Tag: Culture

Avengers: Endgame Review: Time Is on Their Side

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There is nothing more impermeable than time. It's fixed, constant. It may be a human construct, but it is one humanity has built atomic clocks to perfect; there is no stopping its ever-forward march. Except in sci-fi. And comic books. In those worlds, it's fluid. There are rules about not killing Hitler or betting on the World Series, but other than that, the structures of time can be bent.

This, more than anything, is the core of Avengers: Endgame. Yes, there is—as most fans expected—some time travel. (More on that later, in the spoiler-y paragraphs below.) But its deeper narrative follows a thread about the years people have devoted to Marvel heroes, the nostalgia those fans already have for them, and what the future will look like as they evolve. Luckily, in comic-book stories, the future is just as malleable as the past.

Captain Marvel Is About Female Power—Not Empowerment

  • Avengers: Endgame Will Rule the Box Office—but Not For Long

  • In Sheer Scope, Avengers: Infinity War Is an Unreplicable Success

  • First, here's what you need to know: Avengers: Endgame picks up where Infinity War left off. Thanos has wiped out half of the universe's population, and the remaining heroes (Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Rocket Raccoon, and the newly recruited Captain Marvel) are trying to un-snap his fingers. The other thing to note: Avengers: Endgame is very good. No movie could have fully encompassed everything that happened in the preceding 10 years and 21 films, but it is the best possible effort at trying to achieve that goal. It's nearly three hours, and none of them feel wasted. More than that, it's exactly what fans need.

    What Marvel fans, or anyone, needs in 2019 is a tricky proposition—one that plays out twofold in Endgame, with a double-helix of a plot that constantly works on two levels. First, there's the obvious: Everyone needs closure, needs to see if the Avengers can pull off saving the universe one more time. Second, they need to be rewarded for the decade-plus they've spent with these characters, the effort they've put into seeing every film.

    Endgame achieves this using one of the oldest tricks in the cinematic playbook: time travel. As everyone who noticed that Doctor Strange, Wong, and Ant-Man were largely unaccounted for at the end of Infinity War predicted, there is only one way to press Undo on what Thanos did: pull a Cher and turn back time. Though, they don't just rewind what happened and stop it. Instead, they find a more permanent solution that involves going back to retrieve the Infinity Stones before Thanos got his big purple hands on them and using their power to reverse the damage.

    This review won’t reveal if this plan succeeds at defeating Thanos, but it will say that it’s a wonderful ride and a narrative tool that provides a chance for the Avengers and their posse to revisit a large chunk of the movies in the franchise. It’s a trip that, in the best ways possible, feels like a band reuniting for a greatest-hits tour, one where the songs gets played by a frontman or frontwoman who wasn’t on the original track—some Traveling Wilburys covering a George Harrison track, Jay-Z and Nas ending their beef to perform “Dead Presidents,” and Beyoncé reuniting Destiny’s Child at Coachella all rolled into one. (In this case, it’s more like “Rocket goes to Asgard” and extended beats of Bruce Banner explaining science to The Ancient One.) It’s a service to every fan who remembers those early films fondly, and a final tug on the threads that have held the franchise together since the beginning.

    This kind of nostalgia is delicate, though. It’s tempting to want to go back to the first arc in these heroes’ journeys, the origin stories when they were ascending. It might even be tempting to just go back to 2008, before Mueller reports and Harvey Weinstein investigations and Michael Jackson documentaries, when it seemed easier to believe in heroes in general. That’s impossible, and foolhardy. Longing for those days is akin to longing for a time of ignorance, a time when all the superhero movies were led by white dudes. Everything has changed, and while revisiting days of future past is fun, time (in our world) only moves forward, and the future is more important than what’s come before. Or, to borrow a phrase from Tony Stark, “That’s the hero game—part of the journey is the end.”

    Acknowledging this reality is Endgame’s strongest suit. Because while it spends a fair amount of its second act playing to its base (with some excellent surprise cameos), it spends its final third establishing its new world order. In one of the film’s most telling moments, Captain Marvel—sporting a haircut sure to be the toast of Lesbian Twitter for months—charges into battle flanked by the franchise’s women heroes, the MCU’s version of a Time’s Up meeting (remember this?). Marvel’s Phase 4 is still fairly uncertain, but if Endgame has any takeaway it’s that the future is female. And less white. And at least a little bit queer.

    Avengers: Endgame could become the biggest movie the world has ever seen: It may make nearly $1 billion in one weekend. Theaters are staying open around the clock to keep up with demand. It’s the culmination of 11 years and 21 films—an unprecedented feat that may never be repeated. The only thing that may come close is December’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which will be the ninth film in a nostalgia-filled franchise spanning more than four decades. That film, too, will see the reins handed over to a new generation of heroes, folks whose chance to lead is long overdue. Endgame is a beautiful, massive finale—and it paves the way for all the warriors to come. It’s about time.


    Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/avengers-endgame-review/

    Saturday Night Live: K pop stars BTS drown out host Emma Stone

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    A cold opening without Donald Trump felt like the dawn of a new era and the show that followed worked hard for its hits

    We open on MSNBCs Lockup: Now that the Mueller report turned out to be a big fat zero, were back to prison shows. A trio of hardened criminals share a cell with Aunt Becky herself, Laurie Loughlin (Kate McKinnon), who has acclimated surprisingly well.

    You think prison is hard, Ive done 68 Hallmark movies, she says. Ive lost all sense of reality.

    Shes joined by celebrity lawyer Michael Avanetti (Pete Davidson); the scourge of the cleaning staff at the Ecuadorian embassy and actual, dactual James Bond supervillain Julian Assange (a bearded and bewigged Michael Keaton); and Takeshi69 (Melissa Villaseor), whos incarcerated for regular stuff like assault. Theres no actual arc to the sketch, but at least its a break from the tired Trump material the cold opens usually center around.

    Emma Stone hosts for a fourth time. Even though SNL traditionally rolls out the red carpet for five-timers, she suspects the cast is planning something special. Theyre not. She guilts McKinnon and Keenan Thompson into singing an impromptu song Oh, Emma she hosts! set to the tune of No Woman, No Cry and later they blindfold her while cast members impersonate celebrity guest stars. Eventually, they hand her a denim jacket, the number four lazily spray-painted on the back.

    In Dorm Room Posters, Davidson plays a college student stressing out about a history essay. He falls asleep, prompting a dream where the people on his posters a tatted-up white rapper, the characters from a Black Panther-like superhero movie, a model from Maxim Magazines 50 Hottest Girls from Rural Areas and a pro wrestler give him a rundown of the importance of history. Stone goes all the way to 11 with her squeaky-voiced bimbo, but there are long stretches of laugh-free awkwardness.

    Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl)

    Nothing like a good split screen. #SNL pic.twitter.com/K4MwyU6kGz

    April 14, 2019

    The cast of The View Whoopi Goldberg (Leslie Jones, spot-on), human mother and conservative daughter Abby Huntsman (Cecily Strong), Joy Behar (McKinnon), Ana Navarro (Villaseor, also on point), and Princess of Arizona Meghan McCain (Aidy Bryant) debate Trumps immigration policy, devolving into a fight between militant liberal Baher and facile idiot McCain. They eventually welcome former co-host and leading anti-vaxxer Jennie McCarthy (Stone), who spouts anti-science nonsense to the bafflement of her peers save for McCain, who argues on her behalf out of bad faith. The sketch ends just as it starts to get going.

    Hobby Enthusiasts is a music video in which Villasenor raps to an uninterested Stone about her hobbies, which include self-portraits, sewing, knitting, cooking for one and smelling my books! Eventually, Stone joins in to rap about her toy train obsession.

    Ladies Room is another musical number, an 80s dance tune from a trio of glamorous, big-haired singers (Stone, Strong and Jones). Theyve confused a Limited Express fitting room for the ladies room at Club Vortex, much to the horror of the stores manager (a Jerry Curl-sporting Thompson) whose pronouncement of the word toilet is the funniest part of the bit.

    The first K-Pop group to appear on SNL, BTS performs their hit Boy with Luv as screaming fans threatens to drown them out.

    Weekend Update starts with a rundown of Assanges very public arrest. It was so satisfying seeing an internet troll getting dragged into the sunlight, says Colin Jost, who plays a clip of Donald Trump claiming he doesnt know anything WikiLeaks before rolling a montage of the presidents praise for it, pointing out that Trump is more obsessed with WikiLeaks than this audience is with BTS.

    With Spring Break around the corner, Michael Che introduces Carrie Krum, the awkward pre-teen travel expert played by Bryant. She recommends vacationers head to Boise, Idaho, where she spent her most recent vacation, and her grammys cul-de-sac. The bubbly, easily excitable character seems to connect especially well with the BTS fans in the crowd.

    Next they bring on Nico and Brie, the hashtag-obsessed Instagram couple played by Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner. There to give couples advice on picnicking in time for warm weather, they start bickering. Its a solid send-up of social media hucksters, but also insufferable by design, to be fair.

    Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl)

    Prince Harry’s making a splendid video for the royal baby. #SNL pic.twitter.com/clyqTJlIFs

    April 14, 2019

    Royal Baby Shower has the ginger of Windsor, Prince Harry, recording the event for his child. He introduces friends and family, including a furiously jealous Kate Middleton, an obnoxious James Corden and The Queen herself, who welcomes her great-grandchild with all her heart, despite the fact the baby will be half-American, which makes you half-traitor. Theres no real payoff and none of the jokes earn more than a chuckle.

    BTS returns and performs Mic Drop. Then The Actress is a short film in which Stone plays a method actor set to play the woman who gets cheated on in gay porn. She tries to find her character, despite only exist[ing] to get cheated on. A solid mix of satire and crass humor, this is the winner of the night.

    The final sketch is Chalmers Reserve, an infomercial for a line of rotgut sold by Trett and Leezan Chalmers, hosts of the reality show The Nastiest Summer Renters in Sag Harbor, which has been cancelled already. They introduce the winemakers, a stereotypical Italian couple who arent actually Italian, who warn viewers not to drink the wine. Despite an abrupt ending, the sketch is enjoyably weird.

    Thanks to her natural comic timing, Stone continued her streak as a strong host. But the real stars of the episode were BTS.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/apr/14/saturday-night-live-bts-emma-stone-julian-assange

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