The Other Voices: The Babadook

I had no idea what THE BABADOOK would be about when I put it on. The impression I had from the Internet was that it was about a gay dinner guest in a jaunty hat. This was definitely a film where that lack of knowledge was helpful in making me very scared.

THE BABADOOK, an Australian film by Jennifer Kent, is about grief. It’s pretty easy to suss that out, which I like, because I can get really annoyed at films that have this allegory so complex that you need a PhD in Pre-post-colonial literature (an actual class I took in grad school) in order to understand them. Yes, I have a graduate degree in English. I have studied literature. I have been an academic. And I really hate having to use my degree to understand shit. Make your story deep and beautiful and artsy, sure, but make sure that at the end of the day, I can see what the central argument or point of the film actually is. Otherwise, what are we doing here.

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Stepping Through the Wormhole: 25 Years of Stargate: Part 2

Re-Opening the Gate – Stargate SG1

Due to the success of the original film, there was intention for Stargate to continue, the original creators of the film envisioned a trilogy of films-whilst others had a different idea. Producers Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner had been working on The Outer Limits together and both of them, independently from each other, approached MGM with the same idea: a TV series based on the Stargate film. Upon realising they had the same idea, they decided to work together on the project. They spent three months studying the original film to learn the mechanics of the Stargate and came to a conclusion: there was no way that the Stargate would only go to one place. From the idea that the gate requires 6 symbols and the point of origin to establish a connection (and there are 38 symbols on the gate itself, not including the point of origin), you can deduce that there are 1,987,690,320 different permutations of gate addresses possible. That’s a lot of potential addresses to go to. So, it makes sense that there are Stargates all over the galaxy rather than just two.

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The Other Voices: El Mariachi

Many years ago, when I was a wee film baby, I read the book Robert Rodriguez wrote about making his first feature, EL MARIACHI. It was all about throwing caution to the wind, going for broke, and just making a movie with no money and a lot of moxie. He made this film with essentially no crew, which is why his book is called REBEL WITHOUT A CREW. I was inspired! Not to make a film without a crew, because that is exhausting and ill-advised, but to learn more about filmmaking and the work it requires.

Now, of course, I am film crew, and I’m a little horrified by the idea of making an entire action film with like, 3 crew members. I regularly see young filmmakers who seem to think it some kind of badge of honor to work with a tiny crew, like that makes them better. A filmmaker I knew even tried to tell me that script supervisors are an old-fashioned job that is no longer necessary in a world where you can shoot a movie on an iPhone. I can’t wait to find out how many continuity errors his most recent film has.

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Stepping Through the Wormhole: 25 Years of Stargate: Part 1

UNLOCKING THE GATE – THE ORIGINAL FEATURE FILM

In October of 1994, Stargate hit the cinema screens and became a surprise hit. Critics were not kind to the Roland Emmerich-directed epic adventure, but it struck a chord with audiences with it’s stunning photography and intriguing story. It launched a franchise that has become one of the most popular Science Fiction franchises of all time. A franchise that consists of: 3 films, 3 live action series, 1 animated series and, most recently, a 10 part mini-sode series. Not to mention the various games and books that were released. But we will get to all that in time; first we need to go back to the beginning, to where it all started….The 1994 feature film.

I should probably preface this part of the article with a small statement; it may seem like I am being harsh against the feature film but that is only because of everything that came after. The film started it all and without it we wouldn’t have got SG1 or anything else, however, for me the film just doesn’t hold up in comparison to the series.

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The Other Voices: Girlfight

I was a very angry kid who got into a lot of fights in school. I went to a school full of nerds – and I was one of them – so fights weren’t going to lead to hospital visits and they were very short, but I had such a short fuse that I would just go off on whatever kid pissed me off that day. I really, really wanted to take martial arts. I finally did learn to kickbox with a trainer as an adult, but had to stop because of an injury. I’ve watched a lot of boxing and MMA ever since. So GIRLFIGHT has long been on my list of films I should have seen by now. Good thing I have a column that makes me watch movies directed by women and POC.

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Social Commentary In Entertainment: The 30th Anniversary of Alien Nation

I’m going to pretend for just one minute that I didn’t start watching Alien Nation because the main character’s name is shockingly close to my own. I didn’t see an advert for it on the Sci-Fi Channel at the age of 13 and hear “Detective Matt Sikes” and think to myself, “That’s almost my name! I have to watch this show.” No- it was the incredible social commentary that drew me in, the social commentary that was entirely absent from the advertisement. The truth was, 13-year-old Matt Dykes heard Detective Matt Sikes and saw an action-packed cop-show advert that happened to have aliens in it and wanted to watch the show. But you know what? I am so glad I saw that advert because when I was able to sit down and watch Alien Nation, I was blown away by the series. It wasn’t long before I was recording them on video. Once the DVDs were finally released in the UK, my pre-order was placed immediately. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have watched all 22 episodes of the series close to 30 times over the last 18 years. What is it about the series that drew me in, apart from sharing a very similar name to the main character? The answer really is this: everything. The characters, the setting, the stories, the music, everything about the series. It was interesting, it was different and it had something to say.

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The Other Voices: Eve’s Bayou

EVE’S BAYOU, the feature directorial debut from actress Kasi Lemmons, had a $6M budget and an entirely black cast. There are zero white people in this film – not even wandering by in the background – which seems like a pretty amazing feat for 1997 and an unknown director. At the time (and unfortunately for many years to come), conventional wisdom was that dramas strictly about black people simply couldn’t bring in audiences, but EVE’S BAYOU made almost $15M worldwide – more than double its budget – and is a critically loved film that people still talk about today. It’s number 99 on the highest grossing films of 1997, which may sound like a little number, but let’s put that in context. It came out the same year as TITANIC. And MEN IN BLACK. And GROSSE POINTE BLANK. Ok GROSSE POINTE BLANK didn’t do Titanic numbers (nobody did) but it’s a great movie and I’m not going to just skip over it.

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The Other Voices: The Kids Are Alright

Sexuality is a spectrum. You can be homosexual or heterosexual, bisexual or pansexual, heteroflexible, homoflexible…. That’s your business. And there are subsets of sexuality that describe HOW you feel attraction, not just who you’re attracted to: megasexual, demisexual, asexual, graysexual…. The list goes on. Some people choose not to identify at all, but all of these identities are valid, and sometimes fluid as we grow and change throughout our lives.

In the last couple of years since I became polyamorous, I’ve become more and more interested in the wide spectrum of sexuality and relationship styles, which is why my partner recently recommended I watch the 2010 film directed and written by Lisa Cholodenko, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT.

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Petition This!

I remember a time when a film was released, people watched them. And if they didn’t enjoy them or they didn’t like them, they might have gotten annoyed about it or they maybe complained to their friends about how shit it was. Now people seem to think that if they don’t enjoy a film or TV series, they have a right to petition the makers to go back and remake it to how they want it. I, for one, am sick of it.

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The Other Voices: Twilight

Until this week, I had never seen TWILIGHT, so as it is one of the biggest box office hits of all time to have a female director, I decided to give it a go for this column. According to Box Office Mojo, it had a production budget of $37M and it made a global $393,616,788 in theaters, which demonstrated to Hollywood that yes, teenage girls do like to go see movies, so you should make more stuff for them. That discovery eventually brought us THE HUNGER GAMES, so for that, I am grateful.

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