Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in 1971’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’
Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in 1971’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Yup, it’s true. ‘Wonka: The Early Years’ is coming soon

The rumors are troompa-loompa. Hollywood is making a prequel to Roald Dahl’s classic book “Charlie and the Chocolate,” which has inspired two film adaptations, one beloved and the other bizarre, but forgettable. The movie will be called Wonka. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news if you haven’t read about this upcoming blockbuster.

Don’t blame me, blame Warner Bros Pictures. Wonka should be in theaters in 2023, assuming there are still movie theaters then. The way things are going I don’t know. I’m fairly certain Wonka will come out and be available on some kind of screen. But, you know, things may start to improve. …


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Photo: Focus Features

The new dark comedy-thriller isn’t what you think it is, my dudes

The word ‘promising’ does a lot of work in the new movie Promising Young Woman, which is currently available on video-on-demand. The main character, Cassie, was a promising young woman until her friend Nina suffers an act of brutal sexual violence that is ignored by the medical school where it took place. Cassie drops out to care for Nina, who dies shortly thereafter, presumably of suicide.

Cassie had a bright future but that future became a casualty of the rape she spends the whole movie consumed with. The message is subtle but not so subtle that I didn’t get it: rape culture ruins the lives of the victims and their friends and loved ones. …


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Photo: Netflix

It’s a highly bingeable docuseries about two best friends

Hi, my name is John and I want you to stream the Good Stuff™ and only the Good Stuff™. I’m not an algorithm. I’m a real live eternal soul wearing a rapidly aging man body. I just want to make sure you’re properly entertained. That’s all.

So, if I may suggest: check out Netflix’s new docuseries Pretend It’s A City. But before I get into why I think this zippy, very funny, interview series is worth your time and attention, I’d like to confess that I have been thinking about writing fanfic for the first time. And, yes, Pretend It’s A City is the inspiration. I desperately want to write short stories about motor-mouthed humorist Fran Lebowitz and her trusty sidekick Marty Scorcese having adventures in all five boroughs of New York City. …


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Photo: Amazon Prime

In ‘Sound Of Metal,’ a man loses the world and gains a moment of grace

It is rare when I see a male character on screen that I identified with as much as British rapper/actor Riz Ahmed’s Ruben Stone in Sound Of Metal, which is streaming on Amazon Prime. Ruben is a former addict and heavy-metal drummer who suddenly learns he is going deaf. In Sound Of Metal, a man loses his world but gains a moment of grace. The movie is the crooked journey between those two moments, one terrifying and the other poignant and hard-won.

There aren’t many movie characters that I directly identify with, and I do not think it is necessarily the responsibility of the movies to hold up mirrors to reality. I relate to C-3PO and I am not a gold-plated protocol droid. One of the necessary pleasures of fiction is the permission it gives to pretend to be someone else. …


John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, the stars of Christopher Nolan’s time travel movie ‘Tenet’
John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, the stars of Christopher Nolan’s time travel movie ‘Tenet’
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

I also have a few important questions about his new-ish movie ‘Tenet’

There is a scene in the classic 1955 thriller Night of the Hunter that reminds me of director Christopher Nolan, a man who tries to make smart blockbusters.

In the scene, a psycho preacher perfectly played by sleepy-eyed Robert Mitchum tells the story of good versus evil, and while he tells the story he acts it out — he has the word LOVE tattooed on one set of knuckles, and the word HATE inked on the other. His two hands wrestle until LOVE wins.

I should probably write more about this haunting movie that follows a pair of children running from a murderer disguised as a man of God. My sister used to terrorize me late at night by humming the hymn Mitchum would sing while he stalked his victims. I will not get into the many reasons Night of the Hunter is required viewing in this essay. …


A scene from Netflix’s period drama ‘Bridgerton’
A scene from Netflix’s period drama ‘Bridgerton’
Photo: Netflix

Apparently, the hot new Netflix bodice-ripper is more than just a fancy soap opera

I love period movies because I love costumes and sexually-repressed butlers. But there was something about Netflix’s steamy Pride & Prejudice-style drama Bridgerton from superstar showrunner Shonda Rhimes that didn’t interest me. I’ve heard there’s lots of S-E-X and, you know, there’s a time and place for cheesy, horny hubba-hubba fluff. In the words of my future mother-in-law, there are “lots of butts” in Bridgerton. Which is fine! There is nothing wrong with butts and just… entertainment. But then I read this in Simone Samuels essay titled “Bridgerton Is A Welcome Respite From Racial Trauma”:

Let’s escape into this world where Black people are treated as equals and have equal access to titles and nobility and status and are not just slaves and servants and who have pretty dresses and can marry whomever they want and who don’t have to worry about being shot and killed in broad daylight by the state. …


One of the stars of ‘The Expanse,’ Shohreh Aghdashloo.
One of the stars of ‘The Expanse,’ Shohreh Aghdashloo.
Photo: Amazon Prime

The fifth season of Amazon Prime’s sci-fi show is more of what I love, like space politics

  1. I love space politics. The Expanse is a show about space politics. There are spaceship battles. The show is action-packed. There are twists and betrayals and the stakes are high: alien viruses, interplanetary wars, pirates piloting rocket ships. But The Expanse is at its best when it’s a cutthroat version of The West Wing set 300 years in the future. My only criticism is I usually want more space politics. And that’s my only criticism. The Expanse is a rare sci-fi show that imagines a future that is neither dystopian nor utopian, like Star Trek. The Expanse shows us humanity after it’s colonized the solar system, which I assume is our destiny unless we truly screw things up. In this series, the Earth is overpopulated and ruled by the United Nations. The moon is covered in subterranean cities. Mars is a militant independent planet founded by Texans and the Chinese. And then there’s the Belt — a collection of space stations and populated asteroids floating beyond the Red Planet. The inhabitants of the Belt are tattooed humans born and bred in the vacuum of outer space who speak their own special dialect of English, a futuristic patois. They are also, traditionally, the victims of prejudice from those from the inner-planets. The Expanse was originally produced by the SyFy cable network and canceled in 2018, only to be rescued by Amazon Prime. The show follows the ragtag crew of The Rocinante — a renegade Martian battleship — as they save humanity from all kinds of dangers, domestic and intergalactic. The 24th Century The Expanse is both bleak and hopeful. There is still hunger and corruption but there are also domed farms on the moons of Jupiter. Parasitic capitalism thrives but so does a version of a guaranteed Universal Basic Income. There are also torpedos in The Expanse. I personally love that many of the Martians, a diverse mix of cultures from Earth, all have a faint Texan twang. But The Expanse does have faint faith in humankind's ingenuity and ambition. …


I’m not my brother’s keeper but so many of my brothers are bonkers

The “Qanon Shaman” wearing fur and a horned hat, holding a US flag and bullhorn in the Capitol building.
The “Qanon Shaman” wearing fur and a horned hat, holding a US flag and bullhorn in the Capitol building.
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

I’m not perfect. I’ll prove it, too. I thought last week’s deadly pro-Trump revolt in DC was proof the fever was breaking but the infection is spreading like a zombie virus. It’s The Walking Dead, only the undead are American men. I was wrong.

There you go. I am not perfect. There are rare occasions where I think I’m special but, thankfully, I have a partner who tells me I’m not special. I love her. …


The US Capitol Building as seen from its steps.
The US Capitol Building as seen from its steps.
Photo: Louis Velazquez via Unsplash

There are better ways to describe pro-Trump political violence

The siege of the U.S. Capitol today by fanatical followers of soon-to-be-former President Donald Trump on a mission to intimidate Congress has been called a coup, but it’s not. At least, not by the traditional definition. Words have meaning.

According to Merriam-Webster, a coup is “a sudden, decisive exercise of force in politics.” Okay, sure. Yes. The footage from D.C. looked like a group of people exercising political force, but they were disorganized. The ragtag army of bored suburbanites, your average Margaritaville regular, and Nazi-curious white power comedians. …


The star of the creepy drama ‘She Dies Tomorrow,’ Katie Lyn Sheil
The star of the creepy drama ‘She Dies Tomorrow,’ Katie Lyn Sheil
Photo: A24

The movie ‘She Dies Tomorrow’ asks this question and the answer is upsetting….

I’m sorry I didn’t recommend She Dies Tomorrow sooner. This modest indie horror movie came out during the summer and, for some reason, I didn’t get around to watching it until a few days ago. I feel like I let you down. The best movie of 2021, so far, is a movie that was released in 2019. It is currently streaming on Hulu.

The movie’s plot is fairly simple: A young woman’s fear that she is going to die tomorrow spreads like an infectious disease through her community. …

About

John DeVore

Editor, Humungus. I won two James Beard Awards once for an essay about Taco Bell. Let’s be friends.

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