Captain Marvel Takes on Toxic Masculinity in New Deleted Scene

Captain Marvel may still be lingering in theaters, but if you want to watch it from the comfort of your own couch, good news! The film is coming to digital download May 28th, and the Blu-ray will be released on June 11th. The Blu-ray comes with six deleted scenes and plenty of bonus featurettes and behind-the-scenes content.

We’ve already seen a very cute deleted scene of Carol, Yon-Rogg and some baby Kree recruits. The scene is charming, but doesn’t give us much new information beyond what we already know.

However, the newly released scene “What, No Smile?” delivers exactly what we want from Captain Marvel, namely Carol kicking ass and taking down the patriarchy. The scene is extended to reveal what happens between the biker asking her to smile and Carol making off with his bike.

We meet the biker, who calls himself “The Don”, repeatedly ask Carol smile and offer her a ride on his bike. She offers him a superpowered handshake, which quickly brings the creep to his knees. “Here’s a proposition for you: you’re going to give me your jacket, your helmet, and your motorcyle, and in return I’m going to let you keep your hand.” After The Don acquiesces, Carol asks “what, no smile?” as he runs off.

Given that the scene is barely a minute long yet so satisfying, it’s surprising that it ended up on the cutting room floor. Frankly, I would watch two hours of Carol just slapping around gross dudes, but maybe I’m biased. Part of the appeal of a female superhero is seeing her answer everyday acts of sexism and harassment with superpowered aplomb. It’s wish fulfillment that every woman can get behind.

Marvel also released a second deleted scene, “Heading to Torfa” which captures some banter between the Starforce members.

The scene doesn’t deliver much in the way of exposition, just the team reminding Carol to keep herself stealthy and restrained. Minn-Erva calls her “twinkle-fists”, but that’s about it. The Starforce members are pretty thinly drawn in the film, and it did feel like a letdown to cast Gemma Chan for barely a few moments of screentime. Given the character’s presence and history in the comics, it’s disappointing that she won’t have a larger life in the MCU.

Other deleted scenes (that have yet to be released) include Yon-Rogg meeting with the Supreme Intelligence, Keller trying to track Carol and Fury, and a scene with Coulson helping Keller out of an “embarrassing situation”, whatever that may be. With a Captain Marvel sequel likely on the horizon, there is plenty of story to explore.

The sequel could follow Carol’s interstellar adventures between the ending of the first film and her return to Earth in Avengers: Endgame. It could also show her taking lead in the present day with the remaining Avengers. Brie Larson has said she wants the next film to introduce Ms. Marvel aka Kamala Khan into the MCU.

What do you hope to see in a Captain Marvel sequel?

(via ScreenRant, image: Marvel)

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Swamp Thing Delivers Gothic Horror and Southern Drama in Series Debut

andy bean and crystal reed in swamp thing.

DC Universe’s third original live-action series Swamp Thing is a departure from superhero shows as we know them. And that’s only right, as Swamp Thing himself is not your average brooding bro in a cape. Like Titans and Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing is similarly uninterested in telling a rote superhero story. But instead of leaning into gloomy grit or trippy humor, Swamp Thing leans heavily into horror, delivering a truly scary TV-watching experience.

The series’ blend of Southern Gothic and body horror, not to mention its Louisiana setting, will no doubt draw comparisons to HBO’s True Blood. But unlike the campy vampire series, Swamp Thing grounds itself in its human relationships and leans heavily on the inherent horrors swimming in the swamp.

the series centers on Dr. Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, who is called back to her hometown of Marais, Louisiana to investigate a mysterious swamp-borne illness. While there, she meets unconventional scientist Alec Holland (Andy Bean) whose research into the swamplands has yielded disturbing results.

The pilot episode positions the series as a mystery, with Alex and Abby chasing down the cause of the illness, but quickly transitions into gross-out body horror when the afflicted bodies are overrun with a highly aggressive plant life. These scenes could easily be corny, but the series creates effective tension and scares from the animated vines and swamp ephemera.

The swamp itself plays like a character of its own well before Swamp Thing takes residence. Len Wiseman, who directed the pilot, brings shades of Evil Dead to the swamplands, leaning into the inherent creepiness of the locale. The night may be dark and full of terrors, but it’s got nothing on a Louisiana swamp teaming with alligators, insects, and unstoppable vegetation.

The series does an impressive amount of world-building in its first two episodes, establishing the town of Marais and the various dynamics at play. Abby left the town after a tragedy in her youth, and her return rattles the community, most notably the Sutherlands, the wealthy family who run the town. Played by Will Patton and Virginia Madsen, Avery and Maria Sutherland both wield influence and strength yet are haunted by their past and their connection to Abby.

Along with the Sutherlands, we are introduced to Sheriff Lucilia Cable (Jennifer Beals) and her son Matt (Henderson Wade) who still holds a torch for Abby. Swamp Thing artfully captures the claustrophobia of a small town, where everyone knows everyone and all the citizens are hiding secrets.

As with all shows set in the South, the accent work is all over the place. Most characters, including Abby, have forgone any attempts at an accent. Patton delivers a syrupy Southern take, while Beals tries for Cajun but lands closer to Bobby Boucher. As a Louisiana native myself, I may be judging these accents harsher than most. But after seven seasons of True Blood swinging for the fences accent-wise, I don’t mind a less theatrical take.

All this, and we haven’t even gotten to the pivotal turn of the series, namely Alec Holland’s tragic transformation into Swamp Thing (where Derek Mears takes on the role). The costuming and make-up work for Swamp Thing are excellent and very true to the comics, but what’s more important is the emotional and psychological horror of a man who finds himself transformed into a monster. There is pathos and emotion that shines through thanks to Mears’s performance and the make-up work that allows him to emote through the latex.

And ultimately, that’s what makes the series so effectively compelling. Swamp Thing leans into the humanity of the monster, yielding one of the most compelling and original comic book series to date.

Swamp Thing is available May 31st on DC Universe.

(image: Brownie Harris / 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

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Elton John Wearing a Sparkly Rocketman Suit for the Movie Premiere Is a Mood

Elton John in Cannes

Listen, I also would wear blazers with different references to the song “Rocket Man” all over them, and I didn’t even write the song. At the premiere for Rocketman at Cannes, Elton John pulled out all the stops, meaning that he wore multiple blazers with various symbols and variations of “Rocket Man” on them, and I maybe want them all?

From a powder-blue suit to his two different rocket-themed jackets, Elton John was there and ready to support the movie-musical telling of his life story.

Rocketman, which is a truly beautiful picture of Elton John’s life, is also the first major studio film to have a sex scene between two men in it, a fact that Taron Egerton wants everyone to talk about.

As Egerton points out, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if it were a heterosexual love scene, but because it’s two men, there seems to be some sort of controversy surrounding its inclusion in the movie, which is hilarious if you know anything about Elton John.

According to Digital Spy, Egerton was adamant that the public (a) should know that the sex scene between Reid and John was not cut from the movie, and that (b) he wants audiences and people to talk about the scene because it’s important to who Elton John is. Talking with Attitude, Egerton also expressed how the sex scene between John Reid and Elton John was addressed.

“This is the scene of Elton losing his virginity and we wanted to try to do that justice. I treat it with the same love, care and affection I would as if it was my first experience of falling for somebody.”

Elton John is forever an interesting figure in our pop cultural zeitgeist, and Rocketman honors him in a very beautiful way.

But also, can Gucci make me some of those blazers?

(image: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

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I’m Not Sure Whether to Be Excited or Nervous About the Old Republic Star Wars Trilogy

A Jedi and Sith do battle in this still from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

It turns out, those earlier rumors of an “Old Republic” film in the Star Wars universe were right, but it’s not the Game of Thrones showrunners who are behind it. Last night, Buzzfeed News dropped a major scoop: yes, Knight of the Old Republic is being developed into a film, according to three sources they didn’t name, but it will be written by Laeta Kalogridis, who will be the second woman to pen a Star Wars film after Leigh Brackett cowrote The Empire Strikes Back. 

Kalogridis was an executive producer on Avatar, and penned or cowrote films and shows like Shutter Island, Alita: Battle Angel, and Altered Carbon. Buzzfeed reports that she was first hired in spring 2018 and is nearing completion on the first script of a planned trilogy based on the popular video game. This trilogy will join the likes of the David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ trilogy and the Rian Johnson trilogy.

If you thought Star Wars was dead, you have not been paying attention. The short hiatus between the end of the Skywalker Saga this December and the first of the Benioff and Weiss films in 2022 is not sign that Disney is pulling the plug on the franchise, but rather, a smart decision to space out the events that are Star Wars films. It makes sense that Lucasfilm is planning multiple trilogies, as the brand keeps making money.

Kalogridis is an interesting choice, and one that I think will invite a lot of discussion. On the one hand, she’s a female producer and writer, something this franchise has desperately needed; it’s telling that Lucasfilm hasn’t hired a woman to tell the onscreen stories of women like Rey, Jyn, or Qi’ra. On the other hand, her IMDb credits don’t always inspire the most confidence, and she was nominated for a Razzie at one point.

I have seen several of Kalogridis’s films. I loved Shutter Island, but Pathfinder and Terminator Genysis left me cold. I want to support the first woman writing one of the new Star Wars films, but I’m cautious as I am not the biggest fan of her work. This presents me with a bit of a conundrum, as I have long pushed for a female writer to join the new Star Wars universe.

We’ve covered a lot about white men failing upwards despite a series of bad films or flops, while Kalogridis was an executive producer on Avatar, which is still the highest-grossing film of all time, so it’s easy to see why she’d be tapped. She was also fired from the NBC remake of Bionic Woman because “I was told that I don’t know how to write women, and they promptly replaced me with a guy,” and was apparently brought on by Warner Bros. to assist with a 2005 rewrite of Wonder Woman, back when the project was attached to Joss Whedon.

Whatever my worries are, the most important thing is that I could be very wrong on her ability to handle this project. She could be a lifelong KotOR fan who is the perfect choice, and I shouldn’t write her off just because she’s made some bad films. There are plenty of male directors who’ve made bad films who’ve gone on to make good franchise projects, so to write her off immediately, I would be part of the problem.

Unlike David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who have proven themselves to be the antithesis of Star Wars, I’m more willing to give a female writer a second shot when she’s dealt with sexism throughout her career. Kalogridis could very well be the perfect writer for the project, and I’m excited to see how the story unfolds and whether or not we get a female director for the project as well. This could be the start of a more inclusive lineup behind the camera, and I’m hopeful it will all pan out.

(via Buzzfeed News, image: Lucasfilm)

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Sonic: The Hedgehog Slowing Down to a Valentine’s Day 2020 Release Date to Fix Sonic’s Look

CGI Sonic the Hedgehog's terrifying human teeth as he screams at the horror of his existence.

Following backlash, director Jeff Fowler responded to the feedback and said that the production would be working to correct the uncanny valley horror that was Sonic with human teeth. The statement only brought up new concerns, including questions working conditions for the artists who would be forced to pull it off in time for the release date of November 8, 2019. Now, the movie’s release date has been officially delayed for the changes.

Fowler shared the news on Twitter, with a graphic of Sonic’s hand holding up a sign with the new release date of February 14, 2020.

I love the hashtag #novfxartistswereharmedinthemakingofthismovie, which seems like it’s trying to address that concern about the people behind the scenes who are going to be putting this movie together. io9 spoke with (non-Sonic-affiliated) Ilion Animation Studio character supervisor Juan-Luis Sanchez, who told them, “If they took nine months to build a character, it’s two to three months of reworking before you can even put the character back into shots again.”

Sanchez also said, “From the design, to the modeling, to the rigging—putting in the skeleton—testing out the skeleton, putting in the fur, lighting, it … all of that work is easily nine months. And that’s without major design changes, or changes in the story along the way.”

Throughout all of this, at least publicly, Fowler has taken this like a champ. It’s hard to watch people dog on your film, especially in such a harsh way, and being able to take that in stride and accept legitimate criticism is a skill more directors and artists should have. In that regard, I’m already more excited to see this movie because at least I know the product is being made by someone who isn’t an a-hole.

Well, unless the VFX artists say something else from the inside. The response has been positive from fans, who are already incorporating Valentine’s Day memes into the new release date.

Looks like we got the perfect date movie next Valentine’s Day. 2020: a new president-elect (hopefully) and a new Sonic.

(via io9, image: Paramount Pictures)

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Lol Like Thanos Could Beat Carol Danvers or Wanda in a Fair Fight

Brie Larson as Carol Danvers

**Spoilers for Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame.**

Sometimes, we make mistakes and this is that time for CBR. Sharing an article stating that Thanos is the strongest character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the comics news site kicked off a Twitter firestorm as fans came out of the woodwork to remind them that both Wanda Maximoff and Carol Danvers went head-to-head against Thanos and he struggled against both of them.

Sure, he wound up overcoming them long enough to almost perform another snap, but only with outside assistance, including the literal most powerful object in the universe. So, how exactly is Thanos stronger than Carol if he had to use the Power Stone to compete with her?

To be quite honest, it just shows the (a) sexism exhibited by fans of the series, and (b) that the author didn’t care about the battles against women that Thanos lost. Sure, fine, there was a lot happening in that movie and that final battle in particular, but it sure feels like a targeted attack against Carol Danvers to say that she isn’t the strongest when she clearly could have taken down Thanos had he not had an assist from the literal most powerful object in the universe.

If that makes him stronger, I’d be stronger than anyone in a hand-to-hand fight if I got to hit you over the head with a log. If we’re going to talk about who’s the strongest character, bringing additional aid into it makes the whole thing pointless, hence Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are not part of this conversation. Thanos was killed by Tony Stark wielding the Infinity Stones, so it’s kind of hard to see how he’s allowed to count them as part of his personal strength.

Besides that, Carol Danvers defeats Thanos not once but twice, so like check yourself, haters. Remember when she flew into his hut and held him in place for Thor to land the attack he should’ve in Infinity War? Because I sure do!

Thanos is far from the strongest character in the MCU, but also, the MCU is filled with exceptionally strong beings. They all play to their strengths, and really, to compare any of them is hard. Steve might not physically be the strongest, but he is the one with the biggest heart. Tony Stark may not have superpowers, but he uses his extreme intelligence to be the strongest leader.

Each character is strong and important, and Thanos is the weakest among them because of his selfishness and inability to feel compassion towards people. So …

(image: Marvel Entertainment)

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A New Spider-Man: Far From Home Trailer Means More Tears

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) reflects in a quiet moment from the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer.

**Spoilers for Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame.**

“Stark made you an Avenger. The world needs that,” is what Nick Fury says to Peter Parker in the latest trailer for Marvel and Sony’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, and it drives home the message that he’s continuing to be a hero for Tony Stark. Between that and Peter worried about not getting home to MJ, this movie might be attacking my heart in more ways than one.

From the previous trailers for Far From Home, we’ve seen how Peter Parker is coping with Tony’s death. He’s trying to understand a world without his mentor, and that means coping with the repercussions of Avengers: Endgame. From the dawning of Peter and Tony’s relationship, it seemed as if Tony was filling the role of a father figure, and Peter was the child that Tony never had (before Morgan Stark was born, anyway).

With his death in Endgame, Peter has to cope with not only the loss of his mentor by taking on the burden of being the Iron Man that the world needs—after all, Thor, Steve Rogers, and Tony Stark are all gone, and the Hulk is permanently (for the foreseeable future) injured. With each new trailer we get, we can see that it isn’t exactly the easiest for Peter to cope with. Nick Fury even has to tell him that the world needs him as an Avenger. He doesn’t have to be Tony Stark (“I wanted you to be better”), but who knows what Spider-Man: Far From Home is actually going to give us.

Probably just a lot of pain.

What I do love in the trailer, though, is the clear connection between Peter Parker and Zendaya’s MJ. Michelle, who we found out at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming goes by MJ, told Peter in the second trailer that she knows he’s Spider-Man, a twist for the character, since most every version of Peter keeps that part of his life from MJ until later on.

But in this trailer, Peter is clearly showing his feelings for MJ in a different way, exploring what it means to like her while putting his life on the line.

I also maybe started crying at the moment Peter and MJ see each other and hug.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is certainly going to be a lot for us to handle after Avengers: Endgame, but honestly, I can’t wait.

(image: Marvel Entertainment)

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J.J. Abrams on the Emotional Journey of Integrating Carrie Fisher into The Rise of Skywalker

carrie fisher and billie lourd on the star wars set.

When Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters this December, it will bring not only the current trilogy to a close, but the nine film Skywalker family saga to an end as well. As one of the most highly anticipated films of 2019, there are countless questions to be answered in Skywalker. But perhaps none are more poignant than this: how much of Carrie Fisher will be seeing in the film?

Fisher, who passed away in 2016, left a pop culture crater in her wake, made all the more devastating by the fact she never got to complete the final chapter in the Star Wars saga, a chapter that planned to focus on General Leia Organa. Since her passing, rumors have been flying over Leia’s fate: would she be killed offscreen or played by another actress? Given the importance of both Fisher and Leia, there seemed to be no possible outcome that would both satisfy fans and honor Fisher’s legacy.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, J.J. Abrams discusses how he was able to integrate Leia into the film, thanks to cut footage from The Force Awakens and the magic of VFX. With the extra footage, Abrams was able to craft new scenes and dialogue to wrap up Leia’s story in the most organic way he could. Abrams said, “It’s hard to even talk about it without sounding like I’m being some kind of cosmic spiritual goofball, but it felt like we suddenly had found the impossible answer to the impossible question.”

Abrams described re-purposing Fisher’s scenes, saying “It was a bizarre kind of left side/right side of the brain sort of Venn diagram thing, of figuring out how to create the puzzle based on the pieces we had.” Abrams was even able to incorporate Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, into scenes with her mother.

Abrams had originally written out Lourd’s Lieutenant Connix to spare Lourd’s feelings, but the actress was determined to perform in the scenes. Lourd said to Abrams, “I want to be in scenes with her. I want it for my children when I have kids. I want them to see.”

“And so, there are moments where they’re talking; there are moments where they’re touching,” Abrams says. “There are moments in this movie where Carrie is there, and I really do feel there is an element of the uncanny, spiritual, you know, classic Carrie, that it would have happened this way, because somehow it worked. And I never thought it would.”

If that sentiment has you getting misty-eyed, get in line. Seeing Fisher onscreen one last time, acting opposite her daughter no less, is bound to be an emotional experience for fans everywhere. Here’s to Fisher and General Leia both getting the send-off they rightfully deserve.

(via Vanity Fair, image: Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair)

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How Aladdin Should Have Ended. Spoiler Alert: With Honesty & Accepting That Monarchy Isn’t About Merit.

With the upcoming live-action/CGI Aladdin remake coming to theaters tomorrow, one of our favorite YouTube channels, How It Should Have Ended, has decided to tackle the 1992 classic animated film—and already made a better movie than the remake, to be honest.

Firstly, Jamie Costa does a fantastic job capturing Robin Williams’ Genie and his pop culture references. I honestly love how these videos address little narrative “plot holes” but do so in a way that pretty much highlights that we need characters to make mistakes because otherwise there’s no conflict. After all, should Aladdin have been more careful about just leaving the lamp hanging around for anyone to find it? Absolutely.

But, it also says a lot about him that he wouldn’t. He’s a street rat who steals for survival; he doesn’t have any real concept of “property,” not to mention the Lamp is Genie’s home and isn’t just a default “thing” to Aladdin because he doesn’t view Genie as a tool or weapon, and therefore wouldn’t treat his home in such a way. Also, yes, if Aladdin revealed that he was a Prince via magic to Jasmine and the Sultan, I doubt anyone would have made a big deal about it because wealth via magic is just as legitimate as wealth by any other means.

I made my feelings about the remake clear in my review, but even watching this video made me feel more nostalgia for Aladdin that sitting through a two-hour live-action adaptation. We have really given Disney too much power to be able to pull at our nostalgia strings like puppets when it comes to these movies. Tim Burton’s Dumbo remake crashed and burned because the collective nostalgia for the big-eared elephant has waned since WWII.

While Aladdin is certainly no Dumbo, they both suffer from the same problem: being unnecessary. We literally have too much available content to be spending this much money on these movies, and I’m sure it’ll make all its money back and we’ll get live-action Pocahontas and Snow White real soon. God, I hope Mulan is good, because at least it seems like they’re making enough changes to the source material that it can actually be its own movie.

Oh well, we ain’t never had a money-grabbing friend like Disney.

(image: screengrab)

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Xavier Dolan Rightfully Points Out the Different Ways Critics Talk About Films Centered on Gay Couples

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Xavier Dolan attends the

There’s a problem in the world of film criticism that I know I’ve fallen prey to when talking about films centered on gay couples or characters. We as a community tend to refer to them as “gay love stories” or “gay films.” I do it because it’s an easy route to convey to LGBTQ+ readers that queer love is being depicted, since it’s still a rarity; others might do it for similar reasons or because they view these films as being a separate sub-genre. Director Xavier Dolan has had enough of that categorization.

“This film is not gay; it’s life,” Dolan told the press, as reported by IndieWire. “We never talk about heterosexual films. ‘Oh, I saw this great heterosexual love story.’ For me, it’s not a story of homosexuality or gay love. Ultimately, I don’t think that the two protagonists are aware that it is gay love. It’s love.”

When I read this quote, I took a moment for self reflection. I’m always here for normalizing queer characters and relationships through cinema and presenting them as just being relationships, rather than adding a descriptor to separate them from “normal” stories; this is something many critics who are also interested in social justice advocate for. So why do I refer to films as being gay films or queer films if they center on a relationship between two characters of the same gender?

There are certain kinds of stories that are inherently queer, in my opinion. If a story centers on a gay youth’s coming of age, or focuses on the struggle for equal rights, I would say that narrative is inherently tied to the identity of the protagonist. But if, say, a film is just about two men or two women falling in love, that doesn’t automatically make it a “gay film.” It just means it’s a film and a love story that happens to involve protagonists who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Back in 2017, Disney raised all sorts of noise about an “exclusively gay moment” in Beauty and the Beast, in which LeFou dances with another man. That is exactly the kind of title we need to avoid. The moment wasn’t “gay”; it was just weird and pandering. Compare it to Star Trek Beyond, which featured the reveal that Sulu was gay. They didn’t term it an exclusively gay moment or imply it was a “gay film” now. They just presented a major character as gay and let the character speak for himself.

This is a problem for a lot of films that don’t necessarily fit into the trope box of being about cishet, white, able-bodied men. Films about women used to constantly be called “chick flicks” or were written off as being too niche for major audiences. Films centered on Black protagonists or protagonists of color were seen as similarly being “niche.” There is a tendency to other any film not centered on what is perceived as being the norm.

This is similar to how any film featuring a protagonist who’s not a white, cishet man is labeled “SJW propaganda,” but in a more palatable way. It still others and separates the films, which is the opposite of what needs to happen. Not every film centered on a marginalized protagonist means that the film is centered on their identity. Sometimes, the hero just is the hero without the politics of identity playing a role.

Dolan is right to call out the tendency to say films are “gay films” just because they feature gay protagonists. If we normalize films about all sorts of characters and love, it will continue the path of inclusion far more successfully than if we continue to separate films by defining them by their protagonists’ identities. Inclusion isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of thing; it’s a process, and with voices pointing out what needs to happen for film to reach equality, we, as a community, can grow beyond labelling films and instead embrace all sorts of stories without having to other them.

(via IndieWire, image: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

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