The LA Diaries 2019 #1: I Have Arrived

 

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Morning view

I’ve toyed with how to structure these posts.  I don’t want to bore you with minor irrelevant details, but I want to give you the fun stuff: the cool theatres, exhibitions, glorious sunshine, beautiful costumes, all the movies, and the fun times. So, here’s a diary of sorts: a potted day-by-day — or even a few days combined — that will give the highlights where needed and cut the rubbish. (Ok, so there may be some information that was excellent at the time that you may read thinking, “wow, so dull”). Some entries will be extended, like during the festival, but the shorter ones will be illustrated. So. let’s track this from the beginning…

I arrived in LA the Saturday before TCMFF. After my first couple of years arriving two days before the festival, the last two visits have been all about the pre-festival built up, seeing local friends and then welcoming the Tuesday crowd. The festival is only fours days of movies, but all the days spent in the City are lovely.

 

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Hey, Miss Fanny!

 

I spent all of Sunday with Marya — and finally met Miss Fanny Brawne, her super sweet cat. The weather was glorious, and it was a perfect excuse to wander around and take in the city on foot. A lovely Bellini brunch was followed by books, records, the Hollywood Museum of Death and Pet Semetary. Death takes a Sunday if you will. 

The museum has been on my must-do list for some time, and this was a very different experience to what I had expected. Having lectured on death from an art history perspective and written for magazines on real crime, I was astounded at the wealth of memorabilia on display, which consists of everything from William H. Gacy’s clown shoes to Charles Manson’s guitar and crime scene photographs of the Manson Murders (the Sharon Tates images are A LOT). Recently, there has been much discussion of the glamorization of serial killers but, in this situation, being in such a confined space with all these artifacts belonging or created by some of history’s most grotesque personalities, this is as raw as it gets and there is no hint of glamour. The small museum will certainly not appeal to those of a more sensitive disposition, but, if you have a non-frills interest in true crime, you will find the place well-curated, a little overwhelming, and intensely fascinating.

 

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Hollywood Museum of Death

 

Stepping out into the fresh air and sunshine, we decidedly to continue with the mortality theme by heading to a screening of Pet Semetary at Los Feliz 3, a beautiful small theatre with stunning art deco detail and carpeting. One of the most excellent parts of repeated and extended stays in Los Angeles is visiting a variety of non-multiplexes and independent movie theatres in the non-Hollywood area. This cinema is gorgeous.

As first days in town go it lovely start, and, as you shall see, set the tone for this trip, which was to be followed by a Monday evening drinks a beautiful Art Deco neighbourhood bar and the most glorious sky I had seen for some time.

Yep, LA and TCMFF week certianly got off to a good start…

New-To-Me Movie Round-Up: March

Like February, I barely watched any new-to-me movies in April because of MCU rewatches and TV I’m currently consuming for various things. April will be different — I’ll be at TCMFF and consuming all sorts of goodies, I promise.

 

Captain Marvel​​: Thought we’d show these boys how we do it. You ready?

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*WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS*

It has taken twenty-one films and eleven years, but we finally have a woman headlining a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ever since Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel insignia flashed up on Nick Fury’s pager in the closing seconds of Avengers: Infinity War, we knew we were in for a treat. And she has not arrived quietly.

If you follow me on Twitter and/or are friends, you will know how excited I have been for the release of Captain Marvel. But not everyone has shared my enthusiasm.  Brie Larson kicking ass and looking awesome in the movie’s trailer was met with ridiculous criticisms from men. I read everything from “her voice is too soft” to “why is she so moody?” Most recently, Larson’s calls for more media diversity during her press tour were met with trolling, abuse, and a bewildering determination for this movie to fail before general release. However, all of these aspects have fed into the film’s message, because, essentially, Captain Marvel is about a woman facing the man (or Larson facing the men on the internet) and declaring “I have nothing to prove to you.” And Captain Marvel explores this beautifully.

For six years, “Vers” has been living on Hala as a member of the elite Starforce, defenders of the Kree civilization against their Skrull enemies. Her memory is sketchy; she glimpses her past life as a pilot, and her traumatic childhood, knowing that these are the keys to something more. Trained by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) to control her emotions and photon-blasting hands, he uses her strength as a weapon against her, insisting “control your emotions, emotions are weakness,” a mental shackle to suppress her full potential. In the real world, she would be deemed ‘uncontrollable,’ ‘difficult,’ ‘stubborn,’ and asked to ‘tone it down.’ Belittling powerful women appears to be universal.

The movie steps up in humour after Vers crash lands on C-53 (Earth) and meets a two-eyed Nick Fury. This intergalactic saga becomes a fun buddy comedy set in 1995, complete with grunge and pop soundtrack as more memories of her past life begin to take shape. Larson and Samuel L. Jackson have great chemistry, as do Fury and Goose, a ginger cat/Flerkin who, let’s be honest, steals the movie (I should write a post just on Goose, right?). I loved seeing pilot Carol and wanted more of that, just like I wanted to see more of Carol’s childhood on screen and more of her friendship with Maria Rambeau (the very underused Lashana Lynch). I am hopeful this will be explored and developed further down the line, especially now Carol has recovered her past.

The most powerful moment in the film occurs in the third act. Facing Yon-Rogg, who still addresses her as Vers, she finally shakes off his manipulation, casting off her given identity and telling him “my name is Carol.” It’s a victory for the women who feel they must make themselves smaller, not take up too much space, or are compelled to downplay their personality and abilities.

Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s spin on Phase One era Marvel takes the MCU, albeit momentarily, away from the more overtly lavish movies of late, while the key message should not be taken for granted. Sure, it did not need to be verbalized quite so much, but its strength cannot be denied. I loved Captain Marvel, and can’t wait to rewatch. And I’ll very likely write more soon.

Additionally, it is very much having a Captain America: The First Avenger effect on me: the more I rewatch and reminisce about TFA the greater my affection grows, and Captain Marvel appears to be going in the same direction. There are striking similarities between both movies, and they both share similar characteristics.

In an interview with Polygon in 2018, comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, whose groundbreaking 2012 ‘Captain Marvel’ comic book series was the primary source material for the movie, said something that stuck with me for months and, in hindsight, is perfect about the film:

“Carol falls down all the time, but she always gets back up — we say that about Captain America as well, but Captain America gets back up because it’s the right thing to do. Carol gets back up because ‘Fuck you.’”

We see this on screen: Carol throughout the years falling and picking herself back up again. Nothing can keep this woman down. I cannot wait to see what she will do in Avengers: Endgame next month (the thrilling mid-credits scene was A TREAT!!!). Carol Danvers is here to stay, and she is will only soar higher, further, faster, baby.

 

 

 

New-To-Me Movie Round-Up: February​

I spent February watching fewer movies than in January. Ironically, out of the ones I did watch, many were either re-watches for work-related things, or they starred Melissa McCarthy and were directed by Ben Falcone (there was a season on TV). I intend to up my quota and get back on track during March.

 

New-To-Me Movie Round-Up: January

A new monthly series! Here are all the new-to-me films I watched in January:

 

 

 

Hello 2019

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2018 was “a year” in so many ways. Ups and downs, laughter and tears, dreams made and broken, and a renewed sense of worth. I made plans, formulated ideas, plotted with friends. If anything, I felt I took strides as a freelancer and wrote pieces I love and worked with some great editors, who I hope to continue working with. I have many interests, not just my academic discipline, and some of my long-term goals are based around these other areas.

This evening I created a Contentedly account so all my work can be found in a nice neat online portfolio:

https://sabinastent.contently.com

I hope 2019 brings good creative energy to channel all our hopes, dreams, and ideas. Here’s to a good year.