Category Archive – Movie Madness

Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 3: Movies

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Hi again Geeklings!  Welcome to week three of our Pride month recommendations.

This week though, I wanted to talk about movies.  I was wholeheartedly excited to put a list together of teen-friendly flicks that celebrate pride.  In reality, it turned out to be a heck of a lot harder to find those kinds of movies than I thought.  Here I am trying to write up some film options that are a) appropriate for the under-18 crowd and b) would appeal to today’s modern teen.  And… I’m kinda coming up a little empty.  Many of the most acclaimed films of the last year that highlight LGBTQ+ themes (like Moonlight or Call Me By Your Name) are rated R, which doesn’t really help you guys.

So why the dry spell?  Well, I think it’s mostly because while a lot of books and TV shows are starting to get more open about that kind of representation, a lot of mainstream movies are still REALLY hesitant to represent LGBTQ+ characters (here’s a more current assessment).  And like a lot of things in life, the main explanation as to why seems to be money.  Franchises like Star Wars, Marvel and the Wizarding World spend millions upon millions of dollars on their films, and they want to make that money back as well as turn a profit.  This means that the stakes are higher for them then for a TV show or a book, and they have to appeal to the widest audience possible, both at home and globally.  And since LGBTQ+ practices are still pretty darn taboo in a lot of places, many countries will not screen movies that have explicitly gay/lesbian/trans/etc content.  Or in places where they are screened some movie goers will simply not buy a ticket for them.

It’s one of the reasons why we’re not getting any mention of Dumbledore’s sexuality in this year’s Fantastic Beasts movie.

Which is a huge bummer, if you ask me.  Mainstream films are just starting to come around to the idea of including more women and people of color in their casts, but anyone of a different orientation or gender identity is still being left in the closet.  Many filmmakers hint at it (like Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok or Antiope in Wonder Woman) but hardly anyone will come out and say it.  It’s beyond frustrating for a lot of people… and for librarians who want to talk about movies for you guys.

So what DO we have?

Well, how about Love, Simon?  Based off the book Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, this film follows Simon Spier, a teen who’s trying to balance his family, his friends, his school and being gay but not out.  But a couple of people pop up online; one person’s trying to blackmail him by threatening to out him, and another person has caught his romantic interests.  What will Simon do?  Put a hold on the movie and find out!

One I’d really recommend is Easy A.  Though the main character isn’t gay, one of the big characters in the film is, and that kind of sets up the whole story.  Released in 2010, it stars Emma Stone as Olive Penderghast, and since she’s already lied about losing her virginity she’s asked by her friend Brandon to pretend to sleep with him so everyone will think he’s straight and the bullies will leave him alone.  Olive decides to fully embrace her new bad girl image, even stitching a red ‘A’ to her clothes after her class reads The Scarlet Letter.  But, as things often do in these situations, everything gets out of hand.  Funny and smart, Easy A is definitely worth a look.

Anything else?  Well, last year I talked a bit about LeFou in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.  It turned out that was a whole lot of nothing, much hinted but not outright stated, but the film is still fun.  There’s also The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Struck by Lightning and Saved.

So yeah, kind of a short list today.  Hopefully that’ll change soon, and more studios, directors and producers will take a chance and tell more stories that represent more people.  Any movies you guys like that I missed?  Post away in the comments section.

One more week to go for Pride Month.  Stay tuned, have a great week and until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: A Brief History of Anime Fandom

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Hiya Geekling!  Enjoying the warm weather?  Ready for summer (and by extension, school to be over)?  I know I am.

So I just got back from Anime North this last weekend.  Had a lot of fun, learned some new things, got a little puppet-type critter that I hope will sit on my shoulder during my visits with the public and will delight young and old alike.  Good times.

But one of my favorite things I did this weekend was attend a panel on anime fandom in North America, presented by these guys.  I like fandoms, I like fans, I like history, and I like anime so this was a win win win win.  And in the interests of public service, I thought I’d pass some of the interesting tidbits I learned on to you guys, ’cause I’m nice like that.

So first of all, fandom for Anime on this side of the globe is much older than most people would expect.  A lot people think that it really took off in the early 2000s (or if you’re old like me, you peg it somewhere in the 1990s).  North American fans of anime have been around for about 60 years.  WHAT?!  But one of the reasons most of us may not know that was because being able to access anime was much more difficult back then than it is now.  You basically had to hope it was on broadcast TV or you had to know a guy if you wanted to see it.

One of the big things to kick it all off was a little show called Astro Boy.  It aired on NBC in 1963 and actually beat The New Adventures of Superman in the ratings.  It was followed by Speed Racer in 1968, and then more shows followed, so a lot of Baby Boomers grew up with anime shows.  Funny thing; we had protesters on Sunday convention, but the panelists pointed out that that was nothing new; there were protesters back in the 60s.  TV watch groups wrote a scathing review of Speed Racer back when it first aired.

So there’s that.

In the 1970s you got giant robots coming on the scene with Shogun Warriors.  These were toys that were popular even without a show to back them up.  The first mini festival for anime fans was held in that decade.  The first English language manga, Barefoot Gen, was published.  After Star Wars became huge a lot of related-anime was released, like Battle of the PlanetsGalaxy Express was the first anime movie to get a theatrical release in the US.  The show Star Blazers aired in 1979 and became so popular it spawned it’s own fanzine and it’s own mini cons.  It was during this decade that you got to see the first anime cosplayers at these events (though the term ‘cosplayer‘ didn’t really come into use until 1984) and where you got the first real divide among fans between heavily edited and dubbed English versions and the original Japanese versions of anime.

On to the 1980s.  Now we have Japanese arcade games and laser disc games coming onto the scene, as well as home video in 1984.  Voltron aired that same year.  Yamoto Con was the first official con in North America.  More magazines, model kits and shows came out during this decade.  You could conceivably come home from school and watch an afternoon of anime shows.  The term ‘Japanimation‘ was first coined in the 80s.  Akira was given a theatrical release in 1989 and that was a pivotal moment.  It was a film that made even the staunchest of critics, the ones who insisted all of this was ‘just for kids’, take notice and realize we had a genuine art form on our hands.

Then the 1990s, when things got even more mainstream.  It was rough for the first part of the decade because of changing economics in both the US and Japan, making it more expensive to buy and produce shows.  Some toy stores went out of business during this time, and despite studios attempting to crack down on them, bootlegged VHS tapes, merchandise and fan dubs were pretty rampant.  But when production costs went down things got much better.  Stations like the Sci Fi Channel, Toonami on the Cartoon Network, YTV and Global were all known for airing anime on television.  Sailor Moon and Pokemon came out during this time and exploded in popularity.  We had anime-inspired movies like The Matrix.  It was starting to take off globally too.Image result for anime meme sailor moon

In the 2000s though, pretty much any barrier that had existed to keep you from getting into anime dissolved.  In the early part of the decade you could still watch stuff on TV and in cable packages.  We had new franchises like Cardcaptors and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, which was the #1 show on Cartoon Network across all demographics, even with a Japanese theme song (that hadn’t happened before).  DVDs and Blu Rays changed the game, as they took up less space, were often less expensive and could include both subtitles and dubs.

And then came the internet.  Good heavens, the internet.

That brought anime fans together worldwide, and made it so much easier to promote conventions.  Before we had search engines we had websites like Anime Web Turnpike, which listed all the anime-related sites you could visit (back in the days when the internet was small enough you could list certain sites on one page).  Fansites and webcomics exploded.  From 2000 – 2006 there was a huge spike in peer-to-peer file sharing and fan subs.  There was also an explosion of conventions and memes.

Then from 2007 to 2008 there was an anime crash, due to low-quality and much too expensive DVDs causing certain companies to fold, including Bandai.  But what emerges from that?  Crunchyroll.  We now have other online streaming services like Funimation, Netflix and Amazon Prime, often airing their episodes within a few weeks of them airing in Japan, or sometimes the next day.

And that brings us to now.

WHEW!

OK, that was REALLY fast and short, but you get the idea.  Anime in North America has a long and rich history, not just confined to the last couple of decades.  And the main thing to realize now is how much more accessible everything is; we can now watch and discuss these series as they air, which is really cool.

Anything else I left out?  Post away in the comments.  Have a great week Geeklings, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Ani-May, My exploration continues…

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Hiya again Geeklings!  Hope your May is going great.  I mentioned before it’s MerMay, but did you know it’s also Ani-May?  A celebration of all things Anime and Manga?  It’s true!  And with Anime North coming up this weekend I thought I’d check back in with my Part-Time Otaku status and see what else is out there apart from my usual go-to series; Sailor Moon, Black Butler and Yuri on Ice.  Still love ’em all, but… what else we got?

A lot, it turns out.

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So, what’s new?  Well, as a teen librarian, I try to pay attention to new teen books coming down the pipelines (makes sense), and one I keep hearing about is a new (at least to North America) manga series called Isekai Izakaya “Nobu”.  The description immediately caught my attention.  It’s set in an Izakaya, which is basically the Japanese equivalent of a pub.  But it’s front door opens onto a parallel world, some sort of European-esque fantasy type realm (there are two moons in the sky, so it’s not here).  So the people who live there get to try these Japanese dishes they’d never get access to otherwise.  I haven’t read the manga yet, but there is an anime version of the series on Crunchyroll, Isekai Izakaya: Japanese Food From Another World.  I watched the first two episodes; the actual animated part is pretty short and the episodes basically consist of a couple of guys losing their minds over the food and drinks at this pub.  But the way they describe the food is delightful, especially from the perspective of people who’ve never had these kinds of dishes before. I’ve talked about food before on this blog, but really is there ever a bad time to talk about food and fandom?  I think not!

And in honor of that I’ve updated my Geek Cooking list.  Plus, we’ve got a ton of books on Japanese food.

I’ve also started a series called Magical Girl Ore (or Mahou Shoujo Ore).  This is a weird one, but a totally tongue-in-cheek and hilarious play on the Magical Girl trope.  It centers around Saki, a 15 year old girl who discovers that her mother was a Magical Girl, and is passing the torch on to Saki (along with a gruff Yakuza-type ‘sidekick’).  But when Saki transforms for the first time she… well, she turns into a guy.  A very muscular guy still dressed in frills and bows.

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That’s just one of the many ways this series subverts it’s own genre.  I’m five episodes in and I’ve discovered it also plays with love triangles, cute demons, things with tentacles and even making anime itself.  I’ve laughed out loud quite a few times and I’m loving the characters.  (A couple words of warning though; I haven’t been able to find a rating on this series, but from what I’ve watched there’s swearing, some violence and it can get pretty suggestive, so head’s up.)

And for manga, I’ve started reading Blue Exorcist.  This one’s got more of a horror element to it, as it features a boy named Rin who discovers that he is literally the spawn of Satan.  But, deciding he wants none of that, he agrees to train to become an exorcist so he can defeat the demon within.  That alone would be enough to peak my curiosity, but as I’ve been reading I’ve discovered there’s also family secrets, a really elaborate and quirky school and interesting characters.  Colour me sold.  (Funny though, I’ve had to re-read a couple of parts because I’m still getting used to the right to left style; ‘Oops, wrong order, try again’).  It also has an anime series if you want to give that a try (Crunchyroll has both subtitled and dubbed versions).

So in the spirit of all of this I decided to look at some sources online and find some great anime series and manga titles that teens (you guys!) can start out with if you’re just dipping your toes into the format.  I’ve compiled two lists.

Any favorites of yours, Geeklings?  Post away in the comments or on WriteIt.

Here at VPL we’re hard at work on year 2 of Vaughan Fan Con, so keep an eye out for that.  Have a great week everybody, and until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: For when you’re too young to see Deadpool 2…

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Hiya Geeklings!

So, let me guess what some of you may be thinking.  The big geek news this week is the release of Deadpool 2, which is obviously the sequel to the smash hit Deadpool, a film finally worthy of the Merc with the Mouth (the less said about X-Men Origins: Wolverine the better).  BUT, for anyone out there younger than 18, there be a problem; the movie, like it’s predecessor, is rated R.

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Yup, sorry guys, you gotta be 18 to see it unaccompanied by a guardian or parent.  And as a full-fledged adult who has seen the original, let me tell you, that R rating is well earned and the sequel is not going to be any more sanitized, so I have to agree.  And I also agree that to give the character anything less than an R rating would not do him any justice.

Quick history: Deadpool is actually a total ripoff of a DC character.  He was ‘inspired’ by Deathstroke (not to be confused with Deadshot, from the Suicide Squad), a villain from New Teen Titans, and at least in the beginning both of them were pretty interchangeable.  Same style of costume, same MO, same skills, same superpowers, just… same, same, same.  Even their alter-ego names are similar; Wade Wilson (Deadpool) and Slade Wilson (Deathstroke).  If you look at them side by side the comparisons become painfully clear.

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But as the character developed, we discover that Deadpool has one extra superpower over his predecessor; comedy.  Deathstroke is a pretty humorless guy, but Deadpool is not only hilarious but also completely off the wall, often speaking to the audience or having full on conversations with the voices in his head.  It’s these qualities that helped him become his own character, one that’s fairly divisive but to his fans he’s the bomb.

Though you may be too young for the films, fear not!  We have stuff for you to read that will tide you over until the day comes.  We have some YA graphic novels that, while still violent, don’t quite cross the line into ‘only for adults’ stuff.

Deadpool Deadpool Vol. 1: Dead Presidents – “Dead United States presidents, from George Washington to Gerald Ford, have been resurrected – and that’s bad. The Marvel heroes can’t be the ones to stop them… Someone is needed with the reputation, skills and plausible deniability to take out these com-monsters in chiefs. Be here as Deadpool de-un-deadifies ex-Presidents left and right…matching wits with Tricky Dick Nixon, fighting a grudge match against Honest Abe Lincoln, and battling Ronald Reagan – in space! COLLECTING: Deadpool 1-6.”  The first volume in the Marvel NOW! era of Deadpool is as wacky as that summary suggests.

Deadpool Deadpool Vol. 5: The Wedding of Deadpool – “The day of Deadpool’s wedding has arrived! It’s the biggest wedding since that one guy married that other guy as Deadpool and his mysterious bride tie the knot in a tale by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn & Mike Hawthorne. Featuring stories by every writer to ever pen Wade’s series to celebrate this magical occasion! Then, the Deadpool Annual answers the most asked question since Deadpool’s new series began. Whatever Happened to the White Caption Boxes?’ Collecting: Deadpool 26-27, Deadpool Annual.”  Who is the mystery bride?  Read to find out!

Deadpool Deadpool: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – From Goodreads; “It begins with a lost Deadpool adventure from the groovy seventies as DP hits the streets with Power Man and Iron Fist! But when the threat the Trio-For-Hire faced resurfaces in the modern day, Deadpool must track down his old pals for a rematch!
Then, when Deadpool’s past in the Weapon X Program returns to haunt him, he recruits fellow Weapon Plus alums — and reluctant allies — Wolverine and Captain America! In the heart of the enemy’s clutches, the three get sucked deeper into the mysteries they uncover — but when the heroes learn that Deadpool’s past has been weaponized, can they unite to take this new threat down in time?”  One of my favorite Deadpool storylines is when you throw his antics in with the other Marvel characters.  It makes for great dynamics.

Spider-Man/Deadpool - Kelly, Joe Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 1: Isn’t it Bromantic? – “The Webbed Wonder and the Merc with a Mouth are teaming up for their first series EVER! It’s action, adventure and just a smattering of (b)romance in this episodic epic featuring the WORLD’S GREATEST SUPER HERO and the star of the WORLD’S GREATEST COMICS MAGAZINE. Talk about a REAL dynamic duo! COLLECTING: SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL 1-6”.  The first volume in a series where the two most quippy superheroes ever team up?  Count me in!

Hawkeye Vs Deadpool Hawkeye vs Deadpool – “Meet Hawkeye: ladies man (‘ladies man’ because the ladies love to hate this man), mighty marksman and, most importantly, Avenger. He’s the only guy on the team without any powers, though. Then there’s Deadpool. He can be shot, stabbed and punched in the face, but nothing can keep him down. What do they have in common? Halloween in Brooklyn, and a S.H.I.E.L.D. espionage mystery that has both heroes racing the clock! But will Deadpool and Hawkeye kill each other before they figure it out? Collecting: Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool 0-4”.  Another great dynamic to be had here.

Any books I missed?  Are you bummed about the rating for the Deadpool films?  Sound off in the comments or on WriteIt!

Have a great week Geeklings, whip up some chimichangas, and until next time End of Line!

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Week of Geek: May the Fourth and Revenge of the Fifth 2018

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Hola Geekings!  Enjoying the beautiful weather?  About time, am I right?

As I write this I’m sitting at my desk in the back room of the Civic Centre Library.  As per my usual mode of being, my desk is pretty cluttered, and one thing it is cluttered with is various fandom-oriented posters and items.  That’s right, I don’t just write about this stuff, I practice what I preach, I live it!  Anyhoo, right now I have my Star Wars headphones on, which are decked out in X-Wing orange and feature the rebellion symbol on each ear.  On my monitor sits (among other characters) Poe Dameron in figurine form.  There are two, count ’em, TWO Star Wars pens in my pencil holder (one with Kylo Ren and one with Boba Fett).  And my poster of various awesome female fandom characters features Princess Leia and Ahsoka Tano.

In case it’s not obvious by now, Ali’s a Star Wars fan.  She’s a fan of a lot of things, but that too!

And at the start of May it’s always a great idea to sit back, reflect, and celebrate the galaxy far, far away thanks to two unofficial fan dates; namely “May the Fourth Be With You” and “Revenge of the Fifth”.  As someone who’s more partial to the Dark Side (or at least the characters associated with it) I’m more stoked about the 5th myself, but both days are super fun and give you the perfect excuse to indulge in the force, light or dark.

This year in the world of Star Wars we’ll get our movie fix with Solo: A Star Wars Story, which comes out May 25th (little more than 3 weeks away!)  Much like Rogue One, this will be a flashback movie and will tell the story of a younger Han Solo and how he came to be the scoundrel and scruffy looking nerf herder we all know and love.

Looking good, I think.

Lucasfilm and Disney have also announced a new animated series coming soon called Star Wars: Resistance, which is set in the current timeline and will feature characters like BB-8, Poe Dameron and Captain Phasma, plus all new characters.  Can’t wait!

So, of course, we have things for you to watch and read to honor the occasion.  Check ’em out here…

Enjoy the week Geeklings, get ready for Solo on May 25th, and until next time, End of Line.