The Of War Journal

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Why Not: All the Single Lady Ghostbusters Reboot?

So, obviously there’s talk of a real, new Ghostbusters live-action movie being made by Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig. Feig is also the director of Bridesmaids and The Heat, so it comes as no surprise that he wants to turn the lads of Liverpool the original four Ghostbusting men into four Ghostbusting women. If it means Dan Aykroyd never gets to make the Geriatric-Busters then I’m all for it. And Feig is an apt choice to helm this if, like Ivan Reitman before him, he lets a specific (female) comedic voice give the movie its creative point of view.

Right now that’s Katie Dippold and I don’t really know her voice, and this is a dream cast anyway so I’ll just say that I’d like to see the sometimes duo of June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson get the chance. There are plenty of funny women in Hollywood that could do this but relatively fewer actual twosomes in the vein of Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. Their directorial debut Ass Backwards was not too shabby and shows a lot of promise, and like he did with Bridesmaids, I think Feig could facilitate their humor with his modest style.

Of course, so much of the original GB was Bill Murray’s improve and how do you even try to approach that? The conventional wisdom is that you can’t, that you should just play the lead more or less straight. Funny, sure, but not the force of nature that was Peter Venkman. Fuck that. Tig Notaro is the funniest stand-up working today, and possibly the most hilarious person on the planet. She hasn’t been called on to act much, but her dry, almost non-act and wryly goofy, anything goes sensibility really needs to be the focus of a major motion picture and Ghostbusters might just be crazy enough to work. At this point, I think it’s crazy not to try.

With that much comedy power, it makes sense why the fourth member of the team wasn’t a comedian but a solid actor who could hold his own. Can you imagine if Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy starred in Ghostbusters? It’d be pretty great, right? So let’s do it, let’s add another strong comedic voice with The Daily Show’s Jessica Williams. She’s the best new addition to that show since Stephen Colbert, so why should Steve Carrell get all the movie parts?

It would be boring if the movie had the exact same plot, but the basic situation of misfit scientists banding together to prove the paranormal exists and make some money while they’re at it is strong. The original is a classic for a reason, its premise is perfect for spinning out jokes. So while we’re at it, let’s say T.J. Miller takes over for Annie Potts — because he deserves better than Transformers and Yogi Bear — and Donald Glover plays Sigourney Weaver — because he plays terrified funnier than anyone. And who am I to argue with Gillian Anderson? If she wants a role, let’s make her the most powerful character in the movie (outside of the big bad boss ghost), the mayor.

Should Bill Murray himself show up on set one day, out of the wild blue yonder, make him the Ghostbusters’ secret philanthropic investor. Should Dan Aykroyd do the same? Call security.

Filed under ghostbusters reboot paul feig women tig notaro june diane raphael casey wilson jessica williams

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Legos, He-Man, and stuff my parents would have played with at the Action Figure and Toy Museum.

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Why Trick R Treat is to Halloween as A Christmas Story is to Christmas

pajibatrickrtreatxmasstory.jpg

As is appropriate for the two most popular and publicly celebrated holidays, more than enough movies have been made about or around both Halloween and Christmas. There are plenty of options to choose from when deciding what to watch to get in the spirit of the seasons, including-but-not-limited-to the Jasons and Freddies, the Screams, A Wonderful Life, Ernest Saves Christmas, and Die Hard. But only one movie from either holiday gets the privilege of a 24 hour marathon on cable television every Christmas Eve for over a decade: A Christmas Story. If you’ve seen the movie — and at this point very few of us haven’t — it isn’t hard to see why it’s held in such high esteem to audiences of all ages. Quite simply, the movie gets everything about the holiday season and our feelings for it and the day itself exactly right. The movie is probably the only one in existence where the sight of a disembodied leg brings shouts of joy rather than screams of terror, not to mention the most profitable piece of its merchandizing puzzle. A Christmas Story is just the right amount of nostalgia without ever overstaying its welcome or overstating its purpose.

Oddly enough, for a holiday that actually has a series of successively terrible films named after it, Halloween doesn’t really have any movies that our culture has collectively deemed the perfect distillation of what that holiday means to us and also what it feels like whether you’re in costume or not. Halloween has no movie that’s trope-filled and terrifying enough to air repeatedly in a single 24 hour sitting, at least not one that’s been universally recognized. Unfortunately, the recently released Fun Size probably won’t be able to fill that jack-o-lantern-sized hole, either. But there should be, and thankfully that movie was already released some time ago, after years of delays and being relegated to the home video marketplace: Michael Dougherty’s Trick R Treat. For those who have seen it — and that is a decidedly smaller number of people than those who have even heard of A Christmas Story — deeming it the quintessential Halloween flick shouldn’t be too surprising.

For the rest of you, here’s why you should be gearing up for your own Trick R Treat marathon for the rest of All Hallows’ Eve and throughout All Saints’ Day:

The Holiday Setting pajibatrickrtreatxmasstorysetting.jpg As every scene in Story is filled out with green and red Christmas ornaments and lights, and many inches of thick, white snow, so every scene in Trick is filled out with orange and black Halloween decorations, and many liters of thick, red blood. Other than the inconveniences and conveniences of each movie’s varying time frames, they offer very little of the world outside their small towns and absolutely nothing that doesn’t pertain to their respective holiday seasons. The constantly themed set dressings and costume choices invoke a timeless quality to both movies, making them perfect for yearly viewings.

The Holiday Rituals pajibatrickrtreatxmasstoryritualsA.jpg On top of everything looking like its Halloween or Christmas, both films spend practically of their run times documenting the annual traditions we follow to celebrate our favorite holidays. Carving pumpkins, baking cookies, visiting Santa to ask for gifts (obviously), trick-or-treating for candy (even more obviously), opening said gifts, opening said candy, sharing meals with loved ones, telling ghost stories to friends, and both feature the dressing up in costumes and chaotic shopping sprees leading up to the big days. The movies aren’t just set during the holidays, they fundamentally catalog those rites and rituals we observe. Since we never really get tired of Christmas or Halloween, it’s only logical we’ll also never tire of these movies.

The Holiday Cheer pajibatrickrtreatxmasstorycheer.jpg Christmas and Halloween are integral not only to the sets and plot lines of Story and Trick but also to the characters who inhabit them. Either in celebrating the holidays or in cursing them like Scrooge, the characters in both movies are guided by their desires to experience the seasons on their own terms. Like Harold and Kumar’s search for White Castle and Lewis and Clark’s expedition through the West, these are people motivated solely and entirely by how they interact with the universe during, and because of, the holiday festivities. Exactly like those of us watching at home at some point in the weeks and days before October 31st and December 25th.

The Holiday Spirit pajibatrickrtreatxmasstoryspirit.jpg With symbols like the Red Ryder BB gun and the leg lamp, as well as events like a friend’s frozen tongue and the pink bunny outfit, Story plugs into the cherished and lost childlike innocence that every Christmas movie, TV special, and snow man tries to evoke in even the most churlish amongst us. Similarly, Trick uses the symbols of our most lasting horror tropes like vampires, werewolves, zombies, and the campfire tale to give us all the things we feared in our childhoods and everything we take delight in our aged immaturity, in one 82 minute package. But the true spirits of each holiday, in the sense of how they are truly appreciated, reside in the similarly stature’d forms of Sam and Ralphie. Ralphie is Story's keeper of the Christmas candle in his role as audience surrogate, and Sam is Trick's figurative avatar and literal embodiment of Halloween — a murderous eight year-old who really wants his just desserts. What two better seasons greeters could we ask for?

Originally published at Pajiba.

Filed under trick r treat a christmas story movie marathons

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How “Gotham” Could Be the New Batman TV Show We Deserve…

…if not the Batman TV show we need. Or, I need. But Fox’s Gotham doesn’t have to suck as much (heh, suck, bats, heh) as it looks like it very easily could. We won’t know anything until tomorrow night, when the pilot airs at 8pm (check your local listings) but until then we (I) can still hope for a show that looks a little something like one that…

Doesn’t Focus on Baby Bruce Wayne

It’s totally fine that a adolescent Bruce is in the show, after all, he is the victim to and only witness of a crime and so would naturally be involved in any police investigation. Jim Gordon taking a personal interest in the boy during and after that investigation makes sense too, as that’s just the man’s nature. Alfred’s sometime-ex-paramilitary experience could be fun to explore as it pertains to justice vs. vengeance against the elder Waynes’ murder, as well. But let’s not give Li’l Bruce major plots or extended arcs where he gets as much screen time as the adults in the cast, and not just because child actors are generally not great performers but because demystifying Batman too much is folly.

The most important thing that happens to Bruce Wayne as a child is the murder of his parents, which has been thoroughly explored, and then we generally skip ahead 10-15 years when he’s training to become a vigilante crime fighter. So, Batman is basically Jesus. And, while it could be fun to see a nineteen year-old savior traveling the world and learning the tricks of his future trade, watching a thirteen year-old pre-Batman grieving and getting into schoolyard fights, or not eating dinner or doing his homework just isn’t something anybody wants to see. Let us learn from George Lucas’s example: Don’t Anakinize the Goddamn Batman.

Does Focus on Gordon and the GCPD

Thankfully, all the trailers are making this outcome pretty likely. I would be very interested in seeing the interior lives of both the future Commissioner Gordon and his cynical partner Bullock, not least of all because Donal Logue is perfectly cast in that role and letting him Hank Dalworth it up could be glorious to watch. Obviously we’ll see them solving crimes and always just out of reach of catching the biggest criminals, but I hope we see how that pressure affects Gordon’s marital and extra-marital affairs — various writers have found plenty of time for this in the comics, as well as being home from war  — and Bullock’s lack of sobriety and temptations toward corruption. The tension between them should be felt in every episode, until they’re ultimately the only people either trust in the entire city.

Gordon’s wife and possible dalliance have been cast but we haven’t really seen anything of them in the marketing campaign, which leads me to believe they’re going to be deep background characters when they should be full-on supporting players. The show might be sustainable as pure case of the week, but it would be a lot less engaging in the long run, I think, but we’ll get to that. If the women are barely more than props rather than well-developed characters making choices in their own story (seen in detail or not), it will be a lost opportunity. Especially in the case of Barbara Not-Batgirl Gordon, who has always gotten the short end of the characterization stick and, as Barbara Batgirl Gordon’s mother, deserves better.

Doesn’t Get Too Cutesy with the Villain Origins

Unfortunately, this is something the trailers are making appear to be a tragic inevitability. Seeing Oswald Cobblepot before he proudly takes the name of The Penguin and becomes a powerful crime boss has the potential to be very entertaining. Seeing Selina Kyle as a possible peer of Baby Bruce, maybe someone else curious about his parents’ murder who exists much closer to that life than the cops, could add some dramatic foreshadowing to the types of stories we know these two crazy kids will get up to in the future. And I really hope we see a young Harvey Dent, just out of law school. But finding any excuse to throw in The Riddler or Poison Ivy or all of Batman’s Rogues Gallery every episode, or every few, just muddles the continuity waters for fans and casuals alike. We don’t need to see all the villains before they’re super, because they aren’t all interesting even when they’re super. But do find a way to squeeze the Ventriloquist in there, that episode just screams Emmy-bait.

Another mistake would be to throw in a slew of references to the Joker, like constantly revealing red(hood) herrings as suspects for the true identity of Batman’s arch nemesis. And definitely do not play coy with the Joker being the real killer of Thomas and Martha Wayne. For starters, Tim Burton already did that. But it’s also just a terrible idea. The point of Batman isn’t monsters creating monsters, he isn’t Frankenstein and his Monster or Dr. Jekyl’s Hyde,  it’s that of a hero not succumbing to fear and rebelling against the evil and corruption of their society. Again, like Jesus. The devil didn’t make Jesus into a martyr and a savior, the Romans and the Pharisees did that. The devil did tempt Jesus, but that was covered in The Dark Knight. So, no killing Jokes!

Does Do Stories that the Movies Will Never Do

That last line was a reference to a Batman story I hope the show runners of Gotham never do, unless there’s a dramatic changing of gears in the series latter years. But I do think there’s plenty of potential for Batman stories from the comics without a Batman operating in the TV version of his hometown. Imagine a fourth season based around Jeph Loeb’s and Tim Sale’s The Long Halloween, where a mysterious figure commits crimes once a month on holidays and both the cops and criminals of Gotham are trying to catch them. (No spoilers here, but the reveal could easily be one of the biggest twists in TV history.) Or extrapolate on just the Gordon parts of Batman Year One, with Flass replacing Bullock due to some other plot point, as the episodic through line of a whole season, getting Jim his first big promotion at the end. Hell, any storylines from the GCPD series would be welcome, modulating the bad guys as necessary for this period in the city’s history.

What I really want to see for this first season, though, is a thorough, yearlong investigation into the Wayne Killer. The triggerman doesn’t have to be Joe Chill, like in the Nolan movies and traditionally in the comics, and he or she doesn’t have to be hidden behind a criminal conspiracy just as an excuse to drag the case out that long (see True Detective and The Killing for two ways that can be done), but the manhunt for the creator of Batman is worth a complex, twisty discovery. Naturally, crime doesn’t sleep or stop in Gotham, so Gordon and Bullock will occasionally get sidetracked in their investigation, but everything should always circle back around to chasing that one murderer. Finally catching them in the season finale might be a little too obvious, but it might also be very satisfying.

and Does Make Sara Paxton Flamebird

The Innkeepers, Cheap Thrills, and Aquamarine actress has already been cast as Bette Kane, who in the comics is either the original Bat-Girl or Batwoman’s cousin/sidekick Flamebird. The show definitely got a coup in getting Paxton but time will tell whether she’s in another project that wastes her talents. I mean, come on, if nothing else can be taken from this Tumbl, hopefully Fox can make this happen:

Filed under gotham fox gotham batman