Spider-Man: Far From Home

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All Peter Parker wants to do is relax and enjoy his class trip to Europe. However, one does not simply stop being Spider-Man. Saving the world is a 24/7 job that waits for no one.

Tom Holland is adorably awkward, which makes Peter Parker relatable. And that relatability humanizes superheroes as a whole – at the end of the day, they want to be just like everyone else. Zendaya may play Peter’s love interest, MJ, but it didn’t seem to be a very big role. She and Holland had a few scenes together, but for the most part, he was busy saving the world. However, it might purposefully be a smaller role: she’s not a damsel is distress who constantly needs saving. She’s just as much of a hero as anyone else.

The turning point – and the unexpected plot twist – of this movie comes in the form of Jake Gyllenhaal. He introduces the theme of innocence and what happens when it’s lost: How is Peter Parker going to handle himself when someone betrays him? Gyllenhaal’s presence also begs the question “Why are all the bad guys in movies attractive?” Or at least, they seem to be. If it’s an appeal for sympathy, it doesn’t exactly work.

The supporting characters in this movie, including but definitely not limited to Marisa Tomei and Jon Favreau, provided the comic relief sprinkled throughout an action-packed movie. The comedic timing was perfectly unexpected.

The post credits scene might just be the best set up for a sequel ever. Marvel fans definitely won’t want to miss this.

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Yesterday

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In a world where no one remembers the Beatles because of a random, worldwide, 12-second power outage, Jack Malik makes it his personal mission to bring their music back.

This is the movie audiences didn’t know they needed. Rather, the world didn’t know it needed. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, while also describing the ups and downs of the music industry without the frame of a biopic. Lily James is as amazing as ever, Kate McKinnon makes things hilariously awkward like she always does, and Ed Sheeran was a nice touch to the movie. He didn’t need to act so much as be himself, but he definitely has potential as an actor. And last but definitely not least, Himesh Patel had himself an excellent big-screen debut. He makes Jack someone the audience can relate to. Apart from the musical genius that rewrites and re-records the entire Beatles catalogue, of course.

Perhaps it’s a subtle theme, but this movie also explores what’s known as “imposter syndrome”. As his fame begins to rise, Jack is so afraid – paranoid, some might say – that people are going to realize that he didn’t write the Beatles’ songs and expose him for the fraud that he is. Or at least he feels like he is. However, these scenes are somewhat jarring because the audience isn’t aware of them until after they’ve already happened. There’s no buildup to them like there would be buildup to a flashback.

This movie is a unique and refreshing tribute to the Beatles because it breaks from the biopic trend. Biopics are always nice, but once in a while a brand-new story is all you need to expose a new audience to older music.

A Little Bit of What Now?

Back in May, I believe, Rachel Platten came out with a new song: “Little Bit of Love”. Well, it’s actually Tritonal’s song and she’s featured on it. But, as far as I’m concerned, same difference.

Like any of Rachel’s songs, this is good. However, it’s somewhat of a departure from her usual style. And that departure takes the form of the lyrics. The second verse and refrain are as follows:

I’m the protagonist

I’m not givin’ up on this

But can we just take a breath?

Everything you’re feelin’

I’ll make you question it

You won’t know what’s comin’ next

Why we fightin’?

When time is borrowed

So, let’s stop fightin’

Let’s get back to it tomorrow

I just need a little bit of love

Love tonight

I just need a little bit of love

Love tonight

And everything’s fucked up

And (But?) let’s pretend that it’s alright

I just need a little bit of love

Love tonight

I just need a little bit of love

If someone focuses on the refrain, it sounds like Rachel’s trademark positivity. However, the second verse describes an abusive relationship. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. I still like the song, of course, but an explanation of the thought process behind the lyrics would be nice.

Toy Story 4

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In this fourth installment in the Toy Story franchise, Bonnie makes a new toy that she calls “Forky”, which is actually logical because he’s literally a spork. But one day while the family is on a road trip, Bonnie loses Forky, and it’s up to Woody and the rest of the gang to find him.

As much as this movie features old characters and creates new ones – and new storylines to go with them, of course – it’s almost laser-focused on Woody (Tom Hanks). Woody seems to be having an existential crisis. He knows that when kids grow up, they don’t need him anymore, but he’s also desperate to belong to someone. He can’t imagine “life” as a toy with no owner.

It’s definitely a theme that audiences can relate to, but it’s not obvious. After all, this is technically a kids’ movie, and kids wouldn’t necessarily pick up on it. Then again, no one is expecting them to.

As for other aspects of the movie, it was definitely laugh-out-loud funny. Especially Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and his “inner voice”, which was really just him pressing buttons on his space suit and listening to whatever his generic sayings told him to do.

However, some of the new characters were terrifying. Just the way they looked. They were from an antique store, so that might explain it. Toys were really different back in the day. Don’t worry though, they’re not something that would necessarily frighten children.

And Bo Peep (Annie Potts) was something else. She brought the “girl power” to the movie. She doesn’t need a kid to play with her anymore; she does just fine on her own.

The ending is sad though, so be prepared for that. Otherwise, this movie will be fun for the whole family.

A Little Bit of Hope

This, my friends, is more than just a screenshot. It’s a validation of my feelings.

I know I touched on this a bit before, but it bears repeating. Because like I said, I’ve struggled with the line between fiction and reality my whole life. It’s so thin that I can feel it getting blurry in an instant. And that “blurriness” is what’s scared me. What’s been holding me back from truly acknowledging my feelings.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid of crossing that line. In my younger years, I’d get ahead of myself, and I paid the price for it. My peers teased me a lot. I can look back and laugh about it now, but it was super uncomfortable at the time. So I eventually learned to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself.

Now, whenever I have really strong feelings about fictional characters, I always make sure that I know they’re not real, even though it sucks to admit it. Sometimes I wish I didn’t worry about that line so much. I mean, it’s invisible anyway, so it’s not like someone is going to recognize any signs of me going past some random point of no return, right?

I’ve been thinking about Charlotte Hope’s reply since it happened. And I think I finally realized what she means by “I don’t think it’s weird”: It’s okay to have these feelings about fictional characters. It doesn’t mean you’ve crossed “the line”.

I could very well have said “Is it weird that Catherine of Aragon …” instead of using Charlotte’s Twitter handle. Part of me thinks that maybe I should have. But another part of me wanted to experiment with whether she would even see my tweet, so I chose the riskier option.

Charlotte understood that I was referring to her portrayal of Catherine of Aragon. And, in doing so, she made me realize that I’ve never let myself truly think of my favorite characters and other people I look up to as family. I think it’s about time I work on that. Work on being comfortable with these types of feelings, and my chosen family.

Appreciation for the Princess

I didn’t think anything could compete with Outlander. But Starz kept suggesting this other show called The Spanish Princess, so I decided to check it out. If the previews were any indication, it was going to be good.

The Spanish Princess nearly blows Outlander out of the water. The waves would definitely make James Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser (Sam Heughan) seasick.

It’s got a little bit of everything: romance, drama, and of course, royal politics. It’s basically Henry VIII from the point of view of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

Did I mention Catherine is Spanish? It’s probably common knowledge, but it’s very important to me. Because whenever anyone mentions Spanish – or Spain, for that matter – my ears perk all the way up. Part of me wishes they used more Spanish in the show, but the other part of me remembers that Catherine speaks English flawlessly and no one but her squad would be able to understand her. And she’s in England anyway.

There are different ways to view the character, of course. Personally, I err on the side of “Catherine of Aragon is the older sister I never had”. Someone who isn’t afraid to use any means to get what she wants. However, other people seem to think she’s a somewhat self-absorbed trickster. But we can’t exactly go back in time and ask Catherine who she really is, now, can we? It all comes down to the writers’ interpretation of what Philippa Gregory wrote.

And last but definitely not least

I can’t forget Catherine of Aragon herself, Charlotte Hope. She’s definitely one of my new favorite people. And her Spanish accent is spot on. Seriously. The first time I heard her speak normally (spoiler alert: she’s English), it was really trippy. Like, “wait, what?”

But the penultimate episode is what finally compelled me to write a blog post about The Spanish Princess. I was mulling it over after having watched it, and so I took to Twitter as is habit these days:

Yeah, I let the cat out of the bag, and that was her response.

It really means a lot to me. Because while I’ve been lucky to have my favorite journalists notice me (which is always fun and probably won’t ever get old), I’ve never had someone … validate me like this.

Honestly, I’ve always struggled with the strength of my imagination, and whether it’s weird or not to use fictional characters/ famous people to fill the various voids left by my lack of siblings. Obviously, I don’t talk about it much. But it turns out The Spanish Princess herself doesn’t think I’m weird to think of Catherine of Aragon as the older sister I never had. And when the queen of England speaks, you listen. If she says something isn’t weird, it’s not weird.

Charlotte probably takes my sentiment as a compliment. It means she’s doing her job, and she’s doing it well. What is entertainment if actors and actresses don’t make the audience feel things or create characters that people can connect to? Nothing. That’s what.

Rocketman

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What were you like as a child, Elton?

That’s the question that starts this rollercoaster ride of a biopic, starring Taron Egerton as Elton John himself.

The movie explores Elton John’s career, from his musical beginnings to his international rockstar status. What makes this movie different however, is that it’s not just one big frame story. It goes back and forth between Elton finally in rehab, and various moments in his career.

But it was also the story of a boy, and later, man, who just wanted to be loved for who he was. His father was absent, and his mother, portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard, wasn’t too great either. She supported his interest in music, but that’s about it.

The actors who played Elton John, whose real name was Reggie Dwight, during his early years were really good. They could play the piano and sing. Which was required of them, of course, but they were also adorable and funny. Five-year-old Reggie/Elton starts the flashback portion of the movie singing “The Bitch is Back”, which was surprising, to say the least.

Elton John’s music is familiar, but most of his story might not be. So the movie also serves as a really cool learning experience. They chose the songs for the movie based on what was happening in Elton’s life at the time, so it made a powerful impression. There wasn’t ever a dull moment. It’s full of twists and turns and ups and downs. And great music, of course. The music is everything.

The “Droughtlander” antidote

Musical composer genius Bear McCreary recently dropped the soundtrack from Outlander season 4. We won’t have to wait much longer for season 5 – my personal favorite as far as the books are concerned.

I made a master playlist of all the soundtracks, and I’m listening to it as I write this. I may like some songs more than others, but there’s never a bad song in Outlander.

These songs got me through some hard times in my life. When I wasn’t sure I could keep going, Outlander and its music were there for me. I can’t thank Bear enough for that.

Aladdin (2019)

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Aladdin is the story of an orphaned thief who finds a magic lamp and uses its power to win over the princess of Agrabah, while trying to keep it out of the hands of those who want to use its power for evil.

The movie actually begins as a frame story with Will Smith as the narrator, which was interesting and fun. Smith’s performance as the genie was hilarious. It’s not easy to fill the giant shoes left behind by Robin Williams, but he made it look easy.

Naomi Scott was excellent as Jasmine. They really fleshed out the character too. She had her own song called “Speechless”. She was a strong character in the original 1992 movie, but giving her a song to sing on her own made her stronger.

However, this movie was also somewhat disappointing. During the some of the magic carpet scenes (particularly “A Whole New World”), it was noticeable that they were in front of a green screen. The audience isn’t supposed to be able to notice something like that. It was hard to focus on the movie after that because it took the audience out of the story. Computer Generated Imaging is usually seamless. Why did Disney have trouble with it this time?

5 blogversary!

Today marks five years since I’ve started this blog. I almost can’t believe it. Time really does fly when you’re having fun. I’d like to thank each and every one of my followers for sticking with me through my ups and downs. I hope you’ve enjoyed my content so far and that you will continue to enjoy it. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated.