Beast Cops (1998) — BandS About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn […]

Beast Cops (1998) — B&S About Movies

Doing Business In A Glass House

glass-building

2021 will see the release of a new ew HULU documentary on the rise and fall of the real estate scam known as WeWork. I could smell it the moment I walked into the building in 2016. The unmistakable odor of a scam. Like the smell of fake leather in an overpriced used car. The entire WeWork concept was never meant to “change the world.” It was meant to change the world of one man: Adam Neumann. It succeeded on that level. He is now worth close to 1 billion American dollars. Meanwhile, thousands of others are left unemployed, exhausted, and broke. It was never meant to be a “Tech Startup.” It was a Real Estate scam. One whose success relied on tenants who couldn’t pay their rent because many of them were also scam artists. The mantra “Fake it ’til you make it” only goes so far before reality sets in. Read on to see what I saw when working on a contract job in a WeWork building back in 2017.

The following article was originally posted on 3 March 2017:

Last year, I secured a contractor gig at a small startup occupying one of the hundreds of box-sized hipster-friendly shared offices within a large modern building in East London. The establishment featured floor-to-ceiling glass in place of walls, both inside and out. Each floor had a fancy kitchen stocked with tea, coffee, and fruit-infused water included in the price of rent.

At first glance, the people running and working for the companies within the premises seemed professional and hardworking. The (mostly) millennials ran around between meeting rooms, constantly talking on their phones, clutching coffee, laptops, and tablets as if they were extensions of their bodies.

Within one week, the façade began to crack. Each day, I listened in on the tea break and commuter conversations of the owners and employees of many companies, and it turned out that a lot of them were just throwing money down the drain trying to look good by renting space with a cool “company culture.” Many had no viable business plans or even any idea how they were going to pay for that day’s third Starbucks run. Many believed that their ideas and image alone would propel them to success, even if the idea had been executed previously, and innumerably better. I even discovered several who provided no services at all and/or didn’t sell a product or content, but who inexplicably had marketing staff. Many complained of living hand to mouth and more than a few still lived with their parents. “What exactly does your business do then?” I asked cautiously, knowing my question might be perceived as being hostile to their fantasies. Almost all of them would proceed to show me an app or a website they were convinced would bring them great fame and wealth.

As a veteran of the Television industry in Los Angeles, I am familiar with this phenomenon of human psychology. It is the same one that plagues almost every moderately attractive actor who moves to Hollywood to be the next Brad Pitt or Jennifer Lawrence. It’s called delusional. In 15 years I never saw it pan out for anyone. In fact, those who concentrated on the fame and fortune aspect of things usually ended up moving back to Indiana. Conversely, those who were willing to take whatever job they could get within the industry, including those behind the camera as well as in front it, were the ones that ended up building successful careers and lived very comfortable lives.

Drawing further parallels, these young entrepreneurs in the glass building were just as excited about the meeting to discuss the meeting with the potential investors next week as recent acting school graduates were about getting their first set of headshots. “I really think Mr. Goldpockets will love Tinder for cat ladies. I mean, who wouldn’t? I dated a dog guy once. What a waste of time. So…coffee then?”

Of course, it goes without saying that for every 25 starving impresarios, there is at least one venture capitalist (or in the case of show biz – an agent) with far too much money lying around. Investors suitably impressed by the hip aesthetics within the glass offices to give Tindercat just enough capital to continue paying rent to the landlord. WeWork is currently valued at $16 Billion. Life must be pretty sweet for the landlord. And the guy taking those headshots in L.A. They both know it will likely amount to nothing in the end.

By the end of the week, I realized the all-glass design of the building, meant to impart a transparent, shared space, was a larger metaphor for the current state of the small business economy and its appropriation of show business culture. It is fragile. It bends light in such a manner as to create rainbows. Rainbows look nice but are nonetheless fleeting. Just like the images created by the lens of a camera in Hollywood.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Out Monsters Attack (2001) a.k.a: GMK

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

GMK wipes the slate clean (again) and starts yet another entirely new time line in the “G” universe. Here, Godzilla has not been seen since 1954 when the oxygen destroyer killed him. General Tachibana (Ryudo Uzaki ) of the Japanese Self-Defense Force is starting to suspect that Godzilla is back and responsible for the destruction of a submarine off the coast of Guam.

Tachibana’s daughter Yuri (Chiharu Nîyama), with whom the general has a strained relationship, works for a reality TV show called Digital Q. The show specializes in stories on Blair Witch and Bigfoot…

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KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996)

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

1995’s Gamera: Guardian of the Universe was a hit, prompting Daiei Studio to produce the sequel, Gamera: Attack of Legion one year later. Ayako Fujitani returns as Asagi Kusanagi, the teen who bonds with Gamera. The film also stars Japanese soap star (and Granddaughter to Toho Kaiju Eiga star Kumi Mizuno) Miki Mizuno, as a computer scientist aiding the military in unraveling the mysterious life cycle of earth’s latest invader. 

This time, the alien in question is called “Legion.” A symbiotic organism comprised of thousands of little insect soldiers whose mission is to prepare…

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KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

In 1965 Daiei Studios decided to capitalize on Toho’s successful Godzilla film series with their own fire-breathing radioactive star, Gamera the flying turtle. At that time, Gamera was “the friend to children” and his films from that era are largely considered to be inferior to the Toho series of Kaiju Eiga (giant monster films), although they are entertaining and fun.

In 1995, after a 15-year retirement, Daiei brought back the shelled one and gave him a new lease on life. The man given the responsibility of transforming Gamera from a low-budget children’s monster into a…

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KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Daimajin (1966)

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Daimajin takes place in feudal-era Japan. It opens with a small village being overthrown by an evil overlord named Samanosuke (Yutaro Gomi.) He kills everyone in the royal family except the young Princess and Prince Tadafumi who go into hiding on the mountain where the statue of the ancient god Majin stands. Legend has it that Majin has the soul of a warrior trapped inside him and must not be angered lest there be grave consequences.

After ten years of repression and starvation, an attempt is made to restore the old regime but Samanosuke is…

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Blood Freak (1972) — B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn […]

Blood Freak (1972) — B&S About Movies

Another Kind of Eugenics

I recently read an article written by the CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings where he stated that getting rid of “less than top performing” employees created a better work environment. They weren’t bad employees. Just not perfect. My immediate response to his version of what I call “Corporate Eugenics” was visceral and intellectual. Was he really arguing that anyone who doesn’t exist in a perpetual state of positivity and productivity in the name of his company’s shareholders is essentially useless? Yes. Yes, he was.

This type of psychopathic thinking not only absolves management from their duties to train and build up their teams, but it also, disturbingly, ignores the reality of human existence itself. Life isn’t perfect. Shit happens. Couples divorce, elderly parents die, children get cancer. All of these circumstances WILL affect a person’s performance at work. You know what else affects people? Working with people unable to get along with their co-workers who might not think or work the same way they do.

I’m sorry if the harshness of reality brings down the shiny false narrative of what many accept as “successful working culture” but it seems to me that a bit of flexible thinking is in order here. Managers at every level are responsible for creating a working environment conducive to professional development. You want a good team? Build one. Create a place where the very real existence of different learning style and personality types is not only acknowledged, but where an individual’s strength’s are recognized and used to a company’s advantage. That kind of leadership, particularly in the age of Covid-19 is what we need most. Stop paying attention to the flashy person with crappy ideas and start acknowledging the quiet person with good ideas.

Alas, according to Hastings, being a “good” employee isn’t good enough any more. Even being “great” isn’t enough. His employees must be great at all times lest they — the human cog — be replaced by a younger, shinier version of themselves. Ones that “fit it.” Because, God forbid people learn to work well with others.

I for one, will resist tooth and nail against this model. First, because it goes against everything I know to be good and decent about human beings. Second, because this model is frighteningly close to that of eugenics. Where people are placed into categories and the merely “adequate” and “weak” are discarded as in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Lest we devolve further than we already have into a Dickensian nightmare with no opportunities for those over 40, those who think differently organizationally and those of us not extroverted 100% of the time, I propose what society needs now are managers and CEOs who take responsibility for creating toxic company cultures like the one Hastings described. Those who can pull their businesses out of their “positive thinking” echo chambers and embrace diversity of thought and working styles. Those with an ability to ask themselves, “What are my weaknesses?” Those willing to abandon such things as “Keeper Tests” in favor of deeper-level engagement with workers as people. Those strong enough to point the mirror of criticism back onto themselves instead of focusing on the weaknesses of their employees and blaming them when problems arise. Those who ask their workers, “What do you need from me to be more productive?” and then doing their best to make reasonable improvements.

I genuinely do not believe there is an inherent conflict between a financially successful company and a compassionate one. All it takes is a bit of…wait for it…hard work.

Mill Creek Sci-Fi Invasion: Brother from Another Planet (1984)

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) memoir writer for Story Terrace in London. You can read more of her film, books and music reviews at https://www.jennuptonwriter.com and on her blog https://womanycom.wordpress.com.

The best Science Fiction holds a mirror up to the society from which it sprang. Brother From Another Planet (1984) does this in several innovative ways. Written and directed by John Sayles, it tells the story of a three-toed empathic runaway alien slave (T2’s Joe Morton) stranded on earth. Despite the fact he cannot speak and is never named, he is one of the most sympathetic aliens evercommitted to film. He hears and feels the past through surfaces. Upon landing on Ellis Island, he becomes overwhelmed by the voices of the past – a full 36 years before Klaus in The Umbrella Academy.

As much as Morton is the star of the…

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Mill Creek Sci-Fi Invasion: The Creeping Terror (1964)

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) memoir writer for Story Terrace in London. You can read more of her film, books and music reviews at https://www.jennuptonwriter.com and on her blog https://womanycom.wordpress.com.

For years I searched for the worst movie ever made. I’ve dove deep. So deep, that time and experience have made me realize there is no single title that unequivocally holds that title. Crap is in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, The Creeping Terror (1964) is definitely in the running. It is bad in just about every way imaginable.

Is it the good kind of bad? The kind where you can slam back a few shots and laugh harder than at any Rob Schneider movie ever made? Yes. Yes, it is. For even more laughs, watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version. The segment where Mike plays the incredibly monotonous jazz music from the…

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