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Spoiler Alert Sunday :: our thoughts on Sorry to Bother You

16 Jul

As a rule, one of the most surreal experiences is attending events that you can tell part of the audience isn’t prepared for. This happened at Hamilton, it happened at Janelle Monae, it’s been a theme this year, and it definitely happened today when we went to see Sorry to Bother You.

This is not to say that this movie was for either of us, exactly; it’s not. As mentioned, I’m a white girl, and drift partner is white-passing mixed race/biracial (Chinese/white). But we at least clearly knew what we were there for and were open to and appreciative of it. This is not to say our entire audience wasn’t, or that we were the only people who seemed [insert adjective here] enough to get it, but a great many of them… well, you got the impression they were just there to waste a hot Sunday afternoon in a dark/air conditioned theater. (And we can say this with certainty because we were the first ones there and watched every single person and group enter.) Sitting quite near us was one of several middle-aged or older white couples, and this gentleman felt compelled to pass judgment on each trailer they showed, many of which were also not for “white people” movies; there were also a lot of laughs when things were funny, but probably not the kind of funny that most of us in the crowd were supposed to laugh at.

I describe this in detail because in a way it really complements the film itself, and also because there’s only so much we can say about the film itself without ruining it for you. The basic premise of the movie is this: Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is unemployed, lives in his uncle’s house, and feels inadequate compared to his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson), an anti-establishment performance artist. He ends up scoring a telemarketing job at RegalView, where he flounders for the first few days until an older coworker, Langston (Danny Glover), lets him in on a little secret: Cash needs to use his “white voice” to engage his customers. Once he does this, he begins to rise in the ranks of the company to become a Power Caller. Meanwhile, his coworkers, including Detroit and Squeeze (Steven Yeun) rally to protest their low wages and demand unionization. This is the first thirty minutes of the movie, give or take, and it is literally all we can tell you without spoiling some of the best moments.

What we can spoil: the performances, for one. Lakeith Stanfield was in the ensemble of Get Out last year, in a role that very much prepared him for being able to pretend to do a “white voice” (his “white voice” in the film is literally a white actor, though), and he should probably win a bunch of awards for this movie because he’s really wonderful at carrying it. It feels odd to say Steven Yeun is a delight because it’s not like his character did any particularly delighted or delightful things but it was mostly just a delight to get to see him not in immediate danger and sometimes also to see him get to be funny. And Tessa Thompson, well. Tessa Thompson is… everything. That’s the easiest way to put it. I’m just going to put it out there and say if this was a movie about/by white people, her character would have been written and treated like shit and made as unlikable as possible, and I was worried for half a second about this happening here but I shouldn’t have been. She just got to be an aggressively Afropunk feminist artist with agency and emotional authority, and she is also in fact impossible to stop watching because she’s entrancing and beautiful and her voice is the best thing ever and also, she wore shirts that said things like “the future is female ejaculation” and earrings that said things like “tell Homeland Security / we are the bomb.” (Thompson confirmed on twitter that most of her costumes were shirts she bought for herself.)

The best comparison we can think of is to Get Out, in terms of both social commentary and darkly comedic tone, which is a bit of a shame because the two movies really deserve to stand on their own merits. But there aren’t that many movies in the “dark racial comedy/social satire” subgenre, so here we are. This movie will probably receive similar attention to Get Out come awards season, at least I hope so, but I suspect the ending will be deeply polarizing. There are going to be people who hate it, and it’s possible that it will keep this movie out of the big Oscar races, but I really hope it won’t.

–your fangirl heroines.

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Fashion Friday :: I would call her crazypants but she doesn’t wear pants.

6 Jul

And “crazyskirt” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Galaxia is an antagonist who I’m sure will grow on me when I rewatch season 5 but for now, again, I have kind of minimal feelings about. Whatever here she is.

Here. It sure is yellow. Yellow is a pain in the ass. Collared Charisma Knit Dress, Smak Parlour at ModCloth.

These are gold. They are not boots but they sure are gaudy. Patterns at Display Metallic Heel in Gold, ModCloth.

Because so much of her outfit is so geometric. Echoing Deco Belt, ModCloth.

This is also gold. Crafty Carrier Bag, ModCloth.

So are these. Markedly Sparkly Earrings, ModCloth.

–your fangirl heroine.

Music Monday :: our thoughts on Dirty Computer and Janelle Monae live

25 Jun

First we were going to wait to talk about the album till we’d seen her in concert, since we knew we had tickets. Then the concert was weirdly timed for the posting schedule. Then we were just busy and/or forgetful. So HERE WE GO. Time to talk about Dirty Computer as an album, an emotion picture, and a concert too.

I’ve been caught up on my Janelle Monae for awhile (the entire Archandroid collection is a really good way to busy up your entire afternoon) but as soon as she released the video for “Make Me Feel” it was clear we were in a whole new league. And I (drift partner) binged her entire discography right after that video came out, and also said idly, “gee, it’d be funny if she decided to release a whole album just to come out as queer, that seems like something she’d do.” In other news, I also called Kristen Stewart being bisexual back in 2012, and I am a gay prophet.

Also, right around “Make Me Feel,” the internet suddenly arrived at the conclusion that Janelle and Tessa Thompson are probably dating. There’s literal years’ worth of clues, compiled by multiple people if you google around, and these don’t even get into the hints about each woman individually (previous queer-type themes and language in Janelle’s earlier work, Tessa passionately advocating for Valkyrie being bisexual, and playing it that way, in Thor: Ragnarok as per comics but despite studio interference, also this picture). Shipping real people can get creepy really fast, and of course they’re entitled to privacy – but is it really that creepy if they’re making an epic 45-minute movie about themselves being in love despite impossible odds? I’m just saying.

So the release of the next single, “Pynk,” was… well, it just felt like a confirmation of everything we and everyone on the internet were thinking. In this video, Janelle and several (but not all) of her dancers wear pink pants clearly designed to resemble vaginas while they dance, and in multiple shots Tessa’s head is poking out from between Janelle’s legs, clearly meant to represent the clitoris. In case you ever wondered what it would sound like if a woman wrote a song about enjoying the giving and receiving of cunnilingus, this is your answer.

Dirty Computer as a whole is, like all of Janelle’s stuff, a concept album, but it’s the first not to be directly connected to the others. In it (this is not a spoiler, the movie explains this in the first two minutes) the government is bad and considers people computers, and anyone who deviates from the norm is a “dirty computer.” This includes people who are the wrong color (not white) or the wrong sexuality (not straight) or, you know, any/all of the reasons people get discriminated against. These people are regularly rounded up and basically memory-wiped into compliance. In short, this ain’t fucking around.

As such, each song and therefore video represents a memory being wiped from Jane’s (Janelle’s character) mind. And every single damn one is Making Points, a lot of which really aren’t my place to discuss because I’m not a black woman and they’re reflective of that specific experience. There is a lot of subtle and less-subtle stuff that’s clearly influenced by Janelle’s religious upbringing, which I (drift partner) can talk about because, same hat. “I just wanna find a god / and I hope she loves me too” in “Crazy Classic Life” (which is also a throwback to part of one of her older songs, “Q.U.E.E.N.”: “Say will your God accept me in my black and white? / Will he approve the way I’m made? / Or should I reprogram the programming and get down?”) and “while I sit in my room writing letters to my church and things and such” in “So Afraid” are two of the most blatant examples, but she is also literally wearing a veil on the album cover that is meant to evoke Catholic imagery, so there you go. Also, as a person who grew up with a lot of religiously-based guilt and shame, I definitely recognize a lot of the “fuck it” vibes on this album.

And, of course, it’s really queer. Jane has two love interests in the film, Tessa Thompson’s Zen and Jayson Aaron’s Che, and they’re just a big lovely bisexual pile all over the videos. But also, it’s just… very Sapphic a lot of the time. Janelle spends a lot of time admiring ladies in these videos, singing near suggestive parts of their bodies and touching them and being touched by them and generally just appreciating them, but it’s nowhere near the skeezy male-gazey girl on girl stuff that many films and music videos and whatnot are guilty of sharing. It’s just loving and, again, appreciating, and yeah, it’s sexy but it’s also just beautiful and welcome.

Seeing her live was also quite an experience. It was at an outdoor park venue, and the place was sold out, although we suspect some of the attendees may have been there because they had season tickets to all of the park’s summer concerts, or possibly had been dragged there by adults. It became glaringly obvious who was actually there as a fan and who was there for one of the aforementioned reasons. But the people who were there on purpose were definitely at the right place, and were having a blast, and so were we.

Janelle commits 1000% to everything she is doing, and this includes props. She brought not only her throne from “Django Jane,” but her vagina pants, and also everyone else’s vagina pants, so they could all do the routine (unfortunately, sans Tessa). She changed costumes about five times, and her backup dancers did as well, because dammit, why not. She also did some of the older songs thrown in, which was nice; it was more or less the expected ones, “Q.U.E.E.N.” and “Tightrope” and such, but she also did “Primetime” after giving a very nice speech about loving the people you are with and we were gross and sappy. Somewhat to spite the people behind us.

This is a paragraph devoted to the people mentioned two paragraphs up, which is to say those behind us. There were also some teenage boys in front of us who kept making surprised faces at each other and chuckling nervously, but they were at least quiet. The people behind us (at least two men; there may have been other people with them, but they were the culprits) did. Not. Shut. Up. They were talking during St. Beauty, who opened, which was rude but honestly, especially at outdoor venues I feel like opening acts are treated a little more casually and I hoped they would settle down. They did not. They proceeded to talk, mostly about the concert itself, for the entire concert. Loud enough that I could actually follow entire threads of conversations (they disapproved of people clapping along during songs, or at least found it stupid; they didn’t like when Janelle addressed the women and/or queer people and/or brown people in the crowd specifically; they were snarky whenever it got queer; they didn’t seem to know most of the songs or to particularly like most of the ones they did know). It got to the point where, when my arm was around drift partner’s waist during “Primetime,” I considered pulling an Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and putting up my middle finger at them. I definitely also kept glaring at them out of the corner of my eye, but they didn’t seem to get the message. Thankfully, they left before the encore, so we got “So Afraid” and “Americans” in peace, at least.

Another really cool thing is that Janelle kept stopping to be really affirming of everyone who was there, but especially black and brown and queer folks. One thing I (drift partner) have noticed that she’s done a lot lately, pretty much every time it comes up, is say the entire acronym when she references “the LGBTQIA” community. As someone who is part of the “A” umbrella (asexual) and who’s been really irritated and discouraged by the bad anti-asexual discourse in part of the queer community lately, it has been really touching and validating to know that Janelle agrees that asexual, aromantic, and agender people belong here too. She doesn’t have to keep saying that, but she does anyway, and I really appreciate it. She also got so emotional during part of “So Afraid” that she had to pause for a second because she was having so many feelings about all of us being there and being seen and validated together, and that was so sweet.

In short: Janelle Monae is everything. The end.

–your fangirl heroines.

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Fashion Friday :: the most baffling dominatrix.

22 Jun

8a334ff8b400f024bab94074952f039e--love-us-followers

Because she dresses like one but really, really isn’t one. Oh, Sailor Tin Nyanko. The most confusing of the Animamates (and that’s saying something).

any day

But ModCloth is not really a purveyor of dominatrix fashion, so I’m going to slant toward the cutesy kitty cat angle instead! Because this sure exists. Any Day Meow Jumper, ModCloth.

glam

There was also the thing of her becoming halfway a white kitty cat partway through, so. Here. Glam Garnish Sleeveless Top in White, ModCloth.

strappy

She had strappy hosiery, sure. Strappy to Be Here Tights, ModCloth.

oh-so-upscale

Oh my god I love these. I have similar shoes because I am the world’s biggest sucker for saddle shoe riffs and yes. These are fabulous. Oh-So-Upscale Heel in Black, Chelsea Crew at ModCloth.

oh-so-upscale

Obviously. Steal a Kiss Sunglasses, Quay at ModCloth.

must have

And because they’re like she has (and they didn’t have any jingle bell jewelry). Must-Have Minimalism Earring Set, ModCloth.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Spoiler Alert Sunday :: our thoughts on Ocean’s Eight

17 Jun

Full disclaimer: what I know of the Ocean’s Eleven franchise prior to this improved installment is gained from unwillingly half-watching scenes here and there in the background of doing something else while I was growing up. I didn’t give a single damn because, well, that’s so many dudes, and none of them were dudes I had any affinity for. Therefore I went into this expecting: ladies doing things. Heist things. I know very little about heists, but I understand the formula.

And I (drift partner) haven’t seen any of the Ocean’s movies either, but I like heist stories and once my friend Dean and I made up a whole movie plot about two warring heist gangs that were made up entirely of ladies. Weirdly, some of the ladies in our movie were also in Ocean’s Eight, to the point that he leaned over to me during a trailer to whisper “did they make OUR movie?” But I have been in love with Anne Hathaway since I was twelve years old and am fond of most of the rest of this cast, so I was totally on board for this.

Anyway. This is a pretty formulaic plot, but that’s not a bad thing. The formula isn’t the point. The point is watching everything come together and watching the characters be their own respective kinds of awesome. Is it a perfect movie? Nah, but it’s sure entertaining. Also it’s funny without being mean (except to the obvious douchebags) and that’s always appreciated.

We’re going to go character-by-character because the plot is… what it is. Not “what will happen” but “how will it happen.”

  • Our leader is Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock). She’s apparently the sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean (was she ever mentioned before? I have no idea, and I don’t care), and Danny Ocean is now dead. Of what? We don’t really know. But he’s dead and she just got out of jail after being framed by a shitty ex (Richard Armitage) and she has a Plan, dammit. She’s gonna Do A Heist. She’s at her Sandra Bullockiest best for much of this film, doing funny voices and delivering intensely elaborate deadpan explanations of things and expressing emotion with equal aplomb. It’s really great that Hollywood finally figured out that she’s at her best when she’s a) surrounded by women and b) unencumbered by dumb romance plots. She’s a little less straight man than usual here, which is fun.
  • Next up is Lou (Cate Blanchett). She was previously Debbie’s partner. In crime? Yes. In romance? I don’t know, probably. She spends the film dressed in what might be described as “butch couture,” if that’s any clue. She helps Debbie put the heist team together and is unbelievably everything while doing it. The best part was how she had chemistry with literally everyone, because she’s Cate Blanchett, and also how she seemed like at any moment she might ascend to the next level like the terrifying Elf queen she is.
  • Anne Hathaway’s character Daphne was the unwilling participant in this heist, a somewhat vacuous actress. It was great because it was definitely playing into the stereotypes everyone associates with actresses, and for some reason especially with Anne: vain, vapid, selfish, and above everyone else. But then it turns out that she’s been onto them for awhile and has just been biding her time until she knows they’re, as she says to them, fucked. Then it adorably turns out that she really just wanted female friends all along! I think she was maybe my favorite.
  • Mindy Kaling’s character Amita is useful because she knows about jewels. Like, she knows a lot. She appraises gemstones for her family’s company and she’s miserable, so Debbie snags her to help them convincingly replicate the jewels they’re going to steal. She’s not particularly a criminal mastermind, she just knows her shit and she’s also really excited about the prospects of getting out on her own and also going to the Met Ball where they’re doing the heist.
  • Next comes Tammy (Sarah Paulson). A former criminal cohort of Debbie’s, she’s now retired to the suburbs (where she still fences stolen goods out of her garage, apparently) and is trying to have a family. She’s very bad at this and takes exactly the cursory amount of persuasion to join the team, which she in turn is very good at being part of. A big part of what’s funny about this is that it’s always funny watching Sarah Paulson pretend to be heterosexual and normal (was she maybe also Debbie’s ex? Possibly). Also I (drift partner) definitely thought she was part of a pyramid scheme rather than fencing stolen goods out of her garage for about five seconds, which was pretty funny.
  • Lou suggests a pickpocket she knows from running street scams, Constance (Awkwafina). She’s quick and clever and rather less sophisticated than the others but very eager to do this thing. There’s also a very cute bit where Constance shows Amita how to use Tinder, and the only way it would have been cuter is if it was gay.
  • Their requisite hacker appears in the form of Nine Ball (Rihanna). She’s chilled out, smoking pot, wearing overalls, just ready to do this shit. Her character is one of those characters who goes by a silly nickname and then another character who knows her by a different name comes in and refers to her as such – in this case, her little sister. I honestly wanted a movie about the two of them, they seemed like a fun pair.
  • And finally, there’s Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), an eccentric fashion designer on the verge of financial and emotional ruin. They get her to design a dress for Daphne to wear to the Met Ball, and she’s just… well, she’s also at her Helena Bonham Carteriest. She’s a weirdo but in a picture book way, like “The Most Nervous Little Pixie” or something. She’s using her normal accent or at least something close to it here, which I’ve never heard in a movie before, so that was fun.

This movie is a great summer movie because it’s just a really nice time where a bunch of ladies hang out in pretty dresses or cool outfits being competent and talking about things that are not men. And I definitely support that.

–your fangirl heroines.

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Fashion Friday :: the dapper butch with a strange copper color scheme?

15 Jun

Lead_crow

A story for you all: when I was really little and still learning how to use the internet, as I’ve mentioned, I would do websearches for Sailor Moon websites. This was back in the olden days, so these would be essentially encyclopedia-format websites, 12-pt Times New Roman font on a background that was either plain white or a stock image of outer space, detailing the characters, locations, episodes, plots, etc. from the show. This was back in the day, so the only seasons that had aired in America were the first season, which I had seen probably ten or fifteen times in pieces, and gradually the first part of the second season (up until Rubeus’ exit, because they didn’t air the last bit until later in this period of my life and they called them the “lost episodes” and it was a big deal). This meant I learned a lot of details of episodes and seasons that hadn’t yet aired in America: I learned about the lesbians that were to become cousins, I learned about how Sailor Saturn was awesome, I learned about various plots and villains. Among those were the Sailor Animamates, though I don’t think I registered that that was their collective name. I had no idea what a “nyanko” was (it’s a kitten, basically) or that “siren” referred to a creature and not the thing on top of police cars (for some reason I found the idea of an aluminum police siren side-splittingly hilarious, although I honestly couldn’t tell you why, and sometimes drew pictures of this – “LOOK IT’S FUNNY” I would insist to my father, who shook his head and went back to drawing Magnificat, his somewhat blasphemous church-themed superhero cat) or that “lead” meant the metal and not, essentially, Sailor Boss Crow (this was also funny, though I didn’t know how to draw this as well and therefore did not as often).

Now, of course, I find Sailor Lead Crow funny for a different reason, which is that she is the Boss Crow in the lesbian relationship that she has with Aluminum Siren (feudal lord, handmaid, know your culture).

Anyway.

charter school

They have like no shirtwaist vests, which is what she actually wears as a human, so here. Charter School Short Sleeves Sweater in Hazel, ModCloth.

off to

Then worn over this you get more or less the same effect! Off to a Good Start-Up Short Sleeve Blouse in White, ModCloth.

set

Sure. Set Sailorette Jeans in Black, ModCloth.

cloche

This is not even remotely akin to the stupid hat Lead Crow wears as a human, but it’s a hat and she feels like she needs one. Cloche to Home Hat in Tan, ModCloth.

talking

And finally: dapper away. Talking Picture Oxford Flat in Rich Caramel, ModCloth.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Superlative Sunday :: my thoughts on the 2018 Tony Awards

10 Jun

Last year, I intentionally listened to all of the Best Musical nominees before the Tonys to see which I was rooting for (none, really, it turned out). This year I said “no, I’ll do it after the Tonys so I don’t read things biased.”

What this also means is that this post is going to be short and vague and largely just congratulating people that I either know already or am happy for on principle.

To begin: you go, Chita Rivera! Win that lifetime achievement.

The Band’s Visit (Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score Written for the Theatre, Best Lead Actor in a Musical* [Tony Shalhoub], Best Lead Actress in a Musical* [Katrina Lenk], Best Featured Actor in a Play* [Ari’el Stachel], Best Direction of a Musical, Best Musical)
I know literally nothing about this musical. I hadn’t even really registered its existence until tonight. But damn! It sounds cool, and it’s cool that it’s the first Middle Eastern musical to do this damn well, and there’s a ton of firsts in the award categories too, and I’m excited to give it a listen.

Angels in America (Best Lead Actor in a Play* [Andrew Garfield], Best Featured Actor in a Play* [Nathan Lane], Best Revival of a Play)
I actually really love this play a lot. I did a scene from it in one of my college drama classes, and I’ve read it a few times. So I’m glad for it being revived/recognized. I don’t really care that much about either actor, but I’m glad Andrew Garfield is getting to do real things now, I guess.

Three Tall Women (Best Lead Actress in a Play* [Glenda Jackson], Best Featured Actress in a Play* [Laurie Metcalf])
All I really know about this play is that the third tall woman is Alison Pill, who I love and follow on Instagram now and who posts about the play often because, well, she’s in it. She’s very supportive of and proud of her costars, though, so I guess it’s pretty good and I’m proud of them too. (Laurie Metcalf, most of your career is not your fault. I’m glad you got to do a real thing, too.)

Carousel (Best Featured Actress in a Musical* [Lindsay Mendez])
I… acknowledge that Carousel is pretty. I am bored or creeped out by a lot of it (and as a philistine I will admit to once laughing when “Soliloquy” played on the Sirius satellite radio Broadway station in the car because it was so long and so dramatic and none of us were expecting it while driving around scenic southern Oregon looking at old houses or something), but Carrie is objectively the funniest part and Lindsay Mendez seems cool. She’s been Elphaba, so she can definitely sing, but Wikipedia just told me she was also in Princesses. For those of you who don’t know (everyone, probably) Princesses was an original musical that previewed in Seattle when I was in high school. It was about an all-girls’ school that was putting on a musical version of A Little Princess and the main girl in it was the daughter of a rockstar who neglected her emotionally and to make up for that and for sending her to boarding school he agreed to play the father in the school’s production. Despite the fact that the rest of the cast was still adolescent girls. Lindsay Mendez, I’m fairly certain, played the main character’s tall/less-than-skinny roommate, whose main musical moment was the song about how she and two other girls (the tall lanky one, played by Sierra Boggess, and the short one) had to play the undesirable roles (two dudes and a monkey) because of their unusual sizes. Princesses is objectively a terrible enough musical that it never made it to Broadway or even to a cast album and doesn’t have a Wikipedia page. And I saw it!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two (Best Direction of a Play, Best Play)
Look man, I don’t know, maybe the performances/direction/production/whatever of this are really good. But having read a summary of this damn play, I can safely say – what to heck. It’s bonkers batshit, and not in a way that sounded watchable. I fully intend to read the play proper when I can bring myself to it just to confirm this, but I’m just going to put it out there: one of the major plot twists was predicted in the satirical “My Immortal” webseries like four years ago or something.

*look, “Best Performance by an Actor/Actress in a Leading/Featured Role in a Play/Musical is too wordy. I’m not making y’all sit through that phrase that many times.

–your fangirl heroine.

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