Teenage Werewolves, Conspiracy Theories, Wine, & More: This Was a Good Week for Movie Trailers

wildling trailer, spy who dumped me, can you ever forgive me, under the silver lake

It’s been a big week for exciting trailers, especially when it comes to female-led movies. Here’s some of what we’ve seen pop up this week:


A young girl raised in captivity by a man who teaches her to fear creatures called “wildlings” is suddenly introduced into society after his death. She’s placed in the temporary custody of local sheriff Liv Tyler, but as previously medically delayed puberty sets in, so do other changes. This one got pretty encouraging reviews out of SXSW as a coming-of-age horror story.

The Spy Who Dumped Me

I don’t love the title for this one, but I would see pretty much anything with Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Gillian Anderson, and Hasan Minhaj in it. Now that we have a trailer for this movie, I’m fully invested. Kunis and McKinnon get roped into an undercover mission when Kunis’ character finds out her ex is a spy. The trailer plays into some stereotypical jokes, like the two not being able to drive a stick shift, but for now I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt that they’re approaching the material with a tongue-in-cheek self-awareness.

Director Susanna Fogel says it was important to her that the action be “legitimate,” with “stunts that weren’t ironic, for real action-movie action.” That immediately makes me think of Melissa McCarthy’s Spy, which is a comparison I’m always onboard for.

Under the Silver Lake

When David Robert Mitchell (It Follows) meets A24 (like at least a dozen of your favorite movies of the last five years), we get Under the Silver Lake. The official synopsis reads, “Sam (Andrew Garfield) is a disenchanted 33-year-old who discovers a mysterious woman, Sarah (Riley Keough), frolicking in his apartment’s swimming pool. When she vanishes, Sam embarks on a surreal quest across Los Angeles to decode the secret behind her disappearance, leading him into the murkiest depths of mystery, scandal, and conspiracy in the City of Angels.”

Wine Country

We are here for Amy Poehler’s directorial debut, and we are also here for this trailer, which seems to just be a drunken video from a trip these women took, presumably to wine country.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy is finally trying her hand at dramatic acting and it looks phenomenal. Based on a true story, McCarthy stars here as author Lee Israel who, when her book sales declined, turned to forging letters from more prominent writers. The movie is written by prolific television director Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said) and directed by Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl).

Let us know which movies you’re excited for!

(image: screencap)

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Review: Syfy’s Krypton Is the Take on Superman/Supergirl Lore We Need Right Now

I’ll admit it. I was skeptical. When I first heard that Syfy was making a Superman prequel series, my first thought was, “Why?” Now that I’ve had a chance to screen the pilot, I need to eat a whole bunch of crow. Not only is Krypton a good show, but it’s a take on Superman/Supergirl that we need right now.

Krypton tells the story of Superman’s grandfather, Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), as a young man at a critical point in Krypton’s history. Seg-El was born into a revolutionary, Kryptonian Science Guild family, in Kandor City, and when he was a young boy, the city was taken over by a masked ruler known as The Voice of Rao. Meanwhile, his grandfather, Val-El, had some bonkers ideas. Like that Krypton “isn’t alone in the universe.” Ideas that would surely challenge any kind of faith-based tyrannical stronghold, which is why Val is put to death…

…and his family, including Seg-El and his parents, is stripped of its rank, and the name of El is to be erased from the history of Krypton. Seg then grows up among the “rankless,” those without a guild, who are considered to have no honor, and as we watch adult Seg scamming some dudes in a random bar with his best friend, we are given a vision of Krypton that we’ve never really seen before.

One of the things I found myself loving most about Krypton was the fact that it was giving us a different side of this culture we know from comic books. Much of the inspiration for the show was taken from John Byrne’s Superman: The Many Worlds of Krypton, as well as other stories spotlighting the doomed planet by writers like Paul Kupperberg, Cary Bates, and Marv Wolfman.

We’re so used to seeing the shimmering spires, the people dressed in crisp, angular clothing, their clipped speech, and demeanor. But that isn’t everyone, and this show is about the people at the bottom. The people without ranks, or fancy clothes, who are just trying to get by any way they can. Throw a newly-tyrannical government on top of that, and Krypton becomes that much more relevant to a contemporary audience.

The show very much has a Battlestar Galactica/The Expanse vibe to it, but thankfully maintains a bit more humor than those shows. This is largely thanks to a charming performance by Cameron Cuffe as Seg-El, who strikes a great balance between wise-cracking, sarcastic con artist, and descendant of revolutionaries being called to find his place in his family’s work.

In addition to showing us a side of Krypton we’re not used to seeing, we also get to know Kryptonian society a bit better, particularly when it comes to the Guilds and how they function (and their inevitable conflicts with each other), but also when it comes to things like conflict between classes, as well as the basics of Kryptonian society: like, how do people fall in love and form families? (ie: carrying a baby in your body as opposed to growing it in a genesis chamber is so old-school!)

KRYPTON -- Season:1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Wallis Day as Nyssa-Vex, Cameron Cuffe as Seg-El, Georgina Campbell as Lyta-Zod

The icing on the cake for me, however, was the show’s women. Yes, this is a male-led show, Seg is surrounded by amazing women like his mother, Charys-El (Paula Malcolmson), to whom there’s more than meets the eye; or Lyta Zod (Georgina Campbell, and yes you read “Zod” correctly), the woman Seg loves whose mother iswait for itGeneral Alura Zod (Ann Ogbomo); and then there’s Nyssa-Vex (Wallis Day), the daughter of The Voice of Rao’s second-in-command, Daron-Vex (Elliot Cowan). Nyssa is the youngest of five daughters, which apparently means she’s the one the family cares about the least. She’s fascinating because she has all this rank privilege that she doesn’t really care about at all, because she’s still treated like less-than by her family. Oh, and did I mention that through events I don’t want to spoil, Nyssa ends up getting promised to Seg in marriage?

I’m very much looking forward to Seg, Lyta, and Nyssa somehow teaming up to serve the resistance against tyranny and the fight for knowledge. However, that might be difficult considering that Lyta’s mom…never mind. More stuff I don’t want to spoil. Let’s just say that both these women come from very interesting family dynamics, which has shaped them into survivors in very different ways. I can’t wait to see how they evolve. Alura-Zod, too.

There’s another element to the story that’s really cool that I don’t want to get into because, again, spoilers. Let’s just say it involves Seg in the back alleys of Kandor City…talking to a dude in a baseball cap and a hoodie? Yup. That dude gets Seg involved in a mission that will ultimately (hopefully) not only save Krypton, but save his family name and future. He might not be the last of his line after all! (I mean, Superman fans know he’s not, but just go with it)

I would highly recommend giving it a whirl. If you’re even slightly familiar with or interested in Superman or Supergirl, Krypton has a lot to offer: great performances, a unique social relevance, and a freedom in its storytelling that is the product of it being on a cable network. And if you’re a big fan of our favorite Kryptonian Super-family, then it’s just hella fun.

Oh, and by the way, I’ll be live-tweeting the premiere of the pilot tomorrow on The Mary Sue’s Twitter, as well as posting videos and photos to TMS’ Instagram while I’m in attendance at the Krypton premiere party at DC Entertainment Headquarters tomorrow night! So if you want to keep up with that make sure you’re following our socials!

Krypton premieres tomorrow, March 21st at 10:00PM ET on SyFy .

(image: Gavin Bond/Syfy)

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We Learn What Drives Tandy and Tyrone in This New Cloak and Dagger Trailer

Freeform has released a new trailer for Cloak & Dagger, their adaptation about the two Marvel comic book characters of the same name. We’ve seen a sneak peek of our heroes’ first meeting before, but this latest trailer gives us a better look at the powers that Tyrone Johnson (played by Aubrey Joseph) and Tandy Bowen (played by Olivia Holt) will wield, and it also gives us some glimpses into their motivations and personalities.

In Tyrone’s voiceover, he talks about the pressure to be perfect and the fear that motivates him. “I feel like I have to be perfect, like I have to do everything right,” he says. “… There’s something about fear that pushes me. It has my whole life.” Actor Aubrey Joseph has previously said that this role was “one of the first roles that, to me, fully showcased what it is to be a young black male in America right now,” and based on this dialogue, it seems like the show will grapple with the pressure that minority students often feel to publicly excel in the face of racism and stereotypes.

Tandy, on the other hand, doesn’t feel that same drive in response to fear. She runs. “I run away from everything,” she says in the trailer. “I’ve had a lot of things taken from me, and everything I have I’ve had to steal.” Showrunner Joe Pokaski previously described Tandy as “a young woman who gets these powers, who does the wrong thing sometimes, and slowly finds herself a hero,” so it looks like her arc will involve learning when to stand her ground rather than run away.

This focus on character also seems to fit with what we’ve heard about the show so far. “A Marvel hero always begins with the person, not the power,” said Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel Television.. “… It’s more important that you care about Tyrone, and that you care about Tandy, and then the rest follows.”

The voiceover also hints at a larger conflict and purpose surrounding Tyrone and Tandy’s powers. “First, we look at the past,” it begins ominously. “New Orleans is a rollercoaster of destruction and rebirth: fire, famine, disease, war … It always came down to two people: the divine pairing … It’s the same as it was for all the others: one will live and one will die.” I don’t love the idea of the show pitting Tyone and Tandy against each other, since their powers are meant to be complementary, but I do love the idea of giving this show a real sense of place. New Orleans is such an iconic American city, and it’s ideal for examining so many elements in our history and contemporary politics.

What did you make of the trailer, though?

Cloak & Dagger premieres Thursday, June 7 on Freeform.

(Featured image: Freeform/Alfonso Bresciani)

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Charlotte York Is the Best Character on Sex and the City

charlotte york

With Cynthia Nixon running for Governor of New York, Twitter was talking about how being a “Miranda” is no longer seen as a negative, but as a symbol of independence and feminism. Now, as a relatively new, but a fanatic devotee of Sex and the City, I can say that beyond a doubt there was something more negative you could be than a Miranda, and that’s a “Charlotte.”

When I started watching the show around two years ago, I was prepared to fall in love with Miranda who I saw as the white Maxine Shaw (Living Single came first, sorry not sorry). Yet, as I watched the show with my partner, the character I found myself falling in love with, sympathizing with and rooting for the most…was Charlotte York. Yeah, it freaked me out too.

Because you aren’t supposed to like Charlotte, she’s a prude, she’s dumb, she’s obsessed with men! But as I watched the series I came to the realization that Charlotte is probably the best-developed character on the show and has one of the best character arcs throughout the show’s run.

So this is my Sex and the City hot take for all you Team Miranda and Team Samantha fans out there (I see you Team Carrie fans out there in the shadows and I acknowledge you), that it is Charlotte “Park Avenue Pollyanna” York-Goldenblatt who is the best character on Sex and the City.

Team Charlotte York


First, we need to address the things that are often held against Charlotte as a character: she is a dumb prude who only cares about men, marriage and living a traditional life.

Charlotte is a Prude:

One of the things I found funny about watching Sex and the City was how tame it was overall. The show was certainly groundbreaking when it came out, but now it’s funny how all of them are freaked out and problematic when it comes to bisexuality or anal sex. While Charlotte is not as sexual adventurous as Samantha, none of the women are. Miranda once got freaked out because her male partner wanted to kiss her after performing oral sex on her. Carrie, just like Charlotte, once shamed Samantha for having too much sex.

Charlotte was open to the idea of a threesome and even flashed her breast in public once. She’s not non-monogamous, but she is not a prude. I don’t know about you, but even my breakfast talk doesn’t include discussing how bad another dude’s sperm tasted. Samantha and Charlotte are both extra for comedic effect and easy binaries, but it is not a reflection of their morality at its core.

Charlotte only Cares About Men & Marriage:

This argument I find to be disingenuous because for all of Miranda’s cynicism and Samantha’s casual sex and Carrie’s…Carrie-ness, all of them are in search of partnership and fulfillment (even if it is just sexual) from men. Charlotte is just the only one who is upfront about the fact that yes, she wants to get married and have a family.

Throughout the series, all of the women judge themselves by their ability to get men and the relationships they maintain. Carrie laments on her birthday that she doesn’t have a “special guy” or a “soulmate.” Samantha goes to great lengths to “keep tabs” on Richard after they get back together because she’s paranoid he will cheat on her again. Miranda looks to men for validation of her sex appeal after her pregnancy.

Despite Charlotte being vocal about her desire to get married and have a long-term partner, the rest of the cast all get “partners” before her in Season One. (James /Samantha, Big/Carrie, Skipper/Miranda). So even as they roll their eyes and think Charlotte’s desires are naive, the reality is that by the end of the show’s run none of the women are single and both Miranda and Charlotte are both happily married. Also, let it be known that it is Charlotte, not Miranda or Carrie or Samantha, who says that all of them are soulmates. Charlotte, more than any other the other women, is a more reliable friend. (Carrie should have never asked Charlotte for money and Charlotte was not bad for not offering.)

Charlotte is Dumb:

Charlotte is not an idiot. She is “naive” but that’s not from a lack of education, it comes from being sheltered. In fact, I would argue that Samantha not getting an HIV test until it’s brought up as something by another man to be one of the dumbest things a character has ever done in the series. She also went to Smith College, which has housed many lady intellectuals across party lines.We too often put the title of “dumb one” to the most feminine in a group of women and that’s a problem and it says more about our culture’s internalized sexism than it does about Charlotte.

Now that I’ve made my rebuttals, let me talk about why Charlotte is, essentially the Sansa of Sex and the City.

For me, Charlotte in the first few seasons is a collection of all the things women are supposed to be and supposed to be ashamed of being at the exact same time. Charlotte has been told that true love is possible and that if you offer yourself as the ideal woman an ideal man will see your value  and “pick you.” Therefore Charlotte performs that dance, seeking out the “right” type of man, dating endlessly in search of that fulfillment. When Charlotte gets that man in Trey, she continues to perform. They don’t sleep together until the night before they married (which she rushes into) and then Charlotte discovers “Trey can’t get it up.” Still, he’s “perfect” so Charlotte decides to try.

This is the beginning of Charlotte’s transformation.

Through Charlotte’s marriage, she is forced to shatter the illusions of marital bliss when it comes to Trey. Trey’s Madonna-whore complex when it comes to Charlotte affects their sex life when he is unable to fully see her as a sexual being and instead masturbates to “Jugs” magazine. Their lack of intimacy is not only just a storyline about them, but about how those puritanical ideas about sex can not only backfire on women, who have their sexuality stifled, but on men who don’t know how to see women as fully realized humans with their own sexual needs.

It is in this arc that Charlotte begins to take control of her sexuality, and while she works to save the sexual aspects of her marriage, there is something else she wants: children. Which is what brings us to my favorite storyline in the series: Charlotte’s infertility.

One of the things Gabrielle Union speaks about in her memoir is how she’s had several miscarriages and treatments to try and have children that have been unsuccessful. Charlotte was one of the first times I’d seen a storyline that dealt with that issue in a caring and nuanced way. It shows her pain, her frustration and the way it can be heartbreaking to see people around you having children when you so desperately want to have one yourself.

Finally, in terms of this storyline, it has Charlotte standing up to her racist mother-in-law when she makes racist comments concerning Charlotte and Trey considering adopting a child from China. Something that hardly ever comes up in interracial adoptions.

When Charlotte meets Harry, a.k.a the best love interest in the show, he shatters her expectations about what love is supposed to look like in her life. Instead of believing that her looks and charm alone are enough, she has to learn to love without the traditional expectations, even if that is not marriage.

The Charlotte who goes through that terrible wedding in Season Six would have crumbled into a million pieces if it was Season One. Season Six Charlotte takes it in stride, because she is a woman who has learned that superficial perfection does not equal love.

When I think of Charlotte, I think of the amazing speech Cat Grant gives Kara at the end of Supergirl S2:

See, the thing that makes women strong is that we have the guts to be vulnerable. We have the ability to feel the depths of our emotion, and we know that we will walk though it to the other side.

That is how I feel about Charlotte, and that is why she has become such an important character to me. She and I are totally different people. Charlotte is a straight WASP. I’m a black first-generation queer woman. But we are similar in that we are both Pollyannas who believe in love.

One of the things I find when I talk to my friends about love is that we all find ourselves talking about how we have had to harden ourselves because “men will hurt you” and “you can’t expect anything” while also denying the fact that we do, in many ways, want companionship. It is hard, as women, to figure out how to live in that place. The place where we can cry over a break up without feeling deep shame for caring that much in the first place. The place where we can admit that for some of us, casual sex doesn’t mean as much. That place where you aren’t scared to admit you want to get married and have kids someday.

When it comes to romance and love, most of us, and women especially have been slowly taught to be afraid of it, to be overwhelmed by it, to seek it, but never to taught how to be in it. We don’t learn how to be active agents in our own happiness and to stay true to ourselves in the process.

As a wise dad said in Call Me By Your Name: “We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!”

But Charlotte doesn’t do that. She learns how to not compromise what it is important to her sexually and emotionally and walks out of her divorce with a sense of self-worth and value she did not have before. She fails, massively, but gets to rise up stronger and better than before. She walked through the other side and did it still believing that love was possible.

In her work All About Love bell hooks quotes a passage from Harold Kushner’s When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough:

 “I am afraid that we may be raising a generation of young people who will grow up afraid to love, afraid to give themselves completely to another person, because they will have seen how much it hurts to take the risk of loving and have it not work out. I am afraid that they will grow up looking for intimacy without risk, for pleasure without significant emotional investment. They will forgo the possibilities of love and joy.”

hooks adds on the passage saying, “Young people are cynical about love. Ultimately, cynicism is the great mask of the disappointed and betrayed heart.”

Which is why Charlotte is my favorite character, and in my humble opinion, the best character on the show. Not because she is without flaws, but because she is flawed and is able to grow into a better person while still be true to the core of who she is. We so often think that women need pain to be strong and need to harden themselves in order to survive, but that is destructive. Charlotte is the character, who above all of the other women, who refuses to ever forgo the possbility of joy and love in her life and that, as someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, is uplifting.

That’s what makes Sex and the City such a fun and layered show for all of the many problems the show has. All the characters have to evolve beyond their stereotypes in some way and watching those journeys and watching flawed women grow into slight less-flawed realized versions of themselves is great television.


(image: HBO)

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PaleyFest L.A. 2018: On the Red Carpet With the Cast and Creative Team of The Handmaid’s Tale

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 18: Cast and creatives of The Handmaid's Tale arrive at PaleyFest LA 2018 honoring The Handmaid's Tale, presented by The Paley Center for Media, at the DOLBY THEATRE on March 18, 2018 in Hollywood, California.

(L-R) Samira Wiley (Moira), Madeline Brewer (Janine), Max Minghella (Nick), Yvonne Strahovski (Serena Joy), Warren Littlefield (EP), Amada Brugel, and showrunner Bruce Miller

The cast and creative team of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale were really happy to share some insights into the upcoming season on the red carpet at PaleyFest L.A. 2018 on Sunday. From what they told me, it sounds as though this season has the potential to be even more powerful than the first.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 18: Executive Producer Warren Littlefield arrives at PaleyFest LA 2018 honoring The Handmaid's Tale, presented by The Paley Center for Media, at the DOLBY THEATRE on March 18, 2018 in Hollywood, California.

Warren Littlefield.

Executive Producer Warren Littlefield has a long and varied career shepherding TV shows into being, first as an NBC executive where he oversaw the creation of 90s classics like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Friends, ER, Will & Grace, and The West Wing, then more recently as an Executive Producer working more closely on shows like My Generation, Fargo, and now The Handmaid’s Tale.

When asked why The Handmaid’s Tale has done so well and resonated with so many people, Littlefield replied, “Well, we’re relevant. There are times we wish we weren’t as relevant as we are, but unfortunately it feels like America is a bit pre-Gilead. So, our drama feels pretty damn relevant, and that can be unfortunate.”

However, he also believes that regardless of our current political climate, it’s just a damn good show. “First and foremost, though,” he says.”We tell a powerful, human, and feminist story. That’s what we’re committed to.”

He gave a little insight into where Offred is headed in Season Two, saying, “She’s pregnant, and so the theme of motherhood is a powerful one in Season Two, because she’s also a mother to Hannah, but she also has an unborn child that she’s carrying. So that theme permeates all of her decisions throughout Season Two. It’s a very ambitious year: we go to the Colonies, and we also help the audience understand how did this all happen? When did it begin? What was the moment through our characters’ eyes that we we went from America that we recognize to Gilead? So, big ambitions for Year Two.”

Amanda Brugel, the Canadian actress who plays Rita, the Waterford’s inscrutable Martha, was thrilled to be doing her first major round of American press, and even more excited about where the show and her character is headed in Season Two. Having grown up in a country where Margaret Atwood books were a part of the culture’s DNA, being a part of The Handmaid’s Tale was especially meaningful to her. However, getting to go even further than the novel did originally is particularly fun.

“We really, really have opened up the periphery,” Brugel says of Season Two. “You start to see the Colonies, and you see Canada, you see a little more of the resistance. So, I love the idea that everything expands, and you see how far Gilead’s reach goes, and how many people it affects.”

Regarding Rita, she says:

“I really believe that we ended Season One not really knowing what she stood for. Whether or not she was someone who was really was drinking the Kool-Aid and someone who really believed in Gilead, or whether or not she was really someone who fought for humanity, but was so beaten down she didn’t know where to start. So, Season Two we answer that question…and the answer is shocking. Like, I just read [Episode 13] four days ago, and I stood up, and I was pacing back and forth, and I was like No! And I wanted to call people, and I didn’t know who to call…it blows me away from where she starts to where she ends up. It’s reeeally exciting.”

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 18 (L-R): O-T Fagbenle and Amanda Brugel attend PaleyFest LA 2018 honoring The Handmaid's Tale, presented by The Paley Center for Media, at the DOLBY THEATRE on March 18, 2018 in Hollywood, California.

O-T Fagbenle, who plays June’s husband Luke, says that despite the nature of the show, time on-set is actually really light and fun, that Elizabeth Moss is hilarious, and that getting to work so closely with Samira Wiley on Season Two, now that Moira has found Luke in Canada, has been a treat because she’s such a “jokester.”

Still, according to him, the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale is “maybe a little darker than the first.”

I asked him how playing Luke and being a part of this show has informed the way he thinks about his interactions with others, or politics, in real life, and he said:

“It’s obviously a reminder that we all have a responsibility within our work to kind of move things forward. Now it might small ways. It might be standing up for a coworker, or speaking out about certain issues. Being a part of this show has definitely reminded me that things aren’t right right now in the world, and change has to happen, and we have to engage in that presently in all the opportunities we get.”

Lastly, he does broach the touchy subject of the fact that Luke was married when he got together with June. So…what’s up with that? What happened to his wife? Will we be getting into the space between the start of their affair, and their own married life with a daughter?

“We do get to explore Luke and June’s relationship beforehand,” Fagbenle says. “Luke was married, and that’s the whole reason June ends up a Handmaid, is because of that sin that she committed by being an ‘adultress.’ So, there is some exploration of their relationship.”

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 18 (L-R): Yvonne Strahovski arrives at PaleyFest LA 2018 honoring The Handmaid's Tale, presented by The Paley Center for Media, at the DOLBY THEATRE on March 18, 2018 in Hollywood, California.

And then there’s Yvonne Strahovski, whom it was refreshing to see so light and happy after having spent a season with her as the quietly ferocious and deeply sad Serena Joy on The Handmaid’s Tale. We’ve gotta remember, of course, that she’s the same woman who played CIA agent Sarah Walker on the hit NBC action-comedy, Chuck. Clearly, this woman has range.

I was curious as to whether playing someone like Serena Joy has informed the way she interacts with people who disagree with her politically at all, or the way she approaches her political beliefs in general. She sighed a very deep sigh before she said:

“It’s really complicated, because there’s a lot about Serena, everything about Serena, isn’t something that I jive with really, so that continues to challenge me all the time. That’s why it’s important to put as much humanity in her as possible, because there’s so much that’s inhumane about her. It’s been very confronting to…I’ve seen certain scenes [from the upcoming season], and when I watch Serenawatch myselfdoing certain things, and I’m reminded of real-life people on the news that I see that I don’t agree with. It’s interesting when you’re in that scenario of playing someone that you’re not aligned with in that sense.”

When asked to describe Season Two of The Handmaid’s Tale in three words, she said, “Breathtaking. Devastating. Roller-coaster.”

We’ll all get to jump on the roller-coaster when The Handmaid’s Tale S2 comes to Hulu on April 25th with two episodes, and will continue after that with one episode a week for a total of thirteen episodes.

(images: Brian To for the Paley Center except where specified)

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The Inclusive Illusion of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Luke tickling Rey's hand as

Nothing has created a greater disturbance in the Force than Star Wars: The Last Jedi. While many critics and large numbers of fans have praised the film for its “new direction,” an undeniable backlash has grown against it. Many fans of the movie have lumped all this criticism together as the same racist and misogynist fanboys who decried the inclusion of Finn from the first Force Awakens teaser, as well as the increase of women in Star Wars media. Those hateful detractors certainly exist, but the limited perspective that all criticism is in that bad faith has masked the flaws of The Last Jedi in terms of feminism and diversity. The movie diminishes the role of its own female lead, mishandles its characters of color, and gives women and POC no meaningful impact on the final story.

When The Force Awakens came out, Rey was a shining light for female fans of Star Wars. While Rey was not the first important woman in the franchise, she was significant in being one of the main protagonists like Luke and Anakin. It was heartwarming to see Rey have agency and humanity. However, The Last Jedi strips these elements from her. Rather than the focus of Rey’s arc being on her Jedi training and character development, Rey is relegated to attempting to make Luke Skywalker return to the Resistance and trying to “save” Kylo Ren, even if he shows no signs of remorse.

The issue here is that the story focuses more on how Luke feels about his past failures, and Kylo’s “reasons” for turning against Luke. It does not give any consideration to Rey’s emotions and choices, and even when it does, it is very weak. Even worse, Rey is forced to sympathize with Kylo Ren, who in-universe, a couple days ago, captured and violated her mentally, killed her father figure, and severely injured her friend to the point of a coma. In spite of their first two Force connection scenes, where Rey is angry with Kylo, Rey suddenly opens up her feelings to him during their third and final connection.

The film showed no previous positive development of her relationship with him. No solid reason exists for Rey to trust or believe Kylo Ren. Rian Johnson himself stated in his interview with the LA Times, So I knew I wanted them to talk, and to talk enough to where we could go from “I hate you,” to her being forced to actually engage with him. In our current times, it’s disturbing how our female lead is expected to excuse a threatening and violent white man just because of his tragic backstory.

The situation worsens as Rey goes on a suicide mission to save “Ben Solo.” Rey speaks of how she saw a vision of Kylo’s future in the Light Side, but we are simply told instead of shown. Even in the throne room sequence, Rey’s decisions are not at the center, as the big twist is Kylo choosing to kill his master, Supreme Leader Snoke. After Rey’s parentage reveal, Kylo tells her, “You have no place in this story.” Hearing this broke my heart, because deep down, it was true of the movie. Rey’s screen time even dropped from 43 minutes in TFA to 30 minutes in TLJ. She didn’t go on a compelling journey that expanded her character in any genuine way. I never imagined this would happen after The Force Awakens, but Rey has unfortunately joined the ranks of Joss Whedon’s Age of Ultron Natasha and Justice League Diana.

Not only stripping away Rey’s agency, The Last Jedi is a disservice to all its characters of color. In the first space battle, I was thrilled to meet Paige Tico, a Vietnamese female space pilot, only to get crushed after seeing her die without so much as one line of dialogue. The damage grew worse with Finn’s treatment. Despite getting an injury so painful it put him in a coma, Finn wakes up, bangs his head, and walks around in nothing but a bacta suit on in his first scene, all for comedic relief. He’s demoted from a protagonist to side-character throughout his seventeen minutes of reduced screen time. Even when Finn tries to do the right thing, the narrative slaps—or, unfortunately, tases—him for it. When he tries to get Rey’s beacon away from the First Order so she won’t be falling into a trap, Rose Tico calls him a traitor, tases him, and spends an entire storyline teaching him not to be selfish—because clearly choosing to spare innocents’ lives and going back for Rey were not selfless enough? Finn is forced to go on a downgraded version of his Force Awakens arc. The meaningless Canto Bight plot is regarded by even fans of the film as the weakest link, and it’s upsetting because Finn and Rose deserve better.

We’re already lacking in Black and Vietnamese movie characters as it is, making it even more important to get them right! Rose is denied proper writing, as most of her time is spent preaching to Finn about how things like child slavery are bad—to a former child-soldier. This has caused many fans to hate Rose, but imagine what could have been if she had been well written! She’s also given a flat romance with Finn, after she sacrifices himself to save him to show how we must save what we love, which … he wasn’t already doing all along? She’s also left in a comatose state by the film’s conclusion.

Part of diversity is actively putting your characters of color in impactful roles and allowing them to live as most white leads do. Poe Dameron is also changed from the responsible and caring person he was in The Force Awakens to a reckless, disobedient, and glory-obsessed pilot. It’s very upsetting to turn one of the Latinx characters of Star Wars into a Latinx stereotype. Poe is forced to deal with his new leader, Admiral Holdo, who he has a right to question, as she denies any of the Resistance information about her plan. Once again, the narrative slams down on Poe, as he later gets punished by getting shot unconscious by General Organa, followed by Leia and Holdo saying how they “like” him despite how they’ve treated him. Leia’s “follow him” line on Crait is too little, too late, as The Last Jedi gave Poe, Finn, Rose, and Paige the backseat in terms of story treatment.

Finally, The Last Jedi does not give the female characters and characters of color any other role than supporting their (white) male counterparts. Rey’s job is to sway Luke, then Kylo, to her side. Rose has the job of teaching Finn something he already knew. Holdo exists to make Poe listen to women. And what about Leia Organa, who only hours ago lost her husband and, by the film’s conclusion, her brother? Leia is put in a coma after her Shooting Stars sequence, and no insight is given into how she feels, nor does she get to make meaningful decisions. The Last Jedi doesn’t let its women drive their own stories. It’s only wearing a sign that says, “I contain women, so I must be feminist, right?”

Like diversity, feminism is more than just having women on the screen. The female characters need to have their own individual motivations and meaningful storylines. Admiral Holdo is killed off to complete Poe’s character arc. It’s quite telling how one of the most memorable shots of the film is a woman sacrificing herself after she’s outlived her usefulness to the story. Rose is left in a state of limbo at the film’s conclusion, and it’s implied that there might be a competition between her and Rey for Finn’s attention, because how feminist is it to have two women fighting over a man, right?

Rey herself has no major role in the final battle other than rescuing the Resistance. The emotional drama of the final battle is rooted between Luke and Kylo, not our main heroes. The end product leaves all the female characters and characters of color without any meaningful impact on the story. This is disheartening because two years ago, Lucasfilm promised that everyone would be a part of Star Wars with the Sequel Trilogy. Now, that hope has vanished with The Last Jedi. Compare this to Wonder Woman and Black Panther. These two movies had racist/sexist campaigns against them, but they still have high audience Rotten Tomatoes scores, unlike The Last Jedi. Fans who disliked this movie ought to be taken seriously, not lumped in the same boat as the men who call Rey a Mary Sue. If people do not listen to these concerns, Lucasfilm may repeat these mistakes with Episode 9. The fans need to rise up this time to give Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose, Leia, Holdo, and more the story they deserve.

[Editor’s note: The original version of this article mistakenly used the term “POC” as an adjective. We apologize for the error.]

(image: Disney/Lucasfilm)

An avid writer, Jewel Queen loves all things science, Star Wars, Disney, Marvel and more of fantasy and fiction! Her goal is to put all her perspective, passion and views into her writing. Her all-time favorite characters include Finn, Moana, Rey, Poe Dameron and Belle. She has a particular affinity for Biology and a soft spot for fantastical creatures.

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Things We Saw Today: The Title for Westworld Season 2 Gives Us Our First Clue of What to Expect

Jeffrey Wright and Tessa Thompson in a scene from "Westworld"

The first season of HBO’s Westworld was called “The Maze.” Now, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have revealed the title for the upcoming second season, which is set to premiere next month.

According to Collider, the title of the new season is “The Door,” which Nolan revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly saying, “If the first season was a journey inward, this is a journey outward. This is a search for what is else is beyond the park, and what else is in the park. Are there more parks? How big is the park? What’s beyond the park? We think of our seasons as discrete components in the series, to the point where we’ve named our seasons. The first season was called ‘The Maze.’ The second season is called ‘The Door.’”

What have you seen out there today?

(image: HBO)

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We Cannot Wait for CherryPicks, the Woman-Centric Answer to Rotten Tomatoes

cherrypicks, reviews, rotten tomatoes, women

One of the big pieces of news out of this year’s SXSW film festival was the announcement of a new aggregate movie review and ratings site, meant to answer many of the issues people have with Rotten Tomatoes. While Rotten Tomatoes, the dominating site of its type, can be a useful tool in gathering a general consensus for a film, it’s often criticized for the simplistic reductionism of branding a movie either “fresh” or “rotten,” especially when it comes to the influence low ratings can have on a movie’s box office success. In recent years, there’s also been a lot of focus (finally!) on the gender imbalance among certified critics and the negative impact that often has on female-led or created films.

Enter CherryPicks, the creation of filmmaker Miranda Bailey. It’s a Rotten Tomatoes-esque idea with an emphasis on putting women’s voices at the center of discussions of art and entertainment.

In an official statement, Bailey points to the entertainment industry’s well-established gender and racial biases, and how they need also to be addressed in film and media criticism. “For years now, our industry has been proclaiming that we need change to include more minorities and females on both sides of the camera,” she says. “This would be impossible to do in a speedy fashion, unless we can change the perceived desires of consumers. How can we possibly change what consumers consider good and worthy content if the majority of critics who tell them what to want are predominately older white males?”

In addition to amplifying women’s voices, they’re adding some nuance to the aggregate rating system with tiered levels, from “Bowl of Cherries” (must see) to “The Pits (must not see). In between are a pair of cherries (good, not necessarily great, but still recommended) and a single cherry (¯_(ツ)_/¯).

These two aspects of CherryPicks might seem unrelated–a tiered rating system and offering opinions from women–but there are some significant links, especially in the way we think about “guilty pleasures.” It’s a topic we’ve discussed here plenty: whose guilty pleasures and genre flicks do we allow, and whose do we deride? When looking at the critical response those sorts of “mindless but fun” movies, you don’t have to look very hard to see the pattern of male-led movies receiving dramatically higher levels of respect.

In discussing the new site with Vulture, Bailey talks about the need for a rating system that covers movies that “are kind of in between — like, ‘That movie was great to see, but don’t bother going [to the theater] to see it, or like, Oh, it’s awesome if you have strep throat and you’re watching Bridget Jones’s Diary [kinds of movies],’ or whatever. ‘It’s a perfect movie for a date.’ ‘It’s a perfect movie for staying at home on a rainy day,’ but maybe would get a splat at Rotten Tomatoes.”

Bailey says that Bad Moms keeps coming up as her go-to example of what happens when men not only make and star in the majority of movies being released but also dominate the critical discussions. “Maybe it’s just my own personal opinion of it,” she says, “but Bad Moms did really well in the theaters, but the women I talked to about it feel the same way I do, which is that it’s an incredibly cliché movie with absolutely no depth and it’s basically a male view of what bad moms and funniness for women would be.”

In addition to the aggregate ratings, CherryPicks will include original reviews, Top 10 lists, podcasts, interviews and “online conversations” with filmmakers, critics, and more. They also have their own system of analysis, dubbed Cherry Check, which evaluates on- and off-screen gender representation. Additionally, Bailey has promised in interviews that she’s committed to making sure the site doesn’t just amplify one particular type of woman (read: white and cis), and that gay and trans voices, as well as women of women of color, will be included.

The site isn’t scheduled to launch until the fall (in time for the holiday season movie onslaught), but they’ve started a newsletter in the interim, called Cherry Bites. The first issue is out and it includes interviews with female critics, a roundup of female-led movies, and a Cherry Check breakdown of gender representation at SXSW. You can sign up for Cherry Bites here.

(via Indiewire, image: Pexels)

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The Captain Marvel Script Has Been “All Female Voices, Throughout”

Captain Marvel

Tomb Raider and Captain Marvel writer Geneva Robertson-Dworet recently sat down with Collider to talk about female-focused movies and female creatives in the movie business. As part of the interview, she talked about the importance of having female leadership in both executive and creative positions in order to fully support women’s voices and vision.

Robertson-Dworet actually got the Captain Marvel job based on her initial Tomb Raider scripts. Though the movie was later rewritten to have a “more dramatic, serious, and grounded” tone that matched director Roar Uthaug’s vision, Robertson-Dworet revealed that the film was originally more lighthearted. “My early drafts were very Marvel in tone,” she said, “emphasizing the fun of it. Those early drafts became my sample that got me hired at Marvel.”

At Marvel, she was brought on to the Captain Marvel movie, which she was super excited about. “Oh, man, I love that character!” she said. “We really were bringing so much of what was already in the comics onto the screen, it felt like, in terms of the amazing character who’s so funny and sassy and talks back, and she’s fearless. I love that Carol Danvers is so funny. She has a blast when she kicks ass. Those comics are amazing! It’s an amazing world and sandbox to play in.”

Robertson-Dworet was also effusive about her experience working with Marvel – an experience which has caused friction with some creatives, such as original Ant-Man director Edgar Wright, in the past. However, Robertson-Dworet was delighted. “Marvel is a dream experience,” she said. “It’s a very structured environment. You’re in this amazing collaborative environment, where you go in and meet with the team in person, a lot. Kevin Feige is there, multiple times a week, meeting with you and talking you through his vision of it, within how this story fits into the universe and what you want to do with the character. It was a total blast! … We had all of the pieces ahead of time. Brie was already signed on, when I came on and did my six months on the project. It was very clear what they wanted to do, tonally, when I came in. It was just about refining that and making sure that the director’s vision was making it on the page.”

In closing, Robertson-Dworet was asked about her experience as a woman in the industry. She mentioned that Cassidy Lange, the vice president at MGM who served as a producer overseeing Tomb Raider, “really fought for my ideas,” and how allies at that executive level are important for women in the industry. “I think there’s, thank god, a greater awareness in the industry that we need more female voices, not just on the creative side, but also on the producer and executive side,” she said. “People out in the world who don’t work in this industry assume that you just get a female director, and then everything is great. If the female director has to answer to male executives, when you’re talking about a $100 million or $200 million movie, who are running the show, they’re going to be telling you what to do, and if it’s not that, it’s at least going to be very collaborative. You need female decision-makers on the executive side, as well, because they’re the ones vetoing what the female director or female writer might be saying.”

“I’m incredibly grateful that on Captain Marvel, we had a female executive on the project, we had a female director [co-director Anna Boden], and we had me, a female writer. On that project, they only had female writers, from start to finish. Meg LeFauve and Nicole Perlman cracked the story, as the first writers in, and then I came in. It’s been all-female voices, throughout, which I think is so exciting.”

What will be even more exciting is when that’s not the exception anymore.

(via Collider; image: Marvel)

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The Rock Talks “The Fun of Destruction” and “Rooting for the Monsters” in Rampage

Poster for "Rampage" starring Dwayne the Rock Johnson (Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The cast and crew of the upcoming monster movie Rampage, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Naomie Harris, producer Hiram Garcia, and director Brad Peyton, recently spoke with IGN and about the filmBased on the classic arcade game, Rampage finds The Rock’s character, Davis Okoye, facing off against three mutated monster-animals: a giant croc, a giant gorilla, and a giant wolf.

Asked why he thought Rampage would make for a good movie, Johnson said, “It’s such a simple premise, so the challenge was to take this fun, simple premise and try to build it out and hopefully make a cool movie out of it. If you do it right, hopefully it can turn into something that’s really cool. Because you’ve got three gigantic monsters who’ve been mutated through genetic editing, and you have a hero in Naomie Harris’ character, and then you have some big bald brown guy running around, shooting sh*t, and trying not to get killed!”

Though the original game does have a “simple premise,” the production team altered it for this film. The original game’s monsters are actually humans who’ve been transformed, but director Peyton didn’t think that would work on-screen. “That was a solid no,” he laughed. “Let’s just say I said no to ‘Rock-zilla.’ It was presented in a [conference] room much like this and I was like, ‘That’s a hard pass from me.’ It’s like a Saturday Night Live skit, a little bit. I wanted to balance out some kind of grounding aspect with the fun. Marvel is a tone that I really go, ‘Okay that’s the zone.’”

Instead, one of the monsters—George, the giant albino gorilla—is actually a “friend” to Johnson’s character. “Davis was the head of an anti-poaching unit for a military unit in Rwanda,” producer Hiram Garcia explained, “so he’s coming from a place where he’s an animal lover. He’s actually not a big fan of humans. He has a hard time trusting them because he’s seen what they can do. Part of his arc is really learning through [Naomie Harris’s character] Kate that he can start to trust people again. But George is his family and his best friend. We wanted to make sure that we’re sensitive to the fact that all the animals are victims in this.”

As a result, although the monsters are tearing up cities and terrorizing national parks, the team emphasized that the animals are not the real enemies. “We’re actually trying to save the monster,” continued Garcia. “Our story is essentially about a man trying to save his best friend. That’s our journey, and ultimately Davis is doing everything he can while everyone’s freaking out and unfortunately these creatures are being triggered to rampage out of their control. Davis, to the end, is trying to save them. And he’s still trying to save the world, but ultimately he just wants to save his friend and bring his friend back, because his friend never asked for this.”

“I know when I watch a movie I’m going to be rooting for the monsters,” said Johnson, “because I love the monsters. I’m also rooting for the relationship and just taking myself out and watching as a fan, but I think everybody’s going to be satisfied. There’s something for everybody. But the fun of the destruction of [the video game] Rampage, which is completely destroying everything, that’s in here.”

As I’ve said in my previous coverage, this movie is either be generically muddy or awesomely absurd. I’m hoping for the latter.

Rampage arrives in theaters on April 13, 2018.

(via IGN; image: Warner Bros. Pictures)

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