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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

TCMFF 2016 – Sunday 1st May: “We’ll Always Have In-N-Out Burger”

Sunday. The final day. A day to say final hellos, drawn-out goodbyes and leave our happy bubble. It took forever to get here and now it’s Sunday. How did it got so quickly? We were just gaining momentum! I know that the final day hits people hard – and that every year it does not get any easier – but I know I was not prepared for the emotional gut punch that hit everyone hard that evening.

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Starbucks and Sirk Sunday#TCMFF

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I was up and about early for Douglas Sirk’s lush and heartrending All That Heaven Allows (1955) which was to be introduced by the director Allison Anders and TCM Film Programmer Millie De Chirico. I had already met Allison at The Formosa – she is the sweetest person – and and we had another chat after the film. Her introduction highlighted the relationships between single parents and their grown up children; how in the film Jane Wyman’s son and daughter are determined to keep their widowed mother in their childhood home, glued to a TV screen, and alone while she should be out having fun and enjoying her life with Rock Hudson. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking film and screened DCP was stunning. I have never seen the film on the big screen but the colours were extraordinary – the red dress, the greenery, the snow…everything looked so luxuriant.

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It was nice to walk out of the theatre and into Laura, Aurora and Kellee – aka the festival’s designated ‘Ribbon Lady’ – who kindly showered me with many collectable ribbons. I stayed around the TCL for Horse Feathers (1932) in the early afternoon. Most of you already know that I am slightly nutty about a certain troop of brothers and equally adore their tragic co-star Thelma Todd. The Marx Bothers are always more fun in a crowd and it was great to chat to Danny and watch him sketch before the film started. Kristen gave out masks and we posed alongside Anne and Peter to mark this gathering (thanks to Emily for capturing this moment!) My only gripe was that the restored print was a little scratchy and the scenes with Thelma appeared to have either been cut or they jumped in a very distracting way. This was pity as they are amongst my highlights of the film. Nevertheless, Chico’s piano scene was perfect and I could not take my eyes off Thelma as she watched on, mesmerised as we all as by Chico’s extradorinaiy talent.

After the film I found Beth and was able to procure a lovely red lipstick from the Besame Cosmetics range that she was giving away at the festival as part of her “find Beth, get a lipstick or a powder!” giveaway. She was an in demand lady and I had not seen her around since the Wednesday night. We chatted for a bit in a group then I ran to catch my friend Ben for a nice long chat at Starbucks. It seemed fitting after the film as we talked a lot about British comedy – Ben, I hope I did not bore you with show recommendations and general chat!

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Thema and Groucho would appear before every TCMFF screening (obviously they were not blurred).

I was very tempted to end TCMFF with Network (1976), especially as Faye Dunaway would be in attendance and I had visited Peter Finch’s grave at Hollywood Forever. However, the general gossip that this would be the festival’s ‘hot potato’ and you needed to be there pretty early to secure a place in line. Instead I plumped for The Bandwagon (1953).

In hindsight I cannot think of a more perfect film to have ended my festival experience. Preceded by an insightful interview between the choreographer Susan Stroman and Illeana Douglas, The Bandwagon – starring an almost retired Fred Astaire and drawing on his problems of dancing with the ‘too tall’ Cyd Charisse – utilises real, behind-the-scenes experiences in a homage to Broadway shows and Hollywood’s golden age. The in-jokes fly, it is snappy, funny, and the choreography is exquisite. As for the end number…wow, Cyd Charisse is an on-screen Goddess, vixen, vamp – the woman can do no wrong. I left the cinema on a high and vowing to continuing my ballet classes when I returned home. Final film over, it was time for The Roosevelt and the TCM closing night party.

Ah, the wrap party. Or, the night when we get a little tipsy, say hello to those we had yet to run into (looking at you Noralil and Jill!) and saying goodbyes to everyone else. I entered Club TCM to be greeted with a lovely big hug by Nora which only set the president for the night ahead. Lots of laughter, photos and promises to keep in touch (which we do anyway thanks to the beautiful gift of social media) and preventing the inevitable. I also got to chat with Peter L. and see Kim M. which was the icing on a brilliant, if bittersweet, night that saw us all trundling over to In-N-Out Burger for the definitive selfie of the festival before saying our goodbyes.

Everyone asked what was my highlight of the festival and I would always say the same thing: “seeing everyone and hanging out with friends”. As much as the films draw people to this event year after year – and yes, this is now an annual event for me, too – I think that seeing people is the bigger incentive. Sure, what other festivals will you see such an array of talented people, Hollywood legends, rare pre-codes or obscure cinematic gems, but to be surrounded by people who ‘get’ your love for a particular era and share the same enthusiasm as yourself is really the icing on the cake.

My first TCMFF was about putting friends and fun before films. And you know what? I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

ps. Everyone in this photo – everyone who was not in this photo – THANK YOU. I HAD THE BEST TIME!!! Until we see each other again – whether next year in Hollywood or hopefully before – I will leave you with this quote. To paraphrase Rick from Casablanca: “We’ll always have In-N-Out Burger”.