How to Feel About Every Upcoming Superhero Movie: 2018 Edition

As of the day this posts 1, it is the beginning of the culmination (things are confusing, ok?) of Marvel’s ultimate MCU plan, leading to the last set of movies, and then something New and Completely Different for the future. It is generally easy, then, to believe that things may change within the next few years in terms of superheroes.

Or maybe they won’t! Who knows! What we do know is that there are going to be a bunch more of these things over the course of the next few years, and that I am here to talk you through the appropriate hype level and/or anticipatory environment, as I always am, because I love all of you fine people.

The usual caveats apply – I am a terrible prognosticator, and I have even less of an ability to gauge what people will like – but, despite this, I still believe that all information contained herein to be 100% nice and accurate, and also that I’m still optimistic about almost all of them, because I prefer to live in hope of something.\

Avengers: Infinity War

WHAT IT IS: The first part of the last bit of the MCU. The beginning of the culmination of the….you know what? It’s really, really hard to describe what this is. It’s the film version of The Infinity Gauntlet, which was the first thing that I remember enjoying serially as a young person 2. So I’ve been successfully pandered to, is what I’m saying. Anyway, all of the MCU superheroes are going to beat up Thanos. Or, because this is the first part of a two-part bit of business, they’re probably going to fail to beat up Thanos, and some of them (Iron Man) are going to die tragically, and they’ll have to figure out how to get the help of Captain Marvel (see below) and possibly Adam Warlock (see the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) to finally finish the job. Plus teamwork and the real treasure being the friendships they made along the way or whatever. That kind of thing.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because even the worst MCU movies 3 are still pretty good – they’ve yet to make one that wasn’t at least hugely watchable – and because they’ve clearly put a lot of time and effort into the whole thing. The Russo Brothers, of course, have already mastered the “everybody fights everybody else” story when they directed Community’s paintball episodes 4, so we know they’re capable. The MCU metadirectorial powers that be have been able to surprise audiences at several turns when they were not expected to 5, and while it’s true that this isn’t exactly some kind of underdog, it’s also the case that the whole thing does have to fall down at some point, but it sure seems like the first part of the grand finale isn’t that point.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, because the whole thing does have to fall down at some point. No winning streak lasts forever. The 1972 Dolphins didn’t lose a game, but the 1973 Dolphins did 6. Also the source material – which isn’t solely Jim Starlin’s Infinity Gauntlet, but which starts from there – is some real wild and woolly stuff 7, and who knows how much of it is going to make it through from there? In this case, I will say, that the real danger to the film would be hewing too closely to the source material, which would drag down a film, but which is also deeply unlikely, given that many of the pivotal characters aren’t a part of the MCU. In any event, I’m not waffling very much, except insofar as it does seem possible that this could be a difficult finish, and it might not work.

Deadpool 2

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to the world’s foremost R-Rated superhero comedy movie. It’s still going to inclue TJ Miller, which is…a real decision in 2018, and is almost certain not to age well, but hey, maybe that will be its biggest problem. It also cast Zayzie Beetz as Domino, which makes the level of pandering-to-me that the Infinity War movie managed to seem like small potatoes 8. But that’s beside the point. It’s a giant sequel with huge expectations to a movie that managed to not have had any expectations.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Ryan Reynolds is still Ryan Reynolds and while it’s true that some of my previous statements w/r/t Zayzie Beetz may seem to cheapen the sentiment somewhat, she is a great funny actress who seems to be doing well in the trailers. The decision to give Cannonball’s powers to Negasonic Teenage Warhead 9 shows that they are being thoughtful about their character-based decisions. I can’t think of a reason not to be excited for any comedy with Terry Crews in it. Plus, hey, what reason could there possibly be for including fucking Shatterstar if you didn’t have a good idea for what to do with him? I mean, they must have a good reason, right? Because that dude suuuuuuuuucks. And maybe there will only be enough TJ Miller in it to appreciate him without having to think about anything he’s done publicly since the first one came out.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s got a lot of hype following it around, and while the first one was delightful, I don’t know if the framework is sturdy enough to hold up to it. We’ve seen RR do the thing, and so it will have lost some of its surprise if they’re not careful. It’s also always hard to tell if it’s going to be a funny movie, or if the trailer is just full of all the funny bits. And, of course, there’s the fact that they made a movie that includes Shatterstar, which is completely baffling, because that dude suuuuuuuuucks.

The Incredibles 2

WHAT IT IS: It is the sequel to what is, if we’re all being totally honest, the greatest supehero movie ever made.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Brad Bird is a prickly, notoriously principled dude who makes no film before its time. He waited so long to make it because he wanted to have the right idea. The whole cast has returned, the trailers are awesome, Pixar has seemingly fixed their sequels problem, everything should be absolutely pipe.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I mean, I guess it could be terrible. Brad Bird’s non-animated movies have not been that good. But The Incredibles is a masterpiece – I mean, like, a genuine actual masterpiece, a world-conquering display of human filmmaking ability, and a movie that I would watch every goddamn day and stay happy about it – and I trust Mr. Bird that he had a good time to go back to it. This film, perhaps more than any of the other ones here, could be launched off into some weird territory 10, and that would be a damn shame. But that seems like an edge case.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to Ant-Man, and the first post-Infinity War movie on the Marvel slate. This one appears to be expanding the role of Evangeline Lily’s Hope Van Dyne 11, and will probably be a relatively-lighter palate cleanser from what will surely be a gloomy Infinity War situation.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The first one was a blast, cramming a caper film into a superhero costume, and letting Paul Rudd be Paul Rudd (and Michael Pena be Michael Pena). The building blocks are there for this to also be a lot of fun, and it’s being directed once more by Peyton Reed, who seems like the right guy for it, although see below.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The world may never know how much of the movie Edgar Wright had actually prepared when he was fired and Peyton Reed took over, but since the first Ant-Man still had a decidedly Edgar Wright feel to it, it might have been a lot. Also, Ant-Man the character isn’t much of a thing, and there isn’t much else to hang this on. He was good for his, like, five lines in Civil War, but if any of the MCU movies is liable to lose serious steam in the near future, it’s this one.

Venom

WHAT IT IS: A somehow-still-happening film about a very famous Spider-Man villain/antihero. This time Tom Hardy is going to be the man in the black goo 12, and there’s probably not going to be any actual Spider-Man in there, and also it’s unclear how “Anti-” this anti-hero is going to be. I would guess “considerably,” but hey, who knows.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Tom Hardy is great, and the fact that he has so little in common with the traditional depiction of Eddie Brock means that it could be that they’re going somewhere new and interesting with the character. Venom can be a lot of visual fun – the costume reforming itself and doing cool black goo things and all that – and that always helps.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There just isn’t a lot to Venom as a character, and to introduce him (sans Spider-Man) and figure out how to work him into a story right away seems like it could be a real slog. Plus between the inclusion of a bunch of prime-era Liefield characters 13 and the fact that this version of Venom, at least given the trailers, is giving off a serious Spawn vibe (an evil corporation! A streetwise grimdark antihero!), we are truly dragging the worst parts of nineties comicbookdom into the movie theaters, and that didn’t work very well the first time. Although I guess we can start getting real excited for those Foolkiller and/or Darkhawk movies 14, right?

Spider Man: Into the Spider Verse

WHAT IT IS: An animated Spider-Man movie centered around Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker. Weirdly, we know that Liev Schreiber is going to play the villain, but we don’t know who in Spider-Man’s deep stable of potential villains it’s going to be 15. Presumably the titular “Spider-Verse” here means there are going to be some other spider-characters, which could mean Jessica Drew’s Spider-Woman, which could also be very exciting. This is, interestingly enough, also Sony’s picture – apparently they only gave the rights to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man over to Disney.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Miles Morales’s Spider-Man has a track record of being written pretty well, and the writer here is Phil Lord, half of the dudes that made The Lego Movie and got fired from Solo. Liev Schreiber is a great voice actor, and the adult figure’s in Morales’s life (his father and brother) are played by Mahershala Ali and Brian Tyree Henry, who are both great. It’s also the first theatrically-released animated movie based on a traditional superhero property 16, which means that, at the very least, we don’t have much to compare it to, so we might as well be excited, right?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Mostly just the general waffle at the unknown here – we don’t really know what’s going on, and they’re keeping things pretty secret. Plus, there’s no telling how the animated version of this story could go. But Sony’s animated offerings include the all-time turd The Emoji Movie, the Hotel Transylvania movies, and the Smurfs movies. So there’s not a great pedigree there, even if Peter Rabbit was probably better than could be expected.

Aquaman

WHAT IT IS: As every single goddamn DCU movie approaches on the horizon I think “this could be the one where they right the ship.” This is the first DCU movie after the somehow-disastrous Justice League movie 17, so maybe they’ll figure it out this time.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Jason Momoa seems like he’s enjoying himself, and he’s certainly the kind of charismatic, fun-to-watch presence that could keep it going. Plus, maybe they’ve finally learned how to mitigate their grimdark nonsense and give it a sense of fun. I think that Aquaman has a pretty wide-open set of possibilities, given that there’s a huge chunk of the internet devoted to making jokes about how much he sucks 18, and thus – it can be inferred – very little expectation. Plus, at this point, if the movie turns out to be even moderately fun or different from the current DCU factory grind, it’ll probably win enough points through being graded on a steep curve that it’ll seem like a good movie. The trick here could be James Wan, who made the only good torture-porn movie (Saw) and made an awfully good movie about a fictionalized version of flim-flam “psychic researchers” Ed and Lorraine Warren (The Conjuring), so clearly he knows how to get good movies out of bad ideas.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I mean, at exactly 1 good movie 19, the DCU isn’t exactly inspiring confidence. Again, there’s every chance they could correct the course here, but given that previous DCU movies have been both awful and profitable, I do have to wonder how much they’re actually going to try to change them, and how much they’re just going to adjust their expectations and go on from there. But then, I’m not in very many Warner Bros. film executive meetings, so I have no idea.

Hellboy

WHAT IT IS: A reboot of the delightfully weird horror comic, last heard from a decade ago when Guillermo del Toro directed the second of his amazing Hellboy movies. This time they got David Harbour to play Hellboy, and Neil Marshall to direct.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Marshall’s previous films prove he can handle horror-comedy (Dog Soldiers), in addition to straight up horror (The Descent) 20, and general big-tent weirdness (Doomsday). David Harbour has been great generally, and what we’ve seen of his version of Hellboy has looked wonderful. Hellboy is a long-running comic with a deep bench of characters and stories, and is open to all sorts of interpretations, so it seems like it would be pretty easy to get something out of it, cinematically speaking. The supporting cast includes Ian “Al Swearengen” McShane, who is always a treat to watch, and Mila Jovovich as an evil sorceress. Plus it’s R-Rated, so we could potentially getting some particularly gnarly visuals.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It has some mighty big shoes to fill. The Del Toro Hellboy movies are both incredible, and set a very high bar for the expectation. It’s based on an original Mike Mignola story, and while it’s true that Hellboy is his character, and he wrote all of the comics, it is also true that all of the stories in the comics are not exactly the comics’ strong suit.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

WHAT IT IS: The fourth movie in the current X-Men continuity. It may also be the last – the Disney/Fox merger is supposed to take full effect before the next one would come out, and after the last one it was rumored that most of the cast was leaving, although that turned out not to be the case. This one is going to tackle a particularly iconic X-Men story, that of Jean Grey’s possession by and eventually triumph over/sacrifice to the Phoenix force. It’s hard to tell how much of the comics storyline is going to be here, but it could be the weirdest one yet, and that’s saying something given that the last X-Men movie included Apocalypse.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The current run of X-Men movies have gotten increasingly crazy and comic-book-ish (with the exception of the dire, gritty Logan, which was also the best X-Men movie made so far), and so this one has a lot of room to be pretty out-there in terms of comic-book-iness. This cast has proven to be reliably good, and who knows? Maybe for the last time out they’ll all bring their best game and we’ll get something really cool out of it.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Leaving aside the fact that X-Men United already botched the holy hell out of adapting this story, there’s also the fact that, while I liked Apocalypse a lot, I’m decidedly in the minority, and the things that I liked about it (the fact that it was the most like a comic book of any of the X-Movies, the fact that it was absurd and weird and barely-linear) are the things that a lot of people most decidedly did not like about it. Furthermore, even if the movie tells a bare-bones, direct version of the Dark Phoenix storyline, there’s still a lot of story there, and trying to get it all in in a way that is entertaining and not an overstuffed, overlong mess seems like a pretty tall order, especially for a first-time director.

Glass

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to Split, which revealed itself to be the sequel to Unbreakable, and thus the third of M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable trilogy. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson will be back for this one, and we’ll get some more of that sweet, sweet McAvoy action.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: After years of self-indulgent nonsense, Shyamalan has come back, first with the satisfying The Visit, and then with the real return to form by way of Split. Bruce Willis remains a mostly-reliable draw, and Unbreakable is one of his finest hours, so seeing him step back into that role is pretty exciting. The same goes for Samuel L. Jackson. Plus, he waited fifteen years to start revisiting this story, so I’d assume he has something ready to go.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Even with his recent uptick in quality, there are still more misses than hits in Shyamalan’s filmography, and it’s still too early to tell how much of it is something he’s able to sustain vs. how much of it is just having happened to have made a couple of good movies.

Captain Marvel

WHAT IT IS: The first (finally!) female-led MCU film. This one is set in the nineties, and stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, presumably as currently written by the great Kelly Sue Deconnick. Clark Gregg and Samuel L. Jackson will be involved, which further manages to tell us that SHIELD will be involved.  This is also going to be interesting because none of the other MCU players are in the continuity yet – Tony Stark has yet to visit that cave, Bruce Banner hasn’t been blowed up yet, Captain America is still on ice, etc. – so they’ll either have to develop a new set of supporting characters or launch her off entirely on her own. The latter seems likely, as they’ll also have to explain why she hasn’t been involved in the events on Earth yet in the MCU.  

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Brie Larson is reliably excellent, the Captain Marvel character is a lot of fun, the nineties setting could be a hoot 21, and there’s plenty of cool early-SHIELD business they could get up to. Captain Marvel is also a cosmic character, and their only other cosmic title is Guardians of the Galaxy, which is fantastic. Oh, and they’re bringing back Lee Pace, so we’ll get some more Kree stuff, which tended to be pretty good in the comics.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s a fairly unknown quantity, I guess? I mean, I’ve got pretty high hopes for it, so there’s always the disappointment, but this far out from it, having only seen production stills and whatnot, it’s pretty hard to tell what the failure modes there might be. I guess it could be too nineties-y, that’s a real risk. Disney has handled more difficult Marvel heroes with aplomb, this one should be relatively easy to get right, provided they don’t do anything stupid.

Shazam!

WHAT IT IS: Well, what it isn’t is the movie where Dwayne Johnson plays Black Adam, which is what it was rumored to be for quite some time. Instead we’re going to get a movie about the most litigated superhero in history, who has to be called his original catchphrase instead of his name 22. Instead it’s the movie where the kid from Jolene turns into the guy from Chuck, who has the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury 23.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, it’s a character that has zero cinema history associated with him, so that’s something that could help it along. I mean, there’s really only a couple of good stories, so the primary reason to be excited about it is the hope that it could be converted to a Miracleman/Marvelman 24 movie, which would actually be as grim and dark and child-threatening as the current DCU movies are, but which is actually a nifty bit of superhero philosophy and whatnot.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s just so little there to work with. Shazam has his fans, certainly, and certainly there are good movies made out of cult superheroes all the time (see above w/r/t Hellboy), so it’s not like it’s destined to be bad. But it’s still a DC property, and its one without a strong vision of its own, so it sure seems like it’s going to be more subject to the forces that make creative decisions, which seems like it’s in an especially precarious place. But I will also say that, of all these, this is the one where my well of ignorance is deepest, as I’ve only ever read Jeff Smith’s run on the book, and a handful of other things over the years. Still, it’s hard to feel inspired about.

Untitled Avengers Sequel

WHAT IT IS:The movie in which, having been (presumably) smooshed all over the map like a bunch of supermops, the MCU superheroes come together with Captain Marvel and probably some other folks as well, and make Thanos pay for his actions or whatever. This is your annual reminder that the conflict in the Infinity Gauntlet comic book ends with Nebula (Karen GIllan’s character in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies), who had been turned into an experiment in living death, getting her revenge by literally stealing the glove off of her father’s hand while he’s distracted over his subconscious doubts about his worthiness of ultimate power. So what I’m saying is: we probably know that the movie isn’t going to follow the book in this manner.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: This is, by all available evidence, the jumping-off point to whatever the post-phase MCU is 25, and will probably kill everybody off to bring in some new people or whatever, so that’s pretty exciting. Plus it’ll be a (I’m guess) satisfying conclusion to the ten years of movies that have brought us to that point, so it’s hard not to be excited, and will probably be even harder given that it’s a direct sequel to Infinity War.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, all of that wrapping up and all of that introducing newness is pretty fraught, and the whole thing could fall apart around us, the unsuspecting audience, and our impossibly high expectations. Plus, the book ended with a lot of questions about worthiness and operatic Thanosisms, and we don’t know much about the Thanos we’re getting here, so that could all go pear-shaped as well.

Gambit

WHAT IT IS: The Dumb Comic Book Nineties continue their roaring back, this time with Channing Tatums’ uh…passion project. He seems like a smart, charismatic dude, but I guess there’s no accounting for taste. Anyway, Gambit was last played by Tim Riggins in X Men Origins: Wolverine, which was awful, and Tim Riggins’s Gambit was awful. He was featured in the nineties X-Men cartoon, so he has an outsized place in the memories of a bunch of dudes in their thirties, which, I guess, includes Channing Tatum. He makes things explode when he touches things and throws them – his preference is for playing cards – and he’s got a cajun accent. Oh and he wears a trenchcoat over body armor and carries a quarterstaff because the nineties were a nightmare hellscape. If I sound like I’m having trouble making this sound cool, it’s because, I assure you, it was not.  

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Um…well, Magic Mike sounded like a dumb idea also, and it turned out to be a really good movie, so clearly Channing Tatum can surprise us all. Plus maybe it’ll actually be a parody or something that we won’t have to take seriously, like 21 Jump Street? That’s another movie that sounded like a terrible idea with Channing Tatum in it. I don’t know, man.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: If the idea of two hours of Channing Tatum doing a cajun accent doesn’t give you a case of the screaming jibblies, then you’ve got a stronger constitution than I do, to be sure. But Gambit was, even at the height of his popularity, a character that didn’t spend a lot of time in his own, solo, stories. We’re a couple of decades past that popularity now, and I don’t think that time is going to have been kind to him. Plus most of his solo stories that did exist (including the one in the aforementioned nineties cartoon) were about the goddamn fucking thieves guild and, my dudes: they were so dumb.

Spider-Man 2

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to the excellent Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the first movie to be free and clear of current phase system of the MCU. As the first post-Infinity Marvel movie, it’s got some stuff resting on it.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Tom Holland is the best onscreen Peter Parker. Genuinely. He’s so good at playing the character that even if the whole thing flies apart without the direction of having an over-arching goal 26, his movies are likely to still be good. Spider-Man movies are always about Peter Parker, and they fail when they don’t do a good job by the character. If someone who knows what they’re doing writes it, it’ll still be fine.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Obviously the inverse corollary here is that if someone writes it that doesn’t know what they’re doing, then it will suck. With the previous Spider-Man series, it was fairly easy to tell when they were going to suck: it was exactly the point at which they had too many villains. So keep an eye on who gets cast as villains, and how many of them there are. It really shouldn’t be more than “two,” and “one” for preference.

Cyborg

WHAT IT IS: It’s a movie about Cyborg, the member of the Justice League that is…a cyborg. The DCU is building their thing around mother boxes and some of their more Kirbyesque elements, and this is coming between Justice League movies, so it’ll probably be expositorily important or something.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: At this point? Because it’s way out in the future, and they could have fixed all sorts of problems by then. Ray Fisher seems like he’s alright and will do fine I guess. I think the best-case scenario with this one is that it turns out to be a remake of the Albert Pyun movie, with the character Cyborg in the role originated by Jean-Claude Van Damme (who plays Gibson Rickenbacker) 27, and a plague that kills everybody, and a crazy-ass action road movie to New York to find a cure. That’d be great.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, it’s not going to be any of those things, it’s not going to have any characters with guitar names, and the DCU has been a ball of boring garbage the whole time so far and there’s no sign of that changing. Sigh.

The New Mutants

WHAT IT IS: The long-delayed first installment in a series that, in the comic books, led up to X-Force 28, but in this case is going to be a post-X-Men horror title. The trailers looked cool, but it’s been turned into a football by the Disney/Fox scheduling/merger shenanigans, which isn’t great. It’s too soon to tell if that’s a vote of confidence or sign of quality or whatever, or if it’s just the way it is by fate and happenstance.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, an X-themed horror movie sounds pretty great, and the television show Legion has plumbed those waters pretty effectively, so there’s proof that it can be done. The cast seems pretty cool and the New Mutants aren’t a set of characters that many people have tried much with, so it’s all pretty open-ended.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Much like any movie that’s relatively far off in the future that we don’t have much explanation for, what seems like it could be an asset (its unfamiliarity) could turn out to be the liability of people not knowing what they’re in for. While it’s true that the MCU has largely avoided falling into that trap, it’s still a thing to watch out for. Plus, they haven’t exactly put the movie on the express train to release towne, so who knows what’s actually going on with it?

Wonder Woman 

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to the only actually-good DCU movie.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Wonder Woman went over pretty well, and there’s no reason to think that that particular magic couldn’t strike again, especially since, as is still the case with superhero movies even now, somehow, we don’t have to worry about all the origin story stuff and can spend more time with Wonder Woman as Wonder Woman.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There are probably a billion ways this could be screwed up, but it’s very far off, and I’m not actually waffling that much. I’m sure it’ll be good, and hey, by then maybe the DCU will have straightened itself around and we can all be happy people.

 


  1.  to those of you reading it in the future, congratulations on surviving to the future! 
  2.  I was 9, I’m old, etc. 
  3.  Iron Man 2, Doctor Strange 
  4.  you will not convince me that this is not a spiritual sibling to Community’s paintball episodes, and if you think I don’t mean that as the very highest of praise, then you do not understand where I’m coming from here. 
  5.  seriously, I’m a Black Panther fan and I didn’t think that movie was going to be as good as it was. 
  6.  shoutout to Wikipedia for abetting that, which is one of up to three references to football in the entire history of this blog. 
  7.  Gerry Duggan’s Infinity series was slightly more wild, and slightly less wolly. It’s good stuff though. 
  8.  and the effects of which pandering I’ll not be detailing here for reasons of propriety, but which you can probably guess if you examine, say, this publicity still and remember that Domino was a going concern when I was, like, 12. 
  9.  a thing that I only actually realized when the trailers for this one came out. 
  10.  in addition to being a painstaking genius, Brad Bird is also a real weirdo, philosophically speaking, and The Incredibles avoids having a weird philosophical position by not actually taking a philosophical position, and letting its characters speak to their philosophical positions and see how it all shakes out.
     
  11.  as evidenced by the fact that they put her in the title. I’m a very good detective, guys. 
  12.  a role previously played by Topher Grace 
  13.  see above w/r/t Deadpool, Shatterstar and Domino 
  14.  true story: one of these, if it was announced as a movie, would make me for-real happy. Other true story: it is definitely Darkhawk (who was a guy with an alien suit that gave him the powers of – simultaneously – Daredvil, Iron Man and Wolverine, and was ridiculous and silly, but in a fun, cool way) and not Foolkiller (who was a more punish-y version of The Punisher, and was ridiculous and silly in the worst of all possible ways. 
  15.  I am just putting out into the world, The Secret-style, that I have always wanted a Kraven the Hunter film appearance, and that Liev Schreiber would be a great voice for it. Please and thank you. 
  16.  there’s one more weasel clause than seems necessary because Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel property, but I’m comfortable making the argument that it isn’t a “traditional superhero property”, so there. 
  17.  I say “somehow” because it made a tonne of money, and it did get some positive reception, albeit mostly from the same people who think that Rotten Tomatoes is some kind of con-job collusion factory, and yet still seemed like a disaster. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen it, because I only liked one of the movies leading up to it. 
  18.  these jokes are, of course, made by people who haven’t actually thought about what it means to control every animal in the sea, but this isn’t the place for this argument. 
  19.  which is Wonder Woman, see below, although even that one still has the dumb cgi fight at the end of it. 
  20.  which is, editorially, one of my all-time favorite horror movies 
  21.  although it does come out only a few months after the similarly nineties-set Dark Phoenix movie, which doesn’t do much to allay my aforestated fears about the worst parts of the nineties rearing their heads in the superhero movies of our time. 
  22.  which was Captain Marvel, and the shortest version of the story for is that they called their superhero that then the comic book company was founded, then they were sued into not being able to publish their comic anymore, and now the character is Shazam. 
  23.  I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “But Mercury is the Roman name!”, which is true! They switched panthea on us! But also, you will have to admit that “SHAZAM!” sounds much more superheroic than “SHAHAH!” which is what it would be if he had the speed of Hermes, the Greek version of that God. So they get points for editorial decisions if not fealty. 
  24.  earlier when I said he was the most litigated superhero I wasn’t kidding: there was yet another barrister smackdown about his later name, which is Marvelman in the UK (where he was written excellently by Neil Gaiman and by Alan Moore, and Miracleman in the US. 
  25.  Kevin Feige has said that after Phase 3, there will be no more phases, which seems sensible, given that even the folks at Disney know that this superhero pace can’t go on forever. 
  26.  this seems, to me, to be the most likely outcome for the MCU, that it could all just fling itself apart because nothing is driving toward any kind of unified theory like the first three phases were. Of course, there’s no reason that Kevin Feige’s “no more phases” business should be taken at face value and, by the time this comes out, they might also control the X-Men, and so we might get all crazy kinds of crazy shit. But as it stands right now, it seems like everything fracturing is the most-likely failure mode for the MCU. 
  27.  other characters are Marshall Strat and Fender Tremolo, and if this set of names doesn’t make you want to run directly out and watch this movie, then I don’t know what to say to you. 
  28.  which is the team that Deadpool is assembling in Deadpool 2 

Who the Fuck Listens to This: Kylie Minogue – Golden

It is, at this point in 2018, not news that pop stars are pivoting to country music, presumably in the interest of revitalizing and/or saving their careers. Country music is the third-most popular format by number of stations 1, but also in economic terms, it’s better off to appeal to a country fan if you’re an artist that prefers the (somewhat and relatively) larger payouts of physical media sales – country is still tops among people that buy actual physical releases – which means that artists who have seen their physical sales slow down and don’t know how to shore up their streaming business would find it appealing.

So usually, when it happens, it’s not even worthy of comment: it’s a thing that’s happening industry-wide, and any individual who does it, it can be assumed, is after some more dollars and/or a renewed audience. But Kylie Minogue has gone country 2 is different, both practically and philosophically.

Practically speaking, I cannot think of a person whose major radio hits are less country-oriented than Ms. Minogue’s. She’s managed to carve out a somewhat-unique sonic footprint by making music that sounds like it was made by robot traditionalists – the disco influence is real, and she never really gave up on the pop-traditiionalism of her first records, but she also manages to fill her records, made as disco music by a traditionalist, with sounds that sound like they’ve been beamed in from the future. But here she abandons that lane to almost, kind, adopt a completely different set of sounds and signifiers 3. She’s certainly a big enough pop star (in parts of the world that aren’t the United States) that she could very easily just keep doing what she’s doing and making her (extremely devoted) fanbase happy, but she’s elected not to.

Which brings us to the more philosophical concern. Kylie Minogue is Australian, with a mostly-European following, and travelled to Nashville at the suggestion of her label to get “inspiration”, and came back with a desire to work in a genre that is not what you’d call particularly popular where her fans are and that, in fact, her music has basically zero to do with. She would have been hard-pressed to find a genre of music that is a currently-going concern, commercially speaking, that her oeuvre generally has less to do with.

 

That said, she has (kind of) made the plunge, and the result is Golden, her sixth UK#1, and eleventh Australia #1. So clearly, at least in terms of sales, she’s doing her usual business. But the question remains: who the fuck would listen to it?

This question is compounded by the fact that, for an album where someone’s gone country 4, she hasn’t actually gone particularly country. She hasn’t really even gone the kind of pop-radio country that is on the fringe of country signification either. She’s just added fiddles and banjos to what sound, to me, like regular Kylie Minogue songs 5. Furthermore, about half of the songs on the record don’t even have those things.

That said, the change is perhaps something that can be easily understood in context. Kylie Minogue has recently survived cancer, and now has to deal with being 49 years old, a woman, and famous, which combine to form a very aging- and death-focused mindset 6. The two most effective songs, the not-quite-titular “Golden” and the double-meaning “Dancing” 7, are also the most country-inflected (and aging and death are as country-friendly themes as you could hope for). It’s also useful to note that this is the first record she’s made in twenty years (since a record called Impossible Princess) where she wrote every song, so clearly it comes from an internal place that she’s gone country 8.

The resulting record, however, is a kind of limp hybrid, a simulacrum of someone’s country conversion It’s not “country” enough to get over as country music, but it’s also not Kylie enough to get over as Kylie music 9. As always with these exercises, it’s hard for me not to think of the version of this record that would be good, and in this regard, I think (as I so often do) of Nick Cave.

In 1996, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released Murder Ballads, which is sometimes my favorite Nick Cave album 10, and upon which appears the unlikely duet “Where the Wild Roses Grow” with Kylie Minogue, who also does some singing on a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Death is not the End” 11 alongside Shane McGowan and PJ Harvey. A better country-inflected Kylie record would find her tapping into whatever brought her to those collaborations in the first place. I’m not sure what form that would have taken, but she does have the voice for it, and her role in “Where the Wild Roses Grow” is as the murdered part of the murder ballad (spoiler alert I guess?), which would also be a fascinating place to be coming from, although I’d imagine that if you’re already death-focused as a songwriter (as Kylie was when writing this record, see above), it might not be the most appealing way to go about it.

But of course, a record can’t be judged by the record that it isn’t, but rather by the record it is. As it is, it’s not bad. As you can probably tell, I’m not a huge Kylie Minogue fan, or even a relatively minor Kylie Minogue fan, but it wasn’t actively terrible or anything 12, but it doesn’t really have anything going for it. I’m sure it meant a lot to Kylie Minogue to get to record it – the songs seem like they’re coming from someplace genuine, even if they’re smothered under the assistance of Nathan Chapman, who also abetted Taylor Swift for a half dozen or so of her records – but there isn’t much there to reward the listener, be they Kylie fan or Country fan.

It’s Taylor Swift – or rather, the inverse of Taylor Swift – that it’s most often compared to, but I think the better comparison is to Kesha’s Rainbow, which also represented a refuge in country music following a difficult life/media situation, and came out as the latter’s finest hour. Although Kylie suffers in either case – she’s gone country 13 in as commercially-oriented a way as possible, and it provides a sturdy-enough marketing hook, even if there is, after all, very little else to it.

So who the fuck listens to this? I guess Kylie fans. Certainly not country fans, although it’s an admirable effort for all that. As with previous WTFLTT subject Shania Twain, I’m glad she got to write the country record she wanted to write to deal with the things she wanted to deal with, but I think there are plenty of people who could be doing otherwise. Although there could be some nifty frission if she went out on tour with Kacey Musgraves, who just moved in the Kylie direction with her country album. Feel free to put me in touch with either lady’s agent or publicist or media booker or whatever. I work cheap.


  1.  for whatever that may be worth in listeners – radio tends to reach people in younger (kids) and older (people that listen to the radio because they’ve always listened to the radio) age brackets 
  2.  lookit them boots 
  3.  although more on her success in taking on actual country music in a bit here 
  4.  back to her roots 
  5.  although a review that ran in the Melbourne Herald Sun declares that there’s “no classic Kylie dance moments” so it’s possible I just don’t know what a regular Kylie Minogue song is. 
  6.  or so it seems, and so I would imagine. I’ve never been a post-cancer 49-year-old woman who is a pop singer, so I’m not entirely able to adopt the mindset of one I suppose. I’m also significantly taller than Ms. Minogue. 
  7.  the double meaning appearing in the couplet “when I go out/I want to go out dancing” 
  8.  new kind of suit 
  9.  although, again, it went to #1 everywhere you’d expect it to have gone #1, so clearly her fans are into it enough to buy it. 
  10.  when it isn’t The Firstborn is Dead or The Boatman’s Call or Henry’s Dream or Live Seeds. I have a lot of favorite Nick Cave albums. I love Nick Cave. 
  11.  which is itself a Dylan song from Dylan’s late-eighties swamp, an album that is also country-inflected via weird places (the Grateful Dead and Mark Knopfler), and which also kind of sucks for not actually sounding very much like the person who wrote the songs on it. 
  12.  this is a true story: the “Gone Country” runner in this piece actually came from a previous WTFLTT piece that I tried to write for Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods, but it didn’t fit into the schedule really, and it wasn’t very good – there’s only so much “oh my god this record sucks” that I can fit into a piece and still be saying something cogent, but rest assured that it’s one of the worst things I’ve heard awhile, and makes this record look like fucking Red-Headed Stranger.  
  13.  here she comes 

The 2018 ACM Awards

So, for two years I wrote about the ACM awards. And then, for two years, I did not. The reasons for this have been covered in other awards-show write-ups, but to make them clear at the beginning of this piece: there are not that many country music people at any given time, and so any time an award goes up, the same set of people are nominated over and over again. Couple that with the fact that the ACM awards are only the first of two major country-music-centric awards shows, and that the other one 1 has basically the same set of people involved with it, and also doesn’t have the fucking songwriter category (see below).

Anyway, this year I decided to jump back in. Mainstream country has some more good stuff! Carrie Underwood is performing a new single 2! The ceremony almost moved from Vegas, but decided it was a better idea not to! It seems, for all intents and purposes, to be a good year to jump back on the ACM train!

That said, I took 3 years off, and this field of nominees is functionally (albeit not precisely) identical. The heavy hitters are the same people, they’re here in the same configurations. Country music has not made significant changes, and yet I am soldiering through anyway, because I feel like significant changes may be coming, and it’d be worth getting some words down about it this year. So I’m soldiering on anyway, but I’m doing this one speed-round style, so that nobody has to spend more time than necessary thinking about Thomas Rhett.

Songwriter of the Year

Above I alluded to a problem with this categroy, and here it is: it is near-on impossible to figure out the elegibility of the people in this category in any way that yields an answer to the question “for which songs are these folks nominated”. That annoys me, and it required a long time to suss out. Anyway, Rhett Akins just got a bunch of press for making the country charts for seven years in a row. While that’s impressive, his songs still aren’t very good, so let’s go with Hillary Lindsay.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Hillary Lindsay

Vocal Event of the Year

This award is not solely awarded to the vocalist – it is also awarded to the record company, and the producer! This probably excludes such notable vocal events as “Blake Shelton clearing his throat that one time” and Luke Bryan saying “gawww-lee” 3 at something. Anyway, most of these are awful, but the Glen Campbell/Willie Nelson song is good, and, y’know, there aren’t a lot more opportunities to award Glen Campbell for things.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Glenn Campbell and Willie Nelson, “Funny (How Time Slips Away)”

Video of the Year

Jesus christ, if this isn’t the most insulting, “country by numbers” set of videos ever nominated, I’ll eat that one guy from the Brothers Osborne’s hat. It’s hard to call anybody the winner, honestly, but at least the “We Should be Friends” video has the Legally Blonde thing going on.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Miranda Lambert, “We Should be Friends”

Song of the Year

Can we just agree that no one outside of actual biologists should be using the word “Female” for any goddamned reason in 2018? Thanks.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chris Stapleton, “Whiskey and You”

Single Record of the Year

This one, as a brief reminder, goes to the performance, rather than the nebulous idea of the songs itself (the song of the year award goes to the songwriters). It also goes to the record label, because I guess of course it does? Man, next time I write about these I’m devoting some damn time to the history of the label’s role in these things 4.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chris Stapleton, “Broken Halos”

Album of the Year

In perhaps a shocking development, I actually liked Old Dominion’s album – taken as a whole album – more than Chris Stapleton’s, who I think is a much more solid singles guy. What a twist!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Old Dominion, Happy Endings

New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year

On the one hand, I kind of like Runaway June, on the other hand, this award has already been given out and it’s gone to Midland, which is, I guess fine.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Runaway June, but it actually went to Midland

New Male Vocalist of the Year

Here’s the thing: I still like Kane Brown somewhat more than Brett Young, just like I did when I wrote about the iHeartMusic Awards 5. But, once more, this award has already been given, and it has already gone to Brett Young.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Brett Young

New Female Vocalist of the Year

So the way that long-term nominees seep into the categories is by first appearing here, but given that there’s, like, one new nominee in the non-”New” categories every year, there’s a one in fifteen shot that any of these people will be it. I suppose it’s nice to acknowledge the newness, but it would also be nice to roll the goddamn fucking categories over more. Oh also, this has already been given to Lauren Alaina.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lauren Alaina, actually

Vocal Group of the Year

Hey, wouldn’t you know? I still like Old Dominion more than Midland. What a thing!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Old Dominion

Vocal Duo of the Year

The fact that a “duo” is of course a “group” of two people apparently carries no weight with the ACM people. How else are we going to wind up with this, the most obnoxious of categories? Seriously almost all of these people are just awful.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Brothers Osborne, I guess

Female Vocalist of the Year

I mean, Reba’s here because she’s the host, right? There cannot possibly be another reason. Not in 2018. I suppose there are worse things than giving it to Carrie Underwood. She’s had a rough time of it.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year

Well, it was a nice break, but we’re back to Chris Stapleton, I suppose.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chris Stapleton

Entertainer of the Year

This is the one for all the marbles! That makes it weird that it’s the only category in which Luke Bryan appears! 6 It would also be weird for it to be the only category in which Garth Brooks appears but, y’know, these things do happen, and Garth Brooks is pretty much always up here, no matter what he’s been doing. He’s Garth Brooks, after all.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chris Stapleton


  1.  the CMAs, which are trashier and dumber, but also less entertaining, which is a shame. 
  2.  a fact that is not much of an exciting development in and of itself, but is her first public appearance since the accident, and so is at least a little exciting, as someone who likes people generally. 
  3.  to be clear, the joke I am making here is that Luke Bryan sounds like Gomer Pyle. 
  4.  I mean, I talk about record labels all the time, but their specific role in country music and in the academy, particularly, is where I’m going here. 
  5.  where the category was more manageable because it was co-ed, and thus I didn’t have to think about as many people to winnow it down. 
  6. although he did appear in a joke in the vocal event category. 

On Steven Spielberg, Once More

So, two and half years after the first time I wrote about Steven Spielberg’s propensity for gnomic utterances about the popularity of various film trends, I find myself moved to do so again. This time because he has again pitched these opinions into my wheelhouse, which is to say: awards shows. Or, if you’d rather, the awards granted by the bodies that put on the shows attached to those awards 1; he told ITV, regarding streaming-only films of the Netflix type, “once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if you’re a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar.” He went on to stipulate that he doesn’t think the strategy that Netflix has pursued, of exhibiting it in a theater for a week specifically for awards qualification, should count as a theatrical release.

At its root, what Steven Spielberg, an immensely-successful producer 2 is saying (even with a relatively-charitable interpretation), is that people should not be able to come up to his level of awards-related success unless they do so his way. He’s already inside the gates, and he’d like to see them barred to anyone who finds another way in. This is the very worst kind of old-man bloviating – he’s established, so he doesn’t see any point in making things any different for other people to become established. It is also (and this is less charitable) pretty easy to see the statement itself as being pretty firmly anti-audience. The audience, after all, is presumably made up of people that want to see more movies. He admits himself, elsewhere in the ITV video, that the streaming-only film is the way that studios are making smaller, financially-riskier projects that, in different times 3, would have been given a theatrical release. This means that the system, whereby studios are releasing their films – made as films – to a streaming platform, is an alternative not to a theatrical release, but to the films being released at all. It seems readily apparent (to me, at least) that “more available movies” is a better thing for the audience, and those movies being available for the relatively-inexpensive cost of a Netflix subscription is a double-bonus.

Let’s assume, however, that Steve has a point, and that streaming movies are, in some fundamental way, different for the viewer. The physical experience itself can be somewhat different, as you’re not going into a room to do nothing but watch the movie with a bunch of other people that are there in that same room to watch the same movie. The effect of this – a crowd – to the experience is definitely an additive part of the experience. That is to say, it definitely changes the experience in a way that makes it more of an experience. That “more,” however, can, as with all group-oriented events, be either positive or negative. Everyone has had a movie ruined by someone who wouldn’t shut up, or wouldn’t get off the phone, or whatever. The risk is taken. At its highest form, there’s something to a serious audience there in good faith. How often are movies viewed at their highest form?

The home, experience, is no less intentional, but has its own double-edged sword. While it doesn’t generally carry the threat of the masses, it also represents far less investment on the part of the viewer, who doesn’t have to leave his house or spend his money 4. Since they aren’t attaching a physical currency value to the experience, they are (psychologically) less apt 5 to attach the same value to trying to make it “worth it”, which means they are less likely to engage with it.  

What this means, as far as I can tell, is that the differences come in two places. The first is the enjoyment of the audience (i.e. the choice between going out and risking the masses or staying in and risking the distractions). This seems to be beyond Steven Spielberg’s control and is, besides that, something that is pretty much entirely subjective. It’s not something any of us can answer for anyone else. That leaves the differences that are quantitative, which are all on the business side. Films that are sold to (or produced by) a streaming service are marketed differently (i.e. they are marketed by the streaming service), and make their money differently (generally being sold outright, since a per-sale model wouldn’t work) 6, which would make the difference between the two seem like there was a huge gulf separating them…provided that your investment was in the way that it was sold, rather than in the way that it reached the people.

This last point, then, is the reason Spielberg’s statements are so vexing. He’s presenting his own self-interest 7 as being the ethically-superior option (which is the worst), and he’s senselessly gatekeeping (which is also the worst), but he’s also doing a thing I am on the record as thinking is extra-the worst, which is assuming that the audience doesn’t know the difference between their own best interest and that of the people taking their money to provide a service. It’s so transparently manipulative that it can only ever be insulting, and there could be an interesting conversation there, if the subject were to be engaged with a more good-faith approach.

Ultimately though, even the preceding thousand words are begging the question: so what? This comes after a couple of years of the Oscars being under fire for their lack of diversity and forward-thinking members. This year was the first awards-granting period to have been completed under the newer, more-diverse Academy, and some surprising films got some surprising accolades, seemingly as a result. This is, on balance, a good thing; it means that some changes are being made to the thing that existed for 89 years without ever considering such changes. To say “that’s enough changes, we don’t need any more” is, at the very least, bad optics. I don’t think that Spielberg’s comments are coming, necessarily, from an anti-diversity place 8, but it still seems like it’s shouting “ENOUGH” when too many people are let through the door.  

But even if it somehow has nothing to do with the eligibility of more films in and of itself, there is still the fact that the business practices of the studios are being blamed on filmmakers and/or the audience and/or the nominating bodies of awards-granting institutions. Smaller movies – movies that are funded through production interests that land them on streaming services – aren’t going to be made for the same financial reasons that giant studio-helmed movies are going to be made. They’re going to be made as the result of someone’s desire to do it. If one imagines that there is a sort of critical mass by which movies end up finished, with the twin factors of “money involved” and “artistic motivation” adding together to reach this mass 9, then the two things can be seen to be complementary: you need more of one if you lack more of the other. This means, following on, that the financial risk taken on by the people that end up distributing it drops as the people motivated become more motivated. That’s the part of the market opened up by the streaming-only model: movies made by people who wanted to make their movies for less than the absolute maximum amount of money.

It manages to invalidate the “it’s making the filmmakers bad” argument that came at the end of Spielberg’s comments – the money-end of the film industry has decided that the way to best-capitalize on the films in question is to distribute them through this streaming-only model, and Spielberg has seen this and said “those movies are tv shows and also the filmmakers aren’t learning how to be filmmakers” because of the business-related result of the filmmakers wanting to make their films for less money. If he, a nominating member of the Academy and a person to whom the Oscars matter, is willing to speak for the Oscars in this capacity, then that is proof that, whatever gestures they’ve made toward inclusion, there is still a baked-in mindset that they actually constructed the best way to evaluate films, and that shows itself to be faulty with every year that goes by 10. Right before Spielberg gave his remarks to ITV, Cannes announced that Netflix features will not be exhibited, and while Cannes certainly isn’t the Oscars, it’s a similarly old-guard, established film-evaluating institution, and it shows that this attitude is endemic. This attitude, then, which is focused mainly on praising the largest bodies at the expense of the smallest (and of the audience), is harmful to the state of the art form itself, in addition to being harmful to all of the culture that supports it.

I suppose, given all this, that what I’m saying here is that there’s still more arguments to figuring out a way to evaluate films for long-term praise and memory that doesn’t involve the approval of an awards-granting body that continues to contain members that are only interested in one type or variety of thing winning awards, and that the best way to win this game is not to play. I think the sooner we all get together on figuring out what that should be and how that should work, the better off we’ll all be. The good news is that, as the Oscars decline in popularity and visibility, it’ll sort of happen naturally anyway, and whatever Steven Spielberg thinks about the issue will stop mattering.


  1. the extent to which the spectacle of the Oscars is separate and distinct from the Oscars themselves is a matter of some debate, and something I really should hash out one of these days. Stay tuned, I guess. 
  2.  I mean, he’s also an immensely-successful director, but that matters less to what we’re discussing when we talk about his opinions on the business of distribution and awards consideration, see below. 
  3.  to put a finer point on it, the times in which Spielberg himself came up as a filmmaker and producer. 
  4.  this is obviously modulated by the presence of the necessary subscription, which would add a cost onto the experience if someone, say, signed up for Netflix just to watch Okja or whatever, in which case this paragraph could be safely ignored except for the parts about the masses. 
  5.  this is a generalization, I am aware, but so is the thing about theaters being full of seat-kicking phone-using loudmouths – I’m comparing the potential drawbacks against the potential drawbacks here. If this were at all scientific, each case would be evaluated differently. But I assume that you, the reader, know what I am getting at here. 
  6.  I suppose I would be interested to know who owns the back-end on physical releases – i.e. that of Stranger Things – should they exist. The decision to release them would probably lie with Netflix (otherwise there would be nothing stopping film production companies from releasing them directly), but I wonder if there would be any payout to the production companies that made the movie in the first place or whatever. 
  7.  which may range from something as simple as “just wanting there to be less competition” to something as complicated as a general malaise with the state of the industry – I’m not interested in analyzing it, but I present it here only to point out that his actual motives themselves matter very little to the discussion. 
  8.  I mean, Short Round aside, the guy made a non-racist Tintin movie, for fuck’s sake. 
  9.  realistically, there are an uncountable number of things that play into a film actually getting made and released, but for the sake of argument here I am again simplifying the case to make a rhetorical point. I think most of the factors, anyway, can be largely grouped into “for the money” or “for the artistic satisfaction.”  
  10.  the evidence for this statement is that people are still not what you’d call happy about the Oscars, and the renewed diversity – a Mexican director won best picture, for example – isn’t actually fixing the problems that people are having, because it’s too little, too late. 

The Best Records of March 2018

The Messthetics – The Messthetics (The erstwhile Fugazi rhythm section hooks up with a whiz-bang guitar player, and excellent heavy instrumentals ensue)

Jean Grae & Quelle Chris – Everything’s Fine (Quelle Chris’s hot streak – he’s made this columnlet with his two previous albums in their respective months – continues unabated, and this time he’s making killer music celebrating his marriage to the inestimable Jean Grae.)

Kraus – Path (at this point, bedroom noisegaze from Brooklyn really has to do something to get my attention. In this case the thing it does is be really, really good. And also brief. Which does help.)

DDENT – Toro (Instrumental post-metal had a hell of a month, and DDENT made the best of the records in the clot of great releases, so here they are)

Anna Von Hausswolf – Dead Magic (Whatever Sunn0)))’s Randall Dunn is contributing as the producer here, it’s really Sunn0)))ing up her already pretty-terrific organ music, and this record is her best one yet)