Tea & Review: ‘The Shape of Water’ is Incandescent

{All images used courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.}

Note: this article was also published on Contents May Vary.

The Shape of Water, written by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor, directed by Guillermo del Toro. Produced by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Copyright 2017. (Seen December 5, 2017.)

You ever read a book where the writing is so glorious it almost distracts from the plot of the book? Where you spend just as much time admiring the writing as you do thinking about the actual book? The Shape of Water is a gloriously filmed movie, with absolutely gorgeous cinematography — almost to the point of it being a distraction.

Set during the Cold War, The Shape of Water is del Toro’s take on the fairy tale. We are introduced to Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman. She works alongside Zelda (Octavia Spencer) during the night shift at a government facility as a cleaning woman. She lives with Giles (Richard Jenkins), a closeted gay man who does artwork for advertisements, watching musicals and variety shows on television. And every day is the same.

Every day is the same, that is, until Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) is introduced, having acquired ‘the asset’ in South America for the facility to study. At first, we only see a container with water, with movements indicating some sort of creature. But one evening, Elisa is cleaning the room it is in, and meets him (Doug Jones).

At first, it’s a friendship: she sees him as a bit of a pet, trying to tame it and not wanting to see him hurt. But, this is at heart a fairy tale, and so the friendship turns to love as Elisa explains to Giles at one point that the amphibian man (as is listed on IMDB) is the only person to not care that she is mute, and sees her for who she is.

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Podcast Review: Ending the ‘Dinner Party’

Note: this article was also published on Contents May Vary.

The Dinner Party Download, produced by American Public Media, and hosted by Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam. Was released weekly, with an approximate running time of 60 minutes. Started January 2012.

Back in October of this year, if you were near me at all, you would’ve heard me give out a tropey ‘big no’. You see, I had heard that one of my favorite podcasts, The Dinner Party Download, was ending in December. The last ‘live’ episode is set to be released this week.

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Tea & Review: Legends of Tomorrow, Season 3, Episode 1: Aruba-Con

When we last left our diamonds in the rough heroes of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow the team had seemingly “broken time”. Our original leader, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) had given his leading position to Sara Lance (Caity Lotz).

Last season suffered without the presence of Mr. Hunter along with the plotlines that didn’t quite live up to season one.

However, from the get-go Rip Hunter is no longer trying to figure out his place among the Legends. Now, he’s graduated from time pirate to laced up Men in Black (or Blue?)

In a span of minutes… or five years (time is super fluid) Rip has found a new group to enforce his rules on now that the Legends have outgrown him.

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Demon Part 11

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The look on Lao Lao’s face was an image Kallan hasn’t seen in a long time.  She remembers Lao Lao looking this way when a being asks about the future.  Lao Lao’s face becomes devoid of all emotion.  And the being that is in front of Kallan is no longer her Lao Lao.  Instead, it is an entity that has existed before time and will continue to exist after everything is gone.  To say Kallan wasn’t tempted was a lie.  She wanted to know or at least know enough to know for sure if the explosion had been an accident or something more sinister.  She swallows.

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My First Apartment, My First Ghost

I was so excited to finally have my own place. Well, not my ‘own, own’ place. I shared it with two other people. But it was exciting nonetheless. There are many things you come to expect when you trek out on your own into the world: bills, weird roommate situations, and really noisy neighbors. However, I never expected ghosts to be that list.

The first time I “encountered” my fourth roommate I was exiting my room into the shared hallway/kitchen area with a direct view of the living room. It was dark. I was alone. I was barely out of my bedroom doorframe when the TV…. turned on.

It didn’t even turn on to a regular television station.

I remember just standing there, my hands behind me holding the doorknob of my room to close it. That was eerie timing, I remember thinking. I think I may have even said, “Hello?”

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Tea & Review: mother!

If you’ve watched Black Swan and/or The Wrestler you’d know that director Darren Aronofsky is big on the whole tortured artist motif. He plays this stories close to the vest and tries to distort the viewers’ perception of what is or isn’t real.

Unlike so many typical Hollywood films, Arononfsky isn’t trying to a movie that tries to make you feel a good warm on the inside. His stylistic choices are meant to disarm you, make you uncomfortable.

I laid low on seeking out a synopsis for the movie mother!. But to be perfectly honest, even if you read the synopsis or the director and cast explanation of the story it still won’t really validate what you took away from the experience.

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Fandom Friday: My ‘Citizen Kane’ List — Round 1

{Header image courtesy Pixabay and used under a Creative Commons Public Domain license..}

Note: this article was also published on Contents May Vary.

I have a list of movies I’ve started calling my Citizen Kane list. I’m sure it’s something that we all can relate to: movies (as well as other media, for that matter) that, while we’ve never actually seen, are such a part of our cultural landscape that we may as well consider them watched. Funnily enough, Citizen Kane is no longer on my list as I finally saw a few years ago.

Here are five from my current list of movies that I’ve never actually seen from beginning to end, but I know all about them. And yes, the goal is to eventually take these off the list. Maybe when I invent that 48 hour day.

First is my genre shame: I have never seen Blade Runner. Even worse? My partner and I even own a copy. The problem? It has both the original and the director’s cut, and so I don’t know which one I want to watch first. I’ve seen arguments for both being the one to watch, and while I will definitely watch both, I know the first one I watch will be the one I will relate to more. The idea of replicants, the cyberpunk elements, the performance of Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, and the concepts behind it have colored the visual world of science fiction since 1982, so there isn’t much here I won’t already know. With the sequel coming soon, I plan on watching it. I just need to decide which one to watch first.

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Tea & Review: Fargo – Somebody to Love

The finale of the Fargo’s third season is so unpredictable, so confoundingly inexplicable, that as I’m writing this review I’m really having trouble parsing it. If I had to rate it I’m not sure I would be able to, but thankfully all I really have to do is come up with a kind of easily digestible critical interpretation that tries to make sense of an hour that repeatedly reinforces the idea that life is inherently meaningless.

So here goes…

We open with Emmitt (Ewan McGregor) and Gloria (Carrie Coon) signing papers, both preparing to seal their fates and vacate long-held positions. Emmitt attempts to threaten Varga (David Thewlis) into letting him go and fails spectacularly, while Gloria gets a call from Chekhov’s IRS agent that makes her stay her retirement from the force. Then all hell breaks loose.

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Tea & Review: Fargo – Aporia

Season Three of Fargo has been the Cold War to the second installment’s World War, and the penultimate episode follows suit by building a climax out of an anticlimax. This year, eight episodes worth of buildup doesn’t amount to a massacre or a standoff or even a real shootout. Instead, what we get are small victories nestled in larger disappointments, and more importantly, characters coming to terms with who they are.

“Aporia” begins with yet another murder, though this one has even less to do with the main action than the unnecessary execution of Ennis Stussy that put to whole plot in motion. The victim, perhaps unsurprisingly, is another Stussy, killed by Meemo (Andy Yu) to make Emmit’s (Ewan McGregor) confession to Gloria (Carrie Coon) appear less plausible. Of course, given Chief Dammick’s (Shea Wigham) unwillingness to believe anything that isn’t completely straightforward (and the fact that Varga’s (David Thewlis) henchmen don’t just leave it at one dead name-alike), it works.

But that doesn’t mean the confession was useless.

Although Emmit is ultimately allowed to go free (for a laughable measure of “free” anyway), his admission of guilt allows the audience to hear all that he’s been bottling up about his brother through their troubles, in addition to providing him with some much needed emotional catharsis that will keep his conscience steady in the finale and hopefully fuel his ability to bring the hammer down on Varga.

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Tea & Fiction – No Cups Just Plots