3 Shakespeare-inspired Stories You Should Absolutely Experience At Least Once

Happy Ides of March, Field Operatives!

This is the day that the internet rises up to show their love of one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved historical dramas, Julius Caesar. I’m no different; I am a Bardolator – a term used to describe lovers of Shakespeare that was once used as a pejorative (the word is meant to be a portmanteau of ‘Bard’ and ‘Idolator’) but, like most titles in art, was re-appropriated and embraced by the very people it was meant to demean.

However, I feel that focusing on only Julius Caesar does a huge disservice to The Bard. I’m far more interested in how his works continue to influence us and our media. We continue to retell these stories with different perspectives, characters, and contexts to such an extent that we now question what he actually meant to tell us half the time.

So today, to celebrate the Ides of March, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite films and books that bare the tinge of the western world’s most celebrated playwright as I encourage you to seek them out and experience them the way I did.

 Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood

Japan – a country that has been historically cut off from the western world and only taking influences in very small, heavily modified doses – has had a difficult time importing The Bard. In fact, the earliest attempts played the drama of Shakespeare off as farcical comedy.

However, acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa found the ideal way to make Shakespeare’s Macbeth work in a Japanese context.

First, he chose a more familiar art form to translate The Bard into. Instead of western theatre, Kurosawa draws his visual style from Japanese Noh theatre. The expressions, makeup, and actions of the cast are meant to resemble Noh actors and masks; a medium that takes full advantage of the talents of our leading actor, the incomparable Toshiro Mifune.

Second, parts of western mythology that would be foreign to Japanese viewers were replaced with similar tales from Shinto folklore. This is most noticeable in the removal of The Weird Sisters, inspired by Greek tales of The Three Fates, and grafting in their place an Onibaba – a demon hag made a legend in the tale Kurozuka (lit. “The Black Mounds”) where she tempted two monks to their deaths whilst singing of the pathetic fates of mortals.

Lastly, Kurosawa changes the message to reflect more Buddist ideals rather than western Christian ones. In the British world, there is a cyclical system of rule where chosen monarch replaces chosen monarch. Evil comes when a wicked ruler takes power and can only be undone by a good ruler – “The king is dead; Long live the king.” In Throne of Blood, it is the desire for that power that’s evil and, without spoiling the movie, ultimately spells the final fates of the cast.

Even if you struggle to appreciate the different cultural lens, this is still worth watching just to see some of the greatest film talents of Japan who have shaped the cinematic world as a whole.

Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Starting life as a stage play before making its way to film, Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a retelling of Hamlet from the perspective of the titular comic relief side characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (… dur-hey).

While it’s easy to play the entire show off as comedy, I feel a lot is lost in doing that. This is, in fact, a prime example of a style of performance known as “The Theatre of The Absurd,” a style of fiction that has its cast delve into existentialist thought only to find almost everything absurd – that is to say, “meaningless.” If you remember my pontification of the works of Albert Camus, you’re already familiar with the concept of Absurdist philosophy.

Rozencrantz and Guildenstern spend the bulk of the show questioning why they do what they’re doing and wind up with so many more questions than answers, they make a game out of them that would later inspire the show Whose Line Is It Anyway? The ultimate answer ends up being that they are actors merely playing their chosen roles both on the stage and in life and that they, and we by extension, must see the play to its conclusion; “The show must go on.”

This is a great introduction to The Theatre of The Absurd and I recommend you see it either on stage or on the screen.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Yes, this is a thing… and it is amazing.
Source: writingwithaesop.blogspot.com

Shifting from film to literature, did you know the same publishing company that distributed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies also brought us the Star Wars films redone in the style of William Shakespeare?

Author Ian Doescher does an amazing job in recreating The Bard’s style; not only is every episode recreated in iambic pentameter with all of the requite thee’s and thou’s, but he also uses some of Shakespeare’s notable deviations such adding an extra unstressed beat – known as a “weak ending” – for meek characters like Shakespeare did for Hamlet or replacing the elegant verse for simpler prose for the lower born bounty hunter Boba Fett.

But what makes Doescher stand out is how he deviates from THOSE deviations. He does things that Shakespeare likely never would have conceived of. Such examples include dropping a beat of iambic pentameter for the character of Jar-Jar Binks (because he’s “one beat short of a verse,” get it?) and writing Yoda entirely in Haiku.

Not only is this series a fun way to introduce newbies to iambic pentameter, it’s amazing just how far even the most cringe-worthy moments and lines from the movies are elevated by being written in Shakespeare’s style.

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The Marvel-ous New Generation: 3 Marvel Legacy Heroes I Want To See In The MCU

So, If you’ve been following movie trailers for some time, you may have noticed that the previews for Logan have teased a young girl with Wolverine’s power set. Fans will recognize her as Laura Kinney; aka. X-23 – an attempt by the Weapon-X program that gave Wolvie’s skeleton its adamantium chrome job to genetically re-engineer him through cloning (they couldn’t salvage the y-chromosome from his samples; hence why she’s a girl).

Now, I’ve expressed my love of legacy heroes in the past, but I feel that most don’t get why Marvel is keen on gender and/or race swapping their classic roster. The answer is shockingly simple; they’re in the movie business now.

Actors rarely want to spend their lives in the same roles forever and those who do reasonably can’t; they grow too old for the part or pass away and have to leave the role to another – essentially creating a legacy of their own.

By test running huge shifts in appearance and perspective in comics (an industry that is much smaller and less risky than film), Marvel is testing the waters beforehand and prepping for when an actor may leave the studio. We’re already starting to see hints of this in the MCU films with Iron Man 3 setting up Pepper Potts as the new heroine Rescue.

So, while we’re refreshing the roster, I thought I’d discuss some legacy heroes in the Marvel canon that I’d like to see in the movies.

Kamala Khan; Ms. Marvel

Getting her in the roster wouldn’t be too much of a STRETCH.
Source: JamieFayX on DeviantArt

Well, now that we have Carol Danvers, the original Ms. Marvel taking up the mantle of her less memorable male counterpart, we have an empty space to fill.

I’ve said that the problem with the old superheroes is that they represent a mode of thinking from a by-gone age. So, it’s refreshing to see a young face providing a new perspective of the world, especially one from a more ethnic point of view.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, comics have always a diversity problem and I applaud Marvel for being the front-runners in trying to set that issue straight. And with all of the anti-Muslim sentiment we’ve been exposed to lately, someone like Kamala – who is just a fun character to work with in her own right – could help to lighten up people’s attitudes.

And on the subject of Muslim heroes…

Josiah X; Justice

American pride status: restored via badassery. Source: Marvel Database

American pride status: restored via badassery.
Source: Marvel Database

Most stories involving Captian America seem to come off as cynical lately. That’s because most of us aren’t happy with how our country is turning out and he comes off as an anachronism.

What we need is a Cap that is less a product of the past than they are someone reacting to the past and wanting to improve the future. Fortunately for us, there’s a cornucopia of star-spangled soldiers out there to chose from.

Josiah X (born Josiah al hajj Saddiq) is the son of Isaiah Bradley; most famously known as “The Black Captain America.” Josiah has seen America from multiple angles; as a soldier in Vietnam, as a former Black Panther (the society, not the African superhero), and as a vigilante breaking up gangs and drug dealers in the city.

Josiah could bring a new globally-minded perspective that could benefit the story and the teams he works with. Sure, Falcon is being set up as the next Cap, but there’s nothing saying Josiah couldn’t play Bucky Barnes to his Steve Rogers.

Of course, there are OTHER replacements for the Captain proper…

Danielle Cage

This is the last thing you'll see before becoming a greasy smear on the wall behind you. Source: World of Black Heroes

This is the last thing you’ll see before becoming a greasy smear on the wall behind you.
Source: World of Black Heroes

I won’t lie, this is less about cultural significance than it is that I just f***ing love Danielle.

For the record, Danielle is probably one of the least likely people to be introduced into the MCU due to the fact that she is a product of writers playing with alternate timelines (and look at how well that played out for Fox), but I adore her as an absolute badass character born from two equally badass parents; Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.

Who knows? Maybe after they wrap up this universe-spanning series of films, they’ll start a new series with Danielle and her future Avengers.

3 Songs You’ve Probably Heard and Loved (But Don’t Remember Where You Heard Them From)

The days before the widespread availability of the internet sucked if you wanted to learn more about something. You’d have to dig through mountains of books, newspapers, magazines, and essays to find leads. Failing that, you’d have to ask your friends who were often just as clueless as you.

These days, it’s as easy as typing a few words into your browser’s search bar. But once upon a time, movies, television, and other media loved to toy with us by slipping awesome music into their stuff and then make us freak out over where they can be found. Sometimes even the credits at the end – if there are any – provide limited information.

So, in remembrance of those days before Heard On TV and TuneFind existed, Here are some tunes that drove us crazy trying to find them.

Electric Worry – Clutch

While I don’t much care for Clutch lyrically (they can be VERY hit or miss), I will contest that they are amazing at creating a beat that’s perfect for kicking some ass to.

That’s probably why the folks behind the game Left 4 Dead 2 used Electric Worry in the TV spots that got everyone hyped for it. It certainly does its job to put you in the mood to slay some zombies.

Still, can you imagine how much of a kick in the cajones it was to get the game and NOT hear it anywhere? I mean, there’s an entire map dedicated to using the A/V gear and pyrotechnics of an abandoned rock concert to signal a rescue. That would have been the perfect time for a great big ‘F*** yeah’ song like that.

O’ Death – Jen Tidus

Now, to the song’s credit, you’ve likely heard this one off of the soundtrack for O’ Brother, Where Art Thou. But that’s not the cover of this classic that my generation remembers. Instead, we associate it with the introduction of Death himself on the series Supernatural.

I think the reason we remember this version so vividly is because of the imagery and tone it evokes. It took a folk song about a man worked to the brink of death begging for one more day and grew that emotion to cover an entire planet pleading with the last horseman of the apocalypse for mercy.

Also, we didn’t have to watch a bunch of  KKK a-holes commit an act of cultural vandalism by stealing and perverting a famous spiritual for this one. I mean, I appreciate the irony of that scene, but it was infuriating to watch.

Release The Beast – Breakwater

I find that one of the most difficult situations to suss out what song I’m listening during to is while listening to a completely different song. That’s not to say that I’m against sampling in music. As we’ve established, I’m a fan of Vaporwave and that genre is based almost entirely around sampled and edited tracks.

But what I am saying is that if it weren’t for sites like WhoSampled to help me out, I would have never known that one of Daft Punk’s most famous songs is just a short loop of a rock/funk fusion track from 1980.

Of course, I’m not trying to belittle the glory that is Robot Rock either. Minimalism is a valid artistic style after all. But that said, I’m glad to have stumbled upon Release The Beast if only to take a look at the shift in the music industry between the 70’s and the 80’s and catch a glimpse of the transition as it happened.

In fact, I encourage you to find out what songs YOU like have sampled other artists and where they got the samples from. You may just learn something about music history in the process.

4 Reasons Why Deadpool Is The Greatest Hero Ever Conceived Of By Man

This blog is Deadpool approved!
Source: Screen Rant

As of the previous night from when I’m writing this, I had the joy of seeing Deadpool at my local IMAX theater. I have to say that the film lived up to the hype. We fans can finally say that we got a true-to-character depiction of Deadpool outside of the comics that we can be proud of. They even managed to turn the upset of having their budget cut from under their feet at the last minute to their advantage.

But upon returning from the movie, I and my colleagues got to discussing why we love D. Pooly so much. What is it about this loud-mouthed cross between Ryan Reynolds and a shar-pei that makes us love him so?

Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but for me…

He Isn’t A Hero (Technically)

 

It’s the thought that counts…
Source: The Deadpool Catalogue

As pointed out in my breakdown of the one-shot comic The Gaeneviad, the problem with self-proclaimed heroes is that they tend to come off as holier-than-thou douchebags hiding behind the veneer of righteousness and justice.

On the other hand, our dear Deadpool acts on the principals of moral relativism; i.e., the definitions of good and evil being subjective and based on one’s own cultural upbringing and environment that they occupy.

Wade may have a massive ego, but he has no delusions of being a hero despite what he occasionally insists. He simply acts as he feels he needs to in order to protect his own interests and those of the ones that he cares about/are paying him at the time.

He’s a Surprisingly Tragic Character

Yes, this comic just made you feel bad for a foul-mouthed, murderous, sentient tumor.
Source: Cynic No More

Behind his snappy comebacks and gleeful destruction, Deadpool has a lot of emotional baggage to unpack. It’s easy to forget that this is a man who was dishonorably discharged from the military, forced into mercenary work to get by, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, horribly disfigured by the people that “cured” him, and then tortured so badly that he spent nights in his cell simply chanting the words, “Ow, my skin.”

Once you remember that, you start to realize that his manic personality is just a coping mechanism – a mask that he likely puts on to cover up his own pain.

He’s Sexually Progressive

I sense the feeling isn’t mutual.
Source: The Odyessy

Despite looking like someone beat Rod Stewart with a baseball bat and held him down in battery acid, Deadpool has a shockingly healthy sex life with a long list of partners.

And when I say long list, I mean it’s suggested that he’s f***ed pretty much EVERYONE.

Deadpool is often characterized as being pansexual, meaning he is not limited by things like gender identity or biological sex when considering a love interest. He flirts with the likes of Thor, Spider-Man, and Wolverine, has been married to strange alien lifeforms, and has even had multiple flings with Death itself.

Basically, I like the idea of a man that looks like ten miles of bad road telling me that we’re all beautiful people.

He Knows The Importance of Engaging the Audience

Never upstage the protagonist.
Source: comicritico.blogspot.com

One of Deadpool’s key features is his love of breaking the fourth wall – the act of directly addressing the audience and acknowledging the medium one occupies. While only a hand full of characters can do this right, something interesting happens when they do.

By becoming self-aware of their role in the entertainment industry, characters like Deadpool will often start playing to the audience. This forces the writers to do the same and results in a more engaging and entertaining story.

In short, since Deadpool WANTS to play to the crowd, the writers HAVE to play to the crowd.

“Exterminate All Rational Thought”: The Horror, Tragedy, and Weirdness of Naked Lunch

That guy on the left… That’s Mugwump. He is the most normal thing in this movie.
Source: Austrian Film Museum

So, lately, I’ve been getting a lot of love from fans of Horror movies. And honestly, I’m glad. I’m one of them. I’ve discussed in the past why Horror is so important to art and society, so it’s no surprise that I’m a fan.

So today, in honor of our monster mash of new Field Operatives here at The Archive and the approaching Halloween (the holiday starts for me when the coffee shops break out the pumpkin spice), I’d like to share my love for one of my favorites in the genre; a psychedelic, drug-fueled, semi-biography turned Body Horror exploration into the symbiotic nature of creativity and addiction called Naked Lunch.

Now before anyone gets up in arms about me labeling this film based on the book of the same name by beat poet legend William S. Burroughs as Body Horror, let me explain my thinking.

Body Horror is defined by Collins English Dictionary as an entry in the horror genre, “… in which the main feature is the graphically depicted destruction or degeneration of a human body or bodies.” Firstly, this is absolutely a Horror film; its goal is to depict a terrifying situation and how our hero copes with it. Secondly, while no one gets mutilated (well, ALMOST no one), the imagery centers around people and objects morphing and mutating into psychotropic hallucinations that are unnervingly inhuman. In that regard, it’s not that much of a departure from director David Cronenberg’s other works – The Fly comes to mind in particular thanks to Naked Lunch‘s insect fixation.

So, why do I love this film? Well, it comes down to the goal of all horror – to depict the terrors and anxieties of the real world in an artistically exaggerated manner so as to make a social commentary on the topic. These terrors take multiple forms throughout the film as our hero – former exterminator turned writer William Lee (Peter Weller) – copes with addiction, guilt, and pressure to create. We can identify with many of these fears and they humanize his character more when you realize that he’s meant to be an analog for Burroughs himself.

Almost everything Lee experiences through a drug-induced haze happened to Burroughs including the murder of his wife (Burroughs accidentally shot his wife during a drunken game of William Tell), his adventures in the country of Interzone (Burroughs spent several months in the Tangier International Zone), getting advise from his fellow writers (Lee’s friends Hank and Martin are stand-ins for Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg), and his penchant for breaking out into improv routines during conversations (my favorite is the infamous ‘Talking Asshole’ routine).

There’s something creepily familiar to me about Lee/Burroughs and the joint nature of creativity and addiction. I’ve never done drugs before, but I can attest to the fact that writing is a lot like an addictive drug to me. It takes an infeasible amount of effort to come up with what I’ll say – to get my fix if we’re using the drug analogy. But, If I don’t get it in time, I start feeling lethargic, depressed, and even physically weak; like a junkie suffering withdrawal symptoms.

Basically, to sum up an essay of over 600 words into a single sentence, I like this movie because it’s a love letter to a great writer that I admire, has some of the most amazing special effects animatronics I’ve seen in film (courtesy of Jaime ‘Yes, THAT Jaime Hyneman‘ Hyneman in part), made me think, and because I – as a writer – identify with the notion of being in the grip of a deadly muse (he says mere minutes to midnight the night before publishing as he finishes his second cup of coffee during the writing/editing of this article).

4 Warner Bros. Properties That I Want To See As Mortal Kombat DLC Characters

One of the nice things about being in my new apartment is the fact that I’ve been more active with my hobbies thanks to kicking the depression linked to my previous setting. Among those hobbies are, of course, video games and movies.

Last Month, the folks at Netherrealm Studios kept the proud tradition of adding new DLC Characters to the Mortal Kombat franchise from the available list of Warner Bros. Movies and properties by giving us the option to play as The Predator in Mortal Kombat X. And while he makes a nice fit, I can’t help but feel some other opportunities could be found with a little digging.

Basically, I’m saying that I won’t be happy until I can push Quan Chi’s head down into his colon while playing as…

Leatherface

Sure, we already have a silent, masked killer on the roster. But HE doesn’t have a chainsaw.
Source: Super Villain Wiki

You know, for being an iconic horror film, I’ve heard a lot of hate TowardsThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I imagine that’s mostly the hyper conservative crowd that can’t handle a horror film that’s ACTUALLY horrifying talking.

Regardless, the movie’s iconic killer Leatherface would be an obvious fit. The property is now owned Warner Bros., he’s a classic horror villain well known for brutally dispatching his victims, and he would be easily recognizable. Just code him in the next DLC, hand him a chainsaw and a meat mallet, and have him go to town.

And while we’re getting the obvious choices out of the way…

The Xenomorph

Bonus points if they have the stones to use the queen.
Source: Alien Species Wiki

 

Look, we have Predator, naturally Alien can’t be too far behind.

There’s actually a good reason why I want The Xenomorph as a playable character though; the lack of creative, inhuman designs in recent Mortal Kombat games.

I remember seeing characters like Goro, Kintaro, and Motaro for the first time and having my mind blown. These days, they seem to be playing it safe in terms of design. D’vorah is still surprisingly humanoid for a bug woman and even Milleena has been toned down a bit from her previous appearance. We could use a wholly inhuman monster in the roster.

Still, perhaps these last two are too obvious. There are more surprising options that could rock the community with the news. Options like…

Sweeney Todd

His ‘friends’ would be working overtime.
Source: FanPop

Ha! Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?

It’s funny how most people don’t talk about this movie anymore. It’s arguably the last role that Johnny Depp did that you can call ‘good’ without qualifying that statement. What’s more, it’s a Warner Bros. owned horror film – making it a valid choice for DLC.

I feel that someone this unexpected could create a lot of buzz and make the game interesting; the lost soul of ‘The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ so consumed with vengeance that he’ll fight his way out of the netherrealm to get it.

Also, I’ve just really wanted to slowly slit Johnny Cage’s throat with a straight razor ever since I first saw him.

Guyver One

The fact that this exists proves I’m not alone in the universe.
Source: ultimate-savage.deviantart.com/

Okay, this one’s a bit complicated.

Before anyone asks, yes – the Bio-Booster Armor Guyver franchise was originally a manga published by Viz Media that was adapted into an anime published by Manga Entertainment. HOWEVER, New Line Cinema picked up the movie rights and released two films based on the franchise. And since Warner Bros. merged with them in 2008, it’s possible that they still have the rights.

“But Agent,” I hear you plea, “Weren’t those movies inconsistent and ham-fisted schlock that even lovers of bad movies have trouble stomaching? Why would you include that in a game like this?”

Well, I’m thinking of it as a chance for redemption. There’s nothing saying that they need to follow the note set by the films. This could be a chance to bring the character back to his sci-fi/action/horror roots. Plus, it would be a nice change up to see a hero in a DLC instead of a villian.

I only have one request; please go back to calling the kid in Guyver One Shō Fukamachi instead of Sean Barker. We really don’t need stuff like that in this day and age.

3 Comic Books That Should Be Adapted Into Films

There’s no denying it at this point, comic book-based films are the top dog of the modern movie industry. As such, studios are looking to find ways to adapt any promising series or story arch that presents itself.

That said, there are a lot of properties and ideas that have yet to be considered that really should be (I dare argue that even the Green Lantern movie could have been improved with the presence of Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern cat).

So, to all those young film talents looking for ideas and fellow geeks looking to hound studios to work on stuff, here are some comics I’d like to see on the big screen (provided they don’t screw them up, of course).

Ms. Marvel

marvel

Dear Marvel; if you’re looking for an actress for the part, my friend Jamie can fill the role. Source: Jamie Poison on Facebook

With Wonder Woman set to have her own film in a little over 2 years, it seems appropriate Marvel should be there to meet DC with their own golden girl.

Ms. Marvel is probably the one character that could match Wonder Woman for the title of ‘most important female figure in comics’ and has a wealth of backstory to work from. I would talk at length about it, but A) that would be an article in its own right and B) MovieBob beat me to it years ago and did it far better than I could.

There have been some rumblings of Ms. Marvel appearing in Avengers 2, but the stories are slim on information at this at this point and could all be speculation with little confirmed. Still, it would be a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Update: Apparently Ms. Marvel is scheduled to make an appearance in 2018. Good for you, Marvel.

Blacksad

Dirty Harry ain’t got nothing.
Source: Wikipedia

You know what kind of story is sadly absent from movies? The film noir detective yarn. We saw attempts to use comics to revive the genre with some action tropes in the form of Sin City and The Spirit, but director/writer Frank Miller is to good story what Rob Liefeld is to attractive sequential art (that one was all the comic geeks out there).

Instead, I suggest trying again with Blacksad, an award-winning, Spanish produced, French detective comic set in 1950’s America that follows hard-boiled investigator John Blacksad as he investigates major crimes and deals with issues like political unrest and inter-racial violence.

The comic uses a technique that is not often seen today due to social stigmas; the use of anthropomorphic animal characters to help build personalities. For example, Blacksad’s character as a black cat is a clever twist on the ‘bad luck seems to follow me’ cliché.

We need some good, clever drama in film. And I think Blacksad could provide.

And speaking of great comics starring fur-clad heroes…

Usagi Yojimbo

And now you know what the killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail went on to do.
Source: Cover Browser

One of my favorite film genres and the one that’s least likely to be brought up in casual conversation among my associates is chanbara (literally, “sword fighting” in Japanese); a set of samurai action films that helped to inspire and shape American Westerns.

I mention this because Usagi Yojimbo (translation; “Rabbit Bodyguard”) is possibly the best chance to revive the genre.

Set in the Edo period of Japan, the story follows the adventures of the white rabbit ronin Miyamoto Usagi (a clever play-on-words of the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi) as he fights wars and slays mythical monsters while offering the sage wisdom of a man that seeks the best in himself after seeing the absolute worst that others can offer.

If the character sounds familiar to you, you were probably a huge fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid as the two made cameos in the other’s stories from time to time.

If you’re still unsure as to how high quality an Usagi Yojimbo film would be, I recommend checking out the short motion comic to sample the closest thing available at the moment.