Will Hollywood Ever Learn? -Gods Of Egypt Edition

Alex Proyas is a pretty interesting director and I’ve enjoyed quite a few of his movies, particularly The Crow and Dark City  (I didn’t mind I, Robot, despite its story having little to do with Issac Asimov’s story).

That being said, his latest project, Gods of Egypt, has me scratching my head.

Gods of Egypt - Gerard Butler

In the poster above that’s Gerard Butler playing Set, the Egyptian god of Death (thankfully in the movie he at least seems to assume his jackal-headed guise at times) though if you look at the trailer virtually everyone of consequence is apparently played by a white person.

Didn’t we get enough of this bs casting with Aloha?  And I am not saying that Egyptians were black–despite the fact that for a period of time the country was conquered and ruled by Nubia, who definitely WERE–though they were certainly brown-skinned, and most definitely not white (though  Egypt was also conquered by the Roman Empire, and ruled for a time by the Ptolemies).

Then there’s the fact that Egypt is actually on the continent of Africa (though culturally is more Middle Eastern in nature).

And since the people weren’t white, why would they choose white people to represent their gods?  It’s either indicative of a people with a massive inferiority complex, or it just doesn’t happen.

My money’s on the latter.

Gods of Egypt - Horus

And I get it.  Hollywood isn’t exactly known for even attempting to depict such things accurately–a few days ago I was watching an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Energy Eater, when I noticed an American Indian character played by William Smith.  Smith has had a storied and fascinating career, and while he’s an American, he’s not Indian.

And speaking of Kolchak, Richard Kiel played an American Indian spirit in the episode Bad Medicine.

He is also not an American Indian (though I suspect that his size was what the producers were more interested in, and at over seven feet tall he’s got plenty of that).

What bothers me about casting like this is that I would have no issue with it at all if American Indians and African Americans were so common in movies and on television that casting white people in roles that traditionally aren’t wouldn’t make that much of a difference.

Though that’s just not the case.  There are plenty of American Indian, African-American, Middle Eastern actors that could use the work AND result in a more accurate portrayal of an American Indian diablero or  Egyptian deity.


Can We Can The (Seemingly) Fake Diversity Talking Points Already?

David GoyerI am all for diversity, whether we’re talking about movies or just about anything else (especially policing, which is another discussion) but I get a bit tired of the people that have the ability to make a difference, and don’t, complaining about its absence.

For instance, David Goyer, the writer of screenplays for Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (Batman BeginsThe Dark Knight, The Dark Night Rises, recently said in a recent interview that he wished that Hollywood would hire more women and people of color.

Seriously?  The problem with that is that statement is that people like David Goyer ARE Hollywood.  Keep in mind that this is the same guy that recently created DaVinci’s Demons, a series loosely based on the life of Renaissance man Leonardo DaVinci.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t seen the series, but if that’s how he feels, why not hire–I don’t know–women and people of color to direct (it’s entirely possible he’s done just that, but if that were the case for some reason I suspect that he wouldn’t be quite so reticent about discussing it) as well as work on the crew?

I also have no idea about how Kurt Sutter (the creator of Sons of Anarchy and The Bastard Executioner) feels about such things, but considering that Paris Barclay directed more episodes of Anarchy than any other director (and who happens to be black) I get the feeling that his track record on such things is probably pretty good–which isn’t to imply any sort of perfection.  Women and people of color and do any task that a movie requires.

Back to Goyer.  Looking at the credits for DaVinci’s Demons, there appears to be no female directors or–if the names are any indication, since pictures don’t accompany every IMDB entry–directors of color.  As far as the show’s writing staff goes, things are a slightly better for women, with six out of twenty being female.

David Goyer apparently cares about diversity, and making use of the talents and the perspectives that only women and people of color can provide.

And that’s admirable, though the next step is to actually hire them, which is where ‘diversity’ really comes into play.

Talking About White Privilege

White privilege isn’t the sort of thing that this blog tends to revolve around, but then again, since there are apparently quite a few actors that bring it up as of late–often in the worse way possible–i though that I’d do a blog post revolving around it.

It’s tough to talk about things like while privilege.  After all, it’s not like all white people have it easy.  When you hear about things like unemployment, it’s not only people of color that are feeling the pain.  That being said, people of color tend to have to deal with such issues as a disproportionately higher rate.

This is why when when you have Matt Damon, contrary to the image he projects, coming off as racist, it’s particularly galling.

That’s not to say that such slips of the tongue–which is a charitable way to look at it–are by any means unique to Damon or white people.

After all, it was Anthony Mackie, an African-American actor who’s played the Falcon in numerous Marvel Studios movies, who compared an African-American directing Marvel Studios’ upcoming movie based on the Black Panther to a horse directing a movie based on Mr. Ed.

So there’s clearly enough stupid to go around.

That being said, what you don’t often see are ways to make such historically difficult issues at least a little easier to discuss.

Which is why I posted this video from the ACLU (the American Civil Liberties Union) about white privilege, which talks about such things in an easy to digest fashion.

Because what’s assured is that things will never get better for anyone if we don’t talking about them, no matter how uncomfortable they may make us.

Guillermo del Toro Can’t Catch A Break

Let’s be clear, Guillermo del Toro doesn’t need my sympathy because I imagine he’s quite content making some of the most innovative genre movies in recent memory.

That being said, he also can’t seem to catch a break.  His latest, the Gothic Romance Crimson Peak, has currently earned almost $28 million worldwide, after four days.

That’s not a long time, you might be thinking, and you’d be right though the problem is that del Toro’s movie is rated R, which means that no one under seventeen can see the movie without a parent or guardian (which limits your argument pool significantly, as if the fact you’re making a gothic romance didn’t do that already).

Which is the exact opposite of a movie like Goosebumps, which is PG and has earned almost double that amount domestically.

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The Martian – Trailer

It may have just been me, but looking at the trailer for Ridley Scott’s The Martian the first thing that came to mind was another Scott movie, Prometheus, which features a silica storm that looks just like the one featured in this movie.

Though I am assuming that they producers are going less for hard-core science fiction more than an enhanced reality, like in the case of Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, which coupled a realistic premise with a not-quite-realistic action.

I am also wondering how it is that there’s a dust storm on Mars?  There’s no air, nor an atmosphere for it to exist in, so what’s blowing the sand about?  I am not a scientist of any sort, but it reads a bit odd (according to Universetoday, there’s actually air on Mars, though I assume that it’s just it’s too thin to breathe.

It’s fascinating in that its storms are caused primarily by sunlight, which causes the air to move, lifting dust from the Martian surface into the air.

I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghosts–Because They Don’t Exist

I just finished watching Lluís Quilez’s Out Of The Dark, currently on Netlix, and it’s a bit middling, though hardly the worse movie I’ve seen.

It revolves around a family who moves to Columbia, and are haunted by ghosts.

Though not particularly effective, I found it interesting for another reason:  The ghosts come about because the owner of a paper mill, Jordan (Stephen Rea) dumped some mercury into the water–I assumed that it’s either the by-product of producing paper or somehow used in the process–so the justifiably pissed-off ghosts chose to haunt his children and cap things off by kidnapping their daughter, Hannah (Pixie–Yes, according to IMDB that’s her real name–Davies) .

Earlier I read a story from The New York Times earlier today about a slave ship that crashed on reefs just outside of South Africa.  The ship was on the way to Maranhão, Brazil with a cargo of 400-500 slaves.  When the ship crashed, the crew escaped.

The slaves chained in the hold, being but cargo, died bound together like cords of wood.

And as horrific as that must have been for the people who perished aboard that ship, that’s hardly the worse thing we as humans have done to one another, not by a long shot.

That being the case, why aren’t there more ghosts?  There should literally be disembodied spirits everywhere you turn.  People have been on the earth for awhile–so shouldn’t we be literally tripping over them?

And sure, not everyone would be perceptive enough to pick up on them, but being that there are over 7 billion people in the world today, if only a small percentage of those individuals are sensitive to such things wouldn’t that means millions of people should be like that guy from The Sixth Sense?

And yet ghosts, like their sci-fi brethren, UFO’s, are pretty selective whom they appear to (it helps if you don’t happen to have a camera, though speaking of which, now that virtually everyone has cell phones I expect alien abductions to fall precipitously) which is why it all sounds like so much hokum.

Hollywood Ain’t All Glamour (Featuring Studio ADI)

Anyone who thinks being an actor is all glamor and copious consumption–which isn’t to say that that isn’t there, but that’s hardly the case for everyone that makes the movies many of us love–needs to spend some time with the actors that bring characters like the Predator and Pred-Alien to life.

As evidence, take a look at this clip from Studio ADI, from the making of the 2007 movie Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.  The video shows how they shot a scene toward the end of the movie, when the Pred-Alien squares off against a Predator sent to hunt it down on the roof of a hospital.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but the people playing the Pred-Alien and Predator must have had a particularly difficult experience, despite the efforts of the people working to keep the actors comfortable.  After all, they’re stuck in constricting suits–in the case of the former, probably barely able to breathe, hear or see–in an almost torrential downpour.

Which isn’t to imply that there was any other way to do it, because to go the CGI route would have probably made things like like a middling video game.

Though to make matters worse, to have to discover after the fact that all the hours of hard work you just went through could barely be seen in many instances because the movie was so badly lit…