Archive for the ‘Movie and Book Reviews. Possibly With Spoilers.’ Category

Character actors that I dig very, very hard.

Monday, October 8th, 2018

You know when you’re watching something and an actor shows up and you’re like “Heeeey! It’s that guy! Yeah!” Those are character / supporting actors and I have a few favorites. I occasionally will watch some supercrappy TV or movie simply because one of my favorites is in it. For example, The Leftovers on HBO. If you have depression avoid that show like the plague. My friend called it “grief porn” and it is a colossal bummer. BUT Ann Dowd is in it and therefore I watched one and a half seasons before I had to tap out. So let’s go through my list. I’m sure you have a list of your own. In no particular order:

1. Ann Dowd.

Since we mentioned her let’s start with her. God, I love her. The first time I really paid attention to her was in the first season of True Detective. She’s only in the last episode but whooo is she memorable. Then I started noticing her all over the place. Right now Ann Dowd is a major character on The Handmaid’s Tale and she is KILLING it on that show. Check out her IMDB and see some of her stuff, you won’t regret it.

2. Giancarlo Esposito 

One role. I’ve only seen him in one role. But it’s one of the best pieces of acting I’ve ever seen. Holy crap. Giancarlo’s performance on Breaking Bad was unreal. He plays Gus Fring and if you haven’t watched any of Breaking Bad find out when he starts onscreen and when he finishes and watch those episodes because it is worth it. I just looked at his IMDB page and I see he’s in two of the Maze Runner movies so I’ll now be watching the Maze Runner series of films. I must consume more Giancarlo.

3. Allison Janney

Allison was a slow, slow burn for me. I remember her from American Beauty and I thought she was great there even though she had maybe three lines. Then I saw her in Juno and I thought she was delightful there. Then I finally got around to seeing all of The West Wing and of course she was iconic there. Recently I saw I, Tonya and my goodness, her performance is so on point. It’s really easy for that specific character to become a total cartoon but Allison kept it vaguely grounded. Now I’m watching Mom which is a sitcom on CBS. I actively dislike comedies with laugh tracks (I can figure out where the funny is all by myself, thanks so much) but she’s on it, so I’m gritting my teeth and getting through it. The actor coming up next is also on the show so I’m holding on for that as well.

4. William Fichtner (pronounced Fikner, ignore the T)

Oh my God, I love him. I love him so much. I love how he moves his hands. I love his weird hatchet-esque profile. William has been in everything ever. I cannot remember the first place I saw him but he keeps popping up in TV, movies, apparently he does voiceover for video games, the man keeps busy. I was so psyched when I saw William in the opening of The Dark Knight. I am shocked – SHOCKED! – that the incredibly creepy look he gives when the bank is being brutally robbed is not a meme. It can be used for like eight or nine emotions. C’mon Internet, get it together.

5. The entire supporting cast of The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption is my #1 movie ever. I own it on DVD but if it;’s on TNT with commercials I still have to watch it. I know every line now. As you know if you’ve seen it it’s got a pretty big cast. So every time I see one of the side actors in a different show playing a different role I get very excited. Perfect example: There’s a character in Shawshank called Boggs. He is a rapey psychopath who speaks very quietly and makes your skin crawl. A stellar performance. Therefore imagine my delight when watching Turn: Washington’s Spies and there’s that guy playing a regular-degular guy. Hi actor Mark Rolston! I’m glad you’re not typecast as a gross manifestation of a prison nightmare!

6. The entire supporting cast of Orange is the New Black

I don’t feel like I have to explain this. The people on this show, my goodness. Hey, I watched several seasons of How To Get Away With Murder because Matt McCorry is on it. I HATE that show. It’s a soap opera that airs at night and it’s ridiculous. So many implausible murders and kidnapped babies! But Matt was in it so I watched it. If Crazy Eyes or Black Cindy or Chang are in a major motion picture you bet your sweet butt I would I would go to see it. The sheer talent on the show is immense.

 

FIFA World Cup.

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Can we all agree that the logo for the world cup this year looks exactly like something The Collector from the Marvel movies would have? Something with Power Jewels or Planetary Essence or some crap? Can we agree on that, please? Thank you.

   

Black Mass and WOW the cocaine must have been good in the 80s.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Movies! I saw Black Mass, the story of the real-life bad guy Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for twelve years, directly after Osama Bin Laden. Very naughty man. Mr. Bulger is played by Johnny Depp who does a bang-up job of being absolutely terrifying. Bulger got the nickname “Whitey” for having blonde hair and light blue eyes, so Mr. Depp, being sallow and dark, donned a wig and a nose extension and a janky front tooth and contacts and false eyelids and gosh darnit if he didn’t pull it off. I was definitely creeped out.

This film takes place between 1975 and 1981 in Boston where The Winter Hill Gang did all the things one associates with crime associations: drugs, racketeering, some light murder of enemies and/or snitches, money laundering, extortion, etc. The movie is extremely well done and aside from Benedict Cumberbatch’s appalling Boston accent (Seriously? Were no American actors available for that role? It’s not even a big or important role) it’s a pretty flawless film. My only complaint, which is my complaint about a lot of good cinema, is that I wish this was a miniseries so it didn’t feel so tight time-wise. My favorite aspect was how beautifully Black Mass was shot and colored. The composition choices were striking.

I mean, you look at this and tell me it’s not a Renaissance painting. I dare you.

Now we delve into some stuff from the 1980s. Growing up alone in a house full of forty-and fifty-year-olds I missed out on just about every iconic 1980s film. I’m only now catching up. So when I saw that The Running Man (1987) and Flash Gordon (1980) were playing on channels that don’t take out cursewords, violence or sex I DVR’ed both of them and then hunkered down to absorb the vintage magic and I have no regrets. I love a fine piece of cinema like I enjoy an exquisitely aged brie cheese, but I also love a garbage campy movie they way I enjoy that nacho cheeez that comes in the yogurt tubs at the movie theater. I have range. First, The Running Man.

1. I do not understand why we as a nation insisted on pretending that Arnold Schwartzenegger is a born and bred American when his accent is fooling precisely no one. His character’s name is Ben Richards. I mean, c’mon with that.

2.The film takes place in 2017 which always amuses me – when a movie tries to predict what the future is going to be like. It reminds me of these every time:

3. I learned that the film takes place in 2017 from the scroll of text at the beginning which was in what I assume is a futuristic font but is actually kinda hard to read. I had to rewind and watch it twice. The S looks like a B and the R looks like an A and the D looks like an O, it’s not a great time.

“TELEVIBION IB CONTADLLED BY THE BTATE ANO A BAOISTIC GAME BHDW CALLED”

I felt like I was reading an eye chart.

4. Uhhhhh, why did no one tell me Arnold looks so good with a beard and why didn’t we encourage him to rock that all the time? He looked smexy as hell.

5. Snorth informed me that there’s a song that sampled Richard Dawson’s lines from the film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKduhUXa0rg
I would have listened to this incessantly as a high schooler had I known about it. I might listen to it incessantly now. Again, my taste has a large range.

6. Who when they saw the name “Richard Dawson” in the opening credits thought that a British man was going to tell us there is no God and the definition of the word “meme”? Just me? Never mind.

7. Favorite part of the film: The Running Man dancers who were choreographed by Paula Abdul. I could have watched an hour and a half of them in their high-cut leotards and glitter-sprayed hair and I would have been content with that. And my favorite part of my favorite part was the dancer who lifts her leg up as Arnold is led by to his potential death. It’s like she thought, “That light is going to hit me as he goes past and it’s my chance to shine! Acknowledge my flexibility! Side split! Boom!” It happens at the 1:18 mark on this link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GytcPIpgDlQ

Also of note is the Martha Graham modern dance piece to commemorate the gruesome passing of two beloved killers. This movie is gloriously weird.

8. Second favorite part: Fat blonde man in a Lite Brite-encrusted clear plastic gladiator uniform who sings opera and shoots electricity to kill his victims. None of that is a typo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cy8rT8oHCbI

I would recommend The Running Man because it’s not good but definitely not bad either. It’s “of a time” and should be seen as such. It’s a fun laundry-folding-while-you’re-watching kind of thing.

 

Then there was Flash Gordon. I knew the music from this film for a long time because I listened to a lot of Queen. I assumed (foolishly as hell it turns out) that if Queen was involved it would be a good film. Max Von Sidow’s in it! Dino De Laurentiis produced it! It had a ginormous budget! The aforementioned Queen soundtrack! It had to be good!

It was not good.

What was great was the sets and costumes. They were top notch.

If I had to sum up the costumes with one phrase, it would be “bugle beads.” HOLY CRAP the use of bugle beads on these outfits, I’m surprised any bugle beads are left in the world. In case you don’t know, a bugle bead is like a long glass seed bead often lined on the inside with metal for added reflectibility.

The costumes and headdresses were slathered in rows and rows of bugle beads. They were glued down. They were sewed on. It was out of control.

There’s an attempt at a movie around the sets and costumes. I won’t bother to sum it up. It’s boring and whatever happens and no one cares. I would recommend turning the sound completely off and having it play in the background a party for people to look at when they’re not schmoozing with other party-goers. That’s it. It’s not even worth watching with sound for the Queen music. Tres tres disappointement.

I’m mad at the entire state of Oregon.

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Just saw the new commercial for Oregon Travel. What the hell, Oregon? You forget I exist over here? You’re gonna make a commercial with giant rabbits covered with tulips and caterpillars on bicycles in the style of one of my favorite films Spirited Away and you’re not gonna call me? We have beef now, Oregon. We fightin’.

Movies with ladies in them (but that does not make them feminist).

Monday, March 12th, 2018

While I am editing my numerous trip photos let’s talk about some movies I have seen recently, one movie in particular.  First of all, I finally saw the Oscar-nominated films Get Out and Call Me By Your Name, both of which were engrossing and I would recommend that you see them. No news there, everyone and their cat has been talking about how good those films are. Those are not the ones we’re going to discuss. No, my friend S. and I went to go see a double-feature at the Alamo Drafthouse as part of a series called “Witches, Sluts and Feminists.” Mainly movies with female leads where the females do not follow the assigned tropes of lady-dom. I heartily disagree with the curator’s definition of what a feminist movie is (more on that later) but the films definitely featured some XX chromosomes, that is true.

The first film was The Lure and it was… fine. I guess. It could have been great, it had the potential for greatness, but it was not. It’s a Polish drama / horror (but not really) film taking place in the 1980s where two mermaids come out of a lake and become songstresses in a nighclub and one falls in love with a human but the other one wants to eat him. See? There’s tension, there’s a plot in there somewhere… but it just isn’t anything. I felt nothing for any of the characters. The musical numbers need a thorough going-over by Lin-Manuel Miranda STAT because they were rough. The practical effects were lovely and the actors did their best but no. Just no.  Here’s the American poster and the original Polish poster. Do not be fooled by the dope graphic design. It’s a no from me, dawg.

The film that I want to delve into, the reason I went to the theater in the first place, is Belladonna of Sadness. Okay. Steel yourself. I knew nothing about this film until I read this description on the Alamo site (I highlighted the important bits in case you just want to skim):

One of the great lost masterpieces of Japanese animation, never before officially released in the U.S., Belladonna of Sadness is a mad, swirling, psychedelic light-show of medieval tarot-card imagery with horned demons, haunted forests and La Belle Dame Sans Merci, equal parts J.R.R. Tolkien and gorgeous, explicit Gustav Klimt-influenced eroticism. The last film in the adult-themed Animerama trilogy produced by the godfather of Japanese anime & manga, Osamu Tezuka and directed by his long time collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto (“Astro Boy” and “Kimba the White Lion”), Belladonna unfolds as a series of spectacular still watercolor paintings that bleed and twist together. An innocent young woman, Jeanne is violently raped by the local lord on her wedding night. To take revenge, she makes a pact with the Devil himself who appears as an erotic sprite and transforms her into a black-robed vision of madness and desire.

Extremely transgressive and not for the easily offended, Belladonna is fueled by a mindblowing Japanese psych rock soundtrack by noted avant-garde jazz composer Masahiko Satoh. The film has been newly restored by Cinelicious Pics using the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements – and including over 8 minutes of surreal and explicit footage cut from the negative. On par with Rene Laloux’s Fantastic Planet and Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards as an LSD-stoked 1970s head trip, Belladonna marks a major rediscovery for animation fans. If Led Zeppelin had a favorite film, this would be it. In other words, Stairway to Hell. (In Japanese with English subtitles.)

I could not buy tickets fast enough. That sounds straight-up bananacakes and I didn’t care if it was good or bad or anything, I need to see whatever the hell is being described here. And now I have a bunch of thoughts. I don’t think I can spoil the movie or even do it justice but I will be describing certain aspects in detail so if you want to see it unspoiled don’t read the rest of this entry.

  • The illustrations of this film are beautiful. You can see very clearly where one artist did one scene and a different artist took on another. Each one incorporated their distinct style while still moving the story along. I wish more animated films were made this way. I loved that.

    I also enjoy that even though the story takes place in medieval Europe and is drawn by Japanese people the style is totally 1973. So many shots look like a sewing pattern from that time.
  • The music in Belladonna of Sadness, also really good. There’s a variety of different musical themes: sad folksy songs, creepy organ music, psychedelic saxophones, all manner. The soundtrack is great.
  • Even though the lead of the film, Jeanne, is female, this is in no way a feminist film. Not even close. It is glaringly apparent that this is taken from a heterosexual male perspective, my God. The strongest example: Jeanne, regardless of what horrors are being inflicted on her, is smokin’ hot all the time. And unnecessarily naked. Oh, the whole village is chasing her into the forest and calling her a witch? Have her clothes conveniently fall off. Make sure her exposed boobs are visible even in scenes where she’s having a genuine emotional moment. The film is so obviously written with a miasma of boner-mist over the whole thing, it’s non-stop and exhausting.
  • The amount of time Jeanne spends laying on the ground or being flung to the ground like a victim is ridiculous. I didn’t get all the screengrabs but here is a partial collection. There’s a ton more.
  • Another male viewpoint: The main way Jeanne feels sexual pleasure is being impaled on phallii. She craves it, she seeks it out, it’s her jam. I know this film came out in 1973 when female pleasure hadn’t been fully explored but armed with the knowledge we have now fifty years later, this seems very dated. At one point she is surrounded by butterflies made of dicks because why the hell not.
  • Maybe one of my favorite moments: Jeanne has sex with the devil and when she climaxes a flurry of Peter Max clipart explodes on the screen, including a file cabinet (?). I couldn’t stop thinking about the “1,2,3,4,5” animation from Sesame Street.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hcx44e2gnfI
  • Warning: There’s an orgy. It’s a weird Hieronymus Bosch-esque orgy. Aside from the standard couplings there’s a snail and a clam, and I think there’s a goat, and someone’s male parts turn into a giraffe, and someone else’s hindquarters open up and bunnies hop out… it’s a lot. At one point I turned to S. and said, “I think I’ve been doing it wrong all this time because none of this happens to me.” She agreed.

Sooo, see this film? Or maybe don’t? I would see it again but I 100% understand if you don’t want to. Again, it’s a lot. Belladonna of Sadness is an excellent snapshot of an artistic period in both design and music for the early 1970s. That’s a plus. But there’s an upsetting rape scene. That’s a minus. It’s really up to you.

Thor and the 1980s Album Art!

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

Actually it’s called Thor: Ragnarok but it clearly took 98% to 106% of its influence from those airbrushed hard rock and regular rock and heavy metal covers of the 1970s and 80s. Here, examples of what I mean:

Even Eddie from Iron Maiden is in there.

Plus so much Fifth Element influence, which I am perfectly fine with.

I’m going to summarize my thoughts and feelings about Thor: Ragnarok. All manner of spoilers below so if you haven’t seen the film yet maybe skip this until you have. Consider yourself warned, at least.

  • The first problem I had with this film was the opening scene. It’s an amazing fight scene between Thor and what appears to be the Balrog from Lord of the Rings (more on that later). It’s magnificent, in slow motion with “Immigrant Song” in the background. My problem is you’re starting at 10. Where do we go from there? We have, like, four more fights to go. All the other fights are great but by the time you get to the epic showdown at the end you don’t feel much because the awesomeness was all the way through.
  • Concerning the Balrog, I thought it looked familiar. As did the dragon, and the elfin doors, and a bunch of other things. Turns out they were all designed by Weta, the same New Zealand design company that did LOTR and The Hobbit. I honestly felt like they did some serious cutting and pasting from the J. R. R. Tolkien movies to this one. I understand that the director who is from New Zealand wanted to get his people in on this project but there’s got to be different approaches to elfin doors other that art nouveau plus celtic with a smattering of medieval. Lotta overlap.
  • Loved the Firefly vibes throughout. Still bitter that show was cancelled. Will be bitter forever.
  • Most notable Firefly-eque scenes were on the garbage planet. There’s a garbage planet where all the universe’s detritus ends up and boy do I want to visit there and sift through the debris. It looks like there’s a ton of fun stuff (and possible toxic and nuclear waste, but there’s always a cost) to discover.
  • REALLY loved Cate Blanchett’s drag queen eye makeup. And her voice. Has her voice always been that freakin’ deep and sexy? I need to pay more attention to her.
  • Thor has a shirtless scene and his side abs, they’re protuberant and they wrap around, I do not understand how his body works. I am confused when I look at him. He is strong and lumpy.
  • This is the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where Thor doesn’t have his hammer and uses lightning that he generates within himself (in the most music video-looking way) to defeat his enemies which is nice. There’s even a line about it. Thor is sad because his hammer is busted and Odin says, “But … are you Thor, god of … hammers?”
  • When Cate Blanchett gets into asskicking mode, she runs her fingers through her hair and it magically turns into a dead tarantula on its back. Or maybe demon antlers. I call it “tarantlers.” Feel free to use that. You’re welcome.
  • Lovely cameo by Matt Damon and Sam Neill in the beginning bits. Nice touch, much appreciated.
  • Did I mention I love the garbage planet? I cannot mention that enough.
  • The director Taika Waititi has a cameo as Korg, an alien made of rocks who’s companion is an ant with knives for hands named Meek. Korg’s a great character. He might be my favorite in the film.
  • Is it just me or does the Asgardian castle look like a big ole church organ? I see that every time its on screen. I feel like Handel is going to start playing at any moment.
  • I have learned an incredibly important lesson from these films (and the Disney films as well) which is green and black equals evil. Loki rocks it, Cate Blanchett’s character rocks it, the disturbing zombies she brings back to life rock it, it’s a thing for sure.
  • There is a solid good death when the Japanese Asgardian gets thrust backwards and impaled through the chest on a stalagmite. Everyone in the audience gasped.

I give this movie a solid A- / B+. It’s a good one. Lots of quippy one-liners and fun interactions and shots like this which is awesome:

So I would check it out.

Addendum 8/05/18: Someone made a video of the final battle to AC/DC’s magnificent opus “Thunderstruck” and it works better than anything they had before. Thank you, The Internet. Please enjoy.

http://missmargaretcarter.tumblr.com/post/174678799332/%E3%83%84-that-scene-with-thunderstruck-by-acdc

The television gods have blessed us with a bountiful year.

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

As a hardcore crafter I am perpetually on a quest for television to “watch” while I’m making whatever I’m making and it seems like I have quite a vast choice. There are both new series and series that slipped past me that I can binge and stuff into my brainhole while I create masterpieces (like Christmas stockings for my new niece and nephew, they’re extremely festive) (the stockings are festive, not the niecephew, they’re newborns and they don’t really do much). Here’s my reviews of my latest consumptions:

Mindhunter. I LOVE police procedurals and Forensic Files and documentaries on the criminally insane (I do a stellar Robert Durst impression, btw) so when I found out there was a sorta-kinda-based on a true story about how the Behavioral Science Unit was developed at the FBI, I jumped right on. Added bonus for me: The lead is played by Jonathan Groff who I have a soft spot for since I saw him in Spring Awakening. It starts slow but it picks up around episode 3. As with all sorta-kinda-based on a true stories, the good parts are all there word-for-word and the boring bits (because life is chock-full of boring bits, it’s all insurance paperwork and dentist appointments as far as the eye can see) have been jazzed up to keep you invested. For example, in real life the lead was married but on the show he’s dating and figuring out who he is and all that. And everyone is absurdly attractive. I was unaware that the FBI is filled with models and the occasional character actor for “realism.” One aspect of the series that I liked were the many conversations about what makes a man (it’s pretty much always a man, sorry dudes) a serial killer? There’s a line in the first episode which summarizes the focus.

Serial killers don’t have the same motivations as killers who are angry at a specific person, or feel slighted by a specific person, or want money from a specific person. They kill for the joy of killing or to fulfill a need deep inside, but we know now that there are some clear markers so we can occasionally apprehend them early. We know that they are almost always men. And as children they often hurt animals. And started fires. And were bullied and abused. More than half wet their beds until the age of twelve. Mindhunter is about the beginning of interviewing incarcerated serial killers to accrue this data and develop profiles. The best part of the show is the interviews with the serial killers. They are taken directly from videos and tapes and whoever the casting director is deserves an Emmy. The actors playing the serial killers are spot-on. For example, Ed Kemper. Ed Kemper, in case you didn’t know, was a GIANT man who was treated like dirt and demeaned by his mother every day for his entire life. So he killed her (okay), then he decapitated her (less okay) and had sex with her head (I’m out). He killed a bunch of other women which is why he’s classified as a serial killer but the matricide is the really special one. The actor totally nails Ed and every scene he’s in is riveting.

I found a video explaining all the characters and their real-life counterparts for further clarification. But I recommend just watching the series because it’s a good chewy series. Chewy shows mean that you mull it over later and do further research and ask questions. It’ makes you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNevnWxnFrs

 

The Americans. Even though I lived through it I have no recollection of the Cold War in the 1980s. The show is about two people, a man and a woman, who are U.S.S.R. spies that have integrated themselves into suburban Washington D.C. life in order to gather information to send back to Mother Russia. Aside from being badasses, the two characters have to figure out why they’re fighting and lying and coercing and whether they find themselves embracing Western culture against their will. In addition, they have two teenage children that are starting to suspect that something is off. And their neighbor is an FBI agent. This is a tough show to pull off because the main characters are in costume to hide their identity frequently and they have to have backstories to the every person they’re leading and it could get so confusing very quickly but it doesn’t. I also like that the creators trusted their audience to not be total idiots and let the Russian conversations be in Russian with subtitles (as opposed to English with a Russian accent or something stupid like that). Fun Fact: I thought that the trope in movies where people meet on park benches and exchange state secrets was a Hollywood trope but apparently that is real thing that actually happened and is happening! I could be adjacent to the planning of a coup while feeding ducks! Who knew? There’s one more season left to air and I’d like to see how they wrap it up. Or not. However they choose to end it.

http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/the-americans

 

Orphan Black. This one has been on my must-watch for a long time but it was always like, ehhhhhhhh, I’ll watch something else. I finally buckled down and now I’m in the beginning of season 3. The basic plot is there are a number of clones of the same woman, somewhere around eleven of them, and they’re only just learning about each others’ existences and the fact that they were made in a lab and the fact that the lab still wants to study them. It delves into the idea of property because these “sisters” believe they belong to themselves but the lab believes they are lab property because the sequencing of their genome was patented. Actually, here’s the first paragraph from the Wikipedia:

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction thriller television series created by screenwriter Graeme Manson and director John Fawcett, starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical people who are clones. The series focuses on Sarah Manning, a woman who assumes the identity of one of her fellow clones, Elizabeth Childs, after witnessing Childs’ suicide. The series raises issues about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning, and its effect on issues of personal identity.

Tatiana Maslany is one of the best actresses because she created distinct mannerisms and personalities for all these different women who are often onscreen at the same time. The series has ended and I cannot wait to see what she works on next.

Those are all her. It’s amazing what Tatiana does. And the plot is very engaging. You don’t know who to trust, a group of people are trying to kill all the clones because they are an abomination unto the Lord, the government is involved, it’s a whole thing. That does not mean the series is without levity. One of my favorite moments is when Vic, a reformed drug dealer in rehab, gets a spiked drink and passes out face-first on a table filled with children’s crafting supplies. He hits that table HARD. Note how there are no feathers flying in the air and as soon as he hits the ground feathers flutter down all around as if they were released from the ceiling at a Katy Perry concert. I could watch this on a loop for a good half-hour.

http://www.bbcamerica.com/shows/orphan-black

I watched Prometheus again. Here are my live-blogging notes.

Friday, May 19th, 2017

I saw Prometheus when it was in theaters and I had all the wrong reactions to it. Mainly, I laughed a lot. It is not supposed to be funny. Now that the newest installment in the Alien movies is coming out and I thought it best to rewatch Prometheus in case there are references to it. Allow me to also mention that Snorth crocheted me a squid baby like the one in Prometheus to wear in a baby bjorn to the movie theater. That’s how you know you’ve found your soul-mate. Anyway, I live-blogged my Prometheus viewing to Snorth and here are my notes. Follow along if you’d like.

 

– I have strong pervasive feelings for Michael Fassbender. I sure do like my Aryan German robots.

– When the two idiots, the redheaded geologist with the mohawk and Sweatshirt Douche are in the tunnel and the vagina-penis-snake-monster attacks them and the one idiot falls in the magic mud with a “splut” noise I started laughing so hard I had to rewind it and watch it again.

– Did I mention I’m obsessed with Fassbender? It’s not ebbing. Oh no, he just found SQUID BABY on the sonogram!!

– Dragon Tattoo whacked Scottish Game of Thrones Breastfeeding Too Long Lady in the face with a metal thing and she’s off and running!

– The Squid Baby scene is still hysterically funny, btw. I almost piddled myself.

– Oh my God I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. When the Not Especially Incredible Hulk got run over by the tanker truck, hoo, I may never recover.

– This movie is TERRIBLE. It might be my favorite comedy of all time, though.

– I really like Idris Elba. He’s an extremely likeable man.

– Oh, now it’s all boring. Old Man Priscilla Queen of the Desert is tromping around and they’re screwing around with The Engineer on life support.

– I don’t give a crap who you are, you do not get to rip the head of my robot boyfriend.

– Why does this movie even exist? It’s like a very expensive two hour long NIN video from 1997. I’m questioning everything now.

– Oh, all of you die already. Whatever, Dragon Tattoo survived. Yay, hooray. Does she and Fassbender Head go on wacky adventures together?

– The Engineer and Chtulu are fighting it out. I do not care who wins.

– I am attracted to dismembered chatty robot head. I have no standards.

– Make his dumb body carry his dumb head back to the ship! Girl, you gave yourself a c-section with a toaster oven! Take a spa day, Jesus!

– Oh hai bebbeh xenomorph! Aaaaaaaaaand we’re done.

 

Addendum: Me rockin’ the squid baby at the movie this weekend.

Dr. Strange, MD.

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Warning: Vaguely spoilery about Doctor Strange below. I mean, it won’t ruin the movie but it’s maybe more information than you want so be cautious.

Hey! So, that election, huh? As an intellectual Jew from New York (I’m “elite”!) you can probably guess how I’m feeling so let’s skip all that, shall we? Skip right over all that. Plenty of other people to talk to about all that.

I saw Doctor Strange with Bendybloo Cobblehobble. I knew precisely nothing when I walked into the theater and I think that worked to my benefit. I looked back at the original drawings of Doctor Strange and he looked like the drag-queeniest Vincent Price ever conjured in the mind of man (not that there’s anything wrong with that, stay strong fellow brothers and sisters) so I think that had I known that I would have expected it to have more musical numbers. There were no musical numbers. It was, however, my favorite of the superhero movies, DC or Marvel, for one specific reason. I did not enjoy it the most. It wasn’t the most quotable or the quippiest or the most nail-bite-y. My reason is that in almost every superhero movie everything gets destroyed, whether by the good guy or the bad guy. Whole cities are demolished and that’s just how it is. I’m still mad about The Avengers. Hey, Loki, remember when you destroyed Grand Central Terminal and your punishment was to go home with a fancy metal ball gag? Remember that? Neither you nor your brother GoodGuy McBlondHammer stuck around to, I don’t know, hoist a girder with your crazy strength to rebuild after you done broke all the everything. In Doctor Strange the lead learns to harness the universe’s energy and in the climactic scene (here comes the sorta-kinda-spoiler) he not only doesn’t destroy a city, he UN-destroys a city. Like, it was being destroyed and he puts it back together all neat and tidy. THAT is what a superhero is supposed to do in my opinion. After he or she vanquishes evil, people will be grateful but they will also need places to live and rubble doesn’t keep out the cold. Seriously. Look at, like, every superhero movie that’s been released in the last ten years. There’s a lot, I’ll wait. See what I mean? This is great. Other things about this movie that are awesome and should encourage you to see it:

  • There’s a diamond effect that was used by January Jones in X-Men: First Class. It’s back. Glad to see it.
    cinefex_emma_frost emma-frost-xmfc-046
  • Buildings are bending and folding over each other like in Inception but even more bendy and foldy. Glad that’s back too.
    victor-enrich-inception-dali-nhdk-1-2 inception-dream
  • Hannibal with super eye makeup. In the movie the purple part glows like embers!
    mads-mikkelsen-doctor-strange-benedict-cumberbatch 04-mads-mikkelsen-dr-strange-love-w529-h529
  • The evil dark realm looks like it was designed by Lisa Frank. No complaints about that.
    50eb099220a46831b9aa1645adee8499 mystery-strange-ew-001-164050-164955

Things that are not awesome about this film:

  • Benedict’s American accent. It sounds like he’s writing with his non-dominant hand. It’s not a bad accent, it’s just not… quite… right.
  • The plot moves too fast. I had no time to process. It felt crammed in for time. I feel like this is an engaging and exciting story and I would have preferred to see it on Netflix as a series so each emotion gets a chance to sink in.
  • That’s it.

I would recommend seeing this film, especially in the movie theater. Not necessarily in 3D. I saw it in 3D and it was a bit much. But definitely in the theater. I think I’ll see it again.

Kubo and the That’s Not Really Origami.

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

I saw Kubo and the Two Strings. I had been looking forward to seeing it for while, ever since I saw the poster with the boat and the leaves and the moon, this one:

kubo

I actually saw it twice, once with my sister and once with Snorth. The story, clearly heavily influenced by Miyazaki, was… confusing the way Japanese movies tend to be for me. I’ve spoken about this before:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2009/08/18/japan-is-so-very-very-special/

The Japanese seem to be perfectly comfortable with non-linear storytelling and I cannot get on board. Ergo I had some problems with Kubo in that regard. However, the animation? Amazing. Phenomenal. I can’t say enough good things. The studio that made this is called Laika and they’re one of the last studios that does stop-motion animation. I got to go to a Q&A with the director Travis Knight and learned some neat facts.

  1. In stop-motion animation if you bang out two seconds a day it’s a miracle. So they have ten movies in various stages of production at any time.
  2. Normally they have tons of time to record the voices but the kid who does the main voice (Art Parkinson, Rickon from Game of Thrones) was going to go through puberty at any minute so they had to record him extra extra fast.
  3. Art is from Ireland and does a phenomenal American accent. His audition tape was with the American accent and when Travis called him to tell him he had the job he thought he had called the wrong kid. Here’s what Art sounds like normally (and you can hear how his voice is all manly now): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XyV-Vu40Mk
  4. Laika doesn’t shun the use of computers. For example, they use green screen throughout the movie, especially when there are big sweeping vistas. They’re building these spaces in a large drafty warehouse in Portland, Oregon and they build the entire village where some of the scenes take place but there are shots where the ocean extends to the horizon and that couldn’t be accommodated.
  5. They also used computers to print every possible facial expression as well as the intermediate facial expressions between those. Those used to have to be carved by hand so it frees up the designers to do more work on the character’s clothes and fur and armor. Using computers doesn’t make the process easier, it simply allows the designers to focus their energy elsewhere.
  6. There’s origami paper floating all over this movie. (The second the first origami thing happened Snorth turned to me and said, “NOPE.” So that’s settled.) Laika tried a variety of materials and settled on Tyvek which is paper with a plastic coating so it doesn’t rip and a piece of aluminum pasted on the back to help it hold its shape when it is bent and folded.

There’s a great video that shows many of the elements I’ve just mentioned. It’s sixteen minutes long so you’ll want to get real comfortable before starting it. Also it’s silent for the first thirteen minutes so don’t assume your volume is broken (like I did).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nSSk7spa2M

And here’s some more insight from the film’s creators.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFGnwM99IAw