
>> Atlanta Magazine has done us all a great service: decoding production signs. "Stretch 29" is the cover name for Vacation; and "Red Band Society" has been set up at the Woodruff Arts Center as "Ocean."
Jeezy may have dropped the Young, but it looks like he reconnected with his inner child this weekend. That's him cradling an oversized bottle of rosé in celebration of his recent Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart-topping release, Seen It All, during a BET Hip Hop Awards Weekend party at Atlanta's Compound Saturday night.
The Instagram post, appropriately captioned "Think I'm in luv," shows the rapper hugged up with a six-liter Methuselah Bottle of Leopard Luxury Edition Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial Rosé. Lotta name for a lotta bottle.
The bottle's absurd size recalls that scene in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka when Keenan Ivory Wayans and crew step inside Mr. Big's club, the Big Brim Bar, and get in a shootout with the armed midgets hiding inside the big-brimmed hats of all the ballers.
There were no such shenanigans at Compound Saturday night. Just some conspicuous consumption as Jeezy and his crew reportedly enjoyed over 100 regular-sized bottles of the wet stuff while partying alongside the likes of Rick Ross, Fabolous, Kenny Burns, YG, Ty Dolla $ign, and more.
Peep more outtakes and Instagrams below the jump:
As I await Daredevil’s 2015 premiere on Netflix with all the patience of a boiling teakettle — Scott Glenn’s spot-on casting as Stick, Matt Murdock’s mentor, is newly announced as I write this entry — I console myself with the knowledge that the TV cornucopia is about to spill forth comics-based characters in superabundance. What will I be pointing my greedy geek’s eyes at this fall, you ask?
In order of the anticipation they spark in me, from least to most, I expect to fritter away the dark hours of year’s end at the following electron parties:
Based on DC’s Hellblazer, this NBC program is shooting (at least in part) in Atlanta (but what isn’t?). It revolves around ever-raincoat-clad sorcerer John Constantine, an Alan Moore creation who first popped up in the Great Brit’s run on Swamp Thing. My lessened expectations stem somewhat from rumors of the character’s softening (predictably, he’ll be neither bisexual nor a smoker, unlike the comics version), but mainly the snippets I’ve seen online. Matt Ryan looks right in the title role, but his onscreen demeanor struck the wrong tone to me. Still, Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, “Game of Thrones”) is directing the pilot, so hope lingers. 10 p.m. EST Fridays; premieres Oct. 24.
I admit to being a sucker for the soap opera that is the CW’s version of Green Arrow. Season two was pallid in comparison to its predecessor, and this season sounds crammed with new masked, um, marvels. I detect a whiff of desperation here. 8 p.m. EST Wednesdays; premieres Oct. 8.
Like Superman, the Scarlet Speedster is among the toughest superheroes to make interesting in all of comics. Truth is, those goofy bastards in his rogues’ gallery bring life to the fastest man alive (even as they try to take it away …). I gave considerably less than a damn about this show before Wentworth Miller (“Prison Break”) got cast as Captain Cold. Few actors convey intelligence as intelligently as he can. Now, if only they can justify the character’s ridiculous monicker (the smart route would be as a dismissive nickname with roots in a newsroom or a police precinct). This CW spinoff of "Arrow" is airing at 8 p.m. EST Tuesdays; premieres Oct. 7.
"Agents of SHIELD"
This ABC show’s first season dithered along until the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Thereafter its pleasures were manifold, stakes were raised, and what had seemed to bear only scant resemblance to its source material came sharply into focus. Worth catching up on if you avoided it earlier. 9 p.m. EST Tuesdays; premieres Sept. 23.
ABC’s impending "Agents of SHIELD" spinoff stars actress Hayley Atwell (I could stop there) as its secret weapon. Set in the era after WWII and the first Captain America movie, it promises to deal with the title character’s struggles against evildoers and sexism. Times and dates TBA.
Batman before he begins. Call me nuts, but a bit of the Bat goes a long way. I thought the best stretches of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight cribbed from Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka’s brilliantly somber comics policier, Gotham Central. Show runner Bruno Heller (“The Mentalist”) appears to second that idea, if the teasers give any indication. Now: If only Fox won’t strangle it in its infancy. Times TBA, Mondays; premieres Sept. 22.
Which shows, new or old, tickle your fancy this fall?
>> The new Vacation , which follows the grown-up travails of Griswold son Rusty, has arrived. This means: prep and filming on Piedmont and Sixth Street during the first week of October. The production has also been in Tucker and on the westside, per Jennifer Brett.
>> The Nice Guys, the next film from Iron Man 3 writer/director Shane Black, will film here in November. The neo-noir stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe and female leads, Angourie Rice and Margaret Qualley.
>> Insurgent has wrapped production in Atlanta. Expect a first look at the footage by the fall.
>> USA's "Complications," about an ER doctor (Jason O'Mara) who saves a young boy and in the process sets off a whole chain of life-or-death situations, is in production in Atlanta and has just cast four recurring roles.
Getting a television series passed by executives and picked up by a network is a struggle to say the least. While there are the lucky ones selected for a pilot episode or season, there are just as many shows and their unsung heroes—the writers—that don’t make it to the small screen. That’s why Nick Gibbons has realized, you must have an attack plan to get your series off the ground.
A video editor for Adult Swim, Gibbons' live action project entitled Dark Alley, about a family-owned bowling alley in a small town, is his attempt at creating a fast and funny series with quality production. Deciding you have a script on your hands worthy of television, however, is the easy part. Gibbons’ next hurdle is a budget that can be kept low and manageable without losing quality.
With a set goal of $30,000, Gibbons has taken to the Interwebs in his campaign to raise the necessary funds for his pilot. The Dark Alley Kickstarter has seen more than $8,000 pledged with over 130 backers and still has a week to go before the campaign ends. While Gibbons says that the average production budget is five times more than his actual goal, but he's asking for any donations — big or small — so that he may “unleash this beast onto the world.”
Having written and performed comedy for more than 20 years, Gibbons has made a name for himself in the film and television industry after working on several popular productions including Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the Ice Age franchise, Archer, and Adult Swim's Aqua Teen Hunger Force and You’re Pretty Face is Going to Hell. Gibbons wrote the initial Dark Valley story a year ago and after revisiting the script, he decided to pitch it as a TV pilot.
Gibbons is not alone in his efforts to see the script brought to the screen. His time spent in New York on the comedy circuit with Upright Citizens Brigade allowed him to form connections with other performers, many of whom Gibbons got to act in the pilot. Gibbons says the funds would be used to help pay for the crew, equipment, actors, travel, hotels, food, location rental, wardrobe, and "any other incidentals that might pop up."
For more information and contributions to the campaign can be made here.
Things to know about me as you read this post:
I am the same age as Marvel’s superheroes, and I learned to read in part by reading comics, especially Spider-Man and Fantastic Four (as well as Superman, Batman, Archie, Uncle Scrooge, and many, many others).
I reviewed films for radio back in the 1990s — until I didn’t. Thereafter, I never recovered my earlier voracity for the medium.
I have and enjoy Netflix, but most months I stream many more hours of television with it than I do movies.
With Marvel Studios shaping its interwoven megafranchise on screens big and small, and with DC trying to play catch-up in live action (though no one else has yet equaled the serial glories of such animated goodness as Justice League Unlimited or The New Batman Adventures), never has there been a better time to be a superhero geek. Which I am.
That said, some examples of the current plenitude deserve higher praise than others.
So, about Guardians of the Galaxy: Marvel’s latest feature film brings together various incarnations of that obscure interplanetary band of heroes in a noisy, sometimes confusing space opera that I still laughed all the way through. Once, anyway. Creeping feelings of extreme disservice to the film’s female characters — including Zoe Saldana as an assassin named Gamora and Karen Gillan as her “sister,” Nebula — led me to Google “Bechdel* test.” Color me not surprised to find a writer wrist-slapping director James Gunn for delivering a film that one of his performers (the aforementioned Ms. Gillan) reportedly claimed clears the famous must-have-at-least-two-female-characters-with-names-who-talk-about-something-other-than-a-man bar but nonetheless bears a “whiff of misogyny.”
Basically, I want to resee GotG with the Bechdel test in mind. Iron Man 3 passed with flying Peppers. I can’t shake the suspicion that the aforementioned sisters spent all their joint screen time arguing about good pop/bad pop bullshit.
*Rhymes with “rectal”; look here, under “How do you pronounce your last name,” if you don’t believe me.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said James Gunn reportedly claimed the film passes the Bechdel test. It was actress Karen Gillan.
>> The Buddy Bolden biopic Bolden has been filming at the Goat Farm, per Jennifer Brett.
>> "Red Band Society" is reportedly back at the Woodruff Arts Center.
>> OLV has photos from (near) the set of NBC's "Constantine," which has been filming around the city for weeks. Programming note: Look for more deets from co-star Charles Halford — on this very website! — soon!
>> Insurgent may have wrapped production, but reshoots were reportedly still underway as of last week.
>> Ed Helms' reboot of Vacation starts filming here on Sep. 15, and production should continue through the middle of November. Keep scrolling for some casting news.
>> Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have-Nots filmed in the Buckhead area this week.
>> Captain America 3 will start filming in Atlanta in April. When will we know the title? "In a month or so," according to the Russo brothers.
>> Magic Mike 2, better known as Magic Mike XXL, will film in Savannah starting in late September. Production will take about five weeks. Even better: they're casting locals.
>> VH1's new series "Hindsight," about women, weddings, and the past, will reportedly start filming here next month.
>> Sony's new live-action series "Powers" — a bid for original programming on PlayStation — will start production here in just a few weeks. The show start District 9's Sharlto Copley. Keep scrolling for some casting news.
>> "The Vampire Diaries" continued filming in Decatur.
>> Something is filming on Paces Ferry.
>> FYI: "Gunfire planned" for a new series shooting in the Fairlie-Poplar area on Sept. 3.
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