Sunday, February 5, 2017

Coming Distractions

Under ordinary circumstances, I live in a high degree of anticipation for film releases. Marvel Studios alone has laid out three movies a year for the next three years, and as a result I am eagerly awaiting not only Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok this year, but also looking ahead to costume tests and casting details from Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Captain Marvel. And Star Wars and DC have their long term plans as well.

But 2017 has a special place in my heart.

This year's cinematic spectacles have a dual purpose; certainly they will entertain, some more so than others, but more importantly, they will serve as a buffer, a cushion, a form of psychic insulation.

They will hopefully keep me away from US news.

Like a lot of people, I followed last year's presidential election pretty closely, reading articles on the Washington Post and New York Times even as the Republican nominee mocked their reporters and dismissed their reporting. I watched in disbelief as a supremely unqualified and unsuited individual became the leader of the free world, surfing to power on a wave of populist disenfrachisement, and have been alternately astonished and horrified at his actions since taking office.

To make matters worse, the absence of any sort of viable middle in American politics means that both the right and left are getting more entrenched, and social media is filed with the smoldering wreckage of former friendships and shattered relationships.

Oh, make no mistake, we have similar problems here in Canada, especially in Alberta (carbon tax debate, anyone?), but they feel far more understated and much less, well, dangerous. And at least in Canada I can by a party membership and vote for a leader if I am so inclined, and try to exert some influence there, but south of the 49th parallel? If his own citizens are protesting in the streets to no avail, and he is trying to find ways to circumvent judges and attorney generals as they attempt to maintain rule of law, I'm pretty sure the ranting of one more foreign national, especially one from Soviet Canuckistan, is going to fall on deaf ears.

And if I stopped to think about it, this rise in populism, coupled with a global financial slowdown and underscored by military adventurism in the Crimea and South China Sea, would all probably coalesce into my wondering how people in the if my general sense of foreboding would be familiar to anyone who lived through the 1930s. Which is depressing and intimidating in equal measure.

So I'm taking a break.

I'm not going full cocoon, no ostrich-mode for me, but I have already reduced my intake of American news to headlines for the most part. I'm staying away from op-eds, and avoiding punditry altogether. I've determined there is little to be gained from it, so I am focusing some of those energies into the enjoyment of largely escapist entertainment for the remainder of 2017. With some careful scheduling, I can move from release to release like an orangutan brachiating his way through a rainforest canopy.


The Lego Batman Movie (who didn't love The Lego Movie, a kid's version of The Matrix?)
A Cure for Wellness (wow, this looks trippy)


Logan (final turn for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine after a decade and a half of awesomeness!)
Kong: Skull Island (great 70s esthetic, John Goodman, and a sequel featuring a fight with Godzilla!)
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Guy Ritchie doing a street level Morte D'Arthur? I'm in!)
Ghost in the Shell (boo whitewashing, yay cyberpunk manga adaptation with great art design!)
(also: When the heck am I going to find time to watch Iron Fist on Netflix?)


Colossal ( the trailer, I can't synopsize it without wrecking it)


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (hope the soundtrack is good)
Alien: Covenant (guess I had better watch Prometheus, huh?)
Life (more scares in space)


Wonder Woman (cautious optimism based on a great trailer)
Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle (the sequel I am most surprised/delighted to see)


Spider-Man: Homecoming (Spider-Man's first feature in the MCU!)
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan's WWII film is perhaps the movie I am most stoked for)
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (opens same weekend as Dunkirk and looks great!)
The Dark Tower (Idris Elba plays Stephen King's knightly gunslinger)


Baby Driver (caper film by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and what a cast!)


Huh, the schedule must have shifted; I could have sworn there was something out in September I wanted to see... oh well, guess I will stay home one weekend and binge-watch Marvel's The Defenders on Netflix, huh?


Blade Runner 2049 (didn't want to see this, didn't think it needed making, but it looks SO GOOD)
(Also, Stranger Things Season 2 comes out on Hallowe'en!)


Thor: Ragnarok (guest starring The Hulk for the first time since Age of Ultron)
Justice League (I'll level with you, this might not even be good, but I have to go)


Star Wars: The Last Jedi (The Force Awakens was a lot of fun; can a new director stay the course?)

So there you have it: a year of insulation from the rancour and divisiveness of American politics. Just thinking about all these morsels of cinematic experiences has improved my disposition in the last few minutes!

Sure, there are some tumultuous times ahead on our side of the border too, with both the federal and provincial Tories casting about for new leadership, but with any luck things will stay a bit more civil and perhaps less surreal. In the meantime I will confine my perusings of happenings in Washington to the minimum, and have resolved not to get worked up about them.

Sometime in 2018 I will poke my head out of my escapist burrow and see how things are going in the lead-up to the mid-term elections, and with any luck, I will be strengthened by my sabbatical and more prepared to grapple with the issues of the day as well as the caricatures behind them.

And if not, sequels to The Incredibles and Pacific Rim are on deck along with Infinity War and an adaptation of Ready Player One that year, so my back-up plan is already in place.

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