Movies for When You Don’t Want Superheroes
by Travis Hedge Coke
Everybody loves superheroes. Yes, even you. But, hardly anyone wants to watch superhero movies all the time. Let’s take a look at options for when you want a comics-based movie, but are not looking for a superhero.
Patricia Louisianna Knop and Jacques Demy’s 1979 adaptation of Riyoko Ikeda’s Rose of Versailles, Lady Oscar is a fantastic examination of class and gender roles. Demy, the director, is in love with exploring a sumptuous depth of field, piercing deep into the social strata.
Set in the late 18th Century, the titular Oscar, played by Catriona MacColl, moves between male and female worlds, her father hadn’t given her enough of a male name and a male raising, that with bearing and clothes, she is a guard to Marie Antoinette (Christine Böhm, who died shortly after in an auto accident), she is propositioned as if she were a man, and even in the face of some protests that she is not she feels as a man. She feels a man.
She also does not feel is a man.
Oscar’s position in eighteenth-century French upper crust, allows her to perceive the limitations of high and low classes, youth and age, female and male social realms. An incredibly queer film (and gay, and trans, and lesbian, for those for whom queer is not an umbrella), Oscar is our window and our dreamer.
In Bruce Lee’s first leading role, he is the Kid. A slapstick, talk fast comedy also called My Son A-Chang, The Kid follows a charismatic young boy embroiled in minor troublemaking, kid gangs, criminal syndicates, to becoming a champion of factory workers and innocent people.
Based on the comic of the same name by Yuen Bou-wan, The Kid is directed by Fung Fung, early in his almost seventy year career, who also plays Lee’s character’s nemesis, the knife-wielding gangster, call Flash Knife Lee.
Primarily of Interest now, for Bruce Lee’s later career, it remains an exciting, funny, charmer on its own terms. Made in 1950, The Kid is a slapdash mixture of gags engineered twenty years earlier and cutting edge cinematic language.
The adaptation of Ben Dunn’s Warrior Nun Areala, into Netflix’s serial, Warrior Nun, has been one of the nicest surprises of 2020. Showrunner Simon Barry has modernized and purified the vast wealth of Dunn’s comic book universe must be bred into an easily understood, easily embraced television series. While it may receive a second season, it does not need one to make its mark.
The emphasis on Latin actors (and Latin from the world; from Menorca, Portugal, Brazil, the UK, Spain…), and the range, really, of locales in Spain, is a comforting shift from many American productions adapting comics. It highlights a little, how of its time the creation of Shotgun Mary is, but there’s nothing wrong, and a second season could easily improve her portrayal, already wonderfully acted by Toya Turner. I don’t find anything unusual
Those early episodes are a fantastically sensitive portrayal, even with the fantastical elements, of what being that age and being a kid on your own in the city can be like. Alba Baptista has great range in her expressions and convinces us she is experiencing both common and magical events from a grounded, immature perspective.
Lum the Forever
“The advent of the oni princess.”
Layered narratives of macguffins to illustrate the highest nail being hammered first. The xenophobia in community and in the soul.
The second Urusei Yatsura movie directed by Kazuo Yamazaki, he considers it both his most personal expression to an audience and a misstep that put message above entertainment.
A beautiful film that acknowledges that objectification is not acceptance, Lum the Forever gifts us lovely mise en scene and intimate examples of awkwardness.
I have watched Avengers: Infinity War once and tried to watch Endgame three times. Everything I want in those and do not find, is in Tamara Drewe, the 2010 Stephen Frears/Moira Buffini adaptation of the 2005 Posy Simmonds comic.
This means that Tamara Drewe has a plot consistently motivated by genuine urges and understandable social reactions, believable, nuanced emotions, and a clear understanding of societal consequences. And, also, it means I should not have been trying to watch Endgame so doggedly it was never for me.
Tamara Drewe is a 21st Century retelling of Thomas Harding’s Far from the Madding Crowd, emphasizing human nature, cycles of misbehavior, cultural bias and b.s., and the flaws of social and class supremacy.
Starring Gemma Arterton, also of comics adaptations such as St Trinian’s and Gemma Bovery, and featuring Dominic Cooper (Preacher, the Captain America films, and the upcoming What If…?), Tamsin Grieg and Luke Evans, Tamara Drewe is a riveting comedy of human flaws. Its characters are humanly selfish, deeply funny, and breathe, and cry, and shit.
And, more happens in the first ten minutes than in the first forty-seven of Endgame, which only has more fireworks.
Movies for When You Don’t Want Superheroes
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