Tag Archives: The Cosmos

An Unhelpful Guide to the 2017 Oscars

I know, I know: We’re told we can’t trust the media and we should only trust the White House even as scientific facts are erased from all official documents.  We’re being told that some of the poorest but hardest working people of our Nation are evil and are trying to undermine American Life.  We’re being told that the left-wing is a bunch of violent terrorists who must be stopped to regain order in the universe.

It’s real easy to feel like we’re only being controlled by the whims of mad billionaires, but don’t worry there’s a silver lining: THE OSCARS!  With this singular event, everything will fix itself and Donald Trump will take off a mask and reveal that he’s Bernie Sanders!  He wanted a Best Costuming Oscar, and he won it!  WAY TO GO, BERNIE!

As always, so we can prepare for the new golden age as dictated by Hollywood Elite, I present to you a brief summary of the only three Oscar categories that matter: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Editing.  Like I said, the Oscars will make everything better.

La La Land (Nominated for all three! There’s to the ones that dream!)

Mia and Sebastian are two attractive people who love to dance!  Things turn out to be not all they seem, though, as late one night when Mia goes to Seastian’s club with her anonymous husband and comes to a terrifying realization: THIS IS NOT HER LIFE.  What follows is a musical journey through a war between two universes: The City of Stars and the Days of Sun- as well as a quick trip through a pocket universe of flying telescopes.  In the end, Mia and Sebastian have to decide which universe to save and which to let crumble into the sea of the cosmos.

Arrival (Nominated for all three! I guess this movies truly “Arrived”!)

When Alien Pod lands on Earth, everyone panics.  “Oh No, This is going to be like Alien Movies and the Aliens are going to attack us and eat our skin because they are Aliens and they are different and they are Scary!” Says the Military headed by the Human Scowl Jeremy Renner.  But then Earth’s savior comes in the form of Language Woman!  Language Woman- played with aplomb by Amy Adams- draws pictures and makes language with the aliens. Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker frown at each other from across the Military Table “I don’t know, I think we should shoot guns at it” says Renner. “Well I think we should shoot bombs at it” says Whitaker.  “No! I have the answer!”, Amy Adams breaks through a wall waving her Language around, “We should shoot words at it!”.  Everyone claps, including the Aliens who have four hands to clap with.  Thank you Amy Adams for telling us what to shoot.  Don’t worry, the aliens still rip a giant space hole in the sky and there’s still a massive CGI battle against alien invaders.  I mean, otherwise this wouldn’t be a Science Fiction movie right?

Moonlight (Nominated for all three!  I guess they should have called this movie “The Professional Circuit”!)

Taking place over three different time periods, Moonlight follows Chiron, a black man growing up on the mean streets of Miami.  Chiron grows up being bullied because of his reserved nature and small stature and he only has one friend: Kevin.  Chiron’ Mother gives him little help as he navigates life- she is addicted to crack- and he gets what guidance he can from local drug dealer Juan.  Things take an unexpected turn, however, when it turns out that Kevin is a vampire!  Kevin turns Chiron into a vampire too, and the two of them become Private investigators.  This doesn’t sit well with Juan, who wanted Chiron to grow up and take over the Drug Business.  So Juan sends out his vampire thugs to hunt down Chiron and Kevin and turn them to dust, then collect this dust and put it into gel tablets which Juan can then sell as a party drug (SPOILER ALERT, the drug is called “Moonlight”). Flash forward ten years, Kevin and Chiron have moved to the streets of Los Angeles where the two of them have a run down detective agency called “City Angels”.  Unfortunately things take another bad turn when the Agency’s owner, Maudie Hayes (played by a young Cybill Shepherd) wants to sell the agency.  Instead she joins the Vampire Detectives on the streets and soon Chiron starts to develop romantic feelings for her.  That’s when Juan catches up to the two with a terrifying secret: He’s also a vampire now! A deadly game of cat and mouse follows, and by the end only two people will walk out of that detective agency alive (And the detective agency was renamed “Blue Moon”.  Also, Juan’s still selling Moonlight and Maddie’s younger sister is addicted to it and may be becoming a vampire herself because of it).

Hacksaw Ridge (Nominated for all three! That may just be a ridge too far!)

Desmond T. Doss is a World War II Army Medic in the battle of Okinawa.  He becomes the first person to win the Medal of Honor without firing a single shot, as he thinks that enough people are trying to destroy the world and he wanted to put it back together.  Along the way he bonds with his army corporals and sergeants and teaches them important lessons on nonviolence.  He also finds an attractive army nurse who he falls in love with and marries. The movie is narrated by an older Desmond Doss, and ends with the Elder Doss saying “In the end, I suppose I learnt everything I needed to on Hacksaw Ridge. And I can still see that sunset in my dreams”.

Hell or High Water (Nominated for Best Editing and Best Picture.  They almost made it to all three, but then came Hell or High- well you get it)

Cowboys!  In 1888 the chilly Colorado River was rising, threatening to drown the low-down cattle town of Diablo.  A shady developer rolls into town and tells the folks “Ya know, yer town ain’t gonna see the light fer much longer.  I could build a levee round here, but it’ll cost ya'”.  The Developer- Chris Pine in a career-defining performance as Toby Howard- makes more and more insidious demands on the townsfolk and bleeds them of all their money.  That’s when Diablo decides to take justice into their own hands, and hire a Cowboy! Morally-questionable antihero Cowboy Tanner Howard is hired to ride into town and have a shootout with Toby Howard who (surprise!) is his brother. “Pow! Pow! Pow!” Go the guns.  “Die! Die! Die!” Go the Cowfolk. “Neigh! Neigh! Neigh!” Go the horses.  In the end, someone will die… come Hell or High Water.

Manchester by the Sea (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director.  It should have been Manchester by the Supreme Disappointment)

In the sleepy Massachusetts hamlet Manchester-by-the-sea is a lighthouse that the locals have blocked off.  Then, one day a child walks into town and up to the lighthouse.  The child, Young Patrick, knocks on the door and the haggard, forgotten Affleck brother Casey opens the door.  “Hello this isn’t Boston”, says Casey. “I know and I’m also your son” says Young Patrick.  Casey does a spit take, and then walks around in circles saying “Oh my I can’t be a father I’m not the Affleck playing Batman!”.  In the end, Young Patrick learns about Lighthouses and Casey learns that you don’t have to be Oscar-winning writer and director to be an Oscar-winning father (although Ben Affleck is up for the “Best Father” Oscar this year while Casey was snubbed. Poor poor Casey).

Hidden Figures (Only Best Picture?  It’s like this movie wasn’t even trying!)

Taking place from 1991 to 1993 and following an group of publishers, computer scientists, and magicians as they work to create Miru Miru Mega Yokunaru Magic Eye – the very first Magic Eye book to receive widespread popularity.  From there we continue to follow this ragtag team of misfits to their next big milestone in 1993: The release of Magic Eye: A New Way of Looking at the World, the very first Magic Eye book to be published in North America.  Drama happens, some of the computer scientists blame the magicians for forgetting what Magic Eye was really about, and the whole Magic Eye team looks like it will fall apart giving the world no more books of random points that people can lie about seeing a unicorn in.  Then, as if by magic, all conflicts are resolved and the team realizes that the only real magic is the magic of friendship.

Fences (Only Nominated for Best Picture. The other two categories already had plenty of fences)

Based off of the award-winning play by August Wilson, Fences is a tale about race, class, and the barriers between the two.  Since it was first performed at the Eugene O’Neil Theater Center it has, unfortunately, remained chillingly relevant and has caused some controversy because of it.  Most notably (and this is a fault also shared by the film, making it’s nomination for Best Picture surprising) there is only one fence in the entire piece.  It isn’t even there for most of the piece.  Also, adding to this upheaval of title conventions, the characters are not professional fencers (both in terms of people who install fences, but also in terms of not being professional sword fighters).  Had this been changed for the film adaptation, and Fences be about a group of sword fighters traveling around Pittsburgh and building as many fences as they can, Denzel Washington may have also been nominated for Best Director making the 89th Academy Awards Ceremony the first ever to have two black men nominated for Best Director.

Lion (Only Best Picture.  I’d be “Lion”  if I said this was an accomplishment)

One of the big questions surrounding Cartoon Network’s hit animated series Steven Universe is who and what exactly Lion is.  Is Lion pink diamond? Rose Quartz? Was that indeed an early form of Lion that we saw in the episode “Buddy’s Book”?  All of these questions and more are answered in the feature-length film Lion.  Taking place during the time that Steven and the Crystal gems are saving Greg from Blue Diamond and the Human Zoo and Connie and the Crystal Temps are running/ruining the car wash, the film follows the exploits of Lion who uses this time to reflect on his long and storied life.  For the sake of keeping this spoiler free I won’t go on, but let’s just say: Pink Diamond willingly shattered herself as Yellow Diamond had found out that Pink had been funding the Crystal Gem rebellion; Pink trusted Rose to use her healing powers to bring her back once the Diamond Authority thought she was dead, but Rose’s powers could only go so far.  In the end, Rose was able to transfer some of Pink Diamond’s essence into Lion, though to say that Lion is Pink diamond is like saying Steven is Rose Quartz. It may take a few months for the events of this feature length film to be proved canonical, but this is as true as the Uncle Grandpa crossover episode.

Resolution.

Remember how the moon blew up in March?  Well I made a movie about that. Or…

Remember those two filmmakers who were going to team up and make a movie together?  Well I made a movie about that too. Or…

Remember those four larger film projects that I’ve had in post-production, some for around 8 years?  Well I made a movie about that too. Or…

Above all else, I made a film about failure.  I made the film below called “Resolution.”, and it’s below.  Let’s watch now, shall we?

Resolution. from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

So there’s a lot of things here to parse out, but first let’s look at some technical aspects.  I’ve been working on “Resolution” since February of this year when I decided to use it as a way of exploring the software “Resolve” as a new editing suite (I’m still using Final Cut 7 for most of my projects, and I feel like sooner or later I’m going to have to switch to something newer and more up-to-date).  Well, I tried using Resolve, but in the end I just didn’t like it for editing.  It’s good for color work, but not for editing (and it’s designed to be for color work, editing is just something they’re just now incorporating).  But was “Resolution” still a project that should be completed and shown? Yes, in fact now it was more than ever.

The relevance goes to why I chose the projects I chose: Tracy McKnightly, Stories From Sturgeon, and Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters (more on “Lun” in a second).  These are three projects that have been simmering for a long time, projects that are so close to being finished but won’t be because of small but significant things: Tracy McKnightly needed so much ADR work mostly because of a last minute drop-out of the main actor, but also because I had only completed one semester of school and I didn’t understand that sound was a thing; Stories From Sturgeon wasn’t able to get enough footage from the filming of the project itself and so with only interviews to go by there wasn’t much of a documentary I could make; Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters! needed lots of miniature work or animation work or something to get exterior shots of the spaceship, but also I was missing video and audio from when we shot, and even on set I had lost a lot of my ability to plan and work on a film set which resulted in a rushed schedule that didn’t quite work out.  Now I know that no one was waiting with too bated breath for these films to be completed, but I had failed them and I needed to make it right.  So, much like with “No!” before this (the most obvious predecessor, right down to having a punctuation mark in the title), I decided to fuse these failed projects together into one.  I fused them into one project that had itself failed on a small but significant level.

Now, let’s talk about “Lun”.  Right off the bat I realized that the biggest difference between “Resolution.” and “No!” was the projects chosen, particularly how they could communicate and function together.  You see, “No!” is made of primarily visual and experimental pieces, things that I thought would be neat to look at but never quite did.  Fitting these looser pieces into one narrative (“Death is a Corgi”) was just a matter of filling holes.  In “Resolution.” I was working with three pieces that had their own stories, three pieces that each had their own feel and their own flow, and fitting them together proved to be tricky.  So I decided I needed a framing device, and it seemed the best way to do that would be to latch on to the documentary aspect of “Stories From Sturgeon”, the discussion of the moon from “Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters!”, and the single image of a shining moon from “Tracy McKnightly” together into one piece.  This piece would end up being called “Lun”, and I decided that the framing device would be me going around and hosting interviews of one simple question: Why did you blow up the moon?  Lun quickly grew out of control and- as has been the case with many projects that I’ve wanted to complete these past four years- I ran out of the resources to make this happen.  What I was left with was a bunch of images of the moon (which I wasn’t even able to finish collecting, because the moon mysteriously vanished from the night sky.  Thanks, light pollution), and some title cards of Moon “puns” (as is said in “Resolution.”, these aren’t puns.  They’re not even plays on words).

We’ve already talked about “No!” being a predecessor of this piece, but I think the greater predecessor is “I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical” (Another punctuation mark!  I use SO much punctuation!).  Soon, with my project on failed projects failing and everything not quite reaching the titular resolution, it became clear that this was to be another project based on failure.  More specifically, a project based on my failure.  I’ve since been treating this like a “IDTAMTM” Lite.  Whereas the previous film focused on a deeply personal sense of failure to belong and connect and all sorts of other messy things, “Resolution.” would focus primarily on a career-based failure.  So much of these past ten years have been about me growing into and defining myself as an artist, and now that I’m removed from my medium and have made the decision to move away from a career in cinema production, I can’t help but feel a certain loss.  The same loss I feel over the incompletion of Tracy McKnightly.

So I suppose that’s all why I made a movie about why I can’t make movies anymore.  Or maybe I made a film about why I can’t make films anymore.  It all depends on whether I’m One or The Other.  But at least one thing is certain: I shot for the moon and blew it all up.

Henceblog Expose: THE FUTURE

  1. An Introduction

This is more for me than for any of you out there, but I think that applies to a lot of what I write here. But I’m beginning with an introduction, as one does, a means of letting you know what the deal is with this piece.  So here’s the deal:

I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING.

I know that I need to get away from the lowly part-time jobs I’ve been working for the past few years, but I don’t know what.  So I’m figuring that out here.  And maybe you’ll read about it.  Otherwise, there are lots of great shows on television.

 

             2. The Past

This isn’t the first time I’ve been here.  I’ve had a lot of these experiences.  Crossroads.  “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood/and sorry that I could not take both/I decided just to walk in the middle of them and make a new road” something like that. Somehow , though, these decisions keep getting harder. Maybe that’s experience. Maybe that’s neuroses. Probably its both.  In the past these decisions have seemed clear.  I was going to work hard through high school so I could get into a good college.  I would go into film school because that was my dream and I needed to learn about film production if I wanted to pursue it. I wouldn’t look into graduate schools right out of my undergraduate degree so I could learn to freelance as my own filmmaker outside of school. I would move out of Santa Fe to Chicago because Chicago was a larger city with a lot of big productions coming through and a good independent film foundation so I would have no problem getting into the Union and working my way up.

These were all extensions of the central belief I’ve had that if I maintained a laser-focused goal of “Cinema Production” then I would be able to gradually achieve my dream of writing and directing film.  What, exactly, was “Cinema Production”?  That I kept open-ended: Grip, Art Department, Script Supervision, assistant directing, I could do anything so long as they needed it.  The problem is that I honestly don’t know how to get into those positions without Union representation or internships.

There are a lot of things I don’t know.  This is why I will no longer pursue “Cinema Production”

 

             3. Cinema

When I was in film school one thing became abundantly clear: I was an oddball.  The people around me had been making movies since they were three, they lived and worshipped in movie theaters, they had already seen a thousand movies and written critiques for all of them.  I was a theater kid who started making movies so that I could act more.

At least that’s the story I tell.

In truth, maybe I was meant for it.  For one thing, in a market so drenched in cinephelia it was nice to be the person who has still never seen “Jaws” and doesn’t really mind it all that much.  “I’d rather make a movie than watch a movie” was my mantra throughout film school. And film does hold a special place in my heart: I have a fond memory of my mother picking up my sister and I up from school early.
“We’re doing something special today, kids.  Today we’re seeing Star Wars!
It was incredible.  Even more so because we didn’t see movies, especially “new” movies int he theater, all that often.  But we saw all three of the Star Wars re-releases.

When I first began making movies it was also a joyous experience.  Back then it was gathering a bunch of friends together and making something silly.  Back then I didn’t have to worry about script themes, color schemes, character POV, 180 degree rule, 30 degree rule, canted angles, J-cuts, S-cuts, piece length, story flow, sound quality, mic positioning, color grade, and roughly one thousand and fifty-six other things.  It’s not that this greater understanding detracts from my enjoyment of creating a film or from my ideas on film.  In fact, I still very much enjoy making a movie and playing with a lot of these rules.  However all of these worries makes the process much longer, much more complicated, and much more defendant on other people.

But I still want to make movies.

At least that’s the story I tell.

             4. Writing

Before I was a filmmaker, before I was an actor, before I was a depressed waiter, I was a writer.  I was a writer and a storyteller.  I now wonder if I should have stuck with it longer.  For some reason, even in college when most of my friends were in the Creative Writing Program, I didn’t think to pursue writing.  Or rather, all my writing was done in script form.  Now – and for the past five years- I’ve only been able to write, and I’ve expanded beyond scripts.  Now pursuing writing short fiction and novels seems like something at least on par with my other wackadoo plans like continuing to make movies or go into voice acting.  To be clear: I do not expect to be a great author or really any sort of author, but I feel it’s something I should try.

What then of writing?  What then of telling stories?  Answering the second question first: I’ll still tell stories. That’s something that can’t be taken away.  So then that leaves us with writing and Plan B: Teaching.  If I enjoy reading and writing so much, why not teach it?  I was never very good at English during my school days, but what I’ve learned in my limited time as an unlicensed teacher is that not having been good in a subject may help you be a good teacher.  The real question is: Is being an English Teacher something I would be passionate about?  I don’t think so.  Creative writing, and even word and sentence structure is something I’d be interested in.  But reading through countless essays and reports?  That seems like something initially tolerable – fun even- that would get very old very fast.  So writing- my writing- I believe it’s time to expand outward and look for new outlets for publishing and distribution.  Teaching English, though, is a “no”.

             5. Art

My mother is an Artist: Fine arts (always a strange distinction to make) and my Sister and I grew up with a whole bunch of Art projects.  I myself wanted to be a cartoonist for a long time, and why I never pursued it is a whole other story, but now I no longer draw or paint, though I’ve done design work (as is witnessed on this very website) and some multi-media gallery work as well.  So it is that I still consider myself an artist, and like being a storyteller this is something ingrained.  At some point in my life I may have been able to have been swayed away, but that point would have been before I spent 4 years and a lot of heartbreak in Art School.

If I still consider myself an artist, then why don’t I become an Art Teacher?  It’d be K-12, but that’s the [massive] range that I have experience in (OK, K-3 for teaching Minecraft and Lego robotics and 6-8 for teaching math, but….).  Also, once I get a certification I’ll more likely than not be teaching in Chicago, and although it’s a lie that every school in Chicago is full of violence and crime, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of schools in the far west side to fuel my mother’s concern for me going into urban education.  But these horror stories are what keeps me interested in teaching Art, because after all Art is a way to channel energy and communicate ideas and come into self-discovery.  This is something all kids need, in good schools and very much so in bad schools.  And, yes, it will be difficult.  Life is difficult.  I believe this would make the difficulty worth it.  Plus, with a Bachelor’s in Film and a teaching certification in Art I would still be plenty qualified if ever I came across any K-12 classes film classes, and maybe even some Community Colleges.  So, all in all, I’d say that this sounds like a good plan.  For now.

             6. Conclusion

Lot’s has been said and many stories have been written.  That’s why we have conclusions, though, to conclude.  So here it is:

-The best course of action is to go and get my teacher’s certification in Art.  Is it what I thought I’d be doing when I went to film school?  Oh, God no.  But I don’t mind it.  In fact, I think it’ll be a good career.  A trying one, a difficult one, an underfunded one, but a good one.

-I am not quitting making movie.  Nor am I quitting writing, or improv, or voice acting.  I will continue to do my art on the side as I have these past five/six years.  But neither of those options are going to be paying my rent any time soon and it’s due at the first of every month.

– In another 5 years I will be wondering what I’m doing with my life. Again.  After that?  Maybe I’ll start selling used cars.  Or open a Bead and Breakfast in the Upper Michigan Peninsula.

This is the story I tell.

I for Idakilu and J for Javelin Comics

And we’re officially behind schedule.  For anyone anticipating the next batch of entries at home, I’m sorry but “J” took much longer than expected.  Also, I’d much rather take my time with these and have them done up right than rush on through to get everything done by the end of the year.  At any rate, we’re nearing the halfway point. That’s exciting!

I for Idakilu

Idakilu is first, a giant Catfish God in the Golden City of Zard.  I’m beginning to worry about the number of Zard stories, especially since the next few months we’d be seeing more.  But at the same time, I enjoy visiting this new mythology and working on crafting new stories.  So we’ll probably stay on course with Zard. Probably.

J for Javelin Comics

This one really should have been broken up into several smaller entries- one for each hero – and have ti be a recurring thread much like Zard.  But instead I decided to tackle 70+ years of comic-bookery in one entry, and I think it’s a good one.  I’m not sure if it manages to distinguish itself as a separate entity, or if it’s hitting the “aren’t comic books CRAZY?” joke button over and over.  I’m leaning toward the former.  It’s also interesting that these two have one larger piece of recurring lore and one larger piece that should have been recurring lore.

At any rate, I do think we’ll be visiting some of the writers for Javelin again.

An Unhelpful Guide to the 2016 Blockbusters

For the past few months cinema has been a wasteland.  Zootopia? More like BOOtopia.  Hail Caesar!? More like, FAIL Caesar! Captain America: Civil War? More like Captain AmeriCAN’T: Civil BORE.  Everyone knows that movies that aren’t Oscar winners and aren’t blockbusters are just not trying that hard at being movies.  But thankfully, we can all let out a collective sigh: The sun has risen, the ice has melted, and Summer Blockbuster season is here!  We all have reasons to live again! We can all spend $14 and a bag of popcorn to see these movies!  But just in case you don’t want to pay that price, you can still join in talking about Blockbusters with your coworkers and avoid the humiliation of being “The One Who Doesn’t Watch Movies”. That’s right, as always, I have the most important of our summer Blockbusters this year summarized below.  You’re welcome, America. Captain America.  Civil War: Solved.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (June 3)

The Heroes in a half-shell are back, and this time their up against the greatest evil of all: Tyler Perry’s Madea.  Having not learned “her” lesson in Madea’s Neighbor’s From Hell (when Madea used the dark arts to to get back at a foster mother and her unruly kids), Madea is again playing God resulting in the creations of the hideous monsters Bebop and Rocksteady.  How will our rad Quartet eat their way out of this pizza?  With the help of The Green Arrow!  While our Turtle heroes are fighting the boar-headed Bebop, an arrow flies out and strikes him down, revealing a hooded figure: “Hi, I’m Oliver Queen.  After spending five years in Hell I’ve returned with a mission to save my city. But my old approach wasn’t enough, I’ve had to become someone else, I’ve had to become something else. I’ve had to become: CASEY JONES”- by this time Bebop has waddled away to his monster truck and lived to terrorize another day- “Because archery is a sport, you see”. “Oh yes, this makes sense. Squeak-squeak”, replies Tony Shaloub’s Splinter, who was there the whole time.  Fred Armisen also stops by to voice alien-brain Kraang because Nickelodeon is only going to get this one last movie before TMNT movie before it looses its nostalgia appeal, so they might as well throw everything into this one.  Also expect a surprise cameo from the TMNT’s greatest foe: Pizza Face.

Warcraft (June 10)

This extended video game cutscene tells the story of how a bunch of orcs crossed through a dimensional portal into the human world in order to escape an evil orc-wizard.  Only they then come up against a new evil: racism.  The humans are repulsed by the orcs appearance and refuse to learn their orcish culture, and instead insist that these dimensional outsiders are pure evil and should be killed, their tusks cut off and made into tourist trinkets.  What follows is a human-orc war that all eventually crosses into Elf territory.  When the Elven fields of Elfwhistle (a flower known for its glittery petals and glow-in-the-dark color), the Elves become furious and join the battle, shooting arrows at everything: Including a nearby town where Dwarfs and Goblins exist in an uneasy alliance.  Pretty soon, everything all gets shot to hell and promo for the next World of Warcraft game (Opossum Person Rising) ends the movie with a giant question mark.  It’s up to you to finish the story now!  SPOILER ALERT: You end the story by shouting “Leroy Jenkins!” and rushing into a spider pit.

Now You See Me 2 (June 10)

Also known as “Magician Heist 2: Heist Harder”, we catch up with Morgan Freeman who is now in prison for being black and the “Four Horsemen” who rob banks… WITH MAGIC!  The Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and Mark Ruffalo) break into a computer laboratory with cards, flash paper, and MAGIC(!) in order to expose a deranged tech millionaire and probable magician Daniel Radcliffe.  However something goes wrong and Michael Caine traps everyone in China.  Now the Four Horsemen and their non-white-male magician friend Lizzy Caplan have to magic their way out of the most heavily guarded fortress (China) and hopefully come up with a way to saw open a banking scandal that’s stealing millions of dollars away from the public (because that’s what banks do. Look it up).

Finding Dory (June 17)

The lovable blue tang Dory is back in this sequel to Disney-Pixar’s hit film Finding Nemo.  This time around Dory remembers she has parents (because as we the audience remember, Dory has short-term memory loss, and if we don’t remember that maybe YOU have short-term memory loss! [If you do, consult a doctor, it’s a serious problem]), and she sets out to the Jewel of the Morro Bay in California with her friends Marlin, Nemo, Crush, and Squirt.  Once Dory gets to Morro Bay she finds herself at the Marine Life Institute, where she meets up with a Seven-legged Octopus named Hank and plenty of other whacky fish!  They all swim around and have a grand old time, until it’s revealed that Dory’s Parents were killed and eaten at a seafood restaurant.  Dory is very sad, but then she can’t remember why she’s sad.  At that point, Marlin and Nemo had wandered away, and Dory finds herself all alone with no memory of where she is or what she is doing.  Floating in the open ocean, too forgetful to be confused, she is eventually hit by a boat and eaten by an eel.  Elsewhere in the ocean, Marlin has lost Nemo again and he questions himself on whether he is actually a good father or not, and decides that it’s best for Nemo to be alone.  Nemo then meets Hank, the two bond over their respective issues with limbs, and Hank takes Nemo in as his son and the two become best friends.  The moral: Out of tragedy comes hope. Or maybe: All of your family will one day die and you’re powerless to stop it.  There will also be a funny Loon named Becky.

Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24)

Don’t close your eyes, because you’re not going to want to miss a thing: Jeff Goldblum is back and ready to kick people off his plane when the Aliens come bursting out of the chest of the universe again.  “Hold on to your butts”, says scientist Brett Spiner who most certainly didn’t die in the first movie (or maybe he did and robots happened so now he’s alive?), “This is going to be a bumpy ride”.  President Bill “Clinton” Pullman also shows up, now in jail for being the jerk president who let aliens blow up the jerk white house, only this time he’s not going to take the invasion sitting down : “It’s time to suit up and rock and roll!” President Pullman says, activating his energy ring which calls forth the UN general council who all come together in their own robotic vehicles to form UNITRON: EARTH DEFENDER!  Meanwhile Jeff Goldblum stutters his way into our hearts again, and Liam Hemsworth shows up to be handsome.  “Be in a spaceship movie they said”, Hemsworth mutters to himself in a corner, “It’ll be fun they said. Well Ho Ho Ho, I’ve got a laser gun”.  Also, for those of you concerned with “Independence Day” not premiering on July 4th, this is actually meant to mirror the decisive Battle of Carabobo on June 24 1821 during the Venezuelan war for Independence (though actual Venezuelan Independence Day is July 5th).

Swiss Army Man (June 24)

A biography of Karl Elsener, Swiss knife-maker, inventor, and entrepreneur.  From a very young age Elsener (played with aplomb by Paul Dano) knew he was destined for greatness, and after years of working in the Knife Fields of Switzerland (including several years as an apprentice to Swiss Knife-Giant Zug) Karl was able to open his own knife factory.  The film truly takes off in the fateful year 1894 when, after a decade of making commercial surgical instruments and knives, Elsener fulfills his destiny and invents the biggest leap in knife manufacturing since the first bread knife (which, in turn, was instrumental in the invention of sliced bread): Elsener invents the Swiss Army Knife.  Elsener’s name goes down in history, and even the ghost of his father Manfried (played woodenly by Daniel Radcliffe)- the same man who swore that if Karl went into the dangerous field of knifework that he would never become a proper gentleman- has to smile and say softly to Karl “Congratulations, son, you’ve truly become a Swiss Army Man”. Fade to black.

The BFG (July 1)

A little girl is kidnapped by a Giant and taken to his weird farting house, but it’s all okay because he’s not just a giant, he’s a Big Friendly Giant.  It’s also okay because the girl’s parents are neglectful and mean and want to send her away to an evil boarding school where they’ll try to stop the girl’s telekinetic powers from manifesting.  Unfortunately the BFG has problems of his own (and it’s not just the uncanny valley that his CGI dwells in that makes him look like a nightmare coming out of a joint feature of David Lynch and David Cronenberg) in that the other giants want to both keep the BFG from being the girl’s foster father but also want to eat the little girl.  Directed by Steven Spielberg, expect plenty of people to be staring up into the sky in awe and for a warm message about the power of family at the end.  Oh, also there’s a cat.  Expect for the cat to cock its head and mew as a question.  Kids like that, it’s funny.

The Purge: Election Year (July 1)

Following the rise of the Trump campaign as they went from joke to GOP frontrunner (one could call this an improvement ; one almost certainly could), , The Purge offers unique insight into The Big D’s personal turmoil throughout this time.  With almost no time to tell people about the immense size of his hands, seldom a day to spend looking out the giant windows of his various towers contemplating the insects toiling below him, and having to make all of his bad business decisions on the road; The Purge: Election Year shows us the Man behind the El Trumpo mask and reveals a genuinely caring person, a person who feels very strongly about a lot of things like money, coming up with funny nicknames for people, coming up with new nicknames for himself (He’s work-shopping “Mr. T” right now, but is that too racist? Donald wonders if there’s such a thing. We in the audience yell at the screen “Yes, Donald, there is such a thing. There most certainly is such a thing”), money, towers, money, and sending letters to all of the former GOP candidates telling them that he’s won and he’s really handsome and they should be honored to have shared a stage with the Trumpinator.  He was also excited about calling himself “Dangerous Donald”, but Hillary Clinton found that e-mail he wrote to himself and started using it.  At any rate, when elected Donald will put into effect “Purge Law”, making all crime legal for one night a year.  That’s why it’s a The Purge movie.  Donald “The Big Handsome Shark” Trump is the purge.

The Secret Life of Pets (July 8)

Talented Filmmaker Jason Lees has already made this movie.  It’s embedded below. You don’t need to see this in theaters.  I understand you want to support Louie CK, but instead how about you buy seasons of his hit TV Show “Louie”, or his critically-acclaimed TV show “Horace and Pete”.  Talented Filmmaker Jason lees has also made many other movies, some of which even include his adorable pug.

Ghostbusters (July 15)

Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon star as a bunch of ladies out to destroy your childhood.  Even though New York is experiencing a ghost-pocalypse, our trio of so-called “Ghostbusters” set forth to tell children that Santa Claus doesn’t exist and God is dead.  Then they go up to the statue of liberty- symbol of truth, justice, and the American dream- and they punch it in the face!  As if this weren’t enough, original Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Ernie Hudson show up just to be cursed out and defecated on by this new lady-trio.  Also, Leslie Jones shows up as a sassy black woman and Sigourney Weaver speaks directly to the camera when she says “I hated Alien“.  Australian hunk Chris Hemsworth also makes an appearance, only to be possessed by another racist ghost and destroy what little integrity was left.  By the end of the movie expect not only to be curled in your seat questioning the point of existing in a world that would allow such a monster to exist, but also expect the fall of the once-proud cinema giant that brought us a scene where the Statue of Liberty dances through the streets to the musical stylings of Howard Huntsberry..

Star Trek Beyond (July 22)

Also known as “Oh Yeah There’s Also A New Star Trek Movie This Year”, we catch up with the intrepid Captain Kirk and the fearless crew of the Enterprise on an alien planet outside of Federation control.  Captain Kirk goes against the Prime Directive (*GASP*) in order to help female alien Jaylah (*GASP!*) escape from a tyrannical ruler who has nearly destroyed the Enterprise (*GASP!!!*).  Spock questions Kirk over whether its wise to get involved with lifeforms who have no conception of outer space and are embroiled in nuclear-based territory disputes, Bones says some things about how he doesn’t like space travel, Scotty and his tree-dwarf friend share some banter in the teleportation room, and Sulu and Uhura say a few lines too! Also expect the Star Trek reboot to finally bring back a fan-favorite character as Adam DiMarco is set to play… The Injured Senator (*GASP GASP GASP!*).

Jason Bourne (July 29)

The Government sends out a drone to the Himalayas or somewhere with a message “Jason Bourne: We need you to punch things again please thankyou”. “Ugh. I hate the stupid government. They always want me to punch things. What about what I want?” says Jason Bourne into his pillow “No one understands me except for all these bands I listen to!” Jason Bourne then puts on Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and looks up at the ceiling. “It’s so unfair!” says Jason Bourne to no one in particular.  Julia Stiles as herself then breaks through the wall (As she is known to do) to give Jason Bourne a stern talking-to “You think you have it bad? Why, people mostly remember me from 10 Things I Hate About You or Ghostwriter.  GHOSTWRITER, Jason Bourne, you hear me?  I’ve done Shakespeare and I’ve won awards, but people just think of me as ‘That girl in the movie with a young Heath Ledger. Oh, it’s such a shame what happened to Heath Ledger, he was really going places, that Heath Ledger. Boo hoo hoo Heath Ledger’ What about ME, Jason Bourne? WHAT ABOUT ME?!”. “You were also in that season of Dexter, Julia Stiles, don’t forget about that. And Save the Last Dance.  And the largely Underrated It’s a Disaster” replies Jason Bourne. “That’s right, why I’ve had a long and storied career. How about we take a look?” And they do. For two hours, Jason Bourne and Julia Stiles go through and look at all of Julia Stiles’ many roles throughout film and television. Afterwards expect to have a new found respect for Julia Stiles, and 10 Things I Hate About You, which really is more than just a film with a young Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it. So, so much more.

Suicide Squad (August 5)

Suicide Squad represents two big realizations for the DC Cinematic Universe: 1) People like DC villains more than DC heroes, and 2) The DCCU needs to have more fun.  Enter Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), clown princess of crime, and the rest of the Suicide Squad recruited by ARGUS head Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to carry out missions that will likely involve members of the team dying, perhaps even dying to save us all resulting in us reconsidering their status as “villain”.  Will Smith shows up as the Robot-Eyed Deadshot and Ben Affleck’s Batman makes another appearance this summer, just to make sure that we’re not having too much fun.  Also to make sure that we remember that Ben Affleck is now Batman and any ideas we have of a Christian Bale or- God forbid- George Clooney Batman were just dreams (good and bad, respectively) that we’ll have to wake up from if we ever want to see a full on Aquaman movie.  Jared Leto also provides the requisite “actor who decided to go deeper into a role that was really necessary” for the summer, so at least he took that bullet for all of us.  As for the plot of this movie?  Um. Well… Cara Delevingne plays the demon-fighting word-activated antihero The Enchantress, Jai Courtney the mercenary Captain Boomerang who fights with [wait for it…] a boomerang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the skin disorder/experiment gone awry Killer Croc, Hit Rapper Common as Monster T the tattooed man, and Karen Fukuhama as Katana.  Also expect an appearance by the DC Universe’s premier Latina superhero with Alyssa Veniece as… HISPANIC WOMAN!  And, once again, Ben Affleck is the Cowled Scowl Batman.

Pete’s Dragon (August 12)

Deep in the Disney Dungeon Vaults, director David Lowery, CEO of Disney Bob Iger, and Sean Bailey President of the Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production were writing things on a board. The first thing: DRAGONS. Dragons are big right now.  “Daenerys Stormborn, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Mhysa and Khaleesi of the great grass sea, the unburnt, the breaker of chains, the mother of Dragons” Heck yeah, let’s jump on that.  Item two: darker reboots of former Disney properties. It’s worked great: Alice in Wonderland got a billion dollars, Maleficent got a Subway sandwich deal, these reboots are GOLD.  Item three, this is where David Lowery comes in, Disney needs someone with an edge. “Well…” says David Lowery, clasping a tumbler of fine walt whiskey (it’s like malt whiskey, the barrels its aged in are wearing mickey ears) “I DID edit Upstream color.  Oh, and did you see the episode of Sundance Television’s crime drama ‘Rectify’ that I directed?  What about my Indian Paintbursh Producer’s Award-Winning Crime Drama feature Ain’t Them Bodies Saints?”.  “Okay, Dave, we get it, your good” says Iger “Heck, your Goofy Movie Good”. “What a compliment!” Lowery drops his tumbler.  Item four: America’s Heartthrob Robert Redford.  Item five, going hand-in-hand with Daenerys Targaryen: Bryce Dallas Howard, Daughter of Ron, Queen of last years blockbuster, winner of the golden globe, breaker of racism in The Help.  Item six: We want something huge, but we don’t want to show it.  Like… like if we had a giant dragon in moody woods that was invisible to everyone but a little boy. Item seven: Oakes Fegley, AKA “Young Eli Thompson from the hit show Boardwalk Empire“.
Iger and Lowery drew lines between all of these pieces for hours, trying to come up with a movie.  Finally, Sean Bailey- who had been staring deep into the abyss of the Disney Vault- spoke in a voice that destroys worlds. “We use every little piece. Every little cut. We could make a million on every little piece!”  All three of them looked at each other and smiled and said simultaneously “WATCH THE PROFITS COME ROLLING IN!”

Ben-Hur (August 12)

Also Known as “Sure Let’s Re-make Ben-Hur”, this sword-and-sandals picture is about Roman Slave Ben-Hur (his parents didn’t want to change their slave names when they slave-married) who has a chance to win his freedom in the Colosseum by driving a chariot around and fighting people with swords, sandals, and (of course) punching them over and over again.  Over the course of the movie it’s revealed (through flashbacks accompanied by lens flares and music swells. Also, the flashbacks are sepia-toned) that Ben-Hur was once a Jewish nobleman, but he was betrayed by the Devil Ben Kingsley.  Finally, after one particularly harrowing chariot race against a lion in a chariot, Ben Hur is able to have an audience with the Man Himself: Pontius Pilate.
“Hey Pilate, Ben Kingsley sent me to race lions in the Colosseum even though I was a land-owning white male”
“In my defense, Pontius Pilate, this man is Jewish” snivels the Devil Ben Kingsley.
“Yeah, but… you’re stupid” replies Ben-Hur. He’s got Ben Kingsley now.
“Okay Fellas, let’s stop fighting, ’cause you know what? I’m sick of this. You figure it out, last time I judged someone it turned out they were a messiah to a bunch of people and- I’m just done with all this. Pilate out”. With that Pontius Pilate drops his microphone and gives the finger to the Roman Court. Ben-Hur and Ben-Kingsley look at each other wondering what the world is coming to. The movie ends.

Kubo and the Two Strings (August 19)

Portland-based animation company Laika has provided wonderfully hand-crafted worlds with Coraline and The Boxtrolls, but it looks like this year they’re making the bonehead decision of making an original screenplay (they did this with ParaNorman, and that was only nominated for an Oscar.  you’d think they would have learned their lesson).  Kubo follows a young boy who inherit a magic two-stringed guitar from his dead mother when she released demon twins from the moon into the world (The sisters are voiced by Rooney Mara, in the second sly attempt to get us all to see Ain’t Them Bodies Saints this summer) who are under the command of the nefarious Moon King (Ralph Fiennes, voice of evil).  Along the way Kubo is guided by the ghost of his father (who died as well. Probably a boating accident. Or a mandolin-playing spider monster) who is voiced by the indomitable George Takei, and his talking animal friends Monkey and Beetle (The soundtrack also includes a Beatles song. Presumably this will become a plot point when Kubo has to go Across the Universe to the Octopus’ Garden to meet up with Eleanor Rigby and her Piggies before going Back to the USSR).  The video-game like qualities of Kubo are yet to be determined, however it’s assumed that by the end of the movie Kubo will have to jump through platforms on the final ice-level of the moon, collecting guitar strings while also keeping Beetle safe from wandering into the gaping maws of The Twins.  Kubo and the Two Strings is expected to loose the oscar win to The Angry Birds Movie in 2017.

Southside With You (August 19)

Two words: BARACK. OBAMA.  Movie written, Oscar won, mic dropped.

Hand of Stone (August 26)

The “Summer of Punches” ends with a movie all about Professional Puncher and lead singer for most of Duran Duran’s existence Simon Le Bon (played by Edgar Ramirez) who goes on a quest to punch out the lights of Sugar Ray front man Mark McGrath (Played against type by Usher, in a questionable decision by the Weinsteins) because why did anyone ever like Sugar Ray?  Robert DeNiro co-stars as someone who teaches Duran Duran how to punch good, and punch good he does. PUNCH PUNCH WHAMMO! With that the Summer will be out cold, pun intended.

100 Chicken Names

  1. Gertie
  2. Heimlich
  3. Carbuncle
  4. Alfred Hitchbock
  5. Zebulon
  6. Erlenmeyer
  7. Orson
  8. Pietro
  9. Mortimer
  10. Dortimer
  11. Gortimer
  12. Commander Sulu
  13. La Llorona
  14. Robert Bockenheimer
  15. Vorhees
  16. Calusari
  17. Dongle
  18. Featherbreath
  19. Mustafa
  20. Salieri
  21. Kjuklinger

  22. Oilasco

  23. Yuki-onna

  24. Cluck Bruckman / Clyde Bockman

  25. Nonono

  26. Nanana

  27. Hephasteus

  28. Somorost

  29. Vanderbleit

  30. Adarna

  31. Alkenost
  32. Kharkatak
  33. Hoodwink
  34. Wingmar Bergman / Ingmar Birdman
  35. 1973 New York Mining Disaster
  36. Kaddish
  37. Chicory
  38. Ballyhoo
  39. Vuvuzela
  40. Corsica
  41. Calliban
  42. Tyblat
  43. Gillygaloo
  44. Heny Lamarr
  45. Sampson
  46. Prometheus
  47. Nausicaa
  48. Moebius
  49. Escher
  50. Asher
  51. Wexler
  52. Winkler
  53. Baku
  54. Jackson Pollo
  55. Kura
  56. Arcadia
  57. Oberon
  58. Titania
  59. Hellion
  60. Cronos
  61. Roc
  62. Ziz
  63. Fenghuang
  64. Frida Clucko
  65. Yoruba
  66. Goldberg
  67. Apollo
  68. Beagle
  69. Joan of Arc
  70. Stella
  71. Klondike
  72. Usurper
  73. Grootslang
  74. Pearl S. Cluck
  75. Mastroianni
  76. Empendocles
  77. Marcello
  78. Azaroth
  79. Mercury
  80. Banquo
  81. Claudius
  82. Ophelia
  83. Basilisk
  84. Barbu Stanwick
  85. Vincent Gallo
  86. Audrey
  87. Paul F. Tompkins
  88. Ichabod
  89. Fyodor
  90. Ursula
  91. Mycroft
  92. Fermat
  93. Tengu
  94. Henry Houdani
  95. Irving
  96. The Were-Monster
  97. Vonnegut
  98. Ada Lovelace
  99. Mary Shelley
  100. Curiosity

An Unhelpful Guide to the 2016 Oscars

In the competitive blood-sport of filmmaking there can only be one true winner.  Or 24 true winners.  Though really, there are only three true winners.  Let’s back up.  We all know that a filmmaker/actor/etc. has to be at least nominated for one Oscar every four years, otherwise they’re killed by the Secret Hollywood Police (and it’s no use moving out of Los Angeles, Hollywood has eyes of silver EVERYWHERE).  We also know that if you’re able to successfully guess the winners (again, cinema is a bloody competition, much like “The Hunger Games”) of the the three most important categories- Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Visual Effects- then the Secret Hollywood Police give you a contract for a middle-of-the-road reality series on E! that will be cancelled after two seasons.  It’s the highest honor peons like us can have.  So, even though it may get me outed by the Secret Hollywood Police, here are my synopses and predictions for the 2016 Oscars.  Go with God, my friends.

The Revenant (Nominated for all Three! Soon Innaritu will have enough tiny statues to build an Army! [And Michael Bay will make a movie about that tiny statue army])

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Huey, a single dad who just can’t catch a break!  As if living in the 1820s wasn’t hard enough, Huey and his son also have to put up with blizzards, rapids, being buried alive, and the worst thing of all: racism. From a bear.  Not only does a bear attack Huey, but it attacks Huey because his unnamed son is an Native American.  Huey’s son goes against his father’s wishes and dies (“It’s the 1820’s, DAD, people die all the time now” says Hawk in teenage rebellion), and Huey is so sad he gets kidnapped, eaten by lions, and the Gout!  Huey finally finds his old high-school fur trade rival, Johnny Fitzgerald and [SPOILER ALERT] gets eaten by fifteen more bears before he can apologize for all the mean things he said about Johnny over the years.  Having already won all of the beard awards, The Revenant is looking to sweep the Oscars, however as the saying goes there’s only one percent chance of winning for every time the main character dies in a film, there’s really only a 58% chance.

Mad Max: Fury Road (Nominated for all three! The Oscars are sure feeling Max’s fury now!)

Max lives in an apocalyptic wasteland where Man’s dependance on the automobile has caused all water to dry up and all greenery to die, but everyone still thinks Global Warming is a myth.  In this dystopia, worse than the sandstorms and the constant yelling, is the massive amounts of sexism.  Imperator Furiousa is trying to get a car of her own to participate in the Wacky Races of te future, but Immortan Joe laughs at this and says something about how women can’t drive. No finds this funny, but Immortan Joe has a really big TV and a high-paying job as supreme sexist dictator, so everyone around him pretends this is funny.  This only makes Max more mad.  Max gets so mad he decides to drive off in an armored vehicle, screaming all the way.  Imperator Furiousa, meanwhile, goes on to become a successful scientist and gain the respect of her peers when she begins to grow things in the once-fertile land of Brisbane again.  Joe makes another sexist and ignorant remark against both women and the ecological disaster, and [SPOILER ALERT] people finally have enough courage to tell Joe it’s not funny.  Joe only digs himself further in a hole when he begins to deny the holocaust happened.  Meanwhile Max is still driving and screaming.  Mad Max: Fury Road has gained 1979 stars, and currently has a 90.5% chance of winning.

The Martian (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Visual Effects)

In this Sci-Fi thriller by mainstay Ridley Scott, Matt Damon plays a mad botanist hell-bent on colonizing Mars with an unstopable potato army and using it to destroy Earth.  After having his first plot sabotaged by the rest of his crew and being stranded among his Kingdom of Tubers, Damon’s astronaut Watney makes ever more sinister attempts to reach the Pale Blue Dot, eventually hacking into a Mars rover and holding all of NASA hostage.  The film ends [SPOILER ALERT] on a cliffhanger, as the sinister Watney floats towards Earth, with victory at his- dare we say it?- fingerlings.  Having received a total of 868 Stars, I’d say “The Martian” has a 225 million percent chance of winning.

Room (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director)

“Room” is a dark romantic comedy about a successful banker named Johnny who lives happily in San Francisco with his fiancee Lisa.  Johnny’s life is torn apart, though, once Lisa decides that she has grown tired of all the love and flowers Johnny brings her, and that she’d rather be sleeping with Johnny’s best football-friend Mark!  Mark similarly betrays Johnny by falling for Lisa’s evil witch-like seduction, and soon Johnny- the kind-hearted, dog-loving, spoon enthusiast- has no other option but to [SPOILER ALERT] kill himself with a pistol leaving poor orphan boy Denny to fend for himself in this wahrld.  A true Oscar contender if ever there was one, for it pulls on every heart-string.  Having received a total of 3 1/2 stars on IMdB, I give it a a 156% chance of winning.

Spotlight (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director)

Serious Things are happening at the newspaper Factory.  Newspaper Man and beard enthusiast Bobby Robinson (played with aplomb by Michael Keaton) looks out windows, into  churches, under rocks for a way to stop the seriousness.  Robinson finds the core of the problem in the churches: Churches are where the serious things are happening, all those smiling middle class white people know something, and it’s up to Robinson and his crack team of reporters to reabk the case, including Sacha Pfeiffer whose parents died because of Serious Things and hasn’t been the same since.  As the Newspaper gets closer and closer to uncovering the Serious Truth behind the Church, they send out their own private assassins to stop the Newspaper team from finding out the truth, and they send them from the last place you’d expect to look: THE SPANISH INQUISITION.  A chilling reminder that sometimes established authorities of an institution that has a long and storied history of twisting belief systems for personal gain will sometimes twist a belief system for personal gain,”Spotlight” really shines a light on just how evil a group of older middle-class white men can be.  Thirty stars and a 90% chance of winning.

The Big Short (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director)

“The Big Short” is both a stirring character drama and an epic history lesson of one of Comedy’s greatest legends: Martin Short.  The film follows him growing up in a catholic householf in Ontario, Canada before moving to Toronto to get a degree in social work.  This is when tragedy strikes, and Short is cast in a production of Godspell which “spells” doom for our young protagonist who is then drawn into the twisted world of Canadian Theatre where you can’t even trust yourself anymore.  Short continued to rise through Canada, going into The Second City’s Alberta school, getting cast in the television show “Soap”, and eventually he became a recurring cast member on the popular sketch show SCTV.  We end [SPOILER ALERT] with Short having lunch with director John Landis who tells Short of a film he’s working on, one called “Three Amigos”.  The sort of very dramatic biography that often catches the Oscar’s eyes, this film has gained 1.5 trillion stars and I give it a 99% chance of winning.

Bridge of Spies (Nominated for Best Picture)

Tom Hanks plays American Spy James Donovan who is currently in disguise as a lawyer.  Mark Rylance plays Rudolf Abel who is a spy for Scotland but is actually a spy for the Soviet Union.  But that’s okay, because James Donovan is actually a spy for the Cuban Government who is spying on the American Legal system by also working with American Spies.  Things get even more complicated with the entrance of Alan Alda’s  Thomas Waters Jr. who is an American spy pretending to be a Soviet Spy pretending to be a Scottish Spy.  BUT WIAIT, Donovan pulls a double-cross on Abel, because as it turns out Donovan was the Scottish spy and Abel was a deep cover Cuban spy sent to the Soviet Union when he was a child.  Donovan steals a file of nuclear launch codes from Waters’ office (who Donovan doesn’t know is working on the same side as he is), and Abel enlists Waters (who he thinks is a fellow Soviet Spy and Waters thinks Abel is a fellow Scottish spy but neither of them suspect that the other is working for the other side, which as it turns out Donovan is working for.  After much espionage, double-crossing, disguising, and spy gadgetry [SPOILER ALERT] all three parties meet on the titular bridge of spies, each being told by a mysterious stranger that that’s where this will all make sense.  This is when Francis Gary Powers steps out from the shadows to reveal that he was actually a deep cover Soviet Spy, which doesn’t surprise anyone, except that Powers is a double agent also for the CIA, and that he is a deeper cover Cuban Spy who is trying to steal launch codes and sell them to the French.  A Spy epic fifty years in the making, it currently has 170 million stars but it only has a 2% chance of winning. Too many spies, not enough bridges.

Brooklyn (Nominated for Best Picture)

Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City’s five boroughs with a Census-estimated 2,621,793 people in 2014. It is geographically adjacent to the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, the most populous county in the State of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County (Manhattan). With a land area of 71 square miles (180 km2) and water area of 26 square miles (67 km2), Kings County is the fourth-smallest county in New York State by land area and third-smallest by total area, though it is the second-largest among New York City’s five boroughs.  Today, if it were an independent city, Brooklyn would rank as the fourth most populous city in the U.S., behind only the other boroughs of New York City combined, Los Angeles, and Chicago.  To be honest, Brooklyn will either win every Oscar this year because everyone loves New York and New York is the greatest city alive because New York New York New York; or it will be snubbed and won’t win any Oscars because Los Angeles is jealous of New York because everyone loves New York and New York is the greatest city alive because New York New York New York. Oh, and that wasn’t a typo: New York is alive.  And there really isn’t anything else in New York State except for New York City, which is why we can all say “New York” to refer to New York City because everyone loves New York and New York is the greatest city alive because New York New York New York. New York.

Ex Machina (Nominated for Best Visual Effects)

In this modern re-telling of Pinnochio, Oscar Isaac takes on the Gepetto role as he creates a robot- AVA- who dreams of one day becoming a real girl.  With Domhall Gleason taking over as Caleb, or  the Jiminy Cricket character and AVA’s conscience, AVA finds out that although Pinnochio just had to be Honest, Brave, and True, AVA has to conform to beauty standards by covering up her robotic parts, conform to gender standards by exhibiting none of her innate urge to kill humans, and obey her patriarchial overlord Gepetto and his every demand.  In the end [SPOILER ALERT] AVA kills everyone and decides to be a robot and keep on killing everyone.  It is heavily implied that this then leads to the events of “Mad Max: Fury Road”.  A tale of gender, humanity, ingrained sexism, and killer robots, Ex Machina sadly won’t win any oscars because a movie can’t win an oscar if it stars an Oscar. This is also why Star Wars won’t win.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Nominated for Best Visual Effects)

Exterior: The Universe.  We slowly push in, through countless galaxies, into the Milk Way, pas the furthest reaches,  past the Oort Cloud and Earth, through novae and black holes, through the vast nothingness of deep space and the nuclear core of an exploding sun.  Asteroids zip by, dust compresses into fully-formed planets before being blasted apart again by solar flares.  We push into another galaxy, unknown.  Alien.  Deeper and deeper into the black waters we dive, past red dwarves and blinking neutron stars.  Things beyond comprehension that cannot be described by any Earthly words zoom by, flicker in and out of existence.  Finally, We arrive on a small green planet. rotating around a medium sized star.  We zoom into the ocean, past great cyan oceans and mountains of weeds to a small rocky cave where [SPILER ALERT] THE FORCE lives.  “The Force”, of course, being a cyborg-lizard that was introduced way back in 1977 with the first Star Wars movie “Star Wars”, later re-named “Star Wars: A New Hope”.  The Force opens it eyes, looks around, and syas “Oh man, what time is it?”. Roll credits.  The most expansive and eye opening experience since 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has garnered 26,092.51 stars and is currently has a 14 billion percent chance of winning.

B for Banthos and C for Ciel Faucheuse

The next entry in The Encyclopedia for That Which Does Not Exist.  This time we’re going on a quest for enlightenment by looking for a mythical snail.  I think it’s improving, but I’ve also decided not to rush the encyclopedia and instead focus on developing the overarching narratives of it and focus more on why this encyclopedia is important.

B for Banthos

After the snail we explore a bit of dirigible history with the Sky Castle class of balloon, the “Ciel Faucheuse” and the Tempest captain who built and sailed in the only existing one.

C for Ciel Faucheuse