Titans, S1E3, Origins, Dir. Kevin Rodney Sullivan, No review ep 4


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This episode – Origins – digs deeper into Dick and how he evolved into Robin and how Dick, Koriand’r, and Rachel evolved into the Titans.  I don’t mention Beast Boy because he joins in the next episode and he is kinda lame.  Speaking of Beast Boy, I won’t review Episode 4- Doom Patrol.  It’s a backdoor pilot for the eponymous show that was reviewed on this site – check it out here.

The episode opens with my only critique for the season.  Rachel is captured, but doesn’t use her Goth powers to kill everyone.  Why not?  This was not explained.  It seems that somehow her powers were neutered, but I’m not sure how.  She ends up being driven around by the world’s creepiest suburban family.  This quick cuts to Koriand’r searching for Rachel and kicking serious ass kinda unnecessarily.  I mean these were cops and she just breaks one guy’s arm when he begs for mercy.  OUCH!  Koriand’r catches up to the “Nuclear Family” and sets the dad on fire and rescues Rachel.  Koriand’r sets more people on fire than the Romans did! Not too long after, she practically tears apart a wife beater at a diner!  WOW!   Koriand’r takes Rachel to a convent where she discovered Rachel spent the first few years of her life.  All the while, Dick is on the hunt for them both!

The B- Story is Dick Grayson’s youth and how he became Robin.  I wasn’t sure how I thought of this device, but it re-centered the story around Dick to keep the narrative clear: This show is Dick’s Story.  Young Dick Grayson is adopted by Bruce Wayne who doesn’t speak, but lurks around the house staring at Dick.  HMMMM.  Anywho, Dick starts breaking out of Wayne Manor using his acrobat and car stealing techniques.  He’s caught and brought into his social worker who is certain that she knows the way forward: reason with the boy.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t get it.  Dick isn’t running away; he’s hunting his parents’ killer to kill them.  This causes Bruce to take an interest in Dick and recruit him into becoming Robin.

If you look at Dick as someone with deep-seeded PTSD, (which is exactly what’s going on) Bruce and Dick’s actions are very logical. They have repressed rage and, unlike many of us, the means and ability to exact revenge on people who mirror the cause of their trauma.  Most of us just end up in therapy, but I admit that I envy these guys.  Yes, it’s easier on your family to go to the VA and work through your justified rage, but wouldn’t it also be fun to wear some sort of leather and beat the ever loving snot out of a bunch of wife beaters, drug dealers, and child molesters?! It’s be a lot more fun than therapy and far fewer group sessions where you get slightly better than mediocre ham sandwiches.

Dick, being a pretty good detective, catches up to them and Rachel loses it full-on Carrie style.  Dick Koriand’r and Rachel back to the convent and has a heart to heart with Rachel. He said something that stuck with me.  Rachel was going on about how no one can really help and Dick admits, Yes.  He thought Bruce could solve his problems by having him beat the snot out of people, but no one else can be responsible for your pain.  You have to channel it yourself into something constructive, but it never goes away because it did happen to you.

It turns out that the sisters decide to lock up Rachel in the basement for her own good while Dick and Koriad’r step out for a few.  This seems like an odd choice for the sisters.  It’s obvious that Rachel is still there and why would they think that Dick and Koriand’r would be okay with her being locked away in a basement?!  Kinda weird.  Other than a few flaws, the episode lays the framework for an expanding family.  I really do enjoy watching this group evolve into the Titans and they are really good at showing the subtle sparks that Koriand’r and Dick have for one another.  Once again, I’m impressed with how accurately and directly they deal with PTSD and how that would affect all superheroes.

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Film Review: The Wild One (dir by Laszlo Benedek)


Motorcycles have always been unbelievably sexy and, in 1953, so was Marlon Brando.

1953 was the year that Brando played Johnny Strabler in The Wild One.  Johnny’s the leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club.  He wears a leather jacket and always has a cap tilted rakishly on his head.  When Johnny moves, he makes it a point to take his time.  He doesn’t run from anyone and, perhaps most importantly, he doesn’t run to anyone.  Johnny’s a rebel and he doesn’t care who knows it.  “What are you rebelling against?” Johnny is asked.  “Whaddya got?” Johnny replies and, when he says it, you not only believe him but you want to join him in his rebellion.

And yet, from the minute that we see Johnny, it’s obvious that there’s more to him than just his jacket and his attitude.  He speaks softly and when he smiles, there’s something almost shy about the expression.  You look into his brooding, soulful eyes and you know that Johnny isn’t just about making trouble.  He’s searching for something that society alone can’t deliver.  Johnny’s a bad boy, the type who you fool yourself into thinking that you — and only you — can reach and help heal.

At least, that’s the way that Kathie (Mary Murphy) feels about him, even though she’s way too smart to accept his invitation to go to a dance with him.  Kathie works at a diner in a small California town.  When Johnny and his gang ride into the town, all of the boring, responsible citizens want to force him to leave.  Kathie, alone, sees that Johnny’s not as bad as everyone assumes he is.  And if there’s any doubt about the fact that Johnny’s got a good soul despite his brooding nature, Chino (Lee Marvin) shows up to remind everyone of what a truly bad biker is like.

Chino and Johnny may both love their motorcycles but otherwise, they’re opposites.  If Johnny has the soul of a poet, Chino has no soul at all.  Johnny’s searching for freedom while Chino is merely searching for power.  Chino and Johnny were once friends, all part of the same gang.  However, Johnny eventually went off on his own and took the younger gang members with him.  Chino, in many ways, represents America’s destructive and wild path.  He’s an old west outlaw who rides a motorcycle instead of a horse.  Johnny, meanwhile, is a wanderer who represents the part of America that created Kerouac and Dylan.

(Interestingly enough, both Brando and Marvin were 29 years old when they made The Wild One.  However, Brando looked much younger and Marvin looked considerably older, which only added to the film’s theme of generational conflict.  Brando, himself, has never rode a motorcycle before making The Wild One and reportedly avoided the actual bikers who were hired to act as extras.  Lee Marvin, on the other hand, was an experienced rider and fit right in with the film’s cast.  To be honest, Lee Marvin is actually more convincing than Brando but Brando had the eyes and the wounded way of speaking whereas Marvin was every single guy who needlessly revs his motorcycle’s engine in the middle of the night.)

Anyway, needless to say, the townspeople are even less happy once Chino’s gang shows up.  Unfortunately, few of them understand the difference between Johnny and Chino.  In fact, the majority of the upright citizens prove themselves to be just as and, in some cases, more violent than the bikers that they’re trying to run out of town.  It all leads to violence, tragedy, and, ultimately, understanding.  This was a 50s film after all.  Director Laszlo Benedek may have played up the more sordid aspects of the story but the film was produced by the reliably and safely liberal Stanley Kramer and the film concludes on a very Krameresque note.

If you only know Marlon Brando from the latter half of his career, when he was best known for his weight, his eccentricities, and his personal tragedies, than watching The Wild One is quite a revelation.  It’s a well-directed film with a host of effective supporting turns but it’s Brando who makes the film unforgettable.  Watching the film, you understand why Brando became a star and you also see just how much he inspired so many of the actors who came after him.  James Dean’s performance in Rebel Without A Cause owes a huge debt to Brando’s work here.  In fact, every rebel owes a debt to The Wild One.  In the role of Johnny, Brando invites and inspires us all to ride down the road and see what we find.

The Wild One was a huge hit in 1953, leaving teenagers excited and parents concerned.  That same year, Brando also played Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar and received an Oscar nomination for the performance.  The Wild One was ignored at the Oscars but lives on whenever anyone hit the road and goes searching for America.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women- (Dir. Angela Robinson), Review By Case Wright


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What does Wonder Woman, S&M, and Polyamory have in common?  Pretty much everything.  Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (PMWW) was…dull.  You’d think with all the whips and ropes that the movie would pull some interest, but the scenes were shot hamfisted and clinical.  I guess that makes sense to a degree because the stars were playing Harvard nerds who liked kinky sex, but man what a snore!

The movie was a Biopic about Professor Marston the creator of the lie detector test and I will forever know this because it was repeated over and over and over and over again.  UGGHHHH.  Professor Marston was a Harvard Professor who was married to fellow professor Elizabeth Marston.  They are social psyche professors who are developing a lie detector test and are determined to bring Olive Byrne into their cult-like love life.  This would be considered very creepy today, not for the S&M stuff, but because of the professor/student boundary crossing.  They aren’t shy at all about their relationship, causing everyone to get expelled/fired.  Honestly, I don’t blame Harvard on this one.  He not only seduced a student, got her pregnant, and they all lived together.  It reminded me of those separatist compounds.

Since no one is working, money gets tight. Eventually, Professor Marston puts his kink into high gear with ropes etc and this gives him the idea of Wonder Woman.  He uses the two personalities of his two wives to give Wonder Woman a dual identity.  It’s not a terrible analogy, just a terrible movie.   Their unconventional marriage is discovered by their suburban neighbors and as a result; they split up for what seemed like 6 days.  I blame the director on that.

There’s nothing wrong with being into an unconventional marriage or bondage, but I just didn’t expect it to be so boring.  If anyone has an interest in S&M, just watch this film and you’ll be so bored of it, you’ll try something much more exciting like papier-mache!  The movie concludes with a bookended plot line of him being investigated for using Wonder Woman to normalize bondage and polyamory and he even admits as much.  So??  I don’t know if I’m supposed to care or not.  Basically, I might be done with sex for good because I like a little excitement in my life and this apparently is a dead end.

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Artist Profile: John Coleman Burroughs (1913 — 1979)


Born in Chicago and raised in Los Angeles, John Coleman Burroughs displayed artistic talent from an early age and was writing and illustrating stories before he even graduated high school.  He was 23 when he first got his chance to professionally illustrate a book, The Oakdale Affair and The Rider.  The book was written by John’s father, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of both Tarzan and John Carter of Mars.

John Coleman Burroughs went on to provide the illustrations for all of his father’s future works, along with illustrating a John Carter Sunday newspaper strip. As you can tell by looking at the covers below, Burroughs knew how to capture the mystery and excitement of a good adventure story:

Music Video of the Day: It’s Gettin’ Late by The Beach Boys (1985, directed by Dominic Orlando)


Does this video have a good message or not?

It starts with a sexy beach babe making out with a skinny guy who is wearing glasses so that’s good.

But then the girl leaves with a bunch of stereotypical jocks and her boyfriend isn’t allowed to come because he has bad eyesight.  That’s bad.

Then the spirit of Big Kahuna shows up and the video takes a Cinderella turn when the Big Kahuna uses his kahuna powers to turn the nerd into a jock.  Is that good or not?  It depends on whether or not our hero learns a lesson about being himself at the end of the video.

Our hero then drops in on the beach party. where he discovers his girl sitting next to the main jock.  So, he reacts by flirting with all the other girls at the party.  That’s doubly bad.

Then the Big Kahuna shows up and turns the our hero back into his nerdy self.  All of the other girls run away but not his girlfriend because, it turns out, she loves him just the way he is.  That’s so good that it makes up for all the bad stuff that happened before.

But then the Big Kahuna punishes the shallow jocks by turning them into nerds, which would seem to indicate that, in this video’s moral universe, being nerdy is some sort of karmic retribution.  That’s bad.  But then everyone’s much happier after they’ve all turned nerdy so maybe that’s actually a good thing.

Having sent several mixes messages, the Big Kahuna throws away his magic shell and heads back to the ocean.  At least true love wins in the end.

Enjoy!

Lisa’s Week In Review: 6/17/19 — 6/23/19


I’m home!  Thank you to Rose, Kim, Johnny, Baltimore, New York, and Rochester for being so wonderfully friendly and accommodating last week!

After spending the previous two weeks on vacation, I’m home and I’m ready to jump into the second half of 2019!  As I sit here typing this, there’s a big storm raging outside.  Hopefully, the rest of this year will be as exciting as this storm.

Here’s what I watched, read, and listened to last week:

Films I Watched:

  1. The Concorde: Airport ’79 (1979)
  2. Death of a Cheerleader (2019)
  3. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
  4. A Friend To Die For (1994)
  5. Like Crazy (2011)
  6. The Lady in Red (1979)
  7. Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009)
  8. Model Shop (1969)
  9. My Stepfather’s Secret (2019)
  10. Nightcrawler (2014)
  11. The Twisted Son (2019)
  12. Zombi 2 (1979)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. The Amazing Race 31
  2. The Bachelorette
  3. Big Little Lies
  4. Dance Moms
  5. Entertainment Tonight
  6. Euphoria
  7. Friends
  8. Highwire Live In Times Square with Nik Wallenda
  9. House Hunters International
  10. iZombie
  11. Jane the Virgin
  12. King of the Hill
  13. Off Script with Bruce Johnson

Books I Read:

  1. Blood Oath (2019) by Linda Fairstein
  2. Disaster Movies: The Ultimate Guide (2007) by Glenn Kay and Michael Rose

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Above & Beyond
  2. Afrojack
  3. Alvin Risk
  4. Armin Van Buuren
  5. Avicii
  6. Camila Cabello
  7. Cassius
  8. The Chemical Brothers
  9. Crud
  10. The Crystal Method
  11. Daft Punk
  12. David Guetta
  13. Dillon Francis
  14. DJ Snake
  15. Jakalope
  16. Saint Motel
  17. Shawn Mendes
  18. Sleigh Bells
  19. Steve Aoki
  20. Swedish House Mafia
  21. Tiesto
  22. UPSAHL
  23. Zedd

Links from Last Week:

  1. On her photography site, Erin shared: Weed In A Storm Gutter, Under the Bridge, The Favorite, Between the Trees, Subtly Southwest, The Train, and DART Tracks!
  2. I reviewed the latest episode of The Amazing Race!
  3. The pleasures of Pauline Kael
  4. Philippe Zdar, Founding Member of French House Pioneers Cassius, Dies at 50
  5. Cassius Pay Tribute to Philippe Zdar With ‘Dreems’ Album Release: Stream It Now

Links From The Site:

(I’m so fortunate to be able to work with these wonderful people!)

  1. Case reviewed the first and the second episode of Titans!
  2. Erin shared the covers of Two Complete Detective Books and the many adventures of Johnny Dekker!  She also shared: You’d Be Surprised, The Whispering Corpse, Planet Stories, Morals Squad, Main Line, Kill me Sweet, and Of A Strong Woman!
  3. Gary took a look at We’ll Sing In The Sunshine, Lady Street Fighter, and Welcome to Mooseport!
  4. Jeff reviewed An Innocent Man and shared music videos from Huey Lewis and the News, Bananarama, Christopher Cross, Danzig, Blotto, and Murray Head!
  5. Val reviewed The Kids of Degrassi of Street: Sophie Minds The Store!
  6. I shared a music video from Cassius and reviewed The Haunting of Sharon Tate, Model Shop, Death of a Cheerleader, and My Stepfather’s Secret!
  7. Patrick reviewed Dolls!
  8. Ryan reviewed: Crime Destroyer #1, Bullwhip #1, Atlas #1, Blind Justice #1, Crime Destroyer #2, Blind Justice #2, Bad Ben: The Way In, and Dybbuk Box : True Story Of Chris Chambers.  He also shared his weekly reading round-up!

Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!