Archive for February, 2017

Away from all the ‘scandal’ of a lost public opportunity to lampoon the ongoing horror-show of Trump’s administration, this year’s Oscars did generate a notable genre-based highlight. Science-Fiction led the charge in an overall 29% uplift in female protagonists across all films in 2016, which is a fantastic counter to the current rise in retrograde thinking.

As we reported in the last post, Hidden Figures played into these statistics, as did Amy Andrews in Arrival alongside Felictiy Jones in Rogue One. Paul Feig’s all female reboot of Ghostbusters should also be recognised for its quadruple boost, as should Luke Scott’s first feature length endeavour, Morgan. Away from the leading lights, though, we should also call out Sofia Boutella’s portrayal of Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond, Mary Elizabeth Winstead in 10 Cloverfield Lane and Jennifer Lawrence in Morten Tyldum’s Passengers. A mixed bag of quality to be sure, but a disproportionate number of headlining women compared to other genres.

Emma Watson, currently adding to the 2017 female protagonist quota with Beauty and the Beast, has also highlighted to Entertainment Weekly the schism that stops male identification with female leads. She’ll also be adding further improvement with her role as Mae Holland in James Ponsoldt’s adaptation of The Circle. Sadly, the film is also the last outing for Sci-Fi legend Bill Paxton, whose recent death has saddened anyone who remembers him from such films as Weird Science (1985), Aliens (1986), Slipstream (1989) and Apollo 13 (1995). Hopefully the ladies of February won’t mind his inclusion here. I’m sure they’d be in the best of company.

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So it seems we have a feminine theme developing throughout February with our second entry of the month focusing on singer Jenelle Monáe. We’ve referenced her previously on Drozbot as a result of her Sci-Fi influence Metropolis album and, more specifically, the Many Moons video and single. Aside from her melodic vocal skills, she’s recently shown off her acting abilities in Theodore Melfi’s Oscar nominated Hidden Figures. In this she plays Mary Jackson, one of NASA’s engineers who helped get astronaut John Glenn safely into orbit and home once again.

As part of the film’s promotional campaign, artists were commissioned to create images of the three black female leads. Tor.com reported on this earlier in January 2016, focusing on the above image by Stella Blu. It’s an interesting take on Monáe’s already genre-friendly image, while also harking back to a less risk-adverse NASA – something that seems to be returning with their upcoming Orion project.

In a recent interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Monáe clarified her combination of acting and singing. “I always did both,” she said, “and I consider myself not just an actor or a musician or singer, but an artist-storyteller, and my hope is to continue to tell untold, unique universal stories in unforgettable ways.” Here’s hoping she gets a full-blown, well-written Sci-Fi android feature when she next takes to the silver screen.

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We’ve talked about the work of Brit Marling here on Drozbot before, and it’s great to see her quirky brand of indie Sci-Fi finally crossing-over to the mainstream. With The OA receiving a bunch of accolades and the fans picking through the minutia of every scene, it’s high time to have a brief retrospective of what she’s already bought to the genre.

Not one but two cinematic releases bearing her name appeared in 2011. With Another Earth audiences were presented with an identical home planet appearing in the sky, and how this seemingly cosmic happening affects the intimate tragedies of a few central characters. Sound of My Voice meanwhile, opened with a tense drama about two investigative journalists working to infiltrate a cult but, in true Marling style, the plot soon spirals out into the realms of conspiracy and time travel.

Three years after this storming genre introduction and she appears again, this time in a supporting role in Mark Cahill’s I Origins. While the film lacked heart – without Marling looking after script writing and directorial duties – themes of synchronicity, resurrection and the continuation of some sense of existence after death seems to have peculated into some of The OA’s thematic landscape. Talking of which, two weeks ago Netflix confirmed that there will be a season two and both Brit Marling, and co-creator Zal Batmanglij, have reported that there’s more than enough material for many more hours of mystery. You’ll find no complaints about that here on Drozbot, despite the mild trepidation about whether a second series can ever be as well-crafted – fears of season two of Heroes still rankle in these parts.

So there’s not much for the fans to speculate on at this point. There is, however, one juicy titbit that has emerged via some of the more observant viewers – we’ll leave you with this and the full acknowledgement of its spoiler potential. Regardless, check this climatic clip out and see if that chef in motion towards the gunman might just be none other than a relocated Hap. Till next time, keep it interdimensional!

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