The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, May 10, 2010

"Iron Man 2" (2010)

HERE'S THE REVIEW!
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Seen the two-minute "coming attraction" for the "From Cape Town With Love" Vook/Webisodes. Thrilling. The sound isn't all perfect, and some of the editing is still in progress. But it looks so much like a movie trailer it warms my heart. And saddens me, just a bit. There hasn't been a movie like this in something close to forty years. International scope, sex and/or romance, violence...black male lead. What was the last one I can remember? "That Man Bolt" with Fred Williamson in 1973? "Shaft In Africa" in the same year? But it's difficult to find a single week in which such a film--with a white lead--is not playing in a theater near you. We are making novelizations of movies that no one has made. Coming attractions for films Hollywood believes America won't embrace.

What is the truth? I don't know. I have beliefs about it that are backed up with forty years of observation, streaming back to the only time in American history that blacks were actually portrayed as fully human--the late sixties/early 70's, when there was still niche marketing. Doesn't make me right. I would love to be wrong. How certain am I that I'm right? Almost as certain as my belief that men landed on the moon. That's pretty sad, don't you think?
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Let's see. Over the last months, I've been putting together a coaching/information product business, and it's actually done pretty well. The biggest problem is one I should have anticipated: the more successful it became, the more my writing picked up. Never "slow" it's gotten absurd. In the last two weeks, we filmed the "Tennyson: Cape Town" vignettes, I sold a YA series about teenagers struggling to survive post-Zombie Apocalypse ("Devil's Wake"), and fielded an offer to write a short film dealing with violence against women. I spoke to the film-maker honestly, because I wanted her to understand exactly where I was coming from: While completely committed to protecting and empowering women, I am no feminist in the classic sense, and she needed to understand that: that my position is that testosterone is both elixir and poison, and that both men and women have been brainwashed into believing that men are in control of the game. She liked my perspective, and wants to work with me. I'll be damned. My most important point (I think): want to change men's behaviors? Show them that educating women, treating them with full humanity and respect is good for THEM. Not just "nice" or "evolved" but actually good for them. How the hell do you do that if they believe they will LOSE if women are more powerful in society? So long as they buy that, they'll fight like hell. Only if they understand (or believe) that what benefits women benefits all humanity will change occur. I want that for my daughter, my niece, and girl-children current and unborn. I also want to reduce my son's obligation to chase power to make himself more attractive to the most attractive females. I kinda like the sound of that world...but that's another matter.
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How predictable was all this activity? Well, for years I've notices that when you don't have a job, you can't get one, until you've got one, and then job offers start falling out of the woodwork. Or if you don't have a boyfriend, you can't get one, until you've got one, and then suddenly the phone is ringing off the hook. What the hell is that? Anyone noticed this one? I think there are a few basic possibilities:
1) It's all coincidence. Doesn't really happen--just my brain seeking patterns.
2)My "left brain" answer: It's the fact that for you to change your luck, you have to take specific powerful actions over time. They begin to change the fabric of your relationships and actions. Lots of things start happening simultaneously, as if you are testing multiple lines, hooks and baits in different fishing holes. Hardly surprising if one gets multiple bites when he finally gets the combination right.
3) My favorite "right brain" answer (fits my metaphysical bent): In a cosmic sense, when we stop chasing after results, and just work harder and harder on going deeper and deeper into who we are, we become more "massive" in some psychic sense. One way you can tell when you are doing the right things is that the incidence of synchronicity increases. It is as if this increased "mass" "bends the space" around you, making you more of a gravitational "well" and attracting meteors and comets and the like. Well, not "attracting" exactly, but making it more difficult for passing bodies to escape our orbit. Sort of. I'm perfectly aware that this sounds very strange and airy-fairy, but I can't help it: half my brain works that way.
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If I'm right about this, there is a very very good chance that "Cape Town" will actually get made into a film. HBO? DTV? Theatrical? No slightest idea. But we didn't wait for Hollywood. We didn't chase after it. Blair is tired of the Hollywood development process--for over ten years "My Soul To Keep" has been sitting at Fox Searchlight. Maybe the development is just normal "development hell." But it is notable that there has been nothing vaguely approaching an erotic thriller with black leads. TRUST me--there has been mucho conversation about the fact that NO ONE knows how to make it. There's never been anything like it before (unless you go back to the 70's in which case you have a Blaxploitation movie called "Abby." 1974. I was stupid enough to think that that was the beginning of something, not an isolated island), and I can't count the number of times we heard, about well...about almost anything Tananarive or I have written: "if the leads were only white..."

L.L. Cool J is signed to do an erotic thriller. Stuck in development as they try to figure out how to cast it: "well, we could make the female lead Hispanic..." And everyone, everywhere, blames someone else for this problem, or denies it exists at all...or tries to say it must exist because, well, you know, black people don't WANT to make movies like that. Arrrgh.

But I'm going out on a limb. I think that we have a chance. The economy is growing. The culture has shifted massively, and may well be ready. America is getting browner, thank God. And we went out and DID IT, took our fate in our hands. And as of right now, we have a very spiffy coming attraction for the type of movie that, if not for human tribalism, would be playing in theaters every week. We'll see what happens.
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Coach Sonnon's "Mass Attack" add-on to "TacFit Commando" does something unique in muscle-building programs. Instead of increasing weight, you increase neurological complexity through four levels before adding additional resistance. A very cool idea. My body seems to like it better than most muscle-building routines. We'll see how it goes...and if it goes as well as I hope, I'm gonna beg Scott to release it to the public again.
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Lena Horne died over the weekend. What an incredible, beautiful woman. Another star has risen to the heavens...
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Saw "Iron Man 2" over the weekend. While not quite as good as the first, it has a couple of really interesting things going for it:
1) Mickey Roarke is just about the most believable "supervillain" I've ever seen. He played it just wonderfully. And villains make the movie. That's why I yawned at "Superman Returns"--more campy Lex Luthor? More Kryptonite? Oh, please.
2) The theme of fathers and sons was nicely interlaced through the film.
3) The slow integration of the different Marvel universes has begun. This is EXACTLY what they used to do in the comic books, and I just love it.
4) Scarlett Johansson's combat choreography is exquisite. Created by old training buddy Jeff Imada, it expresses a level of fluidity I've never seen in an American film, and is simply eye-bafflingly gorgeous and sexy. Woof.
5) Robert Downy Jr. and Gweneth Paltrow. They are just marvelous together. And when overlapping dialogue works, it works BIG time. Just wonderful.
6) Don Cheadle as War Machine. Thank you. My son thanks you. Images like these are important.
7) Sam Jackson as Nick Fury. I LOVED "S.H.I.E.L.D." comics, especially when Jim Steranko took over. Amazing. And while Jackson struggles to carry a film lead, he is one of the great guest stars of all time. Adds serious pepper.
Overall, a strong "B." My wife liked it even more.
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11 comments:

Pagan Topologist said...

What happened? Did you actually review Iron Man 2? I hope you were not stopped posting in mid word by an emergency.

David

MTimonin said...

Steve - any idea when and where us humble public types might be able to see the webisodes? I've greatly enjoyed the previous books in the series, and I'm looking forward to this new one. Plus video? Sign me up!

Nancy Lebovitz said...

It looks as though Steve's post got cut off in the middle of a sentence.

Anonymous said...

It's a blogspot bug, sometimes it just cuts you off in the middl

Scott said...

Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow fight scenes were glorious.

Dan Moran said...

Definitely interested in what comes of the feminist project. Keep us updated on that.

Steven Barnes said...

I will, Dan. And here's another promise: you and I will talk before it's done.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

One more theory about why if you have a job or a mate, more offers show up.

If you have the job or the mate, this implies that someone thought you were worth taking a chance on. It's less work (and may be a good strategy) to coast on other people's research.

Anonymous said...

"...and fielded an offer to write a short film dealing with violence against women. I spoke to the film-maker honestly, because I wanted her to understand exactly where I was coming from: While completely committed to protecting and empowering women, I am no feminist in the classic sense..."

Which classic sense? In some of them (like the in the sense that both men and women should have the right to vote - remember the suffragists a.k.a. suffragettes?) I bet you *are* a feminist.

"...and she needed to understand that: that my position is that testosterone is both elixir and poison..."

???

I have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome which makes my body overreact to androgens (I used to have the normal level of these for women and girls, kinda like how having *some* estogen is normal for men and boys). Now that I'm on medicine to reduce my androgen levels (although I'm still in the losing-weight-will-make-another-female-secondary-sexual-characteristic-disappear territory since my breasts still shrink first when I burn fat and there's only a half cup size left), I don't feel any less *poisoned* than before.

"...and that both men and women have been brainwashed into believing that men are in control of the game. She liked my perspective, and wants to work with me. I'll be damned. My most important point (I think): want to change men's behaviors? Show them that educating women, treating them with full humanity and respect is good for THEM..."

Good point - you gotta answer the question "what's in it for me?" when asking someone to do something.

Meanwhile, speaking of domestic violence and non-domestic rape and all that, it's not always men-bashing-women in the first place. Personally, I'm female and I'd like to see more consideration for male victims of domestic violence, rape, etc. too! For example, I've seen flyers posted in the women's bathrooms of my colleges with the phone #s of rape crisis centers, and those should be posted in the men's bathrooms and those single-user unisex ones too.

If anti-DV and anti-rape campaigns point out that it happens to guys too, then
(a) would there be less of a stigma on men and boys who speak up about having been attacked?
(b) would guys in the audiences become even more likely to think "wow, if *I* was raped then *I'd* feel as horrible as they do" and become even less likely to rape anyone than they already were?
(c) would women and girls in the audiences become even less likely to attack anyone than they already were (yes, some attackers are female)?

"...Not just "nice" or "evolved" but actually good for them. How the hell do you do that if they believe they will LOSE if women are more powerful in society? So long as they buy that, they'll fight like hell. Only if they understand (or believe) that what benefits women benefits all humanity will change occur. I want that for my daughter, my niece, and girl-children current and unborn. I also want to reduce my son's obligation to chase power to make himself more attractive to the most attractive females..."

Meanwhile, don't forget that some women and girls chase power in their own right instead of chasing men and boys who chase power. There is an overlap between this group of women and girls and the group of most-attractive women and girls (well, most attractive to straight guys, lesbians, and bisexuals *except* the ones who are specifically turned off by the act of a potential girlfriend/fiancée/wife in her own right).

Anonymous said...

Oops, typo. That should be "(well, most attractive to straight guys, lesbians, and bisexuals *except* the ones who are specifically turned off by the act of a potential girlfriend/fiancée/wife *chasing power* in her own right)."

Anonymous said...

"...How predictable was all this activity? Well, for years I've notices that when you don't have a job, you can't get one, until you've got one, and then job offers start falling out of the woodwork. Or if you don't have a boyfriend, you can't get one, until you've got one, and then suddenly the phone is ringing off the hook. What the hell is that? Anyone noticed this one?"

Sounds like a lurking variable to me. Remember how sometimes X and Y correlate not because X causes Y or vice versa but because something else causes both? :)

It's not that A being attracted to you also attracts B and C and D (when A, B, C, and D are similar). Whatever it is that makes you attractive to A in the first place also makes you attractive to B and C and D in the first place.