Living While Black, in Japan

Living While Black, In Japan | All Things Considered | NPR

“Living While Black, in Japan” is a film by photojournalist and filmmaker team Keith Bedford and Shiho Fukada. They are both married and moved to Japan three years ago. Fukada was born in Japan and missed her family while living in New York where she met Bedford.

Bedford is African American. He says he likes living in Japan but there is a sense of being an outsider or a sense of being the other. He says this is a lot of what Fukada went through living in America.

They discussed moving back to America but then the George Floyd killing happened.

Fukada said she worried that something like this could happen to Bedford or her son. And she wanted to learn how others in the Black American community in Japan felt about it. This film touches on what it’s like living abroad for a group of Black Americans in Japan.

The film features interviews with men and women discussing how racism and encounters with police in the US, contributed to their decision to leave.

Blackness and Japan related: Yasuke, an African samurai in Japan and the Black polyglot who speaks Japanese, Mandarin, and Arabic

(via NPR)

Ill-Studio's 'Then & Now' explores the reconstruction of deconstructed buildings

ILL STUDIO / THEN&NOW

Have you ever watched a demolished building reconstruct itself? Well, now you can thanks to ‘Then & Now’ a collaboration between Ill-Studio and Belgian electronic group Soulwax, who provided the soundtrack.

The project serves as a concept piece merging an “imaginary encounter” between Robert Smithson’s essay A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey and archive footage from contractors demolishing buildings. The creative agency says Then & Now “draws attention to the ruins of 20th century as seen through the prism of modernity” where the lines between past and future are blurred.

Here are two quotes that illustrate ‘Then & Now’ perfectly:

The buildings don’t fall into ruin after they are built but rather rise as ruins before they are built.

I should now like to prove the irreversibility of eternity by using a jejune experiment for proving entropy. Picture in your mind’s eye the sand box divided in half with black sand on one side and white sand on the other. We take a child and have him run hundreds of times clockwise in the box until the sand gets mixed and begins to turn grey; after that we have him run anti-clockwise, but the result will not be a restoration of the original division but a greater degree of greyness and an increase of entropy.

Of course, if we filmed such an experiment we could prove the reversibility of eternity by showing the film backwards, but then sooner or later the film itself would crumble or get lost and enter the state of irreversibility. Somehow this suggests that the cinema offers an illusive or temporary escape from physical dissolution. The false immortality of the film gives the viewer an illusion of control over eternity—but “the superstars” are fading.

Excerpt from A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey by Robert Smithson

Black Film Archive

Black Film Archive is an archive of Black films made between 1915–1979. Their collection is ever-growing and they will likely expand that timeframe in the future but for now, that period covers a lot of significant Black cinema eras. But the important thing is all the films are streamable in some way.

Here’s how Black Film Archive classifies a “Black film”:

The films collected on Black Film Archive have something significant to say about the Black experience; speak to Black audiences; and/or have a Black star, writer, producer, or director. This criterion for selection is as broad and inclusive as possible, allowing the site to cover the widest range of what a Black film can be.

The films listed here should be considered in conversation with each other, as visions of Black being on film across time. They express what only film can: social, anthropological, and aesthetic looks at the changing face of Black expression (or white attitudes about Black expression, which are inescapable given the whiteness of decision-makers in the film industry).

Titles include Blacula, Super Fly, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Shaft, Boss Nigger, and Ganja & Hess.

Black film related: Carvell Wallace on Candyman and the exploitation of Black pain in cinema, 10 best Black superhero movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes, via Screen Rant, and Room Rodeo: a Chicago student’s film about Black cowboys

A mini Halloween post

Since it’s Halloween and the last day of “Spooky Month”, I thought I’d put together a list of Halloween/horror related links for you to enjoy.

Enjoy your nights, stay safe, and happy trick or treating!

New teaser trailer for The Flash (starring Michael Keaton's voice)

The Flash - Teaser Trailer HD | DC FanDome 2021 | Keaton's Batman Sneak Peek

“Tell me something. You can go anywhere you want, right? Any timeline. Any universe. Why do want to stay and fight to save this one?”

That’s all we get in terms of Michael Keaton‘s Batman (besides a few seconds of his Bat-head in silhouette form) in the new Flash trailer but it’s enough to whet the appetites of many, including my own. But the main theme of the trailer centres on The Flash and his crew leaving the DCEU and finding themselves in Tim Burton’s Batcave. The ending also teases a reveal of the Batmobile, hidden under some tarp but the trailer cuts to black before we get to see it, followed by a “holy shi-“.

The Flash is still in production but should be released in cinemas in November 2022.

Batman/Keaton related: How Michael Keaton perfected the role of Batman

The Morning News's "Secret Horror" movie list

I’m not big on Halloween but dabble in Halloween-related media when October rolls by. I’m also partial to a good horror movie as long as it doesn’t mess my head up too much. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of the movies in The Morning News’s “Secret Horror” list would fall under the latter category, regardless of quality. Dennis Mahoney chose 5 “underappreciated horror movies to thrill and disturb you this Halloween season” including Don’t Look Now which I have seen, funnily enough:

This one’s known for a scary red dwarf and an infamous sex scene with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. It’s really about dread. You should know going in that Don’t Look Now (1973) isn’t a traditional horror movie, nor are the supernatural forces readily apparent. The story is one of constant anxiety, a cumulative holding of breath that makes your brain more susceptible to hidden meaning, hallucination, and psychological discomfort.

That one did mess me up. The jumpscares and transformation scenes get you first but it’s the psychological stuff that lingers after the credits roll.

Halloween/horror related: queer Halloween parties in Castro, The Addams Family promo that became Michael Jackson’s Ghosts, Carvell Wallace on Candyman and the exploitation of Black pain in cinema, and Get Out: Black Solidarity and Knowing the Code

Carvell Wallace on Candyman and the exploitation of Black pain in cinema

Carvell Wallace wrote a brilliant essay on Candyman and chronicled a history of Black pain in cinema for The Atlantic.

Ultimately, DaCosta’s Candyman character becomes a cipher that the film’s characters, and by extension its audience, have no choice but to live with—the absence upon which anything can be projected, bequeathed by centuries of Black trauma. This is perhaps where the film hews most faithfully to the Clive Barker short story upon which it is based. “I am rumor,” his monster reminds his victim, and us, in “The Forbidden.” “It’s a blessed condition, believe me. To live in people’s dreams; to be whispered at street corners; but not have to be. Do you understand?”

I enjoyed Candyman (1992) even if it was a white liberal depiction and exploitation of Black pain as Wallace surmised. Candyman (2021) rewrites, recreates, and renews the ghosts of that film (figuratively and literally) and extends the lore for Black people to feel much more than they could imagine—myself included. I want to watch it again and I will at some point. It was an intriguing film and something to be appreciated and studied (but maybe not by and for white people).

Kyndall Cunningham's interview with filmmaker Ashley O’Shay

Unapologetic Trailer

Kyndall Cunningham spoke to filmmaker Ashley O’Shay about her latest documentary, ‘Unapologetic. The film examines the way Black organisers in Chicago—primarily focusing on two young Black women, Janaé Bonsu and Bella BAHHS—came together in the wake of Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald’s murders by the police.

H: Given the history of infiltration in social movements, how were you able to build trust with this community?

AO: I think being a Black woman helped, as far as them being comfortable and feeling like they could open up to me. But I just tried to keep showing up as much as possible. Even when I wasn’t there with the camera or doing an interview, I would try to go to their different rallies to just show support and amplify the work they were doing. I think after a while, when someone keeps showing up like that, you can build that trust with them. And I think also that as I was building stronger relationships with my main subjects, Janaé and Bella, that helped make other organizers in the space feel more comfortable with me as well.

[…]

H: The film is also very nuanced in showing the importance of Black women leaders but also dispelling this myth that representational politics automatically lead to liberation for Black people, particularly with Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot.

AO: Yeah. We see people like Lightfoot in administrative positions, you know, running a campaign and uplifting herself as this Black gay woman, but everyone knowing, like, hey girl. We saw you at the Chicago police board hearings telling people to shut up after their time was up, and basically saying there’s nothing productive about the work that young Black people are doing. And she has a history as a prosecutor and all these other things that show you that all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk. I think depending on the space you’re in, it’s going to differ how your identity does or doesn’t show up. I think it’s really important to remember the communities that are actually doing the work for us.

Lightfoot is an enemy to progress and she knows it. I am grateful for the work of Black women who actually care such as Ashley O’Shay, Janaé Bonsu, Bella BAHHS, and countless others—past and present.

When Batman mercilessly killed that Red Triangle Gang member

Batman Kills Circus Clown Strongman

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched Batman Returns and yet somehow, after 28 years of watching it, I missed a vital piece of this infamous scene. It’s the one where Batman comes face-to-face (lol) with a member of the Red Triangle Gang—a bald giant of a man who goads Batman into hitting him. The Caped Crusader uncharacteristically takes the bait but it’s all a ruse, for he’s slipped a bomb into the circus performer’s pants. The bald giant looks down, realises his fate, Batman hits him properly this time into a hole, and BOOM!

That’s right—Batman killed a guy.

But back to my point of missing a key element from the scene. I used to think the bomb was already in the guy’s pants/belt area and he was some kind of kamikaze clown that planned to take Batman with him into the afterlife. I clearly wasn’t watching properly as Batman was always carrying the bomb in his hand. It’s very clear and it’s on me for missing it for nearly 30 years but perhaps the ethos of Batman refusing to kill people for no real reason clouded my judgment. He didn’t have to do that!

(via Den of Geek)

Rachel Syme on Michelle Pfeiffer's considered career

For The New Yorker, Rachel Syme interviewed Michelle Pfeiffer about her life and career which hasn’t followed the same kinds of paths most Hollywood actresses have taken (on purpose):

You’ve given different reasons over the years why you don’t love being interviewed, but the one that stuck with me is that you were always afraid people would “find you out.” That if you told too much, you’d be exposed as a fraud.

Well, that’s typically my fear about my performances, that this will be the performance I will be discovered as the fraud that I have known all along that I am. That really comes from not being classically trained. I didn’t go to Juilliard. I didn’t study a lot. I studied in workshops and things like that, but I didn’t come from the theatre. There was a real snobbery when I started acting. In fact, one of my first jobs was a television show, and I played the blonde bombshell where I had fake breasts and was in hot pants, I didn’t even have a name, she was just called “the bombshell.” I was working with a lot of actors who were all from New York. I just felt really unworthy, and I think that never leaves you.

In terms of my discomfort with doing interviews, I think it’s early on not understanding the difference between things that you say, and the way things look in print, and things coming off in a way that was not your intention. I think you just get really guarded. I just had a hard time even formulating a sentence because I was so guarded.

When people talk about Michelle Pfeiffer and wonder why she wasn’t “bigger” (whatever that’s supposed to mean in any context), I think of Daniel Day-Lewis. Now retired, he was an actor who chose his roles carefully, was notorious for his method acting and that time he went to Italy to become a shoemaker. He won awards and was applauded for his journey. But somehow Michelle Pfeiffer is questioned for being careful and considered and choosing her own paths alongside her career and parenthood. We know what the difference is between them (and it’s interesting that they both starred together in The Age of Innocence and how their careers diverged and converged since then) but the criticism is unfounded.

Oh, and that TV role where she played a blonde bombshell? That was in episode 12 of Delta House, a TV spin-off of National Lampoon’s Animal House. Stream that below.

Delta House - Episode 12 - Hoover and the Bomb (Animal House Spin-off/Sequel)

That time Bully Maguire went on Family Feud

Bully Maguire on Family Feud

I’ve already shown my love for Steve Harvey memes but I’ve recently got into “Bully Maguire” memes, involving clips of Toby Maguire’s rendition of Peter Parker in Spider-Man 3. This one is expertly crafted, showing Parker trying to win a staff job with double the money. Look out for special guest star Harry Osborne.

Observer on The Rock’s Jungle Movie Cinematic Universe

The Rock is in everything and has been for over a decade now. Observer examined his latest film, Jungle Cruises, and how he’s built up a cinematic universe around jungle movies:

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Jungle Cruise is a breezy swashbuckling adventure that delivers audiences an enjoyable dose of Indiana Jones Lite crossed with The Mummy 2.0. But we really shouldn’t be surprised by that. Johnson, Hollywood’s best rendition of a throwback butts-in-seats populist movie star, has quietly turned the wilderness into his big screen bread and butter. To date, he’s starred in five films where he does battle with the forces of otherworldly nature, all primarily set within jungles: The Rundown (2003), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), Jumanji: The Next Level (2019), and Jungle Cruise (2021).

It’s wild (pun intended) to think The Rock has been in enough movies of this type to have a jungle cinematic universe… and that only constitutes a portion of his filmography. He’s already part of the Fast & Furious universe and he’s been in a few Disney movies. Oh, and he’ll be playing Black Adam in 2022 thus becoming a part of the DCEU. We need a data visualisation of this!

A guide to Palestinian cinema for newbies (by Hyperallergic)

Munir Atalla compiled a great list of Palestinian films for beginners:

[…] Interestingly, it has often been Palestine’s proximity to journalists, with their power and modern equipment, that has inspired us to take our narrative into our own hands. The result is that a fragmented mess of people — spanning those living under occupation in the West Bank, under siege in Gaza, as second-class citizens in Israel, and a worldwide diaspora — has created one of the richest and most productive collective oeuvres of the Global South.

And if you want more, there are a few Letterboxd lists to try including this Palestinian cinema archive, Rawad Amer’s Free Palestine.

Jeff Bridges on his experiences as Obadiah Stane in 'Iron Man'

While falling down a YouTube recommendation rabbit hole, I managed to rediscover one of my favourite Jeff Bridges scenes of all time:

"Tony Stark Was Able To Build This In A Cave! With A Box Of Scraps!" - Iron Man (2008) 4K Ultra

But the experience of playing Obadiah Stane in Iron Man wasn’t plain sailing for Jeff Bridges as he discussed in a Variety interview in 2016:

“I like to be prepared,” Bridges said. “I like to know my lines.”

Bridges discussed the difficulties when filming “Iron Man” back in 2007, when the script was constantly being changed or altered. He detailed several of the setbacks the cast and crew faced after parts of the script were disavowed by Marvel.

“It turned out that many times — 10, 12, 15 times — we would show up for the days work, not knowing what we were gonna shoot,” Bridges said. “All the guys in the studio are sitting there tapping their foot, looking at their watch, and we’re sitting in my trailer trying to figure out my lines.”

However, it was also during this experience that Bridges learned not to take the process so seriously.

“I made a little adjustment in my head,” Bridges explained. “That adjustment was – Jeff, just relax, you are in a $200 million student film, have fun, just relax.”

I love that he called it a $200 million student film which I’m sure riled up some fans. MCU films are more polished these days (I hope) and—SPOILER ALERT—while Obadiah Stane died in that movie, he did make a cameo in Spider-Man: Far from Home which was just the above YouTube clip as a flashback.