MUSIC

The Legacy of Kanye's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"

The rapper's magnum opus turned 10 years old over the weekend.

It's almost eerie how accurately Kanye West predicted his own fate when he uttered the words "I miss the old Kanye" on 2016's The Life of Pablo.

In my head, and likely in the memories of many others, there are two Kanyes: a then and a now. Both are cocky, self-important, certifiable jerks, but then, he at least still felt a marginal need to continue proving himself.

Now, he's so immeasurably detached from reality that it's a little hard to take anything he does or creates seriously—at this point, I find it difficult to even care. I don't want to explicitly cite a certain presidential election and its aftermath as the dividing line between the Kanye of then and now in my conscience, but...yeah, Kanye rubbing elbows with Trump was pretty much the last straw for me.

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FILM

Never Say Die: Is "The Goonies" Finally Going to Get a Sequel?

On the first episode of Reunited Apart, Josh Gad brought the cast and creators together to reminisce and discuss possible sequels

"Reunited Apart"

On Monday actor Josh Gad released the first episode of his new Internet show, Reunited Apart.

Each episode will feature the cast and creators of a different classic show or movie getting back together over video chat in support of a good cause—in this case the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Unfortunately the show may have already peaked, because the first episode focused on one of the most impressive cast reunions of all time. It brought together nine of the stars, screenwriter Chris Columbus, director Richard Donner, executive producer Steven Spielberg, and even singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper, from the classic 1985 adventure movie, The Goonies.

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FILM

"Men in Black: International" Has Everything But Jokes

They can do anything they want in visual effects now, but they can't write a funny script.

High T (Liam Neeson) is in charge of MIB London branch where M (Tessa Thompson) is a rookie.

Credit: Giles Keyte. © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

Will Smith made his last Men in Black film in 2012.

Since then, there have been lots of ideas for how to continue the franchise. The best idea was to recruit Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum from 21 Jump Street to become Men in Black. They couldn't work that out, but the idea of Men In Black lends itself to a new pair of agents having their own adventures. It wouldn't even preclude them from meeting Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) one day. Not the agents from Men in Black International, though. We don't ever want to see them again.

In 2016, Agents H (Chris Hemsworth) and High T (Liam Neeson) battled The Hive on top of the Eiffel Tower. Or rather, they're green screened into the scaffolding of the Eiffel Tower. 20 years ago, Molly saw her parents get neuralyzed, but she avoided the memory wipe herself and helped an adorable alien escape. She's spent her life looking for the Men in Black, and she'd be qualified as an adult (Tessa Thompson) if any of the government agencies like the FBI or CIA knew the Men in Black existed.

Molly's ambition could add to Men in Black: International a different dynamic than what J and K had. She finds the Men in Black herself and convinces them to make her Agent M. They can always neuralyze her if it doesn't work out. Then she impresses H and makes herself indispensable to him. In previous movies, Agent J mocked the whole operation, which worked for Will Smith, but M is a good role model to have in a 2019 Men in Black movie. Men In Black: International isn't really interested in M's ambition, and she and H just become generic buddy cops.

Men in Black International forgot to give H and M a dynamic. Oh, I just got that they're H & M. The movie doesn't play that up either. It's cast right; on paper, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson should work. But they're not playing off each other. Agents J and K were the basic clown and deadpan straight man, because that's a comedy formula for a reason.

Men In Black International knows M (Tessa Thompson) and H (Chris Hemsworth) are supposed to be reluctant partners but can't figure out why. Men In Black International knows M (Tessa Thompson) and H (Chris Hemsworth) are supposed to be reluctant partners but can't figure out why.Credit: Giles Keyte. © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

Instead, H is smug and swaggery, which Hemsworth can certainly play, but that's not a personality. Maybe if M kept up her ambition and got under H's skin, that would be something, but they ignore that once they're on the case. H razzes the alien Vungus (Kayvan Novak), but it's all made up insults about an alien physiology we've never seen before. How can we laugh about something they've just made up?

The only funny character is Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani), and he doesn't even show up until over an hour in. There are no zingers like, "I make this look good" or "It's raining black people." The name High T is a decent pun, and there are new celebrities identified as secret aliens, but you can only ride that joke so long. Agents M and O (Emma Thompson) have some amusing banter about the outdated gender norms of the name Men in Black, which almost goes somewhere and feels like dialogue Thompson probably punched up herself. When she's not in the scene, the movie is on its own.

Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani), the little creature on M (Tessa Thompson)'s shoulder, is the only funny character in Men in Black International. Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani), the little creature on M (Tessa Thompson)'s shoulder, is the only funny character in Men in Black International.Credit: Giles Keyte. © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

At least Men in Black: International delivers on the international part. The movie goes to New York, London, Paris, and Marrakesh. This is the longest Men in Black movie, and it feels as long as its hour and 54-minute runtime. It tries to lead you to suspect H for so long when it's totally obvious which character you should really suspect.

They can do anything they want in visual effects now, but they can't write a funny script. Men in Black: International is loaded with more aliens, MIB gadgets, and firepower, but there aren't any jokes. When you don't have Will Smith to make up funny lines, you have to actually give the actors funny things to say.

In 1997, Men in Black had to be selective with its visual effects, so we probably only got to see the best ideas make it to screen. Now that Men in Black: International can have as many visual effects as a Marvel movie, it goes to show that Men in Black wasn't ever supposed to be a tentpole action franchise. Men in Black: International has a lot more set pieces, but none are anything we haven't seen before.

H and M have a gunfight with Alien Twins (Les Twins Laurent and Larry Bourgeois) wherein they shoot bigger guns, but it's the same destruction of a city block we see in every movie. H has a hand-to-hand fight in which he does the same flip over his opponent that every action hero does in every mainstream movie. They have high speed vehicular chases on green screens like the speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi. Men in Black: International has nothing to add to the action/sci-fi genre.

Men In Black International I've got a bad feeling about this. Credit: Giles Keyte. © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

What the Men in Black franchise had was comedy. It doesn't take a big budget to write comedy, but it's probably harder work. If Men in Black: International thought it could distract us from the lack of jokes, it was wrong. We noticed that we weren't laughing.

FILM & TV

SATURDAY FILM SCHOOL | 'Deadpool 2' Is a Chaotic Meta Jokefest

The Best Worst Superhero Returns in Deadpool 2.

20th Century Fox 'Deadpool 2'

Ryan Reynolds' wisecracking still packs a punch, and the film's meta sendup of blockbuster tropes flips the bird at Hollywood.

2016's Deadpool revitalized the Marvel format: What could easily be another archetypal blockbuster, Deadpool introduced a type of grit and naughtiness to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rated R, filled with suggestive jokes, and jam-packed with dismembered bodies and decapitations, Deadpool isn't an ordinary superhero franchise; it breaks the fourth wall and then some, barreling its way through superhero tropes and providing an abrasive alter-ego compared to Marvel's more wholesome offerings.

Everyone is in on the joke, so when Deadpool's girlfriend is killed 10 minutes in, it's only fitting that the opening title sequence nods to her unexpected passing—but, given the nature of Deadpool, a franchise that has always served as a meta-commentary on the superhero industry, its unintended sequel has a way of showing all the strings being pulled to keep the show running.

Where exactly can you take a franchise like this? There are only so many gags about X-Men and the movie's humble budget ($58 million) that can be made, and there's plenty of that in this film, including a scene where Deadpool opens a door in Xavier's mansion revealing X-Men's better-known heroes. Deadpool 2 has plenty of fun disrupting X-Men origin narratives, even poking fun at Wolverine's/Logan's recent departure from the silver screen.

But even as a stand-alone action flick, Deadpool 2 is a serviceable blockbuster without writer-producer-star Ryan Reynolds, whose wisecrack performance redeems 2011's ever-disappointing Green Lantern. Finding his niche as a jokester in a red padded suit, Reynolds steals every scene; his comedic timing and puppyish antics give life to a character that would otherwise be a jackass-y burn victim incapable of dying.

For an anti-hero, Deadpool is quite lovable. He meanders around, picking fights and making obscure film references. He drinks and smokes and makes friends with taxi drivers. He's like Peter Parker's older, cooler, and unemployed step-brother. It makes for entertaining chaos, with Deadpool usually initiating some type of violent action sequence where he's shot multiple times, dismembered, or torn in half. You'll see some of the most brutal action sequences in Deadpool 2—the choreography is smoother, faster, more creative, and chaotically paced. Everything that elevated Deadpool from other shoot 'em up action flicks is here in Deadpool 2, injected with steroids and Red Bull: shifty, fourth-wall-breaking action sequences; dubstep; inappropriate sexual innuendos; the self-referential mythology of Marvel's interconnected family of superheroes—now we can add gags about Deadpool's regenerating body and baby legs to the mix.

Deadpool 2 also benefits from a small cast, something recent Marvel offerings (Infinity War and Thor: Ragnarok) avoid like the plague. Bigger isn't always better and Deadpool 2 utilizes its supporting characters sparingly, killing them off moments after introducing them: A comedic highlight comes after Deadpool enlists his own team of heroes (reductively) named the "X Force," most notable, Zazie Beetz's Domino (whose powers of "luck" make for a lighthearted addition to Deadpool 2's whimsical unseriousness).

When Deadpool and his team of misfits go off to save a young mutant orphan, Russel aka Firefist (Julian Dennison), the movie shows its more endearing and family-oriented sentiments. The bad guy and Deadpool's stoic foil, Cable (Josh Brolin), is determined to stop Russell since he's seen, in the future, just how destructive his powers are to society, and more specifically, his own family. Still sassy, profane, inappropriate, and wildly fun, Deadpool 2 proves it's a notable franchise in its own right. Ryan Reynolds' wisecracking still packs a punch, and the film's meta sendup of blockbuster tropes flips the bird at Hollywood. And it's still refreshing to see a superhero who actually doesn't care—so many of the others do, and they aren't as fun.

POP⚡DUST Score: ⚡⚡⚡⚡


Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.


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