Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

Monthly Archive: December 2020

Wednesday

9

December 2020

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Rudolph: A Transgender Perspective

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Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight? Such is the question Santa posed, after committing acts of intolerable cruelty against the poor young reindeer merely because he was born different.

Transgender people have heard this story before.

The TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer reinforces casual bigotry. Its Santa is a giant asshole. Santa & Coach Comet can go straight to hell. No reindeer games, no presents, just a steaming pile of coal and permanent place on the naughty list. Never allow your oppressors to gaslight you into pulling their sleigh.

 

Ian’s original article from 2017: https://ianthomasmalone.com/2017/12/a-transgender-perspective-on-rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer/

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Tuesday

8

December 2020

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TTTE & Chill: Thomas’ Snowy Surprise

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Holiday themed TTTE & Chill! Join Ian & Tarabelle for a trip to the Island of Sodor for a bunch of snowy shenanigans. Percy’s driver abandons him on a siding to be covered in ice, while Skarloey’s crew roughs it out inside the igloo. Why didn’t Terence get to come to Mrs. Kyndly’s Christmas party? How is he supposed to watch over her house? All of that and more!

This tape covers the following episodes: 

 

  • It’s Only Snow
  • Jack Frost
  • Toby Had a Little Lamb
  • Snow
  • Thomas’ Christmas Party
  • Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree
  • Winter Wonderland (Music Video)

**Note** We chose this tape over earlier Christmas’ features as this one does not contain duplicate episodes that TTTE & Chill has already covered or is about to cover.

VHS image courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

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Saturday

5

December 2020

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The Mandalorian Season 2 Recap (Episode 6)

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Grab your jetpack and your Sarlacc pit, Boba Fett is back! The long-awaited return of everyone’s favorite tertiary bounty hunter lived up to the hype. Temuera Morrison was absolutely superb.

Ian provides some context for Boba Fett’s popularity, including his debut in the beloved Star Wars Holiday Special. Mando might not be very good at watching his son, but at least Grogu has darksaber to keep himself occupied.  

Ian’s written review!

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Saturday

5

December 2020

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The Mandalorian Season 2 Review: Chapter 14

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Eight episodes is not a lot of time to get much done in a single season. For all the ways that The Mandalorian has excelled at episodic storytelling, season two has pushed the broader narrative forward in a way that seemed quite unlikely given the trajectory set forth by its freshman effort. Six episodes in, season two has jammed in a very impressive amount of plot development.

Boba Fett’s shadow has loomed in the background of the show since at least its fifth episode. The figure who saved Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) was widely believed to be the fan favorite bounty hunter who made his debut in The Star Wars Holiday Special. Fett’s cameo at the end of this season’s first episode further reinforced this notion, especially after Mando acquired his armor from Cobb Vanth.

The Disney era of Star Wars has given the prequels a newfound sense of relevance, both in relation to the sequel trilogy and for the fact that many of the actors are still available for follow up appearances. As terrible as Attack of the Clones is for many reasons, Temuera Morrison’s performance as Jango Fett represented one of the best aspects of the film. Since Clones established Boba as a clone of his father, Morrison represented the natural choice to play the adult character seen without his helmet for the first time.

“The Tragedy” made Star Wars history for introducing the planet Tynoth into the live-action canon, with its vital importance to Jedi history. That said, this episode belonged to Morrison. For all the love the character gets from the fandom, Boba Fett is an extremely minor character in the original trilogy, with only a single scene of dialogue. Morrison showed his talents as Jango, bringing a subtle level of depth to the battle-hardened mercenary with his restrained emotions.

Like Mando, Boba Fett works in a scummy profession. Also like Mando, Fett has heart. He does bad things without necessarily being a bad person. Here, Fett opposes Mando on reasonable grounds. Mando has his armor, thinking he’s doing what’s best by withholding the beskar from a non-Mandalorian. Mando’s encounter with Bo-Katan earlier this season cast showcased that his sect of Mandalorian culture isn’t necessarily the only “way.”

The episode started off with a touching exchange between Mando and Grogu, reflecting the growth of their father/son relationship, often best expressed through the child’s affection for his round metal ball. While The Mandalorian isn’t likely to permanently separate the two until the series has run its course, it is important for the show to acknowledge that Mando’s core objective is to safely return his adoptive son to his people.

Grogu’s rock-induced message was a little silly, coupled with Mando’s inability to contact him. The dumbest point of the episode centered around Fett asking Mando to remove his jetpack with no sensible narrative rationale. Obviously that line was designed to provide a reason for why Mando couldn’t chase after the Dark Troopers, but the whole sequence was a bit forced.

Episode director Robert Rodriguez lived up to the high standards set forth by his film resume. The Mandalorian almost always has great action sequences, but seeing Boba Fett make quick work of the Stormtroopers was very entertaining to watch. The Stormtroopers armor hasn’t been this worthless since they were defeated by a bunch of rock-throwing Ewoks back in Jedi. The missile shot that blew up two Imperial ships was one of the coolest things Star Wars has ever done.

In some ways, the short episode runtime was justified by the scope of the narrative presented. Save for brief scenes aboard Moff Gideon’s Imperial cruiser and Mando’s encounter with Cara on Nevarro, most of the episode took place on a single stretch of Tynoth. Some exposition for how Fennec and Fett became allies would have been nice.

Viewers are bound to wonder how Boba Fett escaped the sarlacc in Jedi as well. The now-noncanon Legends book series offered a fun explanation, with fellow Empire bounty hunter Dengar coming to Fett’s rescue on Tatooine. Given that Fett will be around for at least a few more episodes and that The Mandalorian has shown some affection for the Expanded Universe, I wouldn’t say this explanation isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility for the show.

R.I.P. Razor Crest. After the mess on the ice planet, it’s not too surprising to see Mando’s ship bite the dust. Mando deserves a better ship anyway, preferably one where Grogu can have his own bedroom.

The whole kidnapping plotline felt a bit predictable. Moff Gideon was bound to get his hands on Grogu eventually, but the method deployed came across as forced and contrived. The episode quickly redeemed itself when Baby Yoda choked a few Stormtroopers and Gideon pulled out his Darksaber, but a more prolonged confrontation might have made this whole sequence more justifiable.

Chapter 14 gave an underappreciated fan favorite a much needed victory lap. Rodriguez proved to be a perfect choice for directing this action-heavy episode. The Mandalorian has been pretty spectacular this year, with very few episodes that could be classified as filler. With all the talk of the Mandalorian civil war and the formation of the First Order, the show is starting to lean heavily into broader Star Wars lore. Hard to believe that there’s only two more episode this season to explore all of this.

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Thursday

3

December 2020

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The Last Blockbuster is pure joy for film aficionados

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There’s a simple reason people feel so much nostalgia toward American institutions such as Blockbuster Video. Blockbuster offered a much different experience than streaming services such as Netflix provide. Going to Blockbuster was an adventure, the kind of place where one could lose themselves in the stacks of movies, supplying real stakes to the cinematic process. You wouldn’t rent a movie just to spend the entire runtime staring down at your phone.

One final Blockbuster franchises exists on the planet. Sandi Harding has kept the dream alive in Bend, Oregon, where customers can enter and live in the magic in the present, complete with all the new releases. Director Taylor Morden and writer/producer Zeke Kamm chronicle Harding’s journey in the film The Last Blockbuster, an eloquent tribute to a vital landmark of cinema.

The film lays out the history of the home video market, harkening back to its origins in the 80s. Studios initially resisted releasing their films on VHS, fearful of losing out on potential ticket revenue. New tapes often cost upwards of $99, leading to the rise of rental businesses catering to this burgeoning market.

While the industry has transformed in immeasurable ways since Blockbuster’s prime in the late 90s and early 00s, about a dozen locations held out until the late 2010s. The Last Blockbuster started filming before the Bend location was the sole survivor, chronicling its rise as the standard-bearer for the nostalgia of an entire generation.

Interlaced throughout the film are interviews with directors and actors such as Kevin Smith, Adam Brody, and Doug Benson, who serve to illustrate the sentiments that countless people feel toward Blockbuster. Its walls represented more than mere brick and mortar, a dream that’s slowly slipping from our collective consciousness. Bad business decisions lead to Blockbuster’s demise before America was ready. In that regard, Bend doesn’t just serve its own local customers, but the heart of a nation resentful that venture capitalism claimed its victim too soon.

Morden hardly shies away from the reality that some people don’t really miss Blockbuster either. Interviews with former Blockbuster executives lay that out clearly, acknowledging the ways that streaming has improved our lives. Life doesn’t need to be an either/or scenario. We could have had both. Bend thankfully still does.

The Last Blockbuster triumphs in its dual objectives of capturing a national phenomenon and an intimate family business, a beautiful love letter to film. Sandi Harding has ensured that Blockbuster remains a pillar of the Bend community, even as people fly in from all over the world just to take a picture at her store. For all of us who wish we could take another drive to make our evening a Blockbuster night, the film does a superb job translating all of those emotions onto the screen.

The Last Blockbuster is available on VOD December 15th 

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Thursday

3

December 2020

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COMMENTS

The Last Blockbuster

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Grab your popcorn and your membership card, because we’re making tonight a Blockbuster Night! We are so thrilled to host Sandi Harding, manager of the final Blockbuster store open in the world, located in Bend, Oregon, and Taylor Morden and Zeke Kamm, director & writer of the fabulous new documentary The Last Blockbuster to the show.

Sandi shares plenty of great insights as to why her Blockbuster has survived in the streaming era, a staple of the Bend community. Taylor & Zeke share their experiences crafting the documentary and why Blockbuster is a place that sparks such fond memories for so many. The film is pure joy for cinephiles.

The Last Blockbuster premieres on VOD on December 15th.

To purchase merchandise from the last Blockbuster, please visit their website: https://bendblockbuster.com/ 

Ian’s review of the film: https://ianthomasmalone.com/2020/12/the-last-blockbuster-is-pure-joy-for-film-aficionados/ 

 

Film poster courtesy of Pictures

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Tuesday

1

December 2020

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Dear Santa offers a touching perspective on the work that goes into bringing holiday cheer

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Each year, millions of American children write letters to Santa that make their way through the Postal Service system. The USPS’ Operation Santa is designed to enlist helper elves to ease Santa’s workload, as the North Pole tends to get pretty hectic this time of year. Director Dana Nachman’s new documentary Dear Santa chronicles the journey of this gargantuan process.

The film provides a pretty broad perspective on the scale of the operation, showcasing how the adult elves do their best to navigate the hordes of letters that come their way. Nachman mostly centers the film around Operation Santa’s efforts in New York and Chicago, though West Coast regions such as Fresno, California and parts of Arizona help paint a full picture of the amount of work that goes into making kids’ dreams come true. For many families in need, a letter to Santa represents the best chance at seeing one’s holiday wishes fulfilled.

Though the narrative bounces around quite a bit, Nachman does single out a few storylines to anchor the film’s broader objective. One child desperately wants a rabbit. Another merely wants to take a ride in a limo after seeing them in films. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like for a family to ask for a pet for the holidays, Dear Santa has you covered.

The holiday season can be an awkward time for many, particularly the LGBTQ community. Dear Santa is an inclusive film perfect for all ages, especially the little tots who go to bed eager for a visit from the big man himself. Parents need not worry about a certain secret being revealed.

The holiday genre places a high emphasis on comfort narratives. At times, Dear Santa is a bit of a tearjerker, spotlighting families who lost everything in California wildfires or Hurricane Sandy back in 2012. December has a way of bringing people together, something that the film achieves quite effectively.

The one complaint with Dear Santa lies with its runtime. Eighty minutes is a lot of time to tell a story, but the feel-good energy spreads itself a bit thin in the absence of conflict. Few would expect a film like this to play hard for dramatic suspense and its modest efforts on that front don’t pack a ton of punch. Like many in the genre, a happy ending is pretty inevitable.

Dear Santa is a very satisfying holiday narrative, one that earns its box of tissues next to the remote. Nachman has a keen ability to highlight the real heroes of the holidays, the people who tirelessly work to provide children a chance to smile. A perfect encapsulation of the spirit of this time of year.

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Tuesday

1

December 2020

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COMMENTS

The Slutcracker

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We are delighted to continue our holiday coverage with a panel discussion on a Boston holiday staple: The Slutcracker, joined by creator/artistic director Vanessa White, performer Jolie LaVie, stage crew Rae Mansfield & makeup artist Sparklle T. Due to covid restrictions, The Slutcracker will make its on-screen debut with Slutcracker: The Movie, available now. Vanessa and the Slutcracker talent share plenty of behind the scenes stories and talk at length about the importance of bringing inclusion to the world of ballet.

To learn more about The Slutcracker: The Movie and where to rent the film, check out their website http://www.slutcracker.com/.

Be sure to follow the official Slutcracker pages, @slutcracker on Instagram & Facebook

 

slutcracker2.jpeg

 

Images courtesy of The Slutcracker

 

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