Film Reviews

The Unashamed Colorism and Afro Latinx Erasure of Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights”

The narrative that they cast "the best actors for the job" is rooted a flimsy excuse in white supremacy

In the Heights

via Warner Bros. Pictures

Ever since Hamilton debuted, I have not known peace.

In 2016, the Broadway sensation won 11 Tonys and captured the hearts and imagination of theatre kids, older white people, and revisionist historians everywhere. Everyone was talking about Hamilton, and everyone was talking about its star and creator, Lin Manuel Miranda.

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Film Features

How China Is Controlling Hollywood

What "Red Dawn" taught us about defeating Chinese invaders–oops, we mean North Korean.

Photo by nuno alberto (Unsplash)

From Trump threatening to ban TikTok in the US to hordes of angry Americans defending their vituperative rhetoric as "free speech," America is in the midst of a "disinformation war."

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Tasting Room Presents: Exclusive Wines Inspired by Westworld

Celebrate the show’s return with these delicious new wines

In honor of the highly anticipated premiere of Westworld's third season, Warner Bros and Tasting Room have crafted a limited edition collection of wines to celebrate the series' return.

Directly inspired by the show's thrilling third season, the three eye-catching bottles are each uniquely curated and inspired by characters in the show, each offering a vastly different tasting experience. Check out the wines below, and be sure to get yourself a bottle before they sell out!

2017 Maeve Millay Limestone Coast Shiraz

Westworld wines maeve

Think you know Australian Shiraz? Think again. This tantalizing red will leave you longing for sip after sip — if it doesn't knock you off your feet completely. Like Maeve, it's intriguing and complex, with concentrated flavors of blackberry, vanilla, and cedar culminating in a lingering finish that you won't soon forget. While enjoying this alluring wine wouldn't qualify as a violent delight, it will certainly bring you pleasure that you don't find every day.

Tasting Notes:

Rich, concentrated, blackberry, boysenberry, vanilla, spicy cedar finish, warm lingering finish.

2016 Dolores Abernathy California White Blend

westworld wines

There's a path for everyone — consider yourself lucky to be on the path that's brought you to this enchanting and layered blend of Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier. Inspired by Dolores, this white may seem mild and pleasant at first, but one sip reveals that it packs a punch of vibrant green apple and pear flavors, deftly woven with notes of baking spices. Choose to see the beauty in the world through this captivating wine.

Tasting Notes

Packed with vibrant green apple and pear flavors, deftly woven with notes of baking spices.

2016 Man in Black Rogue Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

westworld wines man in black

Like a maze you desperately want to solve, this compelling Cabernet Sauvignon will take you on some twists and turns. It's a red worth discovering, with its rich, layered flavors of black cherry, coffee bean and dried herbs — just as the Man in Black enjoys a game worth playing. Each taste reveals something new, until you find yourself completely immersed in the wine's brooding, dark profile. Go ahead: Take a sip and unleash your true self.

Tasting Notes

Dark, chewy, savory; Flavors of black cherry, currant, plum, coffee bean, dried herbs; will be adding a portion of barrel aged Cabernet to soften the green notes. Medium-Firm tannins on the finish.

The Westworld Wine sale is live now: Order a case before the next episode today!

Photo by Korng Sok on Unsplash

The Warner Bros Studio Tour in London has a thrilling attraction—the Gringotts Wizarding Bank set from the Harry Potter movies!

You too can experience the wonder of entering through vaulted bank doors and handing your hard-earned coin to greedy, money-grubbing little men with long, crooked noses, receding hairlines and shifty eyes.

Okay, when it's written out like that it sounds very anti-Semitic, but don't worry, these aren't Jews. These are goblins. Sure, the goblins' traits sound similar to Nazi-era propaganda, but that's probably because they both play off banking tropes. It's not like they look similar.

Oh damn. The Gringotts goblins are totally coded as anti-Semitic Jewish stereotypes.

Here's the thing. JK Rowling almost definitely didn't do this intentionally. If anything, the Harry Potter novels are, by and large, anti-fascist in nature. Voldemort is a dictator aiming to eradicate half-blooded wizards—it doesn't get more blatant than that. Rowling also borrowed and pastiched from all sorts of fantasy and folklore while writing Harry Potter, so it's likely that a lot of the goblins' more anti-Semitic features are actually related to older fantasy fare surrounding bankers. It just so happens that those were probably inspired by anti-Jewish propaganda.

Of course, the intention hardly matters. The fact of the matter is that the Gringotts Goblins are absolutely coded as anti-Semitic Jewish stereotypes, propelling an image that has been and continues to be used against Jewish people by supporters of racist and nationalist ideologies. This goes beyond mere physical imagery, too.

In Sorcerer's Stone, the caring Hogwarts groundskeeper, Hagrid, who raises monsters as a passion, warns Harry about goblins before he enters Gringotts: "They're goblins, Harry. Clever as they come, goblins, but not the most friendly of beasts." This is especially biting considering the fact that in the world of Harry Potter, goblins are not "beasts," but rather a fully sentient, intelligent race much like humans.

In Goblet of Fire, we learn about goblin creditors who hold debts in the highest regard and are willing to pursue a debtor to the end of the earth, taking everything he has if he cannot repay them, as was the case with Ludo Bagman.

In Deathly Hallows, Griphook, the only goblin we come to know personally, betrays Harry by turning him over to the Gringotts guards when Harry tries to destroy one of Voldemort's Horcruxes. This happens after Harry saves Griphook's life, showing that goblins have little loyalty outside of that to money.

Ultimately, the depiction of goblins in Harry Potter is extremely negative. Not only are they physically repulsive, but they are sneaky, dangerous, and disloyal, caring only about themselves and their money. These traits are identical to the anti-semitic propaganda that's been spread throughout history.

Again, none of this is to say that JK Rowling is anti-Semitic or even realized that she was propagating anti-Semitic stereotypes with the Gringotts goblins, although she did actively consult on all of the films (meaning the goblins' appearances definitely made it past her, but so did this TERF tweet).Therein lies the danger of prolific propaganda like that of the "Greedy Jew." Once evil imagery becomes widespread enough, it practically propagates itself.


Photo by Andres Gomez - Unsplash

In It: Chapter One, "The Losers Club," a group of outcast children banded together to defeat It, an evil force that plagues their town of Derry, Maine every 27 years.

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Annabelle got her own movie after debuting as the monster of The Conjuring.

Annabelle Comes Home may as well be The Conjuring 2.5 for how deeply it ties in with the story of the Warrens, but that's not to take anything away from Annabelle or the women who face her. Annabelle Comes Home is Annabelle's triumphant homecoming and a guaranteed summer scare.

Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) recover the Annabelle doll from the Perrons (from The Conjuring), and they lock Annabelle up in their artifact room. One year later, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) babysits Judy Warren (McKenna Grace) while Ed and Lorraine are out overnight. Mary Ellen's friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) snoops around the artifact room and messes with Annabelle, initiating a night of terror for the three young women.

Gary Dauberman unleashes a lot of new tricks to scare you and the on-screen heroines in his directorial debut. His toolbox of scares includes new tricks with light and shadows, antics with old typewriters (I guess they were modern typewriters, since this is set in the '70s), and even freaky board games. Dauberman also uses the familiar "monster pops up in the dark" and "dragging the heroine across the floor" tropes. If it ain't broke, right?

The Conjuring movies work because they are more than just scary, but some of the spinoffs haven't measured up, because they're just scare machines without any heart. Annabelle Comes Home has an advantage since it's dealing with the Warrens, the center of The Conjuring movies. There's a lot of history already established in two Conjuring films, but Judy Warren, the youngest of the family, is a clean slate. Exploring what it's like to be a kid growing up with famous parents (or infamous depending on how the neighbors see them) would be compelling even outside a horror movie.

The new characters are compelling, too. Daniela may seem like a troublemaker, but when she's alone, the movie reveals she has a sincere reason for breaking and entering. Mary Ellen exudes the kindness and compassion of a caretaker, the sort of pure nurturing you'd need in your corner when facing malevolent spirits. It's really empowering to see three women under 20 stand up to monsters. Sure, "the final girl" has always been a staple of horror movies, but it felt special to relate to a trio and not just wait for two of them to die.

The very nature of the plot, that the Warrens hire a babysitter for the night, makes it apparent that Ed and Lorraine will only be at the beginning and end of the movie. Otherwise, it really would just be The Conjuring 3. The Warrens' presence makes really strong bookends to Annabelle Comes Home. They're great parents, which empowers Judy to be independent. When they drive by a cemetery in the beginning and all the spirits talk to Lorraine, you get the sense that she probably deals with this all the time. After all, with great power comes great responsibility, and there are a lot of spirits who need her help and others who aren't interested in cooperation with humans.

Dauberman definitely took what he knows about the Warrens and used it to amplify this latest Annabelle story. Die-hard fans of the real-life Warrens may catch some Easter eggs, while people who only know the Warrens through The Conjuring films will learn more about their history. That depth makes Annabelle Comes Home the most haunting Annabelle yet. Perhaps, Annabelle Comes Home will encourage research into the real Ed and Lorraine Warren, but even if it doesn't make you do homework, Annabelle Comes Home is the scariest toy story of the year.