Ever come to the realization that things aren’t going to go the way you expected them to? That happens to Imagination Connoisseurs every time we turn on a new show and are “underwhelmed” by what we see on the screen.

Streaming is here to stay – so what’s that mean for theaters?

Hey Rob and the PGS,

Its been a bit since my last letter, but I never want to send one just to do it. I always want to make sure its worth your time sir. So hopefully this one is.

The Queen’s Gambit was a big win for NETFLIX in the fall of 2020.

I recently finished watching “The Queens Gambit” in its entirety and I got it done in two nights. I have to say, it was so delightful, beautifully crafted, wonderfully paced and shot, with such a magnificent performance by Anya Taylor-Joy. This limited series, in my opinion is why we “go to the movies”, without the theater.

What I mean Rob, is that this 7 episode FILM is the most cinematic thing I’ve seen on screen this past year. It really got me thinking about the mediums in the business right now. The medium that we are in danger of losing and also the medium that we are for absolute certain gaining quickly.

On one hand, a theatre going experience can be pricey and sometimes a bit of a hassle, but it also provides the space that many imagine connoisseurs need in order to escape the real world and become immersed into the world created on screen. The other hand gives us the industry’s biggest leap into the future with home streaming and the over abundance of creative content at our finger tips.

If it came down to it, could I sit in a theater for 7 one hour long episodes of “The Queens Gambit” in one sitting? Or would I prefer a package where I could go back each night of the week to watch one episode a night? Or would I actually prefer the limited series be edited down to a feature length film? These are all questions I was asking myself as I was watching the series and wishing SO MUCH that I was able to watch this photographed and directed masterpiece in the my favorite theater, The Regency Director’s Cut in Laguna Niguel in South Orange County.

“The Queens Gambit” reaches new heights in streaming programs. Its rich, dense, old-fashion,and meticulously written and edited. Every shot is designed to evoke the emotion of the character on screen. Along with the brilliant score by Carlos Rafael Rivera, series Cinematographer Steven Meizler and director Scott Frank knew exactly how long to take us on the journey of each shot by holding, panning, or trucking the camera at the same time Rivera composing notes that cut into each scene like a pulse pounding action movie. Sometimes what you are watching is so fucking engaging and intense that it may even feel like an action movie at times. I think out of everything I’ve seen in 2020, whether it was at the theater earlier on in the year or on streaming, this is the best thing I’ve watched all year.

My other favorite thing I watched in 2020 was Hulu’s limited series DEVS.

Nick Offerman in DEVS on HULU

On the total other side of the spectrum, this series is a Science Fiction story created by one of my favorite writer/filmmakers working right now Alex Garland. Having made my favorite film of 2015 “Ex Machina” and my favorite film of the past 9 years in 2018, “Annihilation”, I was so excited when I heard he was writing and directing a limited series that delves so deep into what he does best, sci fi.

This series did NOT disappoint with Garlands beautiful sense of scenery and his ability to make something so surreal feel so lived in. The soundtrack is such an amazing contrast to how the story unfolds just how “Annihilation” does. You can tell Garland paid so much attention and oversaw every aspect of this series.

Just like with Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance in “Queens Gambit”, Sonoya Mizuno as Lily commands the screen and holds you with every frame she’s in, which is pretty much all of them. Its such a strange and unique story that grabbed me even though it doesn’t unfold until the second half of its 8 episodes.

This past year has really made me realize something that I didn’t want to. That media, despite not being released theatrically or being traditionally structured, is in really good shape with streaming.

Do I want movies or the theater going experience to go away? Hell NO! At the same time having watched both “The Queens Gambit” and “DEVS” in 2020 at home, I’m happy and motivated that this type of storytelling is even more on the rise that its long history of television runs. Though, this is nothing new to the small screen, most mini series, at least back in the 80’s and 90’s were slowly paced, with usually 3 to 4 episodes.

Streaming service’s ability to release these all at once makes them so much more of film watching experience. With the benefit of no commercial breaks or waiting a week for the next episode we as audience members can make these stories what we want them to be to us. I for one watched “DEVS” during the corse of one week and “Queens Gambit”, as I mentioned, in two days.

The Bigger questions that I have been asking myself and that I want to ask you and the PGS are things like, what if the future isn’t one thing or another? What if, hypothetically, we can chose different ways of viewing movies and streaming programs? Rob, because I respect your opinion and your views and experience on filmmaking and television producing so much, I ask you, is it possible to realistically create a platform or platforms where an everyday viewer could chose how they would like to watch something?

I know that Tarantino recently was given the license to re-edit “The Hateful Eight” and turn it into a 4 episode limited series and I thoroughly enjoyed that version. What if people could go see “Queens Gambit” in a theater as one of the different ways I mentioned? Could streaming services work with exhibitors and theater owners to play these in theaters (assuming theaters actually reopen soon)?

Is this a lame way of thinking? I feel it is something that could give everyone something that they want. Sure, I know the amount of effort that would have to go into something like this. But, as an editor myself, I know many new job could be created to make this sort of venture a reality.

With re-editing streaming content that some folks may really want to see in the theater like “DEVS” or even “Chernobyl” from a couple years ago, it just seems like streaming services and theater chains can both benefit from. I don’t know. I know the industry fairly well, so I am sure I will get cut down quickly in the live chat and comments, but I can’t help but feel it’s worth discussing.

Anyway Rob, thank you reading my letter and doing everything you do everyday to make MY day just that much better. I admire what you do and what you have to say, so I thought you were the best person to at least give my questions the benefit of the doubt. Live long and prosper my friend.
CinemaGulp

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Just who does Michael Burnham think she is … Superman?.

Hello Rob,

I’ve found a bullet point for another reason why JJTrek Films are ok for me, and not the JJKurtzTrek TVVerse. I am bothered one the TV side because as stated before, seasons are not as long. Growing up sometimes seasons could be thirty episodes for popular shows.

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY’s main character, Michael Burnham, is at the center of every story. And the universe.

I bring this up because now, with just 10 episodes, I’m stuck with a sour taste in my mouth because of its nonsensical Science, and characters i just don’t care about.

I LOVE Sonequa Martin-Green. She was what kept me watching “The Walking Dead” while that shows writers fumbled Negan’s Introduction and the following dragggggggggged out season. I was happy with her character finale. But Michael Burnham is the same White Christ like know it all f. Vbbcigure used in all Fantasy, sci-fi, and fiction, requiring use of that type of character.

What exactly makes her different than The Superman we saw in (forgive me..) Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns”? Well, outside of race, not a goddamn thing. You know as well as I do, that when the end comes for the character, and the JJKurtzTrek-verse, it will all be wiped from memory, existence, and the prime Trek-verse will be restored with her poor as hell written sacrifice ala Jesus for your sins, or Superman-himself somehow surviving with a kryptonite lethal dose stabbed into his side, and being able to get close enough to carry a very large continent of Kryptonite to hurl into space..Hmmm where did they get that from?

Hey, maybe Michael IS Jesus, after all she doesn’t have the same weakness for kryptonite…..yet….
Throgg

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The DCEU swings for the fences and whiffs. Badly.

Much thanks for reading my first letter. For letter number two, I am going to focus on the DCEU. One good thing about 8 hour chemo sessions is I have plenty of time for letter writing. Well I am a lifelong DC fan and I still read the comics to this day, time permitting. I also greatly enjoy all the DCTV shows, video games, and cartoons. I even named my youngest daughter Kara for both Supergirl and Kara Thrace.

I therefore would describe myself as a pretty big DC comics fan. Growing up I saw these heroes as almost god-like beings, who were largely optimistic in their outlook, and who have inspired me to be a better person. With that said, I got to say the DCEU thus far has been what Star Trek: Discovery has been to you, a big disappointment.

Unlike in my first letter, where my Star Wars pet peeves don’t really stop me from enjoying the content, the DCEU is quite the opposite. Unlike the MCU, I feel like the portrayals do not well represent the characters, or are based on a very specific version from the comics that I don’t particularly for much. Like always, I don’t want to yuck on anyone’s yum if they enjoy these movies, but I would love to see a reboot or more Elseworlds stories.

I decided to not break things down by the movies, but instead by character. I am sure you will disagree with a few things, but a civilized discussion about such topics is what makes this post-geek singularity community so great.

Superman

Definitely far and away one of my all time favorite superheroes. I think Henry Cavill is a wonderful casting. However, I think the story and the universe around him has failed this version of Superman. For Superman, and the majority of super powered heroes, I am just not into seeing them be taken in a “realistic” or a more “grounded” direction. This made for a bit of a dour storyline with regards to Man of Steel, instead of an optimistic one. Also I know he ages slower being a Kryptonian, but not becoming Superman till he was 33 is an odd choice to me as well. Not too long after becoming Superman he gets beat by Batman, something that should never happen in my opinion, and is then killed by Doomsday. Not really a fantastic career so far.

Batman

From the beginning I thought Ben Affleck was a great casting. That is for an older, even grumpier, Dark Knight Returns version of Batman. It would have made for some great Elseworlds movies. However, I think that is a terrible choice for a Batman founding the Justice League. Though I must say the BvS Batman costume was spectacular, and that warehouse fight scene was great.

Wonder Woman

She is the only DCEU character that reminds of their comic book equivalent through and through. I think Gal Gadot is such a great casting, but its a real shame WW84 was so bad.

Aquaman

Is the DCEU’s Aquaman a good representation of the comic book hero?

Now he is also one of my all time favorite comic book superheroes. However, I think Jason Momoa was a terrible casting, and it has nothing to do with his looks. Physically he very much reminds me of what I call 90’s grumpy Aquaman. I did not care for that Peter David run then, and still don’t today. Aquaman does not need to be edgy and relatable in my opinion, he was already a great character. My biggest problem with this take is I feel its just Jason Momoa playing Jason Momoa. For me he did not capture Arthur Curry’s personality, nor the way he would act. I would love to see an alternative take on the King of Atlantis by making an appearance in a Elseworlds movie or on DCTV. Again, like Batman, I have to give credit to the final version of the Aquaman costume, its one of the all time greats.

The Flash

Speaking of characters not reminding me of their comic book equivalents at all. Ezra Miller’s Flash is a big miss for capturing the character of Barry Allen and I think his costume is ugly. They should of just named him Wally West, or even Bart Allen, if that’s the direction they wanted to go in. I also did not care for the mentor relationship between him and Batman. Batman in my opinion is already is the most overused and “overpowered” fictional character of all time, so just let Barry be Barry.

Green Lantern

MIA. How can you have a Justice League without one of its founding members. Give us Hal, John, Guy, and all the rest of human Green Lantern’s. We won’t be confused as an audience, they are basically a group of space cops.

Cyborg

I know he became a founding member of the Justice League in the new 52, but to me he will always be a Titan. Please give me the original Justice League founding member, Martian Manhunter. I think he is an awesome character and it’s a shame he got tossed to the side.

Shazam

I just do not like the new 52 version of Shazam at all. Give me the original Captain Marvel any day. I find the original Sir Galahad like Billy Batson far more interesting than the less likeable or more “relatable” version we have today. Taking the movie Big and making it a superhero movie just doesn’t do it for me.

Harley Quinn

To each their own, but just not interested in this character at all. She is a second or third string Batman villain to me.

I would love to see a complete fresh start for the live action DC movies. I think it would be best to start with the original seven Justice League founders early in their careers. The universe this all takes place in would have comic booky advanced alien races, magic, and obviously super-powered individuals. It would also be great if this universe is full of optimism, almost like a Darwyn Cooke drawing coming to life.

Though at the same time I think they should fully embrace the multiverse, which to some extent they already have. I love the multiverse concept with respect to real world physics, and its impact on the many fictional universes we enjoy. I just wish Warner Brothers would have no restrictions on this front, since I don’t not buy the whole mass audience confusion theory at all. I think the vast majority of the audience falls into the camps of either understanding the multiverse concept, or not caring and possibly not even knowing that there are multiple versions of the same character existing on different Earth’s. I believe this will not only make for some interesting Elseworlds movies, but also some great DCTV content. Like many fictional universes, I think superheroes are far better suited for TV or streaming. I want to see a heroes career develop over a long span of time, and get to fight their biggest villains more than once.

I must say I am somewhat intrigued by the coming Flash movie with Michael Keaton returning as Batman. I sure want it to be great. In closing, I hope those who enjoy the DCEU will continue to do so, but I would love to see a lot more in the way of live action alternatives. Praise Rao and thank you.
Scott K.

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Have some episodes of ST:TOS improved over time or have we just aged into them?

Hi Rob,
Curious if your opinions of certain original Star Trek episodes have changed from when you first viewed them as a kid to now viewing them as an adult?

I’ve recently done a re-watch of the original series and while I have my tried and true favorites (“Tomorrow is Yesterday”, “Errand of Mercy”, “A Taste of Armageddon”, “The City on the Edge of Forever” and others) there are some episodes that I could not stand as a kid which as an adult I’ve warmed up to.

Some of these include:
“Squire of Gathos” – As a child, I found Trelane to be insanely annoying and hated the episode every time it aired. Now, I see the comedic exuberance that William Campbell brought to the role. I can perhaps chalk my change of mind up to John DeLancie. Once it was speculated that Trelane could be a Q, then Trelane became more palatable.

How is it possible anyone could not like Commodore Decker from ST:TOS’s “Doomsday Machine”?

“The Doomsday Machine” – As I child, I nicknamed this episode “The Enterprise fights the Space Log” as I found the old visual effects of the machine terrible. Now, I can see it through Matt Decker’s eyes and recognize what a great performance William Windom gave as the tortured captain.

“The Corbomite Maneuver” – As I child, this was one of the most boring episodes because nothing happened. In my mind, they sat around the bridge, Kirk made some stuff up about the Enterprise while staring at a ship that looked like a beehive and then it turned out there was no threat all. Now, I can appreciate the gamesmanship and character insight it offers into how Kirk commands.

Conversely, there are also episodes that I liked then but find terrible now: “The Conscience of the King”, “Wolf in the Fold”, and “Catspaw”. And others, that no matter how much time goes by, are inherently terrible: “Turnabout Intruder”, “Is There in Truth No Beauty” (what is even going on in this episode??), “The Omega Glory”, and the worst ST:TOS episode by a light-year in my opinion “The Empath”.

Are there any TOS episodes that you hated early on but now like or vice versa?
John C.

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Is it possible to love a vile character so much, you’ll support anything he does?

Hi Rob

Walter White – a thoroughly likeable, evil villain – from BREAKING BAD.

Over Christmas break I have binged all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad and wow, I have never been so blown out of the park by a show.

Walter White is such a vile, disgusting character in the final couple of seasons and for some reason I was so attached to his character that even when Skylar, Hank, Walt Jr. and Marie make decisions that seem absolutely reasonable I can’t help but dislike them because Walt has been written so well.

My question is have you ever been so attached to a character that’s so vile but you just don’t care?
Jamie W.

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Does the MCU appeal to young girls? Maybe not the way they think.

Hi Rob and the PGS,

Over the last year, my youngest daughter (10 in Feb) has been getting into the MCU in a big way.

She has watched all the films, god knows how many times. She working her way through Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.E.L.D, but I won’t let her watch the Netflix shows due to some of their graphic content. She not ready for it yet, but when she is. I will let her watch it.

Scarlet Witch and Vision make an attractive couple at any size.

When it came time to ask her what she wanted to get for Christmas, all she asked for was Action figures of Hulk, Vison and Scarlet Witch, as they are her favourite characters.

I thought no problems that will be easy to get even with lockdown. Boy was I wrong.

Getting the Hulk was easy as you can find him anywhere. But Vison and Wanda, that’s a different story. Even though it had been just over a year since Endgame had come out and nearly two for Infinity War, it was impossible to find anything from these lines or just these characters in general.

Cap, Thor, Iron-Man etc, you can find anywhere but Wanda, Vision, Hawkeye and Black Widow. You can’t seem to find it unless you’re willing to pay double or triple the original price.

I could not find Vision he is just impossible to find at a reasonable price, so in the end we got her Titan Hero Series Hulk and Thanos, Marvel Avengers: Infinity War Scarlet Witch with Infinity Stone 6” figure.

She also wanted Lego Marvel as well so we picked up the Black Widow’s Helicopter Chase from the upcoming Black Widow movie.

Needless to say, she loves the gifts and has not stopped playing with them and has them with her at all time. I even caught her watching the movies and re-enacting the scenes in the films, which she calls “Play Watching.”

Rob, I know Wanda and Vision are not hugely popular or even main characters. But I am sure that my daughter is not the only girl that want them as toys and I am sure there are a few boys that would like them also. So why is it that they are so hard to find?

I did ask her if she wanted a Captain Marvel as there seem to be plenty of toys of her. Her response was “Captain Marvel can suck it!” I asked, what she did not like about Captain Marvel. She said, “She does not have a very likable personality and she looks like she is sucking on a lemon most of the time.”

Peace and long life,
Dean M.

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GHOSTS OF WAR is a hidden horror gem.

Dear Rob,

It’s been a while since last I wrote, but laziness is a very comforting distraction in difficult times. I suppose I could write a monograph about Wonder Woman 84, but there are so many saying the same thing it seems pointless. I will however offer one observation, which is how can the continuity editing in a movie that cost $200 million be so bad?

GHOSTS OF WAR was an interesting mash-up of WWII and horror genres (2020).

In the early scene where Barbara meets Diana the shots of her holding the papers and briefcase she is holding switch between papers on top to papers sticking out the side to back on top, and its is literally front and centre of the screen. I think it is symptomatic of the failures of the film’s overall sloppiness and –dare I saw it– a lack of verisimilitude.

But like you I am a fan and am more interesting in building things up, so I would rather talk about an unexpected positive experience instead. Flicking through the dross on the streaming services I chanced upon a little horror film with an interesting, if olde skool, premise: a squad of US servicemen in WWII are tasked with holding a chateau in the French countryside which is clearly haunted as fuck.

It’s a simple set-up, but it delivers on what it promises. It has a few twists and turns, and the less the viewer knows about it going in the better in my opinion, so I’ll not say more for fear of lessening the experience. Even a full cast list is a spoiler. But to get your attention and interest a smidge more might I note its from writer/director Eric Bress, of The Butterfly Effect, and that all of the main five actors have that “Hey I know that guy from somewhere” vibe in the best horror movie tradition including the brother from Occulus, Juice from Sons of Anarchy, Smallville’s Aquaman and is that the dude from Pitch Perfect? Anyhow if you like a bit of that Weird War goodness I strongly recommend you and the postgeek singularity to check this film out.

It is called: Ghosts of War

‘Til next time I remain,

Your obedient servant,

Duncan N.

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Those awkward moments when your geek shines through.

Hi Rob.

I once had an embarrassing incident in my professional work life because of my love for genre movies. I thought that I’d tell it here and maybe keep you guys from having a similar mishap.

Let us start with a little background.

I don’t work with anything that has to do with movies, books or entertainment. That’s just a hobby and an interest, as I’m sure is the case for many people in the PGS.

I work for the local authorities in Sweden as a Health and Environmental protection inspector who primarily focuses on food inspection. But, since I work in a county with a small population I have to help out with some general environmental and health protection matters as well.

So, I’m the guy who inspects restaurants and things like that. Many of them are doing good when it comes to food hygiene, but there are some that take short cuts which may endanger their customers’ health. My inspections are almost always unannounced. I may sometimes encounter business owners that are nice and cooperative, while at other times I may run into a very hostile person. Almost every type of reaction I encounter is a defensive reaction of one form or another.

I think that any police officer or security guard out there understands what I’m talking about. Anyway, after having done this job in a few different places I have learned to read people rather well and I know how to calm down a tense situation. It also means that I’ve seen some things in some backroom kitchens which would be fodder for nightmares.

Over the years I have had people point knives at me and one of my colleagues was physically assaulted. A few years ago, I followed one of my colleagues, who primarily handles environmental protection issues, home to a farmer who was dumping toxic waste on his neighbour’s land. I was there as a supporting person since we knew from history that he was a difficult individual. Almost at once he threatened us with a hunting rifle and we left his premises. He was reported to the court system for having threatened governmental officials and booh lost his weapons licence and was fined a pretty large sum of money.

Anyway, many years ago when I only had done this line of work for a few years I was living and working in another county from where I live now. That county was known primarily as a holiday resort. The population increased with over 500% during the summer months. The rest of the year it was a rural small county. During the summer months we would go out and inspect the restaurants and nightclubs.

When I say we – that entails me and another colleague from the “environmental and health protection”, an alcohol officer, a person from the rescue service and sometimes a police officer. The alcohol officer would inspect their handling of alcohol, the rescue service would inspect so that the emergency exits weren’t blocked and check that there wasn’t more people in the building than what they were allowed to have. Me and my colleague would inspect the handling of food and how loud the sound was. We usually did this type of inspection three or four times during the summer and would usually not get back home until 4 AM.

Before the summer season started, we had these meetings where we had invited the owners of the different restaurants, bars and nightclubs. We had a rather good relationship with the owners and they often were fairly good to deal with concerning these matters. We informed them about any new laws in our respective fields that would affect them and we informed them that we would come out during the summer to do inspections.

As I said, I was fairly new on the job and I had an interest in movies. I had just gotten a new Samsung smart phone. As most of us do I wanted to customize the ringtones and the message alert. As the ringtone I sampled parts of the “Hobbiton theme” from The Fellowship of the Ring. That’s actually still my ringtone on my phone all these yers later. The sound for the message alert was from another movie.

Anyway, as I stand there in front of 30-40 of the owners of the clubs and restaurants, I get a message on my phone. I think it was while I was informing them about new laws that would come into effect that I heard from my phone the following line spoken by Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet in “Spaceballs”:

“I knew it, I’m surrounded by assholes”

The whole room got completely silent. I raised my hand and said, “sorry that was me, I think I got a message on my phone”. It had an effect of lightening the mood a bit. I was completely embarrassed at the time but I look back at it as a fond memory. But still, I would advise against having that type of message alert and I’d recommend that people don’t have any ringtones that could be embarrassing in the wrong circumstance.

So Rob, have you had any embarrassing moments in an official meeting or something like that which you feel comfortable in mentioning?

Thanks
Stubble McShave

P.S. The main reason I don’t use my real name on the internet is because of the nature of my job.

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