There’s No “Way” You Should Miss “Doom Patrol” #1


Trash Film Guru

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Question : you’re a comic book publisher and you’ve got yourself a high-profile “superfan.” What should you do about it?

Answer : if you’re DC, and said fan is Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance fame — who interned at your offices and was planning on pursuing a career as a writer and/or artist on your books before his band went and got famous — you give him not just a series, but an entire fucking line. For developmental guidance you pair him with veteran Vertigo editor Shelly Bond (who has since, sadly, left the building), but by and large you leave him to his own devices and let him come up with whatever it is that he comes up with. The end result? A new imprint semi-mysteriously called DC’s Young Animal. Its first title? A(nother) re-imagined take on the original misfit super-team : the one, the only — 

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Back to School Part II #50: Paper Towns (dir by Jake Schreier)


(For the past three weeks, Lisa Marie has been in the process of reviewing 56 back to school films!  She’s promised the rest of the TSL staff that this project will finally wrap up by the end of Monday, so that she can devote her time to helping to prepare the site for its annual October horror month!  Will she make it or will she fail, lose her administrator privileges, and end up writing listicles for Buzzfeed?  Keep reading the site to find out!)

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Looking at the film poster above, you could be forgiven for immediately thinking of The Fault In Our Stars.  Of course, some of that is because it says, “From the author of The Fault In Our Stars” and because it features half of Nat Wolff’s face.  (Wolff had a key supporting role in Fault.)  Beyond that, though, the poster feels as if it could have just as easily been used for The Fault In Our Stars.  Check out the intensity of the stares.  Though we may only see half of their faces, both of the pictured characters appear to be daring the viewer to dismiss their concerns as being mere “teen drama.”

When Paper Towns was released in 2015, it was repeatedly advertised as being the next Fault In Our Stars.  Paper Towns does share Fault‘s unapologetic earnestness and, in a few scenes, its sense of inescapable melancholy.  (As people get older, they tend to sentimentalize the years that came before and, as a result, they often forget how coming-of-age and intense regret often go hand-in-hand.)  But ultimately, though they’re both based on novels by John Green and feature Nat Wolff, Paper Towns tells a very different story from The Fault In Our Stars.

Nat Wolff stars as Quintin, who is better known as Q.  Quintin is a student at Jefferson Park High School in Orlando.  He’s the epitome of a good kid.  He’s shy, he’s polite, and, somewhat inevitably when you consider what is currently valued in American society, he’s not particularly popular at school.  He spends most of his time hanging out with his friends, Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith).  And when he’s not hanging out with them, he’s pining for the most popular girl in school, Margo (Cara Delivingne).

Margo and Quintin have been neighbors since they were children.  When Margo’s family first moved in, she and Quintin became close friends but that friendship ended after they came across the body of a man who had committed suicide.  Traumatized, Margo drifted away from Quintin.  Now, nine years later, they are both seniors in high school.  Quintin silently loves Margo.  Margo rarely acknowledges his existence…

Or, that is, she doesn’t until the night that she suddenly climbs through Quintin’s bedroom window.  She explains that her boyfriend has been cheating on her.  She wants revenge on him and all of her friends, none of whom bothered to tell her what was going on.  A night of gleeful vandalism follows, ending with a romantic dance.

The next morning, Margo is gone.  She’s vanished and no one knows where she has gone.  However, Quintin is determined to find her and he is also convinced that she has left him a trail of clues that will lead him to her.  When he concludes that she’s gone to upstate New York, he recruits his friends (and one of Margo’s former friends) to go on a road trip with him.  Quintin is convinced that Margo will be waiting for him but, as always, the truth is a bit more complex…

While the plot description might make Paper Towns sound like a YA version of Gone Girl, it’s actually an achingly sincere and incredibly likable little film.  The entire cast has a good chemistry and their dialogue is clever without sounding artificial.  The best thing about Paper Towns is that it serves as a wonderful showcase for Nat Wolff, who is one of the best and most underrated young actors working today.  If you watch this film directly after watching Wolff convincingly play a self-destructive sociopath in Palo Alto, you’ll get a hint of Wolff’s range.

Paper Towns won’t make you cry like The Fault In Our Stars did but it’s still a pretty decent film.

Back to School Part II #49: Degrassi: Don’t Look Back (dir by Phil Earnshaw)


(For the past three weeks, Lisa Marie has been in the process of reviewing 56 back to school films!  She’s promised the rest of the TSL staff that this project will finally wrap up by the end of Monday, so that she can devote her time to helping to prepare the site for its annual October horror month!  Will she make it or will she fail, lose her administrator privileges, and end up writing listicles for Buzzfeed?  Keep reading the site to find out!)

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Much as in the case of my reviews of School’s Out, Degrassi Goes Hollywood, and Degrassi Takes Manhattan, this review of 2015’s Degrassi: Don’t Look Back is probably not going to make much sense to you if you’re not a huge fan of Degrassi.  Then again, it’s possible that it won’t make sense even if you’ve seen every episode of Degrassi. 

Among the Degrassi fandom, there’s actually a very passionate debate as to whether or not Don’t Look Back should even be considered canonical.  It premiered at the end of season 14, following the graduation episode.  Season 14 was also the last season of Degrassi to be broadcast on TeenNick.  (The series has subsquently moved to Netflix).  Some people don’t consider Netflix Degrassi to be the same as TeenNick Degrassi and since Don’t Look Back is mostly concerned with laying the foundation for Netflix Degrassi, there’s a tendency among some to treat Don’t Look Back as almost being fan fiction.

Admittedly, Don’t Look Back does definitely feel different from the other Degrassi films.  It’s much more light-hearted, with a good deal of the film’s 87 minute running time devoted to parodying different horror films.  (It’s almost as if Don’t Look Back, which premiered in August, was actually conceived with an October premiere in mind.)

The film, which takes place during the summer, follows five storylines, four of which are pretty typical of what you’d expect to see on Degrassi.  Rich girl Frankie Hollingsworth (Sara Waisglass) gets an internship at Toronto’s city hall and has to prove to her coworkers that she’s not just a spoiled brat while, at the same time, resisting the temptation to cheat on her boyfriend, Winston (Andre Kim).  Zoe (Ana Golja) attends summer school and finds herself attracted to her classmate, the acerbic Grace (Nikki Gould).  (As fans of Netflix Degrassi know, Zoe would eventually accept that she was a lesbian while Grace shocked everyone by revealing that she was both straight and seriously ill.)  Tristan Milligan (Lyle Lettau) obsesses over both his dreams of internet stardom and his former boyfriend, Miles.  Maya (Olivia Scriven) gets a job as a nanny for a rock star (Sonia Dhillon Tully) and Zig (Ricardo Hoyos) gets mad because he feels neglected.

But then, there’s the fifth subplot and here’s where things get controversial.  A minor Degrassi character, Gloria Chin (Nicole Samantha Huff), vanishes and soon, everyone in Canada is searching for her.  Fortunately, Grade 10 students of Degrassi Community School are able to use their amazing computer skills and deductive reasoning to figure out where Grace is being held.  It’s one of those weird things that you expect to see in an episode of something like CSI or NCIS or some other show with initials for a title.  It’s not really something you would expect to see on Degrassi.  It feels definitely out-of-place as a part of a franchise that has always prided itself on realistically and honestly exploring teen issues.

But then again, after 14 seasons (and that’s not even including the two series that came before Degrassi: The Next Generation), both the format and tone of Degrassi have changed several times.  That’s the way it’s always been.  Seasons 1  & 2 of Degrassi have a completely different feel from seasons 3 & 4.  And, ultimately, I guess the idea of a bunch of tenners solving a crime is not any stranger than Kevin Smith shooting Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh? at the school.

Anyway, if you’re a Degrassi fan, Don’t Look Back is entertaining enough.  And yes, it is canonical.  Even if they’ve never mentioned since that they solved the Canadian crime of the century (and does seem like something that would occasionally come up in conversation), apparently that’s what the students at Degrassi did during their summer vacation.

Good for them!

 

Music Video of the Day: Man! I Feel Like A Woman by Shania Twain (1999, dir. Paul Boyd)


Yep! That is just like I remember. By that I mean, it’s the same music video as Addicted To Love with only minor changes. I recommend watching the two music videos side-by-side because you’ll notice only a couple of things are different:

  1. For whatever reason, they decided not to give the guys as much screen time as they gave the girls. I guess you can chalk this up to numerous things. Perhaps they wanted to send a message by showing that the music video works just as well with guys, but not sexualize them as much. On the other hand, they sexualize Shania Twain herself, so I am not sure. Perhaps it was to tie-in with the song, and make it about pride of female form rather than a simple display while also showing that guys can be just as simplified to an attractive form in the same way as Addicted To Love did with women. It could also just have been that they were told to put the heavy focus on Twain, and so that’s what they did. Given the time-period, that actually makes the most sense to me with maybe those other things being an afterthought.
  2. They throw in a few additional flourishes such as an iris transition, and give Shania some solo-time.
  3. It also looks better. One reason of which was most likely a result of a change in equipment and budget. The other reason is likely due to who they got to shoot the music video.

That’s it. Even the runtimes are only off by one second. This music video is one second longer than Addicted To Love.

Unlike Addicted To Love, where we know who all five girls are, I was only able to track down one of the guys named Bryce Buell. I won’t paraphrase the interview entirely, but the most interesting thing to me was that he noticed that Shania was quite petite, so they kept using some camera tricks to make her look taller than the guys. At about two minutes and fourteen seconds you can see the height difference he’s talking about.

Director Paul Boyd has shot somewhere around 150 music videos. He did several of them for Shania Twain.

I wish I could save the cinematographer of this music video for another day, but he happened to shoot this music video, so I’ll talk about him now.

His name is Daniel Pearl. He has shot at least 430 music videos since around 1982. Not small music videos either. He shot November Rain for Guns N’ Roses, Every Breath You Take for The Police, and Billie Jean for Michael Jackson to name a few. In fact, he’s credited as starting modern music videos back in 1969 when he made an experimental film called Rock ‘n’ Roll Nose using a song by The Byrds as the score. He also has numerous other film credits that are notable. He shot the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974. He was brought back to shoot the 2003 remake as well. He also did the 2009 Friday the 13th. His credits go on and on. Odds are, you’ve seen something he shot.

If you have only seen the music video for Addicted To Love, then this is well worth watching. For those who have seen this already, then enjoy this time capsule of the late 90’s pop princesses.