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Friday, September 18, 2020

Remembering RBG...

Remembering Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died today at age 87: https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/18/politics/ruth-bader-ginsburg-dead/index.html

"So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune."

"Don't be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment.  These just zap energy and waste time."

"Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time."

"Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation."

"We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society, because we fit into a certain mold ― because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination."

"Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."

***

"On the Basis of Sex"

“The word ‘woman’ does not appear even once in the U.S. Constitution,” a judge tells Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  “Nor does the word ‘freedom,’ Your Honor,” she replies.

Director Mimi Leder opens the film with a classic contrast of a scene, a lone woman marches and steps into the esteemed institution among a sea of men in suits.  In 1959, bright-eyed Ruth (Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”) is one of the nine women admitted to Harvard Law School.  Her husband, cordial Marty (Armie Hammer, “The Man for U.N.C.L.E.”), is a second-year student.  When he is stricken with cancer, Ruth steps up by attending his classes in addition to hers, and caring for him and their toddler, Jane.

The film depicts the incomprehensible discrimination that women endured at that time.  From the moment of the dean's dinner where female students are asked why they think they're worthy in place of a worthier man, ignored in class or not taken seriously by their peers or superiors, rejected by law firms for sexist reasons even after graduating the top of the class from Harvard and Columbia, taking a backseat to men in career and social circles. Women are expected to stay home and men to go to work.  If women choose to work, they can only be secretaries, teachers or nurses.  It's just a natural order of things.

Ruth ends up teaching about sex discrimination at a university whereas Marty is on a fast track to become the youngest partner of a major firm specializing in tax laws.  The relationship between Ruth and Marty is illustrated wonderfully.  Marty is admirably supportive and progressive. Their marriage is a truly egalitarian in all aspects of life – education, career, household chores, childcare and parenting – serving as role models for their growing kids, Jane and James (Callum Shoniker).  It's no surprise that, Jane (Cailee Spaeny), now in her teens, grows up to be fearless and foward-looking.

Ruth and Marty jointly take a pro-bono case about a man, Charles Moritz (Chris Mulkey), who is denied by the tax courts caregiver deductions.  He is an unmarried man paying for a nurse to care for her ailing mother at home. Caregiver deductions are handily given to women, widowers or men whose wives are incapacitated because women are presumed to be caretakers.  In an era where discrimination on the basis of sex is legal, this case has a transformational potential to topple the systemically discriminatory legal system and open the doors to gender equality.

Ruth makes an alliance with the head of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Mel Wulf  (Justin Theroux), convincing him to add ACLU's name to the legal brief, essentially backing it.  While being undermined at every turn by various parties, Ruth is undaunted.  Constant challenges and setbacks do not deter her from moving forward with conviction, even as she's not without doubt.  Armed with a brilliant legal mind and passion for doing what's right, she is an epitome of resilience, persistence and determination.  Jones turns in a formidable performance.

When the government responds with a brief that lists all the federal laws that discriminate against women, the plan is to focus on winning this one case, and then tackle these laws one by one.  Far easier than done when the law is not on your side.  Asking judges to enforce or uphold the law is not the same as making or changing it.  This case could set a legal precedent and result in a far-reaching impact that would touch generations to come.

The courtroom showdown is one of the best aspects of the film.  Dramatic oral arguments against ticking timers.  Plan to deflect probing questions and redirect into the tax deduction aspect for one man derails, Ruth doesn't yield.  When backed into a silent corner, she stands up and turns it into an impassioned speech about radical social change that resonates.  Times are changing.  In order for the country's culture and lives to change for the better, the laws have to change first.  With her utterly compelling closing argument, soft-spoken Ruth sets the future on a different course and leaves a lasting legacy towards equal rights.

Glass-shaterring figure Associate Supreme Court of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn't get nicknamed 'Notorious RBG' overnight.  “On the Basis of Sex” is one poignant, remarkable story on how it all began.  Full of fascinating insights, it is trailblazingly engaging and inspiring.

https://www.sdentertainer.com/movies/movie-review-on-the-basis-of-sex/

Book: https://amzn.to/2RD7FFR

Video: https://amzn.to/2FyM0MF

DVD: https://amzn.to/33GUpp5

Monday, September 7, 2020

"Mulan"

Like the dreamy "Cinderella," enchanting "Beauty and the Beast" and fantastical “Aladdin,” everyone knows "Mulan" from the Disney animation.  The difference between this Disney “princess,” however, is that this a story of a true warrior.  It was one of the most anticipated cinematic events of the year, unpredictably sidelined by the pandemic, and ended up on the Disney Plus streaming after postponing and rescheduling multiple times.  

As a child, Hua Mulan (Liu Yifei) is precocious.  She’s a tomboy, easily chasing chicken across rooftop, nearly falling down but landing on the ground without a sweat.  She worries her parents, as a girl is destined to be a woman whose primary duty is to bring honor to the family through marriage.  When Mulan is at suitable age for marriage, she causes a hilarious mess during a matchmaker ceremony.  

Mulan’s relationship with her father (Tzi Ma) is more complicated.  Bound by traditional societal norms and family values, even her father, a war veteran, knows that his daughter is special and he’s torn with holding her back or supporting her to the fullest.  The only thing that keeps her from living up to her potential is her gender.  In this period of ancient China, everyone is born with a ‘chi’ or life force, but only the strongest could connect with and channel it outward.  Like Mulan.  Mulan grows up to be a spirited force.  

When the palace is facing a major threat from an invading Northern army, every family is called upon to spare a son to be trained as a soldier to help defend the country.  Realizing that her father, who is disabled from the wounds of the war, would walk into a certain death, a determined Mulan takes up her father’s sword and armor and leaves everyone behind to join the Imperial Army.  She knew that she would put herself in mortal danger, dishonor herself and her family, but she would do anything to carry the family’s duty and save her father.  

With a noble heart and indomitable will, Mulan masquerades as a man, reaches the camp and introduces herself as Hua Jun.  Her talent and spirit quickly catch the eyes of Commander Tung (Donnie Yen) and a fellow royal guard, Honghui (Yoson An).  Her relationship with Hongshui, an eventual love interest, is handled subtly and respectfully.  Mulan integrates quickly into the all-male squad, going through a soldier bootcamp, such as spear-fighting, arrow-shooting, heavy-lifting and balance endurance training.  While her transformation into a leading warrior is too swift, it looks impressively seamless. 

The enemies are fast approaching, led by Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee) and accompanied by a witch, Xianniang (Gong Li).  Xianniang can shape-shift and also turn into a bird, which is proven to useful in penetrating the palace’s protection.  The irony about Xianniang is that she and Mulan are cut from the same outcast cloth; they’re too powerful as women and she, who exercises her power, lives in exile because of it.  When she comes to face-to-face with Mulan, she takes her fate into her own hands and it’s not what you think it is.  

Battles wage across an open landscape.  Armored soldiers riding in horses charging into war, armed with arrows, swords and shields.  Casualties are on both sides.  When her comrades are cornered, Mulan, a quick thinker and light on her feet, strategizes on the spot, camouflaging and utilizing the opponents’ weapon to turn on them.  

Mulan could no longer hide who she really is.  The frightful grip of her true identity being found out is suppressing her strength.  In order for her to uphold the values of the sword – loyal, brave and true – she must be true to herself to unleash the powers within, save her fellow soldiers and the emperor (Jet Li), even at the risk of dishonor, exile or execution.  Inside the palace walls, Mulan leads the royal guards in and fights her way through.  She has a dynasty to protect.  

Chocked-full of martial arts and large-scale battles on panoramic setting, this is a movie that is meant to be seen at the theaters.  There’s nothing quite like a collective experience of seeing a sprawling epic on the big screen with a grand surround system, feeling immersed in the make-believe world.  

If Disney decides to release "Mulan" into theaters at some point, I would absolutely go see it again.  But even when seen on the small screen at home, where the experience was a lot more muted, there’s a sense of grandeur.  The Wuxia-style martial arts, swordplay, rooftop-and-wall gliding are graceful to behold.  The sceneries and vibrant and colorful, majestic in nature and lavish when manmade.  The songs by Christina Aguilera, "Loyal, Brave and True" and "Reflection," are strong and soulfully appropriate.

“Mulan” is a grown-up adaptation of the animation.  Amid the sumptuous sets and willowy display of martial arts, it deals with the traditional core values of family, duty, honor and country, and that freedom isn’t free.  At the same time, it is ahead of its period and progressively empowering.  It speaks to the full potential of an individual when being true to oneself, even in the face of fear, and for a society to take a hard look of its norms and make necessary changes for the greater good.

There is “no courage without fear.”  Indeed.

https://www.sdentertainer.com/movies/movie-review-mulan/

Novel: https://amzn.to/35bFRAg

DVD/Video: https://amzn.to/2GDiW6L

Saturday, September 5, 2020

DC FanDome Part II: Are You Ready?

Are you ready for more???  As if the massive DC FanDome Part I wasn't enough, DC is returning for the final part of the virtual convention next Saturday, September 12, 2020.

100 hours, 300 panels of Multiverses... FREE for 24 hours.  

https://www.dcfandome.com/thankyou

https://schedule.dcfandome.com

WatchVerse - Superman & Lois, Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow, Star Girl, and more.

InsiderVerse - behind the scenes with super artisans who bring DC to life, from comic books to games, TV, movies, theme parks, consumer products and more.

FunVerse -  share your DC fandom love. Read hundreds of free digital comics, strike a pose at the selfie station, explore the Joker Escape Room, and more.

YouVerse - it's all about fans! Check out more than 17,000 fan art, cosplay, and content submissions from around the world.

https://deadline.com/2020/09/dc-fandome-explore-the-multiverse-comic-book-superhero-1234570513/

Sunday, August 30, 2020

RIP Chadwick Boseman: "Black Panther" and "A Tribute for a King"


ABC will air "Black Panther" tonight uninterrupted from 08:00 a.m. to 10:20 p.m., followed by a special tribute to celebrate Boseman's life and career.

Director Ryan Coogler's tribute to Chadwick Boseman:

Life and career:

Reactions:

Power, strength, gentleness, grace and regal elegance... May you rest in power and peace, long live in Heaven, King. 

“Purpose is the essential element of you.  It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history.  Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill... The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”

"Black Panther" review (February 2018)


Marvel's tribute:


Sunday, August 23, 2020

DC FanDome Convention Recap & Trailers


DC FanDome delivered big time!  Major stars and directors showed up, behind-the-scenes and new trailers dropped in, games played (including stars playing games), select fans popped in from around the world, cool fan arts and cosplay displays made round.  The transition from one presentation was seamless, hosts were surrounded by colorful, 360-degree digital background and blaring music.  Each panel was quick, 10-30 minutes each, but the experience was as immersive as they could have been for a virtual convention…  this is how you hold one!  The bar has clearly been raised high.

Wonder Woman 1984” (October 2, 2020) had Linda Carter sneaking in as a fan and surprised the panel, consisting of director Patty Jenkins, stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal.  The new trailer wowed!  It shows Pascal’s villain casting a spell of trouble, promising people they could have anything they ever dream of, progression of Kristen Wiig’s character, transforming from a mild-mannered worker into a hardened challenger and apex predator, Cheetah with full fur and tail. Diana Prince also has her moments with Steve Trevor (although how he’s still alive remains a mystery), nighttime romantic stroll against the backdrop of the Washington Monument, Steve’s fish out-of-water scenes arriving in the 1980s (no, Steve, you can’t just fly stealthily like you did 70 years ago, there’s something called radar now), Wonder Woman donning and releasing the golden winged armor, soaring through skies stricken with lightning, and high-flying and acrobatic battle with Cheetah.  

“Flash” (June 3, 2022) came with star Ezra Miller (Barry Allen), director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Christina Hodson.  The movie will be based on the “Flash Point” comic story, the Flash traveling through time and the birth of the multiverse.  The fastest man alive will have a new suit, shown in a concept art, built by Ben Affleck's Batman ("Justice League").

Zachary Levy and stars (Asher Angel, Faith Herman, Jack Dylan Grazer, Meagan Good, and Adam Brody) introduced the title of the next installment of “Shazam!” through a colored poster.  Comedian Sinbad also joined the panel.  The sequel will be titled “Fury of the Gods” (November 22, 2022).    

Dwayne Johnson beamed into a hallway among ancient walls, answering questions from fans for “Black Adam” (December 22, 2021), an anti-hero and one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe.  He comes from a 5,000-year imprisonment and does not practice restraint like heroes do, which appealed to Johnson in the first place.  He showed graphic arts of his costume.  The movie confirms the existence of the Justice Society of America, with Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo, who made a surprised appearance), Hawkman, Doctor Fate and Cyclone in the team.  

“The Suicide Squad” (August 6, 2021) brought in an enormous squad.  Director James Gunn appeared with Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Idris Elba, John Cena, Nathan Fillion and a host of others.  He brought in an explosive sneak peek with some footage and behind-the-scenes.  The movie is described to be a 1970 war movie, Gunn’s style with a twisted fantasy of characters; a massive graphic novel brought to life.  Gunn described the movie to be different from any other superhero movie ever made and the making it the most exciting journey of his life.  

Director Matt Reeves uncloaked “The Batman” (October 1, 2021) with a surprising teaser trailer, dark and brutal, after Robert Pattinson peaked his head in briefly and gave the floor to Reeves.  No one could have known that the movie had only been shot 25-30% before the pandemic shut down production.  R. Patz’s Batman will not show an origin story of Bruce Wayne turning into the Dark Knight.  It will be his second year as Batman, so he’s got the hang on handling criminals in Gotham City, but still learning and making mistakes along the way.  Criminals beware; this is one violent vigilante.  The trailer also shows a glimpse of Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman and possibly Colin Farrell’s the Penguin. 

The Hall of Heroes ran an impressive eight hours straight, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then re-run twice, which is smart, as it would capture all time zones globally.  The mega event was originally planned as one day on August 22, 2020, but jammed with content, it’s been split into two days.  The second and final day will be held on September 12, 2020.  It will cover the WatchVerse, KidsVerse, InsiderVerse, FunVerse and YouVerse, which include the rest of the TV shows (except “Flash” with Grant Gustin and cast, which was held on the first day), such as long-running “Legends of Tomorrow,” breakout show “Star Girl” and upcoming “Superman: Lois and Clark” will be held on this day.  

Bookmark the site (www.dcfandome/live) and mark your calendar!

"Wonder Woman: 1984"


"The Batman"


"The Suicide Squad"


Sunday, August 9, 2020

It's (Almost) Time... Blockbuster Movies & DC Fandom


[Updated as of 08/22/20]

With theaters are playing a roulette against opening dates at the mercy of their cities' regulations in consideration of the fights against COVID-19, ""Mulan" and "Tenet" have finally taken a stand.  The two major blockbusters-to-be, originally to be released into theaters on March 27 and July 17, 2020 have been postponed a few times.  

"Tenet" now has an international release date (or at least in the countries that allow it) on August 26 and U.S. on September 4, 2020.  Christopher Nolan, an ardent supporter of theaters, has been steadfast in his refusal to release the movie straight to streaming or video on demand.  Which is understandable - "Tenet" is an 'event' movie, meant to be seen on the big screen.  

"Mulan," on the same lines with "Tenet," has a more surprising route.  With their theme parks business hammered, Disney+ has been thriving.  Disney will release "Mulan," also on September 4, 2020 to Disney+ at $29.99.  Subscribers, paying $6.99/month subscription will need to fork out this fee.  I can't imagine a movie this scale not released into theaters at some point, however.  

"The New Mutants" and "Black Widow" remain firmly on their delayed, respective release dates on August 28 and November 6, 2020. 

Meanwhile, having been closed for nearly five months, the two largest theater chains have announced reopening plans.  Regal Cinemas will be open on August 21, 2020, premiering a new movie, "Unhinged."  Safe reopening measures are posted on its website.  AMC will be open sometime mid-late August.  

On another major announcement, DC Fandome (DC's first and own version of Comic-Con) looks more exciting that Comic-Con @ Home this year.  It's stacked with major star power!  Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, Robert Pattinson, Ezra Miller, directors Zack Snyder and Patty Jenkins are among those confirmed to attend.  The virtual convention is free and will run all day on August 22, 2020.  

*Updated as of 08/22/20 - Jammed with content, DC has split the programming into two days.  The second live streaming will run on September 22, 20.  Check out the schedule here: https://variety.com/2020/film/news/dc-fandome-batman-wonder-woman-flash-1234734827/#article-comments

https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/4/21354593/mulan-release-date-disney-earnings-warner-bros-tenet-theaters

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/dc-fandome-gal-gadot-idris-220824365.html

Sunday, July 19, 2020

2020 Comic-Con @ Home


[For blast from the past, check out past star-studded recaps and photos: https://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com/p/comiccon-wondercon.html)

What could have been the most epic celebration in the 50-year history of Comic-Con has been transformed into Comic-con @ Home due to the pandemic.  The good news especially for those who haven't been able to attend or shut out is that there will be no badge (and no lines) to see the pre-recorded segments on YouTube.  While major studios are bowing out, such as Marvel (except behind-the-scenes anthology documentary series) and DC (DC has planned to showcase its materials on its own first global event,  DC Fandom on August 22-24, 2020), the lineups are still packed... surprisingly with 350 panels and 700 exhibitors!

Comic-Con @ Home will run from July 22-26, 2020 (starting on July 22 at 2 p.m. PST).  Sign up for the YouTube channel on https://www.youtube.com/user/ComicCon.  Sit back, relax on your couch and enjoy the shows!

The full schedule is available on the Comic-Con website at https://comiccon2020.sched.com/

2020 broke my 16-year attendance streak... I look forward to returning in 2021!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Movies Reshuffled (Part III)



Those of you who are looking forward to July to finally start your movie-going habit back, it will be August now..."Mulan" has been re-shifted from July 24 to August 21, "Tenet" from July 31 to August 12 (opening mid-week), and "Wonder Woman: 1984" pushed even further from August 14 to October 2, 2020. "Inception" (2010) is still planned to be re-released to July 17, 2020 (at this time), as major theaters are opening back up in mid-July.

More re-shuffling of movies here:
https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/blockbuster-movies-delayed-coronavirus-201429313.html

This also means it will leave July wide open for Comic Con @ Home.  Programming is being lined up.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

FREE Global DC Superheroes Online Event














If you're a superheroes fan or DC fan, DC will host a virtual superheroes event online for 24 hours starting on August 22, 2020 at 10 a.m. PDT. 

From the press release, this global event will immerse fans into the DC Multiverse, with new announcements from WB Games, Film and TV, and comics, as well as an unprecedented opportunity to hear from the casts and creators behind feature films and TV series such as Aquaman, The Batman, Batwoman, Black Adam, Black Lightning, DC Super Hero Girls, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, DC’s Stargirl, Doom Patrol, The Flash, Harley Quinn, the SnyderCut of Justice League, Lucifer, Pennyworth, SHAZAM!, The Suicide Squad, Supergirl, Superman & Lois, Teen Titans GO!, Titans, Watchmen, Young Justice: Outsiders and, coming this fall to theaters worldwide, Wonder Woman 1984 (note: Wonder Woman 1984 has been moved (again) from August 14 to October 2, 2020).

No badge required!

Mark your calendar and check it out:


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

"Just Mercy" Available FREE On Demand


To help educate the public on systemic racism issues, "Just Mercy" (released on January 10, 2020, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx), is available FREE on demand for the month of June.  It tells a true story of a civil-rights attorney who works to defend a man wrongfully convicted of murder.  You can watch them on Apple TV, FandangoNow, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Redbox, PlayStation Store, Vudu, Microsoft, and YouTube.

Friday, May 22, 2020

All About Superheroes (2020-2023)


If you've been superhero-deprived, check out this out... Marvel and DC Universes for 2020-2022 with release dates and 2023 movies with pending dates.  A more than full slate to look forward to!

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/superhero-movies-every-marvel-dc-144337695.html

Friday, April 17, 2020

Share Gratitude: Hallmark 2 Million Cards Giveaway


Hallmark is giving away 2 million cards to help share your appreciation to the heroes in your life...  A world of thanks can make a world of difference.

Sign up here to receive your free cards in your mailbox:
https://greetings.hallmark.com/careenough/