Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episodes 1 & 2

jessica-jones

I waited a day because throughout this week, I had neither the time nor mental space to give Jessica the attention she deserves. This show is so amazing, and I really can’t wait to watch it slowly and really see it and savor it and notice things that I didn’t notice before. But also, I am not super tempted to binge it, because, wow this show is intense, I didn’t even remember how intense.

Episode 1: “AKA Ladies Night”

It is important for me to get it out of the way so that I don’t just babble on about it incoherently. Mike Colter is a stunning ebony god of a man, and I’m not sure what women kind deserved to get him cast as Luke Cage, but I am grateful for him. The scenes that he and Krysten Ritter have in this episode are all smoking hot. And then they go for coffee. (Yes, I understand said metaphor has not yet been introduced.) That scene is really important, because of feminism, and also because of sexiness, and because of shirtless Mike Colter.

Anyway, now onto the important parts of the show, like characters that are not Luke Cage and plot! So, we meet Jessica when she puts a man through her door, then she goes off and gets her job from Jeri Horgath, only to then be approached by the parents of Hope, a young girl who’s disappeared and is acting strangely, Jessica tracks her down, only to learn that Kilgrave, who, clearly has some history with Jessica, is the one who took Hope and brainwashed her. After Jessica rescues her, Hope then, on Kilgrave’s orders, killed her own parents.

Recently, I learned that a pilot of a television show should always be about the day everything  changed. So, that’s a pretty big change. We also meet Trish and Malcolm, the closest thing Jessica has to friends. I love Malcolm, and I’m really looking forward to spending time with him again.

Episode 2: “AKA Crush Syndrome”

The title of this episode refers not to Jessica’s obsession with Luke but to the medical thing that was going on with Kilgrave after he got hit by a bus, something we learn in the episode. It is, however, also an apt description of Jessica’s whole deal with Luke, and I want to talk about that a little bit. (Guys, I love Luke. I know we’re twelve weeks from dealing with his show at this point, but I just think he’s wonderful and that we should all pay a little more attention to him.) Anyway, one of the other women that Luke’s involved with is married, and Jessica tells Luke so. Turns out, that husband didn’t hire Jessica, and he’s coming after Luke, so, Luke and Jessica have a super powered bar fight, and in probably my favorite Luke Cage moment (besides the “n-word speech”) he comes and finds her and demonstrates his super power by taking a buzz saw to his perfect, glorious abs.

Jess is turned on, as are we all.

Meanwhile, Jessica is trying to track down Kilgrave, so that she can prove he exists, that his powers exist and that Hope is innocent. She wants Hogarth to take Hope’s case, and Hogarth isn’t interested, but eventually comes around. (This is Hogarth’s whole character, right there.) Kilgrave, meanwhile, moves into a fancy apartment that is occupied by a family, in a chilling introduction to a character who previously only hung out in the shadows.

It’s a really, really, good scene and David Tennant is really really good in it. Oh, also, Trish and Jessica renew their friendship, we meet Robin and Reuben, and Trish is learning self defense.

Other Things

  • When I first watched the show I was really cognizant of it’s paralells to Veronica Mars, and in fact once attempted to write a whole piece about it. Obviously there’s the noir/PI thing, but there’s also the rape survivor thing, the change in personality due to PTSD thing, the larger conspiracy thing. Jessica does have super strength though, and Veronica does not.
  • In the second episode, when Jessica talks to the ambulance driver who’s kidney’s Kilgrave stole, she says, “God didn’t do this, The Devil did.” I actually said out loud, “No, no, The Devil is the other guy.” I badly cannot wait for Jessica and Matt to meet one another. I think that their guilt complexes might explode the world.

Looking Ahead

So, I don’t know exactly what this blog will look like in 2017, beyond The Defenders stuff that I already have planned and the returns of Game of Thones and Once Upon A Time respectively.

HAHAHAHAHA

I’m kidding, 2017, like the year, is going to be almost exclusively dedicated to hype for Wonder Woman and Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Who’s the main villain in Wonder Woman? Will Diana and Steve kiss? Will the movie actually be worthy of her? Will this finally shut everyone up about whether women can carry a blockbuster? Will Bruce Wayne appear? Will this spark a boom in World War I type looks in fashion, like I always hoped Downton Abbey would? Will Diana’s bisexuality be addressed?

Who are Rey’s parents? What’s Snoke going to do to complete Kylo Ren’s training? Will Poe and Finn get together? Will Luke have lines in this movie? Will the absence of Harrison Ford create a large charisma black hole that none can fill? Will Ewan McGregor appear as Force Ghost Obi-Wan?  (Thus providing a small portion of the plug in the charisma hole) Will Adam do something stupid in the final season of Girls that will cause me to be unable to take Kylo Ren seriously as a villain? (This is almost guaranteed.) Will this finally shut everyone up about whether women can carry a blockbuster? Will Rey lose a hand? Will Rey get a new light saber? Will BB-8 continue to be the cutest? Will Captain Phasma have a plot function? Will I cry every time that Carrie Fisher is on screen. (Obviously)

Also, in actual practicality terms, I am cutting back here. I’m only going to post 3 or 4 days a week.

Monday: Movie Post Season/Once Upon A Time/Game of Thrones

When Once Upon A Time comes back, Movie Post Season will shift to either Tuesday or Thursday, based on when I have time to watch and write up the movies. Then we’ll be about into Movie Season, which because of Defenders, will get similar treatment, usually Tuesdays, until Once ends again…but you get the idea.

Wednesday: I’ve decided to watch Felicity, two episodes a week will bring us right up to well,  something else…but after One Tree Hill, I like being in touch with that side of my nerdiness, and I think Felicity is a good way to get going, especially since I’ve never watched the whole thing, only an episode here and there. Expect frequent, “Crystan says…” moments in this one, as I know it’s one of her all time favorites.

Friday: Defenders, we’ll get into Jessica Jones tomorrow. I’m very excited to revisit it. Daredevil season 1 did not hold up under week to week scrutiny like I thought it would, but by all accounts Jessica Jones is the best of the lot, so we shall see.(I know Daredevil season 2 is going to be kind of a shit show. Luke Cage will hopefully work out)

I am leaving that fifth day to every once in a while squee about something huge. Which, if we’re honest will most likely be Wonder Woman or Star Wars news, images and trailers. Because I mean, we’ve been doing this for almost five years, there’s no reason to lie about it now.

 

I know.: RIP Carrie Fisher

A lot of people died in 2016. A lot of them were really famous and inspiring, but two of them were my great aunt and grandmother, so that’s keeping the celebrity deaths in perspective. (Seriously, the angel of death seemed really cruel this year.)

But I guess we couldn’t be left very well alone in the last 4 days of the years, because now Carrie Fisher is among them.

Back in the early, early days of starting this blog, I wrote about Princess Leia, and the blurry lines between second and third wave feminism as I saw it then. (I’ve grown a lot in the past five years.) Leia has meant a lot to me as a writer, a fan, a critic and a woman. Carrie Fisher’s writing means more. (I’ve got kind of a thing about acerbic troubled ladies from that generation. I’m also deeply into Norah Ephron, who is also gone. Well, SHIT.) I’ve spent a lot of time in the past decade trying to decide what kind of writer I wanted to be, and it was in finding memoir that it all finally clicked, and Wishful Drinking was a huge part of that.

I didn’t read the book but I watched the one woman show and was blown away by it’s bizarre mix of depressing self disclosure and hilarious self deprication. It was one large step towards the realization that “This is what I want to do.” I still had far to go, and I wound up a good deal less confessional, but my life is also a whole lot less interesting than hers was.

Her fearlessness in the face of aging and mental illness and addiction was remarkable and her wit and strength was incredible.

I’m writing this while watching When Harry Met Sally, because I want to remember that this woman, this indomitable woman was so much more than the one character who defined her. But I do want to talk about Princess Leia Organa, General Organa, the icon the light in every nerd girls life. Yes, we’ve dealt with fridging and Gamergate and being Smurfettes and damsels, but we had Leia. We had this beacon of strength and fire and fight and compassion and joy and love. Leia the Hutt slayer, Leia the princess, Leia the senator, Leia the general.

Every time I write a female character I make sure that she lives up to Leia. Not in the same ways, but she has to have at least as much agency, plot impact and personality. Otherwise, what’s the point?

2016 wasn’t the worst year of my life, but it wasn’t great. I fought through a baseline of depression, a job that I hated and the loss of two of the women who’d inspired me my whole life, right in my own small world. And now the world at large has lost yet another shining light that had meant so much to so many of us.

Yesterday I wrote the following: May the Force Be With You. We Know.

“I know” symbolizes “I love you” second only to “As You Wish” in my book. So that’s what I’m going with to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, We Know. We love you. Thank you for all of it.

Rest in Peace, drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.

Movie Season 2016 Part 2: The Old Movies

I hope everyone had a good Christmas!!!

So, I’ve been having some trouble putting my finger on how to move forward. New job and other life stuff is just changing the way I consume and when and how I write. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a thing that I have to deal with a little bit.

But, after watching La La Land , I decided that I’m going to pair up each movie season movie with an older movie that I think it should be paired up with. I’ll watch and review those movies.

This will be the Monday spot until Once Upon A Time comes back and then I’ll push it back.

We good?

  • La La Land – An American in Paris
    • To explain: Everything about La La Land made me want to watch Gene Kelly movies, and if we’re going to get right down to it, it doesn’t get better than An American In Paris. (I will accept your arguments for Singin’ In The Rain, which is a great deal more watchable.) It is so artistically perfect that the entire third act is a dream ballet. Also Gershwin. It’s a weird ass movie that could never get made today, but damnit did La La Land get close.
  • Moana – The Little Mermaid
    • This was a gut choice, but it mostly comes because it shares directors. There’s a lot about Moana that I think could fit with just about any 90’s Disney movie in discussion, but the paralell between “Part Of Your World” and “How Far I’ll Go” is what really pushed me to this choice.
  • The Nice Guys – Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
    • Shane Black at his best both times and both play with the “buddy cop” genre in great ways. So, that’s going to happen.
  • Arrival – Close Encounters of The Third Kind
    • Peaceful, thinky, alien encounter movies, featuring actors in lead roles who carry the weird concept emotionally.
  • Don’t Think Twice
    • I don’t have anything for this, I’m still working on it. I intend to watch something though. I have a few suggestions to wade through
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
    • It had to be a Star Wars and it had to be Empire. The best verses the new. The darkest contrasted with the second darkest.
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – This is Spinal Tap
    • A few of these are going to be really obvious. This is one of them.
  • Queen of Katwe – Searching For Bobby Fisher
    • They’re both about chess, and specifically about young chess prodigies. Also, I have never seen Searching For Bobby Fisher but as I understand it, it’s quite good.
  • Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them – Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
    • These two aren’t particularly close to eachother, beyond being Wizarding World, but Goblet of Fire is my favorite one, so that’s the one I feel like watching again.
  • Pete’s Dragon – Pete’s Dragon
    • Again, obvious.
  • Ghostbusters – Ghostbusters
    • I’ll save your precious childhoods the indignity of murder and watch the original again. (This is not a chore, by the way, I love Ghostbusters, in pretty much all iterations.
  • Captain America: Civil War – Enemy of The State
    • This one I have to give credit to Beth for. I was at a loss for what to do for Civil War but, the story of a good guy on the run from his former allies seems like the right pick for pairing with my favorite superhero movie of the year. Bonus: Will Smith.
  • Kubo And The Two Strings – Spirited Away
    • I went Myazaki to pair with Kubo, and I like Spirited Away a lot, so that’s why I picked this one.
  • Star Trek Beyond – Star Trek: The Motion Picture
    • Credit for the pick to Melvin, but no other Trek people I know contridicted it. I will try to make it through this mercilessly boring movie again.
  • The Magnificent 7 -Seven Samurai
    • Again, with the duh. Might as well go back to the original source. I did think about making this a triple, with the Bronson Magnificent Seven in there as well.
  • Doctor Strange -The Matrix
    • Mind bendy special effects and a hero who learns he has power in the world that he never even knew existed. Plus an excuse to watch The Matrix and see if it holds up.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse – Monster Squad
    • Another credit to Melvin, his explanation will do better than mine: “both movies start with historical flashbacks, an ancient evil reawakens and is defeated by young people.”  Also, Monster Squad is the shit, and should be watched a lot. 
  • The Legend Of Tarzan – Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes
    • I don’t know a lot about Tarzan, but my friend John sure does and he picked this movie.So if I don’t like it, I’ll be sure to blame it all on him.
  • Suicide Squad – Batman
    • Both stylish. Both very of their moment. Both featuring strong possibly iconic performances. One a masterpiece. The other a dumpster fire. But for some reason, I feel like they’re a matching set.
  • Finding Dory – Toy Story
    • Finding Nemo is my favorite Pixar movie, and I would normally take any excuse to watch it again. But, in considering it, I realized that Dory’s quest to find her parents far more closely mirrors Woody and Buzz and their quest to get back to Andy than Marlin and Dory’s initital journey to Nemo.
  • Independence Day: Resurgence – Aliens
    • I name checked Aliens in my review od Resurgence, because it reminded me of Aliens. Not that it is anything like Aliens, which is a masterpiece, but it also switched genres, deals with legacy and takes place many years after the original. I also considered T2 but I just watched that last year for
  • Alice Through The Looking Glass – Alice In Wonderland
    • I kind of just wanted an excuse to watch this movie again. I haven’t seen it in years.

I think this will be good because movies are easier to watch than TV shows a lot of the time, and certainly easier to write up, at least for me. Also, I used to watch a lot of movies, like all the time, and that’s sort of gone from my life. I mean, I still go to the movies a lot but, I don’t just sit and watch older movies much anymore.

Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil: Season 1: Episode 13

Alright! We’ve made it through season 1! Here’s a thing I learned: Not great on a week to week basis. Not as great I should say. It’s still better than Arrow. But this season has fewer ninjas. We’ll see in season 2 if I still feel that way. (Spoiler Alert: Probably. Arrow doesn’t have The Punisher. It does have Diggle though.)

Anyway, let’s talk about the episode.

daredevil

Episode 13: “Daredevil”

Opening at Ben’s funeral is a gut punch but the scene between his wife and Karen is lovely. Although absolving Karen’s guilt kind of annoys me because, I’m really convinced that Karen might be a monster? Like, I know it’s not her fault that culture has programmed writers to force female characters to behave like manipulative crazy people in order to get anything done, but UGH, she’s just the worst.

Claire is the best.

Claire is not in this episode.

Anywho, Nelson and Murdock get back together to track down the detective who has all of the information on Fisk and they eventually take down his whole opperation, everyone is happy about it, except Vanessa, obviously, because your husband getting arrested while his criminal empire crumbles around you is not a good look.

Anyway, then we get to the last twenty minutes of the show which are the best part anyway. While he’s in custody, Fisk makes this amazing speech about the good samaritan. (Daredevil, Catholic to the last!) and says the amazing line, “I am the ill intent,” and breaks out. Luckily Daredevil shows up in a his awesome new suit and they have the greatest fight in the history of fights.

Not quite, but it’s a good one. And I really, really love that suit man. I think it looks cool as a first drafts of superhero suits go. I like that you can tell it’s a first draft. Anyway, I also like the difference between their fighting styles and how Matt winds up on top this time. Fisk is all brute force and Matt is all nuance and ninja flips and a about landing the right punches. The contrast really does make the whole thing magnificent.

Overall Analysis of This Season

Even pacing it out and thus noticing more of it’s problems, and realizing that it’s leading lady is just a horrible monster person, I still think this is a really good hour of television. The Hallway fight is still incredible, and Vincent D’Onofrio is still the anchor that keeps this whole thing from spinning insanely out of control. (As we shall see, in season 2.)

I do love the ending, but the middle is kind of tough and wheel spinny, still cool and masterfully performed.

Next we’re on to Jessica Jones, which is widely considered the best of this series, and I’m not convinces their wrong. (But Luke Cage is really fucking good you guys.)

 

City of Stars

la-la-land

In the first time since I started movie season, I walked out of a movie thinking, “this might be one of my new favorite movie.” Not my new favorite super hero movie, not my new favorite comedy, not my new favorite feminist deconstruction of an 80’s classic, but my new favorite movie.

And that’s La La Land. I mean, I’ll have to watch it a few more times to really know if it will stand along side Good Will Hunting or D2: The Mighty Ducks or Dogma or Sabrina or West Side Story, but I think it’s got a good shot. (Yes, I am aware that two of those movies don’t quite fit on that list. And yes I’m leaving it up to you which two those are.)

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling reunite (Crazy Stupid Love once got close to this list.) as two Hollywood dreamers, Mia wants to be an actress and Seb wants to save jazz, specifically by opening his own club. They have a whirlwind romance, punctuated by several old fashioned Hollywood musical numbers and blowing up when their dreams don’t pan out quite how they plan.

I was enjoying the movie the whole time, it’s hard not to be enamored of Gosling and Stone, but it’s the final piece that  pushed it over the top. Flashing forward five years, we see that Mia and Seb’s dreams have come true, but they’re apart. They collide for a moment and in a stunning tribute to An American In Paris, we see a fantasy, all in dance and pantomime of the road not taken.

La La Land is my favorite movie of the year, and might well make it to a totally different level of love for me. We’ll see.

Rankings:

  1. La La Land
  2. Moana
  3. The Nice Guys
  4. Arrival
  5. Don’t Think Twice
  6. Star Wars: Rogue One
  7. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  8. Queen of Katwe
  9. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
  10. Pete’s Dragon
  11. Ghostbusters
  12. Captain America: Civil War
  13. Kubo And The Two Strings
  14. Star Trek Beyond
  15. The Magnificent 7
  16. Doctor Strange
  17. X-Men: Apocalypse
  18. The Legend Of Tarzan
  19. Suicide Squad
  20. Finding Dory
  21. Independence Day: Resurgence
  22. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Trailers:

There were a bunch but mostly FENCES…Oh Good, god Fences. I’ve seen the trailer so many times and I’m still blown away with each one.

 

2016 Pop Culture Thank Yous

2016 was a rough year, for like, Earth. We lost some of our brightest lights, politics took a terrifying turn towards the horrific, and all kinds of other small defeats.

But, as I said back in November, the thing we do here is point to the light, so I’m going to list out the pop culture stuff I was really grateful for this year:

  • The Women of The DCEU: Neither Batman V Superman nor Suicide Squad were particularly great, but they gave us Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. And for this we should be grateful, because all three of these women seem like, uber psyched about these characters and are approaching them with integrity and joy. Next stop Gotham Sirens. (Please cast Christina Hendricks as Ivy.) Well, Wonder Woman first, but also Gotham Sirens.
  • The Hamilton Mixtape: Should speak for itself, but it’s unrelentingly good. Reuniting Ashanti and Ja-Rule ALONE makes it noteworthy, but each version of each song, plus the new songs are all perfect. “Wrote My Way Out,” has probably my favorite verse that Lin-Manuel has ever written. (Though Sonny’s solo in “96,000” is up there too.)
  • Kate McKinnon: Between her Emmy win, Ghostbusters and all of the really stellar work she did as Hilary Clinton and well, everything else on SNL (and possibly Office Christmas Party, I haven’t yet seen it.) I think this is going to be the year that comedy nerds look back on as her real rise. And she deserves it, because she’s incredible.
  •  This Is Us: The most emotionally manipulative show ever made and I don’t care. It’s wonderful. Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia make me cry every week. The Pearsons are stepping up to the plate to replace the Walkers and the Bravermans and they are doing an incredible job.
  • R+L=J is canon.
  • Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life: Was it everything we’d all always wanted? Nope. Did it bring Lorelai and Luke to a satisfying conclusions? Yes. Was Team Logan decimated? Uh huh. Should we check in again in a few years? If it is Amy Sherman-Palladino’s will. Should Rory’s baby be a boy? You bet! Should she name him Richard? Duh! Will she and Jess end up together raising said baby? Sure hope so. Will Jess occasionally take a worried Richard’s face in his hands and say, “You are my son, and I love you,” making everyone cry? Everybody watch This Is Us.
  • Tom Holland as Spider-Man
  • Westworld and Westworld theorizing. The character of Maeve on Westworld, the refusal to backtrack on brilliant storytelling in Westworld, the character of Teddy on Westworld, Ed Harris’s performance on Westworld, Anthony Hopkins’s performance on Westworld. 
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, specifically the joke about Seal’s vague history with wolves. I want to know more about this Lonely Island.
  • Legends Of Tomorrow: The show’s slow start and the fact that they managed to make Vandal Savage (one of my favorite DC Baddies) boring caused me to hit pause on it. But when I decided to commit it was so very worth it, and Season 2 is such a complete delight. (Though lack of Leonard Snart is *inahles dramatically* let’s say, mmm, disappointing.) It’s hard to lose me on a show who’s premise is, “Pretty people on a time machine chase bad guys, wear period outfits and kick ass.” It’s brought some of the best parts of Arrow over with it, in Sara and Ray and now Malcolm Merlyn. (Put Thea and Dig on Waverider, and I’d say Arrow ceases having a need to exist. Felicity can go to The Flash.) (I’m kidding, Diggle would never time travel.)
  • The West Wing Weekly, which gave me a framework to revisit one of my favorite shows without rushing through it. That The West Wing holds up so well is also nice to see.
  • Zootopia and Moana are both. Thanks Disney, for bringing so much back. You know, animals that make you cry and spunky teen heroines
  • Deadpool. Deadpool’s marketing campaign. Deadpool’s R rating. Deadpool’s GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS. ‘Tis a good time to be a nerd friends.
  • Donald Glover is going to be Lando Calrissian. While this isn’t going to happen for two more years, I feel this is an important victory for me personally, as I talked about it to an obnoxious degree.
  • A return to form from Once Upon A Time. It’s not as good as season 1, but it’s at least very good. The new characters are engaging, the story feels low it has stakes. I’m thrilled about it.

There’s more stuff but that’s what’s jumping out at me

Next week I’ll write up movie season, and look at 2017. I think we’ve got some fun ahead of us.