Thursday, March 25, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks - TMP Television Edition: Opening Title Sequence

Wandering Through the Shelves hosts Thursday Movie Picks. It's a weekly series where bloggers post and share various movie picks every Thursday. 

The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

This week is Thursday Movie Picks - TV EDITION - Opening Title Sequence.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Short Films Collection at Athena Film Festival 2021

The Athena Film Festival is the premier festival celebrating and showcasing women's leadership in documentaries and feature films as well as in-depth conversations with industry experts. One of their prominent program areas features short films grouped into specific themes that explore and highlight a wide range of issues from climate change to social justice movements.

This year’s festival included several themes including Resilience Through Uncertainty, Nothing About Us Without Us, and Tear It Down: Dismantling White Supremacy. While covering the festival this month, I had access to short films from each of these sections and provide reviews to my selections below.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Test Pattern (Athena Film Festival 2021)

(This review contains spoilers for Promising Young Woman).

Two different nights in Austin, Texas set the stage for Test Pattern – the first charming meet-cute between Renesha (Brittany S. Hall) and Evan (Will Brill) ends with the couple’s courtship blossoming into a loving lived-in relationship; the second similar night ends with Renesha drugged and sexually assaulted by a stranger during a girl’s night out at a bar. And the couple dealing with the health care system as they try to secure a rape kit.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks - Fake Identity

Wandering Through the Shelves hosts Thursday Movie Picks. It's a weekly series where bloggers post and share various movie picks every Thursday. 

The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

This week is Thursday Movie Picks - Fake Identity

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Everything I Love About Sam Wilson (Part 2)

We're only a few days away from The Falon and The Winter Soldier premiering on Disney+. Now seemed like the best time to also drop part two of my brief eseries Everything I Love About Sam Wilson as part of my series  celebrating Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Right now, I plan on limiting this continuation to the movies, knowing once the show starts I may fall behind keeping up - though time will tell. Here's brief run-through in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Hope you enjoy! 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Mama Gloria (Athena Film Festival 2021)

2020 marked the deadliest year on record for transgender and non-conforming individuals. Even with the emergence of trans entertainers and activists  likeJanet Mock and Laverne Cox in mind, how rare it is for LGBTQ+ youth to have a blueprint or example of trans icons who defy such unnecessary and transphobic circumstances. Just as equally rare is an inspirational documentary that Mama Gloria joyfully fills the void of. 

Told fully from her perspective, the documentary directed by Luchina Fisher affords Gloria Allen the opportunity to share her journey of transitioning in Chicago’s south side in the 1950s to her contributions as trailblazer today – now in her 70s. Most notably, she’s recognized for starting a charm school for her fellow trans women, especially homeless youth; the school also later became a play “Charm” which has inspired trans actresses to follow in her footsteps and come out as transgender. Where there is such glorious success, however, there are also adversities that have made her stronger including transphobia, sexual assault, and racism. The vulnerability, wisecracking humor, and honesty Allen exudes allows viewers to take a brief yet engrossing portrait of aging that offers insight and the process of recognizing gender and body dysphoria to gradually making the choice and having the access to transition medically.

For the most part, the film is able to capture Gloria's essence as a beloved mom to her "babies" -  students and trans youth who look to her for guidance - and the LGBTQ+ community at large. With letting Allen take the wheel of the film's structure, she’s able to hold the reigns of her story taking us through the nostalgic highs of her youth and the stark lows of challenges she's faced and continues to face in her older age. However, the documentary moves at a fairly brisk pace that doesn’t delve further where it could have. Though the film breaks up Allen’s narrative with a heartwarming high school reunion, interviews with her relatives, and archival footage of Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood nightlife and drag balls, there are elements such as founding her charm school and Allen’s involvement in the Stonewall Riots that could’ve extended more context.

One of the most poignant moments of Mama Gloria is not only her ability to light the torch the next generation of trans women and men to carry, but also the resounding support and struggles she faced to ultimately fall in love with herself. Sadly, this is not always or commonly the same for so many. A conversation with a neighbor at their apartment complex brings the common thread and disparity of generations of LGBTQ+ individuals - “None of us when we were young ever thought about living to be this age, or what life experience would be in this age, and there were no examples.” Hopefully in the years ahead the world will become a place where it chooses to accept everyone for who they truly are and allow Gloria Allen’s story to be one of many examples of resilience, hope, and acceptance that the trans and LGBTQ+ community needs right now and always.

Screening Mama Gloria was a part of my coverage of this year’s Athena Film Festival. Check out more of my reviews here and the official website to Mama Gloria here.

WandaVision (2021)

I've always liked Wanda, but mostly watched her show without a lot of expectations. After it was over, there was a lot more than I thought I'd need to get off my chest about her arc, Vision, and their series WandaVision as an essay? rant? rave? It contains spoilers. Read at your own risk. 

Wanda’s powers has grown in tandem with her emotions - how to understand what she's capable of, how others feared her, and what she has to do to protect her loved ones. Since she and her brother Pietro debuted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2012, she’s had more than her fair share of repressed emotions to sort through.  Her abilities were, after all, born out of a "hopeful" act of revenge against Tony Stark – whose bombs killed both of their parents and nearly left them for dead. It wasn’t long before they switched teams to The Avengers. With enough pain to wield once Pietro was caught in the crossfire, we got a taste of what she could do if she was affected deeply enough: decimating all of Ultron’s clones and ripping out another murder-bot's vibranium "heart" with her hands. 

What’s made her formidable over the years is that her abilities let her do anything she sets her mind to. They’ve always been consumed or transformed her sense of self through heartache and growth, and defining who she is with and without Vision. She began to learn how to curb her skills until a fiery explosion forced her into internment with Vision at the compound in Captain America: Civil War. Not only did she and Vision connect over their link to the Mind Stone, her escape to stand up against The Accords began when Wanda was reminded she could free herself by crushing him into the surface, “I can’t control other people’s fears, only my own.” The question of her arc so far was never that she wasn’t powerful, but what she could do if she was totally in control of herself. The answer eventually came two-fold.