The first moody trailer for Star Trek: Picard is here, promising that the end is only the beginning. Sir Patrick Stewart is back as the former Starfleet admiral, who has retired. What brought him into a civilian life? What has defined his legacy? These are questions that surely will be answered in the upcoming series, which might be Star Trek’s most hotly anticipated property.
The teaser shows Picard working at a vineyard, as the voiceover says that, fifteen years before, he led “the greatest rescue armada in history.” However, the “unimaginable” happened, and the voiceover questions if it cost Picard his faith. Why did he leave Starfleet?
The most likely option is that this centers on the destruction of the Romulan homeworld that sent both Ambassador Spock and Romulan Nero hurtling back into the past to create a separate timeline that gave us a Chris Pine-faced Kirk. We’ve never seen what happened in the Prime Timeline following the destruction, and the Romulans were one of Picard’s greatest foes. What happens when your greatest enemies become the people you’re trying to protect?
The series has a great political potential, and I hope the show leans hard into that social justice element. Regardless, it’s going to be great to see Picard back in action as well as the promise of a future that we haven’t really explored yet. I’m ready to boldly go where no Trek has gone before with the Admiral.
**Spoilers for Rocketman, which is also Elton John’s real life, so, you know.**
I’m a lover of movies, and a lot of the time, I find something to love in a movie even if it might not be the best film out there, but lucky for me, there was no need for searching when it came to Rocketman. I just truly loved every moment of the musical telling of Elton John’s rise to fame, and his fall to drugs and alcohol, before becoming the man we know him to be today.
To be completely honest, I didn’t know this was going to, essentially, be a stage musical in film form. I thought it would be something closer to Bohemian Rhapsody—but, hopefully, better executed. So, color me shocked when the movie started and I instantly felt as if I was watching the story of Elton John’s life being played out on the Great White Way.
From the visionary mind of Dexter Fletcher, there is something about Rocketman that has you on the edge of your seat, squealing with delight. Or, if you’re like me, you also want to spend time hugging Elton John (Taron Egerton) by the end of the film. The way the music is interwoven into the story both pushes Elton through the years as well as gives the audience as many classics as possible while fitting perfectly into every aspect of his life. We even get a brief glimpse of “Candle In The Wind,” minus the lyrics!
Taking the performative nature that Elton John brought to the stage and expanding it into a magical world of floating musical numbers, spinning time-lapse pieces with multiple costume changes, and a beautiful sequence of “dates” between Elton John and John Reid (Richard Madden), something about Rocketman just leaves you with a sense of appreciation for everything that Elton John gave us.
Starting with his life as a young boy, the film shows us the loveless childhood that Elton seemingly had (with the exception of his grandmother, played by Gemma Jones, who is constantly there to support Elton, unlike his mother and father). Going through his life, it’s clear that, while he has support from his lyricist, Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), even Bernie will leave Elton to go his own way.
Through drugs, sex, and alcohol, Elton begins to lose himself and his talent to feel numb to the pain he feels at everyone leaving him in his own loneliness. But, eventually, Elton finds his way out and becomes the activist and performer we still know him to be today.
With the entire cast singing classic Elton John songs themselves, this is also one cast recording that I cannot wait to have and listen to on repeat. Maybe Rocketman is just a perfectly uplifting and wonderful movie for 2019? At least, that’s how I currently feel.
There’s a beautiful moment in the movie, when Elton is singing “Tiny Dancer,” that brings home the loneliness and isolation that would eventually lead to his drug addiction. Bernie, who lets Elton know that he loves him as a brother, still writes one of the best love songs of all time (“Your Song”), but then often leaves Elton alone to go off with women, and with that pain comes Elton’s sad reflection on himself.
I came out of that theater ready to defend Taron Egerton’s Oscar campaign because, to be completely honest, if Bohemian Rhapsody was seriously considered for Best Picture, then Rocketman should be a shoo-in. It’s a wildly fun, heartbreaking tale of Elton John’s career, and if I could, I would inject it into my veins and live in its visionary brilliance for the rest of my days.
Ah, Downton Abbey is returning in an official movie, and it is both about everything and nothing at the same time.
In the first official trailer, there is very little story to be had, but the central conflict is set up: it’s 1927 and the King and Queen are coming to a royal luncheon, and therefore the wealthy Grantham family and their loyal help have to put on a show. That means bringing the team back together and dusting off Mr. Carson—pausing his retirement—to do what he does best, order and glower at everyone but Lady Mary. For the record, the King and Queen during this time would be George V and Mary of Teck, the grandparents of current monarch Queen Elizabeth II.
Of course, there is a discussion about leaving Downton (naturally), but considering they didn’t do that in the finale it would be weird for them to do it here. Besides, the show is too in love with traditional ideas to make that kind of leap. The most pressing issue I see is Mary Crawley’s horrid haircut and finding the person responsible for it. I don’t even like Mary, but something that ghastly is just too undeserving even for her.
For those who don’t remember, the show ended with Edith finally finding a man who would marry her, yay. Mary revealed her first pregnancy with new husband Henry Talbot, and was nice enough to not let it spoil Edith’s day. Robert and Cora continue to exist and Cora decides to open a hospital. Henry Talbot and Tom Branson opened a used car shop, so they could have a purpose beyond marrying into wealth, and Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess, played by Dame Maggie Smith, continues to quip and shame her family members as only she could.
Downton Abbey arrives in theaters September 20. The movie was written by series creator Julian Fellowes and directed by longtime TV director Michael Engler.
Are you ready to return, or wondering why we’re headed back?
This year, we had to say goodbye to Luke Perry. Many of us fell in love with him back in Beverly Hills 90210, and from there, our love grew with his Fred Andrews in Riverdale. So, color me shocked when he ended up as one of the top-billed actors in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s latest trailer, a movie that includes not only Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, but also Al Pacino and Margot Robbie. Needless to say, it’s a stacked cast.
While the trailer gave us a bit more of a look at Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate, it also brought to light a bit of Perry’s role in the movie. For his fans, it’s truly amazing seeing him honored as one of the top-billed actors on the movie.
“And for that matter, you know, Luke Perry! I remember my friend Vinny, who is in the film as well, we walked in and we both had this butterfly moment of like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Luke Perry over there!’”
And Brad Pitt wasn’t that different:
“‘That’s Luke fucking Perry!’ We were like kids in the candy shop because I remember going to the studios and [Beverly Hills,90210] was going on and he was that icon of coolness for us as teenagers. It was this strange burst of excitement that I had, to be able to act with him. Man, he was so incredibly humble and amazing and absolutely committed. He couldn’t have been a more friendly, wonderful guy to spend time with. I got to sit down and have some wonderful conversations with him. It was really special.”
It’s going to be interesting to see Perry shine in this film, and honestly, I cannot wait.
Want to buy Pride merch that actually gives back to the LGBTQ+ community? Here’s your guide. (via Mic)
With the end of Game of Thrones comes the end of Gay of Thrones! (via Funny or Die)
If you haven’t been watching FX’s What We Do in the Shadows, then you’re missing out on one of the funniest, most original shows on television right now. Based on the 2014 cult horror comedy film from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, the series moves the vampire mockumentary to the States, where it follows four vampires sharing a house in Staten Island. The TV show introduces a brand new type of vampire into the mix, “energy vampire” Colin Robinson, who is quite timely for our era.
The series focuses on the three main vampires, Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo Cravensworth (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), all of whom deliver hilarious performances. But it’s Mark Proksch as Colin Robinson, the gang’s resident energy vampire, who really steals the show. Robinson is a psychic or energy vampire, who feeds off of people’s boredom or anger. Robinson’s powers extend to humans and vampires alike, and he has the ability to daywalk, which allows him to hold a job and pay the rent.
Robinson’s hunting ground is a typical office workplace, where he gradually annoys his co-workers until they pass out. The thing is, we all know energy vampires —in our workplaces, our families, everywhere. Robinson’s dullness taps into a universal experience of being bored or aggravated to tears by an oblivious person.
Robinson is also a big mood for 2019, as the relentless news cycle continues to grind us down and turn our brains to mush. Between the news, longer work days, and more time spent online and on social media, more and more of us are feeling drained. And it’s not just our energy that’s been zapped.
In episode three, “Werewolf Feud,” Robinson confronts another form of energy vampire: Vanessa Bayer’s emotional vampire, Evie Russell. Russell feeds off of the emotional attention and pity, which makes her the perfect partner in crime for Robinson. Both vampires are a fun and original take on the classic monster that effortlessly brings them into the modern era.
The details in Proksch’s performance really makes Robinson soar, whether he’s promising to email someone a Slate article about the millennial housing crisis, or describing a municipal zoning town hall as “a smorgasbord of banality and despair.” Much of the show’s humor comes from the vampires dealing with day-to-day issues, whether its nosy neighbors or accidentally getting captured by animal control.
Robinson’s vampire however, reminds us of the day-to-day mundanity of horrors we all live through, whether it’s the guy at the office who won’t stop sharpening his pencil, or the person can’t take a hint about ending a conversation. Energy vampires are among us, and damn are they scary.
“‘I will remember, Your Grace,’ said Sansa, though she had always heard that love was a surer route to the people’s loyalty than fear. ‘If I am ever a queen, I’ll make them love me.’” —A Clash of Kings, Chapter 60, Sansa VI.
**Spoilers for Game of Thrones’ Series Finale.**
Sansa Stark, first of her name, ended the series being crowned queen of an independent North, fulfilling her season-one wish to one day be queen, albeit much differently than she first expected.
From the beginning, Sansa Stark has been one of my favorite characters in A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, but I am also fully aware that if I had found Sansa a few years earlier, I might have (foolishly) disliked her.
What’s amazing about Sansa, in the books, is that we get her point of view in the first place. Most heroines in fantasy are more like Arya or Brienne—tomboys or warriors who are stifled in a sexist world that resists allowing them to thrive as their true selves. In comparison, Sansa is very much a lady in the traditional sense. She was raised listening to the songs and stories of knights and nobility, and wishes to emulate the goodness she sees.
As a result, Sansa is much more naive and traditional than Arya when the story begins, and a bit snobbish in her own way. Mind you, she is eleven years old when the books begin and roughly fourteen when the show begins. Sansa is delighted in going to King’s Landing and her betrothal to the handsome Prince Joffrey Baratheon. She doesn’t see that he’s an asshole because she wants to believe in the goodness he has presented to her.
Her initial loyalty to Joffrey is held against her because “she should have known,” but that ignores the fact that Sansa is at the stage of her life where she is interested in boys, interested in being queen, and also rivals with her sister. She sees the illusion of a noble prince and believes it because she was raised to be trusting and patient, especially to someone who is about to be her husband. Therefore, she ignores the mood swings, embracing the interest of Cersei Lannister. The only person who warns her about this is facade is Sandor Clegane, a.k.a. The Hound.
At the Hand’s tourney, Sansa sees the event as similar to her stories, and it only serves to bolster her notions of knightly valor and chivalry. Clegane tells the girl how his brother, Ser Gregor Clegane, burned his face. Still, she continues to believe the lies fed to her and ends up telling Cersei that Ned is planning to leave because she doesn’t know the truth of her father’s plans. After Ned’s arrest, Sansa is forced to call her father a traitor, and despite pleading in front of the king and his retainers for mercy, she is forced to see her father executed.
Joffery takes Sansa to see her father’s head, and she contemplates pushing him off the edge, even if they both die, and is only stopped because of The Hound. It’s an emotional scene in the book, but Sophie Turner sells the emotions perfectly in the show, and it’s the beginning of Sansa’s storyline in earnest. She thought she was the princess in the story, and now her eyes have been brutally opened to the truth.
“There are no heroes … In life, the monsters win.”
After this season, Sansa is a hostage and, in order to survive, uses her lady’s courtesies as she dutifully pretends to love Joffery in order to stay alive. Her only value is that she is an heir of Winterfell, and she must use that for all the advantage she can get. Still, Sansa remains active. When a knight named Ser Danots arrives drunk at Joffrey’s name day celebration, she comes up with a lie to spare Dontos, and Joffrey instead strips him of his knighthood and makes him a court fool, as Sansa suggested.
This scene shows the intellect behind Sansa’s kindness. A lot of people have complained that Sansa was not “active enough,” and while that is completely untrue in the books (she helps organize her escape over two books), despite the TV show cutting out scenes, I’d ask if you were an eleven/twelve-year-old hostage, how would you act? Would you, after having the entire foundation of your existence proven to be a lie, after losing your father, after being a hostage in a sea of enemies, just turn into a warrior killer? That’s what a lot of people wanted Sansa to be, but that was never her character. She was someone who—despite being beaten constantly, belittled, and harmed—survived and learned from her mistakes.
Sansa’s soft strength was important to me, because for a long time, it was something I couldn’t relate too. In the ’90s and early 2000s, we created female heroines who could do it all, who were powerful and fierce. In a group team, there was always the “girly” one and the “tough” one, and it was always coded with girly being silly or frivolous. It wasn’t until someone like Katara on Avatar: The Last Airbender that we got a heroine who was badass and sweet, but she was still contrasted with the “tomboy” character of Toph. I internalized that kind of mentality when I was younger, because I’d seen femininity and softness portrayed as weakness so many times, and I didn’t want to be weak.
Sansa was one of the characters who helped me unpack that. One of my favorite things about Sansa was that she did not lose her capacity to be kind; she didn’t lose her softness. We saw this in the second season/book, when Stannis’ army was approaching, and it was Sansa who comforted the ladies who were cloistered together with Cersei, who is just the worst. We also saw this in the wedding scene between Tyrion and Sansa in the books where Sansa did not kneel for Tyrion, taking that moment of resistance. That was cut in the show because … ugh. Won’t get into it.
Despite the issues I have with changes made to Sansa’s character in the show, it remains that she and Sophie Turner’s performance touched my heart. All I wanted was for her to survive and be okay. I wanted Sansa to be okay for all the girls who have been crushed by this world, who had dreams and optimism and they felt those things dashed. Sansa reminded me of the strength we have to survive those moments. Sansa was beaten, abused, and in the show, raped, but she got her revenge by taking the lessons she learned from terrible people and not becoming them. Sansa—not Robb, not Bran, not Arya—managed to bring Tully brains and Stark honor together into a queendom.
Sansa Stark is Queen of the North, and she outlived all those who abused her, all those who doubted her, and that is something to celebrate.
Netflix’s technophobic smash hit Black Mirror returns next month with three all-new episodes to keep you up at night. With over a year between seasons, we last visited the dystopia of Black Mirror in December with the groundbreaking feature Bandersnatch. Bandersnatch‘s “choose your own adventure” format was a dizzying achievement, as fans spent hours unlocking the various permutations and plot points.
Thanks to the mind-boggling amount of work that went into executing Bandersnatch, season five will only feature three new episodes of the series. And with the release of three new trailers, we now know what to expect from the next batch of Black Mirror.
First up is Smithereens, which stars Sherlock‘s Moriarty Andrew Scott, along with Damson Idris (Snowfall) and Topher Grace. The description reads “A cab driver with an agenda becomes the centre of attention on a day that rapidly spirals out of control.”
The brief trailer shows Idris being taken hostage by Scott’s rogue rideshare driver, who seems to be under the influence of some sort of meditation app. Fearing your Uber driver is nothing new, as any woman will tell you, so I’m excited to see where this episode goes. It’s still surprising that in 2019, we still haven’t gotten a good horror film about a woman vs. her rideshare driver. Hurry up, Hollywood.
The second episode appears to be a lighter (for Black Mirror at least) exploration of celebrity and fandom. Rachel, Jack and Ashley, Too stars Miley Cyrus as pop star Ashley, alongside Angourie Rice (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Madison Davenport (Shameless). The synopsis reads “A lonely teenager yearns to connect with her favorite pop star – whose charmed existence isn’t quite as rosy it appears…”
There’s definitely a darkness to explore in the industry’s commodification and exploitation of female pop stars, as the trailer touches on over-medication and experimentation. On the other hand, there’s robot Miley screaming about a cord up her ass. Black Mirror has touched on the idea of consciousness trapped within technology in episodes like White Christmas and Black Museum. It will be interesting to see how light or dark this episode will go.
Finally, there is Striking Vipers, which features Marvel and DC stars Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Endgame), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman), Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow), Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), and Ludi Lin (Aquaman). The episode follows “two estranged college friends reunite in later life, triggering a series of events that could alter their lives forever.”
The episode appears to delve into a form of virtual infidelity, exploring similar terrain that The Entire History of You has covered. As that episode is one of Black Mirror‘s all-time bests, it is both encouraging of Striking Vipers while also giving it a high bar to meet.
All three episodes, which promise Black Mirror‘s signature sense of dread and foreboding, will be released on Netflix on June 5th. Stay tuned for our reviews of season five coming soon.
Captain Marvel is coming to digital download May 28th, and the Blu-ray will be close behind on June 11th, with six deleted scenes and a whole slew of bonus featurettes and behind-the-scenes content. One of those deleted scenes, titled “Star Force Recruits” was just released early online. In it, we see Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg training a class of young Kree students.
As i09 notes, the scene is solid but it’s pretty obvious why it was cut from the final film. It covers a lot of material we get elsewhere in the movie–Skrull’s shapeshifting abilities, Vers’ implant, and the different, personalized forms taken by the Supreme Intelligence. There’s really no new information in the scene at all (making me wonder if it was shot specifically to end up as bonus material), but it’s a cool scene nonetheless. And we’ll never say no to more Carol content!
Tomorrow (Tuesday, May 21st) at noon, protests and other action events are being held across the country in response to the current wave of extreme abortion bans. You can see if there’s an event near you at stopabortionbans.org.
How the trailer for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace became a whole cinematic event in a pre-internet culture era. (via Den of Geek)
Calvin Klein apologized for queerbaiting. (via Teen Vogue)
Today in things we shouldn’t have to say, let’s examine why it’s perfectly fine for us to be mad about fictional works. I’ve seen a few responses on Twitter complaining about people who are mad about Game of Thrones and I’m applying the sentiment to Avengers: Endgame as well because, news flash, we’re allowed to be angry. We’re allowed to still be angry.
The thing about fiction is that we can lose ourselves into distant worlds and characters and, in doing so, many of us become emotionally invested. If you don’t feel this way about fiction and have a hard time envisaging it, consider how people feel about “their” sports team, and the ups and downs of their seasonal trajectory. When something doesn’t go our way, we want to complain about it, dissect it, and commiserate, and, to be honest, we have that right. We’ve dedicated our time and energy into this, we have feelings about it. While I draw the line at “calling out” creators and actors IRL, we’re allowed to express our disgruntlement to each other.
Deeply felt feelings over fiction is hardly new; it’s part of the human condition. Remember when Victorian Sherlock Holmes fans wore black mourning armbands when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill him off? What I don’t like to see are the people who feel the need to police how others should or shouldn’t feel about something. Look at it this way: Did I get angry at Thor’s storyline in Avengers: Endgame? No, I thought it was just whatever. But I recognize that other people had a real problem with it, and I support them in their anger because they have the right to feel that way.
With Game of Thrones now having drawn to a close, it’s the same deal. Many of us believe that these characters have had their entire arcs destroyed by the rushed last season, and so we’re not exactly happy about it. In some ways, it felt like an echo of highly cited annoyances with Avengers: Endgame because while both properties had their moments, they were also inherently sexist. Game ofThrones‘ finale with the treatment of Dany and Brienne in particular and Avengers: Endgame with Natasha’s fridging showed that they still don’t understand their own female characters (or audience) and think that by giving other women a “moment” that they’re in the clear.
Sure, having Sansa be the Queen of the North and having that be the last line in Game of Thrones is an appreciated touch, but it doesn’t fix all the other problems in the plot, nor excuse the show’s long history of relentless sexual violence. We felt a similar way with the female Avengers moment in Endgame. You don’t get to try and fix a long history of not featuring women by pandering to audiences. Though we might appreciate the powerful visual sight of those women all united together, the moment wasn’t earned. Marvel only gave us our first female-led movie a month before, and there are no plans for a “lady Avengers” team up. One cool moment doesn’t fix phases and phases of sidelined women.
And so, again, we have the right to be angry and I know that I, for one, am going to complain. Sometimes we even get heard.
That’s all this needs to be. You don’t have to join in with the conversation, you don’t have to be angry too, but you should at least respect why other people are upset.
It’s been almost twenty years since I first read A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin’s first book in what was intended to be A Song of Ice and Fire, the trilogy. But as Twitter exploded with reaction over who took the throne in the TV series finale, I remembered how the book began.
I’m not what you might call an ASoIF superfan, but I liked the books well enough, especially the first one. For me, Martin’s strength resides in gutsy narrative curveballs like killing Ned Stark, who had seemed like the story’s main focus until he loses his head, and shocks like the Red Wedding. These twists and turns have also helped keep viewers of the show on edge and perpetually tuning in, since anything dramatic might happen.
But the first book of the now-intended-to-be-seven-book A Song of Ice and Fire starts on a relatively tame note, seen through the eyes of a child. After a brief prologue that plunges us into confusing violence wrought by the undead, we shift to the first chapter and the first perspective of this series of many narrators: Bran.
I dug out my old copy to confirm:
Just remembered that Bran had the first chapter and perspective in “A Game of Thrones” so well played I guess pic.twitter.com/rD5PugRFyh
Through Bran’s childish gaze we experience Winterfell and Westeros for the first time. He rides out to see justice delivered with his father Eddard Stark and brothers Robb and Jon, and they discover the litter of direwolf pups.
A few chapters later, we return to Bran for the book’s first real shock and significant plot advancement, when a climbing Bran accidentally spies on the twins Jaime and Cersei locked in carnal embrace, and Jaime pushes the boy off the window ledge.
While some disgruntled fans after Game of Thrones‘ season finale were quick to point out that Bran was such an insignificant figure that he disappeared for a season, I was remembering how the book focuses us in on Bran from the very beginning—how our sympathies are first sworn to him.
It’s clear that Martin’s ideas for the book series have shifted considerably over time (an early outline from 1993 had such head-scratching ideas as a Jon/Arya/Tyrion love triangle). But I imagine he may have begun with some idea of who was going to ascend to the throne at the end of it all. Was this opening on Bran a wink to the audience all along that in the seven-year-old boy we were meeting first was the person who would ultimately succeed and win the game of thrones?
As you ponder the possibility, let me introduce one of my absolute favorite ideas of Martin’s. On the topic of writers and writing, Martin said:
“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”
I remember reading this and having it open my third eye about why and how people approach writing in such varied ways. And while Martin claims to be more of a gardener than an architect, there has to be a little bit of both in every writer. Was he laying down grand architectural foundations when he first embarked from Bran’s perspective?
We won’t know until we get the last book in our hands, but I can’t help but wonder if the final narration closes with Bran, as it all began.