Author and filmmaker Kier-La Janisse joins Slim and Mitchell to discuss the tenth-anniversary expanded edition of her book House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography Of Female Neurosis In Horror And Exploitation Films, as well as taking a dive through her four favorite films: Over the Edge; Melody; Cockfighter and The Last Wave. Plus: Kier-La’s trick to seeming so productive; Matt Dillon’s iconic outfits; knife fights in the woods; twelve year olds on acid; parents just don’t understand; Jack Wild’s preternaturally youthful looks; the dulcet sounds of the Bee Gees; the masterpiece that is Little Darlings; Kier-La’s work with Severin Films restoring underground classics; taking vows of silence; cosmic horror; the absolute legend Peter Weir; and Kier-La’s secret Letterboxd account.
All hail Tenoch Heurta: a look at the Letterboxd ratings and rankings from the opening week of the new Black Panther.
Much, maybe too much, has changed since the first Black Panther pounced into theaters in 2018. The Academy Award-winning Marvel movie enjoyed both critical and box office success, only for the cast, crew and culture to be gutted by the sudden passing of star Chadwick Boseman just two years later. He was 43.
Boseman played T'Challa, the King of Wakanda, and fans have been anxious to see how Ryan Coogler and his team would handle the massive loss. The king is dead, but the show goes on: in its opening week, more than 150,000 Letterboxd members watched Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, so far awarding it with an impressive 3.8 out of five rating average.
This makes Wakanda Forever currently the sixth-highest-rated of the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe feature films. (Letterboxd member Arin Bicer helpfully keeps an updated list of all MCU films and limited series, ranked in order of release. Our handy filtering options allow you to sort the list by highest average rating, by popularity, and by your own rating.)
A glance through Letterboxd reviews thankfully confirms that both Boseman and T'Challa received the grand send-offs they deserved: “The moments of tribute to Chadwick Boseman were handled tastefully without being overbearing or rushed. Coogler and team pulled off a near-impossible feat and crafted one of the most memorable Marvel experiences to date,” raves Jonathan, in his four-star review.
In fact, this is a point that the community seems to wholeheartedly agree on. That, and thirsting over the new villain, an Indigenous superhuman named Namor (Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta, whom clued-in film lovers will know from Issa López’s Tigers are Not Afraid, Alonso Ruizpalacios’s Güeros and Alexis Gambis’s Sundance Award-winner, Son of Monarchs). Namor (birth name K'uk'ulkan) pulses with the same righteous rage as the last film’s Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan).
“What an introduction that was,” writes Euribe. “I was in tears and overjoyed seeing Indigenous Latino faces on my screen, it was overwhelming and I left with a feeling of pride.” Meanwhile, Megan has costume feedback: “Ruth Carter put Tenoch Huerta in a pair of Fruit of the Looms and some Mesoamerican jewelry and called it a day, and she deserves another Oscar for that.” While Deera’s main issue seems to be the “feminism leaving my body everytime Namor came out of the water”.
Much of the dissent in Letterboxd reviews is relegated to run-time fatigue, as the movie clocks in at 161 minutes. While Philbert somewhat agrees, he adds: “But if a movie must be bloated, it may as well be interesting. And I do think that’s what we get here: a sprawling story of war coming to Wakandan shores, filtered through personal grief, and touching on big, anti-colonial themes.”
Whether that effort to “touch on” big themes worked is the other major thread running through reviews. It’s “too much for one movie” Robert Daniels suggests. “Rather than fighting their common enemy (white colonists), two kingdoms helmed by people of color are pitted against each other (an idea that never thematically lands), and the film must delve into the cultural pain that still exists from the historical annihilation of Central and South America’s Indigenous kingdoms.”
As Alex writes, this could have had potential: “Wakanda Forever is just another film abt anger management… There are some interesting ideas right at the start that could have escalated to full on confrontation of neoimperialist actors, but it’s of course a Marvel movie so the most they do is flirt with the idea of condemning US/France/etc.” Nevertheless, Alex did appreciate the introduction of Riri Williams (AKA Ironheart): “as a black tech girl (cringe identity, but you have no control over the hand life deals you), I enjoyed Riri's presence.”
In the end and like all MCU films, though possibly more than most of them, Wakanda Forever is many superlatives to many people: “frustrating”, “emotional”, “mature”, “tactile, soulful, and human”, “entertaining and grand”. And it’s yet another box office smash, setting a new November record at the US box office with still more theatrical cash to flow—as Deadline reports, a Disney+ streaming release is still some way off.
“What works best for Wakanda Forever,” Hungkat concludes, “are the interpersonal storylines, the respect paid to the departed hero, and the world building spectacle, all of which is foregrounded by the tackling of rage and grief that provides some of the most deeply nuanced moments in the MCU that it’s hard not to get teary-eyed.”
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ is in cinemas now.