Ralph Breaks the Internet: A movie worth the wait

6 years ago, Disney gave us a movie that appealed to audiences of all ages. For kids, it was just another exciting animated world to dive into. For adults, the movie was a nostalgic trip to arcade games. The real charm, however, was the immense amount of imagination and creativity in the movie.  They were able to truly immerse its audience in the bizarre setting of the movie – gaming arcades. With its sequel Ralph Breaks The Internet, Disney has done the same thing again. But this time, with the internet.

A movie more for adults than for kids

Ralph breaks the internet-Is it worth the wait

Ralph Breaks the Internet is full of pop culture references. The name itself is a reference to Kim Kardashian’s viral Instagram caption “#BreakTheInternet” in 2014. From references to Bob Ross paintings (which you may recognize from the memes) to stormtroopers to Jasmine straight up asking Vanellope if she has daddy issues, the movie is jam-packed with pop culture references that kids will probably not fully understand. There was even a pop-up advert that crowds Ralph when he arrives at eBay, saying “desperate housewives in your area are dying to meet you”. Clearly, Disney understands perfectly well that a movie which explores the Internet as its own world would appeal way more to young adults. So, it’s really no wonder that the movie caters so well to young adults. Not just with non-kid-friendly jokes here and there, but with cameos too – from Eeyore to C3PO to Stan Lee.

Girls can drive – and be the best at it!

Ralph breaks the internet-Is it worth the wait

Ralph Breaks the Internet breaks many stereotypes through its characters. The most revolutionary one is Shank. She is the most badass racer in the most dangerous online racing game. While Vanellope was also a female racer since the first movie, Shank being female was even more groundbreaking. The game she is in is much more aggressive and masculine compared to Sugar Crush- a comparatively childish and feminine game. On top of this, Yesss, who is the head algorithm of one of the biggest video sharing sites online, is also female. A Disney animated motion picture featuring such strong characters who are at the top of the ladder in their respective fields is sure to change the perception of women in the boys who watch this movie. Moreover, since racing is a particularly male-dominated field, this is sure to be a kick in the face for anyone who still thinks along the lines of “girls can’t drive/race”.

Princesses, redefined

Ralph breaks the internet-Is it worth the wait

Another way that Disney addresses gender roles is through the inclusion of Disney princesses. Disney has a terrible reputation of portraying their princesses as damsels in distress. The scene where Vanellope meets the princesses addresses exactly that. It shows that Disney is self-aware that they have been imposing traditional gender roles in their works. More importantly, it spells out what is wrong with the trope. What’s even better is that Disney takes this self-awareness one step further by actualizing how strong and independent its princesses really are. While this itself is certainly not enough to make up for the “damsel in distress” trope that Disney itself has put out for so long, it certainly makes a stand for the characters who we perceive to be weak and dependent on males just for their feminine traits.

The verdict

Ralph breaks the internet-Is it worth the wait

For the first hour, the movie is certainly interesting in the way it presents the world of the internet to us. The movie manages to engross its audience in its imagination as well as it did in with the setting of the first movie. It certainly portrays the internet as realistically as possible. In terms of entertainment, the movie excels. But unlike the first instalment, it let us down in terms of emotions. We ended up with a somewhat predictable movie with the character arcs falling flat and feeling a little forced. But other than this, the movie was definitely enjoyable and had a fascinatingly intricate setting. If you’re looking for something light to entertain you for two hours, head over to STAR Cineplex to watch the movie and Ralph Breaks the Internet will not disappoint you. 

Get your tickets here.

Avengers: Endgame trailer breakdown

Marvelites are having a pretty great week. A great Captain Marvel trailer dropped on Monday. Let me tell you, she looked mighty fine. Nintendo announced the return of the long-dormant Ultimate Alliance game franchise at The Game Awards on Thursday. A new Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer is supposed to arrive very soon. And as if to slap a whole cake on top of a cherry, the Russo brothers practically shadow dropped the new Avengers: Endgame trailer on Friday. The trailer reveals very little. But when has that stopped us from going through these a dozen times and look for clues? Let’s jump in.

Here’s the trailer, just in case you do indeed live under a rock.

Tony Stark is stranded in space

Marvel MVP Tony Stark isn’t off to a good start here. He is marooned aboard the Benatar, the Guardians ship. With food and Oxygen rapidly running out, earth’s greatest defender is desolate and helpless. We see him turning his helmet on to record a farewell message to Pepper Potts. The lighting is somber because who can bid a sad goodbye in harsh fluorescence? Him mentioning the end being part of the journey is sure to tug some heartstrings. He is also wearing a similar shirt from the first Iron Man when he was imprisoned by the Ten Rings. A great visual callback to his initial plight in a no-win scenario.

Avengers: Endgame trailer breakdown

Tony’s rescue is a hotly contested topic. We can only but speculate. Does Pepper Potts don the Rescue armor from the comics herself and go after her man? Will Captain Marvel pick him up during her return journey to earth following Fury’s SOS? Does Thor open a Bifrost with his Stormbreaker weapon and save him? Alas, we might have to wait till April for the answer. Or at least until the next trailer.

But what is Nebula’s story?

We also see Nebula hanging about the ship reminiscing and being all sad. There’s another very curious frame in the trailer where she gently caresses someone’s shoulder sitting in the ship. That is very out of character for her. Is she saying goodbye to Tony before leaving the Benatar? Or that is a completely different character at another point in the movie? Marvel has been really deceptive about these in the past. So rule nothing out.

Point Break is pissed

Thor Odinson proved last April that he is the mightiest of the Avengers. Maybe that is why it pains him the most that he could not stop the Decimation. Yes, that is what the head honchos at MCU decided to call the Thanos Snap. This revelation arrives thanks to Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War: The Cosmic Quest Volume Two: Aftermath by Brandon T. Snider. Man, the name of this book needed a Snap as well to cut it down to half.

Anyways, back to Thor. Just look at him. This man right here is ready to get out on that stage and shred Thanos in a rap battle.

The Thanos-crow

The only character who is happily content in the trailer is Thanos. And why wouldn’t he be? He brought balance to the universe, in his own twisted way. Moreiver, as a great comic throwback, we see his armor strung like a scarecrow. He doesn’t need that anymore, because his job is done. In the comics though, Thanos is retreating in disgrace more than gloating over a hard-won victory. But a nice touch nonetheless.

Is Shuri alive?

This is a very important question. The fate of another character hangs in the balance because of her. Last time we saw Shuri, she managed to salvage most of Vision’s data before getting knocked unconscious. If she survived the Decimation, she could be paramount to bring at least one of the Avengers back. Interestingly though, the trailer reveals a scene where she is put under the “missing” tag along with some of the dusted heroes.

That could mean she was slain along with her brother. Or she might be alive but not working with the remaining Avengers yet. I mean, it was them who brought war and death to her home. Does she have her own agenda now? Time will tell.

Hawkeye…or Ronin?

We finally get a glimpse of Clint Barton after his absence in Infinity War in this trailer. Only…he isn’t Hawkeye anymore. He is in the shoes of another comic book character called Ronin. There are some other characters like Echo who operated under this cover identity. But Clint’s stint was more prominent in the comics.

The reason he wasn’t active during Infinity War because of his plea deal with the government. He had a family to protect and care for. Something tells me in his thousand yards long stare here that they might not have survived. Hence, his blatant disregard to government contract.

For reference, here’s the comic book version of Ronin.

Ant-Man is out of the Quantum Realm

This might be the biggest revelation of the trailer. Last time we saw Scott Lang, he was journeying into the Quantum Realm with the help of the Pym family. In a tragic sequence of events, Scott got stuck there after the Pym collective turned to ash. How he got out may end up being the single saving grace for the Avengers family, and the world.

Now Scott was using his trusted friend Luis’ van for the Quantum Realm incident. It might be possible that Luis survived the Snap and came back to rescue Scott through the radio. Or Scott could have gained powers due to excess exposure to the Quantum Realm ala Janet Van Dyne. But that’s unlikely because it didn’t help Janet herself.

Time travel is a safe money bet. Right as he’s venturing into the Quantum Realm, Scott is told by Janet van Dyne: “Don’t get sucked into a time vortex.” That seems to be a pretty on-the-nose warning but also one clear enough for a dope like Scott to eventually realize might be the key to him escaping his predicament. We’ll see.

Speaking of time travel

As the leaked set photos suggested earlier, time travel is definitely playing a big role in Avengers: Endgame. We see a hint of that in the trailer as well when we see Captain America in his winter soldier suit.

Avengers endgame trailer breakdown

We don’t know what’s cooking, but Cap certainly isn’t donning this particular old suit for no reason.

So, that’s it, folks. There is a long five-month wait before we close out on the first decade of MCU. It’s actually a good thing the trailer left out crucial plot points. This lets us converse and speculate about our heroes’ struggle to save a universe torn apart. After all, as the name reveal tells us, it’s about undoing the tragedy that has left them…disassembled.

Narcos: Mexico – There’s a beginning, there’s no end

We lingered on one particular scene of Narcos after the brutal finale of Narcos season 3. That scene foreshadowed the next installment to Colombia’s bigger cousin, Mexico. That is where Narcos: Mexico begins the next chapter in the drug war.

An origin story

This Netflix spin-off/prequel is essentially a full-fledged origins story. The premise is the beginnings of the Mexican war on drugs. Of course, the agency that rose up to combat narcotics; Drug Enforcement Administration (or DEA), features heavily.  Two primary characters are at the center of this story. One is Félix Gallardo, a small-town cop with ambitions to reach to the top of the drug empire. Kiki Camarena is the other  DEA agent, transferred from Fresno, California to Guadalajara.

Both officials go up against the corruption embedded in their daily work.  They take strikingly different approaches to the drug war. One official takes advantage of his position, while the other fights against the grain with aspirations towards justice.

Narcos: Mexico has the violence that we have come to expect from the original series but in much more measured quantities.  Also, similar to the predecessor, the show explores the dualities and contradictions of human nature.

The Mexican brandishing to textbook Narcos

The returning cast of the original Narcos makes appearances, adding consistency to the overall premise and Columbian plotline.

Mexico is slow at first, but it speeds up around the halfway point. Expectedly, Narcos: Mexico is a show with high stakes with rivalries between newly formed cartels and of course, substantial family drama.  I enjoyed the high-quality production value, the spectacular cinematography, good musical queues, and pacing. It was a delight to watch A-list actors, especially Michael Peña as Kik, delivering immaculate performances.

That being said, Narcos: Mexico left something to be desired, especially in comparison to the awesome original series. It does, however, manage to forge its own identity while establishing continuity to the Narcos plot thread. I will be watching future episodes for that, and the grim cliffhanger ending that alludes to much more Narcos style drama to come.

Breaking Bad at Dhaka Lit Fest 2018: a conversation we should have had a long time ago

“If we choose to tell stories about women there will be gallants of storytelling,” says the very well- known Bollywood actress, writer and activist Manisha Koirala, at Dhaka Lit Fest 2018. Invited as a panellist to talk about her book “Healed”, she shares a stage with Nandita Das, another talented actor, director and social activist under the panel “Breaking Bad”, moderated by Sadaf Saaz, the director of DLF. These three inspiring women join in a conversation to talk about women’s role in the film industry, stereotypes in society, gender roles, beauty standards, LGBTQ issues and much more.

The session begins with both women talking about how they started their respective careers in their industry and defied convention with their work. Manisha speaks of how she always wanted to go beyond stereotypes and considered herself lucky because “good filmmakers with good subjects” somehow managed to come to her and was fortunate enough “to recognize those opportunities.”  She goes on to talk about the joy that acting gave her and the satisfaction it brought with it.

In a conversation about how they started, Sadaf Saaz asks Nandita Das about her film Fire and how it was  ”one of the only mainstream Bollywood movies to feature homosexuality.” She says it became a “landmark censor decision” at the time, not having a single scene cut from the movie. While that was a remarkable feat, it was eventually criticized for supporting homosexuality in a deeply conservative society. People were encouraged to not watch the film, and later it was banned because it apparently went against commonly perceived sub-continental culture. Nandita believes that was important in making a nation realise an important lesson about the restriction on freedom of expression. “The film was significant for me because the kind of conversation it triggered” and had a “small role to play” when India passed the bill on legalizing homosexuality.

The session progresses to the role of women in the filmmaking industry. Both panellists agreed on how, even now, we have not been able to move away from the “boxed stereotypical roles” for women in movies. Women are hardly ever given strong characters or leading roles.  They believe that directors need to challenge themselves in making more diverse female characters. Manisha comments “Women are the most interesting characters…I get attracted to stories where women are portrayed slightly differently.” The conversation slightly shifts after Nandita mentions the struggles of being a woman director in a male-dominated industry. She asserts how she would always have to face questions about being a woman director, answering questions on what it’s like. “When we are working we are not constantly thinking that we are women.” She says she felt that being a woman was a “primary identity” before anything else. However, she thinks that just as there is a “male gaze” in movies, there is also a “female gaze”, and the identity of a woman cannot be ignored. It is crucial to acknowledge that identity to inspire more female directors to come forward.

The talk diverts to the “male gaze” and Manisha explains why she included this subject in her book. Women are always trying to cope with beauty standards that society places on them. The objectification of women in movies are still present and women are “constantly being judged by the standards of others.”  The lack of female directors makes it harder for a woman’s perspective to come through properly.

Later, asked about her campaign “Dark and Beautiful”, Nandita says “Being a dark person and living in South Asia, you are constantly made aware of it.” No matter where one goes they are constantly undermined because of their skin colour and people will not stop pointing it out. Fair skin is still synonymous with being beautiful and “matrimonial ads haven’t quite changed yet”. The campaign was significant in taking a stand against society’s obsession with fair skin and using women’s looks.

Captain Marvel and the case for feminist Superheroes

Captain Marvel is arguably the most powerful superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie is the first female-led and female co-directed entry. Her gender and its significance aren’t lost on anyone, and especially Marvel.

‘The future is female’, is clearly on the cover of the September issue of Entertainment Weekly. The feminist slogan, synonymous to empowerment, was famously used by Hilary Clinton after her defeat in the 2016 presidential elections. According to the Washington Post, the phrase was first seen on the merchandise of lesbian separatists that operated out of a New York bookstore in the 70s. The meaning has certainly evolved as has Captain Marvel.

From girlfriend to the powerful heroine

Originally, she was known as Ms Marvel

Captain Marvel became a rallying point in Marvel Comics since Carol Danvers took on the mantle in 2012. Like other Marvel heroines, such as Sue Storm and Natasha Romanoff, Carol Danvers’s character evolved and gained agency over the ages. Her role shifted from the original Captain Marvel’s girlfriend to being an empowered Ms. Marvel in the 70s.

Journalism, Headaches, and Mind-Rapes

Ms Marvel
Marvel, seriously, why??

In those initial years, Danvers’ story was filled with growing pains.  She was depicted to be an ambitious career woman, who stood up to her editor when he wanted to fill his women’s magazine with fluff pieces. She would open discussions about equal pay. However, she would retain no memory of her adventures as Ms. Marvel ( among the other pseudonyms of the heroine); she would faint, and then Ms. Marvel would take over. Ms. Marvel felt incomplete and the story felt choppy.

It was then, when Danvers was yet to find her ground, that she was struck with the gravest injustice of her character history.

In 1980’s Avengers 200, Danvers found out that she was sevens month pregnant. She had been kidnapped by Marcus, who had impregnated against her will. Danvers was justifiably angry at being violated in such a way. Her fellow Avengers teammates reacted through confusion rather than support. And then, egregiously, Danvers became a victim to Stockholm Syndrome and returned with Marcus to his home dimension.  Instead of intervening on their teammate’s behalf, the Avengers mishandled the situation, stood by and watched, hoping for the best.

“If the point had been that…these other Avengers are callous boors, okay then, I may disagree with the point, but if David Micheline followed through on it, it would have made sense,” Claremont wrote in The X-Men Companion II. “But it seemed to me, looking at the story, looking at the following story, that he was going for: ‘This is how you respond to a pregnancy.’

Cosmos, Alcoholism, and Legacies

Binary
Carol as Binary

It took an array of talented writers to rehabilitate Danvers throughout the next couple of decades and infuse a sufficient amount of pathos into the character. Through Chris Claremont, Danvers discovered new, cosmic powers and adventured in space, as Binary. Then, her powers burned out and she returned to the Avengers as Warbird, proud but weathered by past scars.

Under the guidance of Kurt Busiek, Danvers experienced burnout, depression and eventually descended into alcoholism. With the help of former alcoholic Tony Stark, Danvers slowly proved her worth in the team, reclaiming her Ms. Marvel moniker and becoming a core part of the New Avengers and then the Mighty Avengers in the mid-2000s.

Danvers eventually ascended to the Captain Marvel role in 2012’s series of the same name, penned by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Danvers strived to go “Higher, Faster, Further, More”. Captain Marvel was both ambitious and caring, driven as much by the search of glory, as selfless ideals. She battled a brain tumor, aliens, and goes off into space once again, this time with her cat in tow.

Kamala Khan, the next Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel is inspired by her.

Brie Larson Steps into Big Shoes. Can She Fill Them?

Captain Marvel
Is that Carol’s cat in the bottom left corner? You tell us, readers.

Obviously, Captain Marvel that is set to appear in the theaters will be more streamlined and have a less convoluted backstory. However, she has controversial aspects to her backstory, adding complexity to her feminist rise. Brie Larson is aware of that. In February 2017, she talked about the many opinions and judgments that she has to face. Even Captain Marvel’s hairstyle has become a point of contention.

“I feel like this is a big conversation and every day I have people yelling at me on Twitter like you better have long hair, or you better have a mohawk, or you better wear the helmet, or you better not wear the helmet, so someone’s going to be mad.”

Bigger Picture

In general, in Trump’s America, the backlash against feminism and identity politics grows stronger. Of course, Marvel, being a global company, will retool the messages in the film in a way that’s palatable to international masses. That being said, the audience will notice the modern subtext, especially by conservative detractors.

The first trailer featured Danvers crashing into a Blockbusters, interacting with a young Nick Fury and punching an old woman in a subway train. Danvers’ military past, as well as her ties to the Kree, are emphasized, along with her potent cosmic powers.

The trailer shows that, underneath all the subtext of a feminism and a female superhero, we still have a fun, intriguing premise that can make for a good movie. Let’s hope that doesn’t get lost on either side of the feminist divide. Captain Marvel comes to theaters in 2019.

An earlier version of this article was posted on Medium and Upthrust. 

Why you should be excited to watch Bohemian Rhapsody

In the 1970s and ’80s, Queen was one of the biggest bands in the world. The British rockers routinely sold out stadiums across the globe. Led by the Zanzibar-born Freddie Mercury, the band was eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hollywood has been working on making a movie about the band for years, and that dream is finally becoming a reality. Called Bohemian Rhapsody – named after one of the group’s most famous songs – it’s set to be released on October 31st. We’re already dusting off our old album covers and re-watching concert videos on YouTube with bated breath and eager excitement. Here’s a couple of reasons why you should too.

Emmy-winning Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury

Fans of Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek, the star of the popular “Mr. Robot” on the USA Network, are anxious to see how the shy and restrained thespian transforms himself into a 1970s-era rock star. But if the trailers are any indication, he is well on his way for an Oscar nod. Freddie Mercury was so much more than a wonderful singer-songwriter. He was an enigma, a complete one-off, where his charisma matched his talent and then some.

Casting an actor to embody such a force is by no means an easy task. And to be frank, nobody can ever quite do the man justice. But in Rami Malek, it’s fair to say that we’ve given it as good a shot as we could hope for. Malek seems to have nailed the mannerisms, the style and even the walk of the famed star. And we can’t wait to fully experience the man’s acting chops in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Malek does all the classic Freddies

There’s Live Aid Freddie. There’s leather catsuit Freddie. There is even harlequin leotard Freddie. Red leather trouser Freddie. Fur coat Freddie. Be-crowned Freddie. White jumpsuit Freddie with angel wings. It’s astonishing how many of these costumes are indelibly burned into the memory. And safe to say Malek dons them all with glaring style. Do we actually need another reason to be all over this film?

Behind the scenes drama

Bohemian Rhapsody had been in development since the start of the decade, going through the myriad stages of development hell. British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was first roped in to play Mercury. After numerous disputes over what the biopic would cover, Cohen had left the project in July 2013. Many articles published over those months have stated that Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor wanted to keep the film free from Mercury’s scandalous life events, very specifically his AIDS diagnosis and battle.

In November 2016, Bryan Singer was hired to direct the project. Rami Malek was cast and the film was given the nudge it required by 20th Century Fox and New Regency. However, the film would still see struggles ahead. In December last year, Bryan Singer was fired from the project due to his absences (with one-third of filming yet to be completed). After that, Dexter Fletcher took over the helm. It seemed like there was no end in sight.

However, surprisingly enough, principal photography was wrapped up in January this year. All that’s left to do is wait. Not surprisingly, there has been a significant amount of backlash about the production’s deliberate choice to sanitize Mercury’s salacious life. Safe to say the off-screen drama during this film’s development has been nothing short of crazy. And we can’t wait to finally see if the final product will actually elevate from all this. Fingers crossed!

The greatest hits

Although aptly named, Bohemian Rhapsody is not only about the eponymous song. It’ll tell the story of the band’s 15-year journey from their formation up to their performance at Live Aid in 1985. So excuse us if we are a bit too excited to christen our eyes with some of the best Queen songs on the big screen. “Under Pressure”, a song that came from an impromptu jam session between David Bowie and the band. “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You”, the unrelenting kings of sports anthems. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, Mercury’s tribute to Elvis Presley. “Fat Bottomed Girls”, the true father of Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda. And what about “The Show Must Go On”, May’s heartbreaking tribute to his frontman, who was getting weaker and weaker because of his battle with HIV/AIDS?

This list goes on. We can’t wait to see how the overlords of this project decide to put the classics in just the right moments in the film. We are prepared for a nostalgia overload.

Ultimately, films are all about the notion of storytelling, and with Bohemian Rhapsody we simply have a fantastic story. The band was, and still are huge, one of the most successful ever. And their frontman was a fascinating character, a true enigma, and a quite breathtaking talent. We want to understand him and know more about what drove him, and the dynamics within the quarter. No matter your opinions on their music, it is hard not to be intrigued. For that reason, sign us up.

Why you need Iron and Wine in your life

One of my very favorite writer Hans Christian Andersen once said, “When words fail, music speaks.” I have never come across another quote that captures the essence of music more accurately. Music is supposed to be the way you communicate with another when regular, mundane words simply cannot get the message across. Music is also the way a lot of artists express their feelings, and in the process, they help us peasants to express our innermost longings. That is why some music will stand the test of time, and others won’t.

Iron and Wine?

If you are not familiar with Iron and Wine, let me give you a little bit of context. A regular child named Samuel Beam born and raised in South Carolina decided to explore his musical talents when a friend lent him a recorder. He had been writing songs long before that, but he didn’t start making demos until he got his hands on the recorder. Just the story of any other indie artist, right? Why is he different?

Iron and Wine is a different singer because of the depth of his lyrics. You can’t listen to an Iron and Wine track and get the meaning right away. You have to listen to it repetitively, think about it, and ponder on what was going on his mind when he came up with such beautiful profound lyrics. And no two people will agree on what he means.

Songs

Take “Jezebel”, for instance. Look up the lyrics. What does it make you feel? What is he talking about?

Jezebel was a character from the Hebrew Bible. She was depicted as a villainous queen who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted. But in the song, did the artist only talk about this biblical character? Or was he indicating to a deeper problem, like victim blaming? Or was the Jezebel in the song was just a promiscuous lady who kept the narrator hanging? Listen to it. Think about it.

Take “The Trapeze Swinger” instead. Is the narrator simply begging to be remembered by a lost love? Or is he begging to be remembered because he is about to embrace death and he doesn’t want to melt into oblivion? Or is he already dead, and looking upon the people that he left behind? Iron and wine makes us question each sentence, each phrase of his songs. If that isn’t his success as an artist, I don’t know what it is.

Have you heard “Flightless bird, American mouth?” What is he looking for over different lives? Is it a person? Maybe it’s something he lost when he was a “quick-wit boy”? Is it a particular feeling? You cannot help but wonder, can you?

Don’t get me wrong, not all of his songs are as confusing. He takes the banalest scenes from human life and turns them into intricate, meaningful art. Songs like “Such great heights”, “Naked as we came”, “Each coming night”, “Sodom, South Georgia”, or “Upward over the mountain” are quite simple songs that talk about usual interactions and human feelings. But the wording is just so beautiful. It sparks certain reactions from you, and that is why Iron and Wine should be an integral part of your daily playlist.

You need to start listening today

So try his songs out. Turn out the lights, get a cup of coffee, and get lost in the beauty that is all around us. Sometimes it is a little hard to see those without a little nudge. Let Iron and Wine nudge you to that direction.

Peace.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: are our expectations of teenagers too low? What to watch instead?

Netflix recently released its teen romance film, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It quickly took its audience (read: young girls) by storm. A major reason for its success is definitely the male lead’s good looks; the movie has also received praise for charming characters and a lovable plot line. However, a question lingers, if a movie about two teenagers faking a relationship and then falling in love (big surprise) makes a good movie, how low are our expectations from films about teenagers?

The absolutely ridiculous plotlines

teenagers, to all the boys i've loved before

Our teenage pasts may always return to haunt us. But I bet that none of you were ever stupid enough to try any of the following methods:

1. Keep an archive of secret love letters with the one plan of keeping them unsent, but with the correct address and a stamped envelope for each of them.
2. Write one of those letters to your older sister’s (then) boyfriend.
3. Accidentally send a love letter to someone. Then try to convince them that you do not like them by avoiding them and faking a relationship with someone else.
4. Have a huge misunderstanding with your (fake) girlfriend because she doesn’t let you talk at all (for the sake of having a plot). One wonders how easily the situation could have been resolved by texted explanation.

Even if I ignore these absurdities, the entire plot can be predicted after the first 10 minutes by a 5th grader.  Depicting teenagers as vapid idiots for the sake of lazy storytelling seems like a strange choice considering the intended audience are teenagers.

The plastic complex characters

teenagers, to all the boys i've loved before

Movies exist in which the teenagers are treated as multidimensional human beings with a wider emotional range than a teaspoon. Take Me, Earl and the Dying Girl serves as examples of such storytelling. There are movies where teenagers act like species so dumb that no other generation can grasp them, like Mean Girls. And then there are movies like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which desperately try to build an emotionally complex teenager by forcing it upon them through ridiculous backgrounds.

In this movie, both leads are without a parent; this gives the girl severe abandonment issues causing her to avoid telling her fake dating guy that she likes him back for real. Embedding insincere complexities feel like an insult to teenagers because the writers, who created the edgy backstory overlooked how characters can rationally develop and change with context. This reflects a thought process which is the equivalent of telling your teenage daughter “I trust you, I just don’t trust the rest of the world!” The writer seems to underestimate teenagers’ intelligence, and your mom clearly doesn’t trust you.

Aren’t all teen movies like this?

teenagers, to all the boys i've loved before

The short answer to this would be, yes, most movies about teenagers make the same assumptions about the demographic. This also the reason most movies about teenagers are also bad movies. By no means am I asserting that all teenagers are infallible intellectuals. Rather, the mistakes one makes as a teenager are the kind that alters their perspective of the world. Usually, the mistakes are not objectively and obviously moronic choices. It is an age when they develop their own sense of the world. Therefore, any movie for this audience should reflect the shifts in maturity and personality that teens experience.

Movies that get it right

An example of this being done right is Juno. The lovable and quirky protagonist has sex, just like 48% of teens in American high schools. She learns to make hard decisions that reflect her personal growth over the course of the pregnancy. Another fantastic teen rom-com movie is the grossly under-the-radar Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Unlike Juno, this movie doesn’t grapple with the subject of maturing in your teens. It only focuses on an adorable love story, where both lead characters are intelligent and quirky. The movie is succesfully relatable and, more importantly, a good story.

Movies such as Scott Pilgrim vs the World, The Breakfast Club, Submarine, Call Me By Your Name, and Perks of Being a Wallflower, are additional evidence that it is possible to write, produce, and direct stories about teenagers in a non-disdainful manner.  I am sure the list is long of teen movies that misunderstand young people and feel written by condescending adults.

My main objection with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, is not just the subpar story. My main objection is if we think this is acceptable and a ‘good’ movie, we encourage flawed storylines and set the bar too low.

10 movies you need to watch in Fall 2018

As the summer winds down, it’s time to look forward to the fall. The fall is a special time for movies: there are a few blockbusters here and there, but studios are also getting busy with Oscar-worthy releases. These movies range from standard tent poles and thrillers to horror flicks and biopics. And who can forget superhero movies?

These are our picks for the movies to watch in fall 2018. 2018 has been a great year so far for movies and judging by this slate, that’s not going to change either.

The Predator (September 14th)

Directed by Shane Black, this is the fourth installment in the Predator franchise. The film takes place between Predator 2 (1990) and Predators (2010), following a team of ex-soldiers and scientists who face off against a new breed of Predators, armed with genetic upgrades stolen from other deadly species. Boyd Holbrook (Narcos) leads the team as Quinn McKenna, an ex-Army Ranger who is already aware of the Predators but finds it difficult to convince anyone of their existence. Olivia Munn, Keegan Michael-Key and Yvonne Strahovski also co-star.

Venom (October 5th)

A spin-off of the new Spider-man movies, Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight Rises) stars as Eddie Brock, a journalist who becomes bonded to a dangerous symbiotic monster that gives him extraordinary powers. Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, and Woody Harrelson also star. The spin-off has minimal links to Tom Holland’s Spider-man and will be the first of a series of villain-centric movies, with others such as Morbius and Kraven the Hunter set to follow in the near future.

Bad Times at the El Royale (October 12th)

Grew Goddard (Daredevil Season One) takes the helm of this mystery drama set in 1960s California. The titular hotel, El Royale, lies across the state lines of both Nevada and California, in Lake Tahoe. Seven strangers come together in the hotel on a fateful night, struggling with redemption before things go horribly wrong. Chris Hemsworth leads a stellar cast that features Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm and Nick Offerman.

First Man (October 12th)

Directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land), First Man tells the story of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and the legendary Apollo 11 space mission. The cast also features Claire Foy (The Crown), Ciaran Hinds and Christopher Abbott. This film is the second collaboration between Chazelle and Gosling, after 2016’s La La Land, and is also the first Chazelle film not to be music based.

Serenity (October 19th)

Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey is a fishing boat captain leads a peaceful life, operating a touring business around the serene shores of Plymouth Island. His peace is disrupted, however, when his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) returns, asking him to save her and her son from her husband. Karen asks Baker to lure the man into a fishing expedition and killing him in the middle of the sea. Directed by Steven Knight, the film reunites McConaughey and Hathaway after Instellar (2014) and also features Diane Lane (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).

Bohemian Rhapsody (November 2nd)

Directed by Bryan Singer, this biopic chronicles the life and adventures of the legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek). The movie covers the formation of Queen and moves up to the famous Live Aid performance in 1985, six years before Mercury’s death. The movie was in development for eight years and plagued by creative disputes, which included exits from notable figures such as previous lead Sacha Baron Cohen and director Dexter Fletcher. Fletcher was later brought back to complete the film after Singer’s dismissal in December 2017 for unprofessional conduct.

Outlaw King (November 9th)

A historical drama that features medieval era guerilla warfare, centered around Scottish King Robert the Bruce’s (Chris Pine) attempts to counter and repel a much larger English occupying force in Scotland. This film is also somewhat of a sequel to Braveheart, as Robert the Bruce starts his campaign after the execution of William Wallace. The film will be released in select theaters as well as Netflix. Aaron Taylor Johnson (Kick-Ass, Godzilla) and Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) also star.

Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald (November 16th)

Series veteran David Yates helms the second entry in the Fantastic Beast franchise. Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to stop Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), after the latter escapes prison and threatens to unleash terrors upon an unsuspecting populace. The cast also features the likes of Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller, and Dan Fogler. J.K Rowling also returns to pen the screenplay.

Creed II (November 21st)

Trained by Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), boxing prodigy and light heavyweight champion Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) goes up against the son of Ivan Drago — the Russian fighter who killed his father in the ring years earlier. Steven Caple Jr. takes the helms of the franchise, following the illustrious footsteps of Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed, Black Panther). Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok, Westworld) and Dolph Lungren (Rocky IV, The Expendables) also costar.

Aquaman (December 21st)

The next Worlds of DC, formerly DCEU feature is a make-or-break film for Warner Bros. Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) must battle Orm (Patrick Wilson) in order to claim the throne of Atlantis as its rightful heir. Meera (Amber Heard) assists him in this quest. James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring series, Insidious, Furious 7) is directing DCEU’s third solo film. The cast also features Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lungren, and Willem Dafoe.

Which movies are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.

Henry Cavill to play Geralt in Netflix’s The Witcher

Henry Cavill, well known by comic book geeks and movie buffs as DCEU’s Superman, has been confirmed to play the beloved Witcher Geralt of Rivia in the new Netflix series. The 8 episode series has officially announced it’s first cast member through this bombastic announcement.

The Witcher Netflix series is set to be based on the books, instead of the games. For our readers who are not sure of the difference, let us help. Consider skipping this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers. [SPOILER ALERT] In the books, Geralt of Rivia dies at the end of the very last Witcher publications. However, that is not the case in the games. The first game picks up from the moment of Geralt’s death as he starts his adventures anew. Since the show is being based on the books instead of the games, fans of the games can expect some differences of the show with the games.

Earlier today, Henry Cavill posted the following picture to his Instagram account, setting off wild reactions everywhere. Netflix has confirmed the news through a Facebook post, from their official page shortly after. The fans of the games and books alike have rejoiced at the choice. Cavill is a renowned fan of both the books and the games in the series. He has publicly expressed his interest to play the character many times, like this one in an interview with IGN.

Henry Cavill, Instagram, Geralt, Witcher

This will be Cavill’s first regular role in a TV show since he played Charles Brandon in Showtime’s “The Tudors”. Cavill is best known for his work on the silver screen. He plays Superman in Warner Bro’s DC universe movies such as “Man of Steel”, “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League”. He also played the antagonist in “Stardust”, a movie based on a book by Neil Gaiman. Cavill is often regarded as a fantastic actor and the well-spoken British man could certainly play a Polish anti-hero well.

Netflix’s “The Witcher” show has yet to announce any other cast members, but it’s safe to say that they have already hit a home run with their protagonist. We at HiFi Public would like to wish Mr Cavill the best of luck in this endeavour, and I hope he can play a favourite character of mine well.