Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Be Better Disney

So this week Disney released the Pete's Dragon trailer.

Watching it made me realize how conflicted I am about the whole live action Disney remake thing. See I am a Disney brat. Brand loyalty will be the death of me (downs a can of Coke) but damn it the Disney name means something to me. For better or worse I want Disney to rule the world. I know that little bugger mickey has brainwashed me, and on some level I know he just wants my money but damn it, "Hakuna Matata", "One Jump Ahead", "Not In Nottingham", "Cruella Devil'.

Let me allow the other side of my brain to take over this post for a second. The childhood memories of 3 generations, Pixar, Ghibli Distribution, Marvel Comics, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones. Maybe it would be nice if the mouse just took a decade off and let someone else run my living room or worse yet pretty much most the fantastical side of my psyche. If they somehow manage to find a way to buy Lord of the Rings, that's it. I'm done. They own me. And that prospect makes me very very uncomfortable.  I don't want a single company to be that responsible for ... the tao of me.

I need to read more.

But anyway. I am kind of invested in Disney glory. I honestly do believe that Disney is right smack dab in the middle a new renaissance, Frozen, Big Hero Six, Maleficent. And I think of the branch of old Disney nobody talks about. Their old live action stuff.

I think that in a lot of ways old Disney was on the bleeding edge. Pushing technical film limits and introducing a lot of stories that were contemporary. 60's Disney was very much a studio of its time. And that's where the conflict comes. I like a lot of 60's Disney movies but if I were honest I would rather modern Disney acted in the spirit of its 60's counterpart.

And that's my worry with the whole live action remake thing. I'm not saying you can't make good movies out of remakes.

But I don't like that the draw of live action Disney has gone from a general nostalgia of the studio's reputation to the more specific, "You know that thing you liked, we're doing that again" nostalgia.

101 Dalmatians, The Rescuers, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Black Cauldron were pretty contemporary stories when Disney decided to adapt them. Even the Sword in the Stone was based on a book that had just been re-released.

And I would argue Disney live action movies were even more experimental narratively and technically than their animated counter parts.

What I don't want is a Disney that rests on its laurels. I want a Disney that releases movies that people talk about and comment on 40 years later.

Which brings me to my next point. Cinderella. Maleficent earned a lot of good will that this crazy plan could work. That Disney actually was reflecting on its history rather than just brazenly trying to relive it.

And Cinderella took it away. Don't get me wrong Pete's Dragon looks like a pretty wild take and has restored some of that faith but let's be honest Cinderella is inconsequential.  And I think to myself. You know they already made the revisionist Cinderella 20 years ago.

Ever After may have problems but it is recognizable as Cinderella while at the same time being a bit of a deconstruction commenting on everything from fairy tale fatalism, to class, to gender.

I love reimaginings.

But let's face it right now Disney, especially Disney proper not the parts of the company that it bought over decades kind of has its head up its ass serving its greatest hits on a platter.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Punk's Song

On a winters' day in 1982 she knocked on the door of the basement apartment.  An old man with a graying uncombed afro opened the door. She looked past him to a guitar case. He nodded to her.

"I expected you'd want that one day. It took a while but I realized it wasn't ever mine to strum, Liz."
"Yeah and it was awhile before I decided I wanted the thing. Lincoln"
"Eh. I was always a better drummer than a strummer. Since you here if you got a song in you might as well."
"Well there is this song me and my sis keep comin' back to on our days off."

There was a time I looked up to her old man, but in the days before I gathered my courage he got plain mean. I was born just before he got old, back when he still had hope. Back when he thought he could still do if not all of the things he wanted to do as a kid, most of them. He and Lincoln played in a band way back when. At first they were a blues outfit but Pa learned how to keep a quick rhythm. He used to play his old records. In my early days I can't say it didn't appeal to me, but those were my early days.  They never made it big but they started getting respect in this town. He met my mom in those days.  I never met her, or at least I don't remember meeting her. 

It was after the big bopper died but before Woodstock, when the band started making a name for and itself well you know the story. Everybody liked Pa but back then he mostly just liked playin' while everybody else had dreams of getting rich.  He was good but they thought they could find someone better and at first he was okay with it. They were his friends he wanted them to do well, and he thought even if he wasn't in the big leagues with them he could find an audience. The town was different back then. Plenty of clubs lined main-street. 

Time destroys everything. It destroyed this town and it destroyed my Dad. He the clubs started closing and he never got the gigs he thought.  He kept trying though.  Mostly he got recording session gigs. But he wanted to play in front of people. 

When I was a girl he was kind. He said that even he never got a huge crowd at least he could play for me. On my 6th birthday he got me a guitar of my own and taught me how to play Route 66.

When Pa first started getting mean she decided to skip town. Don't know why she didn't take me with her. I guess she thought he was still good with me.  That all changed in 72. The old band was going to break up for good. Thier lead guitarist had been busted on a heroin charge. They wanted to send him off and need some one so Lincoln came and knocked on my Pa's door. Asked to play one last show. Thought it might be good for him.  The lead didn't tell anybody where he kept is six string so dad used mine. And at least in that moment I was proud.  

But that one last show broke him.  When he played that last song he heard it as his last song. After that things were never the same. He never beat me but all the good in him seemed to vanish. Everyone else's success became his failure. Why not him. Why not him.  And it made him angry.  One night he got scary and I ran. I just hopped out of the window and hitched as far as I could. 

I wound up in Kentucky where I met Linda. I had made it to a dinner her Mom owned. I was hungry then. Real hungry. To be honest I was on my last legs and thinking' of thieving' the place. But Linda's mom. She saw me and just asked if I wanted pie. I told her I couldn't pay and she said it was alright. That night she offered me a job. It wasn't much but those few years were the best of my life or at least clearest. They weren't muddled by what was or could have been. They were good as they were. 

One night I got a letter from my Ma. Said my Pa had died and left his stuff to her. She didn't want it and gave it all to Lincoln. By this point the fire had gone out of even him and he needed whatever money he could get so he sold most of it. Mostly old clothes and his old rusty bed. 

It was a while. Linda had made it to a girls college. We just stayed up talkin', about who we wanted to be, who we were and who we had been. Making promises to each other. Before she left she made me promise to try to get my old six-sting back. Said it represented a part of me or something. I don't know but she is my friend. The closest thing I now have to kin and maybe she was right. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Could You Do Lilith's Brood on TV

So this season there have been a lot of good television shows based on science fiction and fantasy novels, Chronicles of Shannara, The Magicians, The Expanse,  Childhood's End, (So now I forgive Syfy eghhhhh for WWE)  I haven't read most of these books but I am enjoying at least so far watching the first few episodes of these series and it makes me think about other books I would like to see adapted into film.

A few months ago I heard that Octavia Butler's Lilith's Brood's had been optioned for TV and there is one question that won't leave my mind. How will the television show deal with sex.

Butler uses sex and birth as a reflexive metaphor for colonialism/imperialism. That theme is everywhere as two cultures reluctantly create something  that is at the same both and neither.

It's in the name of the title character. It's in the androgynous nature of the aliens themselves and how social adulthood for them is tantamount to sexual adulthood. Its in all the discussions about what having children mean to these characters both human and alien. In how being with someone in that way makes it harder to leave them even if you do not want to stay.

Those themes are what largely elevate that series from being kind of interesting to being profound and I don't know if a television show or to be honest even a major motion picture would have the stones to carry those themes throughout the entire piece the way the books do, not just a scene that can be fast forwarded or ignored but the entire length of the adaptation because the plot all of it is about a kind of mating some of it willing but a lot of it not.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Royal Oak February 6, 2016 Water Quality Flint Crisis Town Hall

On February 6, 2016 a panel was held in Royal Oak, Michigan regarding the Flint Water Crisis. The panel featured. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who raised the issue of lead exposure in Flint, Jim Nash, Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Sue McCormick of the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) who also worked as director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Authority (DWSA) in early parts of the crisis, as well as State Representatives Jim Townsend (D-26), Jeremy Moss (D-35), Robert Wittenberg (D-27), Christine Greig (D-37)

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