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

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

Mexico! And Mad Max. Lots of alliteration.

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

I’m going to Mexico for a week to study beading techniques under an artist I really love (I’ve mentioned her before). I’m sure I will have pictures and stories when I return. In the meantime here is a review video I made of Mad Max: Fury Road for your enjoyment.

Snorth’s 40th Birthday Present.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

I wanted to make Snorth something unique for her 40th birthday. For years she’s been talking about seeing Les Miz but she’s been reticent because she is not a big fan of musicals (“Why are they singing? Why can’t they just talk?”). I thought I would spend the better part of a day (40 minutes to film, 8 hours to edit) making her a video to answer all her questions without her having to actually sit through the Les Miz itself. I’ve never made a video like this before. I think it turned out great. I feel pretty proud of myself.

The Room.

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

I finally saw the movie The Room. You may think I’m talking about the movie Room that recently came out and might win some Oscars but I am not. No, I am referring to the movie that came out in 2003. It cost six million dollars. It takes place in 2.3 locations. The acting hurts your eyes and ears. The sex scenes might make you sterile. It is notorious for being one of the worst movies ever created and now that I’ve seen it I think that’s a pretty accurate description. If you’d like I’d be happy to give you a synopsis of the “plot” as I remember it so you can be spared from seeing this unfortunate garbage dump of a inflated student film. It’s fine if I don’t remember things correctly, it doesn’t affect the movie in any way.

Before we get into this a bit of additional information. Does everyone remember Mystery Science Theater 3000? If not, their theme song will explain their show to you.

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

The MST3K gentlemen still watch movies and add their commentary and that’s what I went to see. I was so extremely grateful for their continuous input because I don’t think I could have made it through without them. Also you should know about the writer/director/producer/actor of this thing, Tommy Wiseau. He is an age, but no one knows what it is. He is also from a country, not an English-speaking country, but no one knows which one. He’s short and creepily muscular with shoulder-length dyed-black hair in desperate need of a deep conditioning treatment. The MST3K fellows described him (extremely accurately) as a life-form completely made out of Madonna’s arms.

tommy-wiseau-liverpool-fact

Okay. Here we go. The Room opens with lots and lots of shots of San Francisco. We are then introduced to an apartment that looks like it was decorated with things found at your local high-end Salvation Army including a framed portrait of a spoon. A female who will be called Dumpy Debbie Gibson (or DDG from this point on) and Tommy Wiseau (playing her fiancé Johnny) are doing or saying… something. It doesn’t matter. Johnny gives DDG a red dress that not flattering to anyone with limbs or a torso. He then says she looks beautiful and then start to head upstairs to make the love but the teenage neighbor boy Donnie comes over and the three of them engage in an awkward conversation where Donnie mentions he wouldn’t mind watching them get it on. (?) Johnny and DDG go on upstairs and proceed to have sexual relations in a bed surrounded by mosquito netting because we all are aware of San Francisco’s malaria epidemic. They have sex as if someone explained to them how humans mate but they’ve never seen it. Johnny kind of pushes his hip corner at her with each epically slow thrust which is not where male genitals are located. When I was in theater in high school we were taught to “open up” to the audience, meaning when you have a conversation with another actor you both turn slightly outward so the audience can see your face and hear you better. DDG and Johnny were doing that but in bed. I think Johnny then heads out to do something (I believe his character works at a bank doing banky things so maybe that) and DDG opens the door to find hot neighbor guy and Johnny’s best friend Mark there. She confesses she no longer loves Johnny, she doesn’t want to be his wife and she says Johnny hits her. Mark says it’s not a good idea for them to get it on but he cannot resist her because she is so beautiful. Then DDG and Mark have some sad version of intercourse on a spiral stairway. I cannot imagine for the life of me a more uncomfortable place to get naked and squish components with another person than a cold and oddly shaped metal staircase with jutting angles. That sadness ends. Mark leaves. Following that DDG’s mother comes over and they have a weird conversation where the mother confesses that she has breast cancer, DDG tells her not to worry and it is never mentioned again. (???) Somewhere in there there’s yet another sex scene with two completely irrelevant characters where the male makes the weirdest faces while receiving pleasure.

mike-face-2

Johnny goes to buy his beloved DDG some roses in what is one of the worst scenes in ever. He walks into the flower shop… you know what, I can’t even describe it. I will find a video for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S9Ew3TIeVQ

That’s it. That’s the entire scene. I did not move the dialogue around, that’s the order it’s presented and at that speed. The only good actor in that scene was the ancient bloated fart pug on the counter. Or possibly the door. Awful, just awful. Johnny comes home with roses and he and DDG have sex again but instead of filming a totally new sex scene which may have proven fatal for everyone involved Tommy simply reused the EXACT SAME SHOTS from their previous sex scene, but faster. Here’s where things start to get fuzzy because the same conversation happens with different configurations of people. DDG no longer loves Johnny, she loves Mark. DDG’s mom (you know, the one with the breast cancer that’s never addressed again?) says DDG needs to stay with Johnny because he has money and can give her a good life. We also learn that Johnny kind of adopted Donnie and got him an apartment in the same building and that’s why he’s around all the time. Donnie fawns over DDG and tells her how beautiful she is and how he wants to get with her. This I don’t understand. DDG is not hideous but she is definitely not a smokin’ hot babe. “That nice girl who works at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels at the mall” would be a good description of DDG but every guy acts like their loins are magnetically drawn to her. I think in the reality of this movie all the other women in San Francisco are dead, perhaps killed off by that malaria epidemic and DDG is all that’s left. Another important thing is some of these conversations happen in the apartment and some of them happen on the roof. The roof is a whole other can of worms. The roof scenes are filmed surrounded by green screen and then San Francisco was added in afterwards but it doesn’t quite line up perfectly so it feels a bit trippy. The finest piece of acting in The Room is done as Johnny enters the roof and sees his friend Mark there. I have found it for you. You need only watch the first ten seconds or so.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ4KzClb1C4

Then some indeterminate amount of time passes and there’s a party for Johnny and DDG’s wedding where DDG lies about being pregnant and starts making out with Mark in front of Johnny and Johnny is like oh hell no and kicks DDG out. He then goes on a rampage through the apartment like Frankenstein’s monster, rips DDG’s dress and humps it (badly, but that goes without saying since Tommy has no concept of how mammals express sexual love). Then Johnny puts a gun in his mouth and dies. DDG, Mark and Donnie find him and they fake-cry and blah blah blah the end. That’s it. There are other things that happen in The Room. Often a football is tossed around by the menfolk during conversations in the most awkward way imaginable. In one scene they toss the football around wearing tuxedos. It’s all a mess. Her’s a helpful video that summarizes everything I attempted to convey.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvuwldnG7c0

Now I have seen this iconic cinematic treat and I feel fully comfortable never seeing it again.

New Orleans 2015, Part 2.

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Before we delve into cemetery-chat, some random photos I took.

You can walk around with an open container so alcohol can be procured just about anywhere. I went into PJ’s (a local coffee chain) and they had a beer tap situation next to the blenders. Because they can.

coffee-draught

I really liked these alligator lights on the side of this building.

crocodile-lights

The day before the day before the wedding the Warriors were playing. They are some sort of basketball team and Candy, Nessa’s aunt, is OBSESSED with them. She has a tattoo of their logo on her butt. She brought down all her Warrior gear and we all met up at a sports bar to watch the game. (I went to eat appetizers but let’s pretend it was for sports.) Nessa knows of my complete disinterest in all things athletic so she insisted on decking me out in some of the accessories and taking my picture. I hope you can appreciate how excited I am from this photo. Hooooooray sports. Cricket is equally excited.

sports-fans

Cemeteries! Cemeteries are a big part of New Orleans. I cannot name the last time I was in New York City and said, “Hey everyone, let’s go spend an afternoon hanging with really quiet people and their identifying rocks!” But in New Orleans it’s a major tourist destination, so much so that only tour groups are allowed in the primary cemetery (lone people were desecrating the graves and generally being a nuisance). We visited two cemeteries but the important one, St Louis No. 1, is the one I’m going to focus on.

cemetery11

Because the earth is so saturated with water (New Orleans gets between 70 to 100 inches of rain a year) you cannot bury bodies, therefore the graves are above ground and usually contain the remains of an entire family. Every time someone new is added they carve new info on the door plaque.

cemetery1

The body must lay untouched for a year and a day. The reason for that is very smart: the tomb are built of brick, stone or stucco and therefore get very hot, especially in the summer when it can be 90 degrees or above. The bodies dry out and bake until they crumble. After a year and a day all that’s left is bone and dust. The door is pulled off, the remains collected into a satin bag and then placed under the tomb in a substantially smaller area with the other powdery relatives and the tomb is then freed up for new deceased people. It’s a good way to save space.

There are a bunch of famous people buried in St. Louis. First one we encountered is Paul Morphy. Paul Morphy was a brilliant chess player.

cemetery3

Supposedly he was blindfolded and had twelve chessboards set up in front of him with master players on the other side. So phenomenal was his ability to visualize the board, Morphy would walk past each board blindfolded, have someone describe the layout of the pieces and then make the next move. He won all twelve games. Like a BAWSS.

The most famous person entombed there is Marie Laveau. She is considered the Queen of Voodoo, a religion or belief-system brought from West Africa by both slaves and free people of color. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about her:

Among the fifteen “voodoo queens” in neighborhoods scattered around 19th-century New Orleans, Marie Laveau was known as “the” Voodoo Queen, the most eminent and powerful of them all. Her religious rite on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain on St. John’s Eve in 1874 attracted some 12,000 black and white New Orleanians.It was said that politicians, lawyers, businessman, wealthy planters – all came to her to consult before making an important financial or business-related decision. She also saw the poor and enslaved. Although her help seemed non-discriminatory, she may have favored the enslaved servants of her “influential, affluent customers”, as many “runaway slaves…credited their successful escapes to Laveaux’s powerful charms.”Once the news of her powers spread, she dominated the other Voodoo leaders of New Orleans. Also a Catholic, Laveau encouraged her followers to attend Catholic Mass as a strategic way to protect their true beliefs. Her influence contributed to the adoption of Catholic practices into the Voodoo belief system.Marie Laveau is remembered for her skill and compassion for the less fortunate.

Laveau also gained influence over her clientele by her work as a hairdresser, which gave her intimate knowledge of the gossip in town. Her customers also came to her to buy voodoo dolls, potions, gris-gris bags, and the like.Her influence continues in the city. In the 21st century, her gravesite in the oldest cemetery is a major tourist attraction; believers of Voodoo offer gifts here and pray to her spirit. Across the street from the cemetery where Laveau is buried, offerings of pound cake are left to the statue of Saint Expedite; these offerings are believed to expedite the favors asked of the Voodoo queen. Saint Expedite represents the spirit standing between life and death. The chapel where the statue stands was once used only for holding funerals.Marie Laveau continues to be a central figure of Louisiana Voodoo and of New Orleans culture. Gamblers shout her name when throwing dice, and multiple tales of sightings of the Voodoo queen have been told.

Here is the outside of her family tomb.

cemetery2

You will notice it is clean and white and that is because there is a not-for-proft group in New Orleans called Save Our Cemeteries that takes care of as many tombs as they can. When this cemetery was open to whomever wanted to wander in people would write XXX all over Marie Laveau’s tomb and chip bits off as souvenirs, it was a mess. That’s one of the reasons only tours are allowed in. This one of the nearby tombs still covered with graffiti and chipped to all hell.

cemetery10

I asked what the significance of the XXX was, and the thing is to draw the Xs. knock three times on the tomb and then ask Marie Laveau to grant you a wish, often pertaining to love.

Right behind Miss Laveau’s tomb is a pyramid. No one is in it. Yet. Because it is Nicholas Cage’s forever home. It’s sitting there uninhabited until Cage bites it. Good idea, always plan ahead. Nicholas Cage is a character, I wouldn’t be surprised if he insisted on being embalmed and having his cats join him in the afterlife. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

cemetery4

There are also group tombs (called “condominios” in Spain, that never stops being funny to me) for various groups. For example there was a massive nunnery and the nuns are laid to rest in one of those. In this picture the one on the left is for Portuguese people and the one on the right is for the Italians.

cemetery5

The round mass tomb on the right is famous because of the movie Easy Rider. There’s a scene where Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and two lovely young ladies come to this cemetery, take LSD and go on a mental journey. Fun Fact: the actors really did take LSD. It’s (not surprisingly) a very trippy scene in the film. They’re climbing all over the sculptures, the lovely young ladies are naked and frolicking, copious amounts of alcohol are being consumed. Apparently after the mayor of New Orleans saw the movie he decided no one could film movies any more in the cemetery, booooo. But the damage was already done. The main sculpture (I think it’s Athena) nestled in an alcove on the tomb has no head and no hands because bikers came for years to sit in her lap and have their picture taken a là Peter Fonda’s character. So her head fell off. Here’s the shot from the film:

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 12.02.15 AM

Here’s some jackhole doing the pose:

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 12.07.10 AM

This condominio is for war heroes. Note the bombs as corner pieces for the decorative chain. That’s baller, having explosive devices flanking your tomb.

cemetery6

Another famous person who is laid to rest there is Bernard deMarigny. He’s got a hell of a tale. He was born with not a silver spoon in his mouth, but a gold one. Legend has it that when the King of France and his two brothers came to visit, the deMarignys served them on specially-made gold plates. After the meal all the plates were thrown in the river because no one would be worthy of using them again. Yeah. Gold plates. Here’s what Wikipedia says about him:

The visit of the French royals apparently had a big impact on Marigny, as it is reported as an example of the spoiled life in which he was reared. When he was 15 years old, his father died and Bernard inherited his father’s plantation just outside the city gates, east of New Orleans’ Vieux Carré. According to historians, “His every whim [was] indulged while his father was alive, he became as wild and headstrong after his death as an unbacked [wild] mustang, and his guardian, abandoning all idea of control, finally shipped him to England, hoping that life abroad might mend his manners; but in London Bernard’s dissipations became only more pyrotechnic, and he spent most of his time at Almack’s and other famous gambling places.” One of the things Marigny brought back to New Orleans from England was the dice game Hazardwhich became popular in a simplified form, known in local dialect as “Crapaud”.

cemetery7 cemetery8

This guy and his family owned so much land that when it was developed and turned into city streets, he got to name them. There was Love Street, Poets Street, Music Street, Abundance Street, Treasure Street and even Craps Street until the three churches that sprouted up on that street petitioned to have the name changed. Marigny eventually gambled his fortune away and died relatively penniless but he left an impression on the city.

The entire cemetery is Catholic but there’s a small section off in the back where Protestants can be buried. Note I used the word “buried.” Big mistake, Protestants. In this photo you’ll see several level-with-the-ground graves. They have recently been surrounded with cement. What you can’t see under all that grass are all the other graves that sunk into the earth because no cement. This area was wall-to-wall graves. You can really stub your toe on a corner of tombstone pokin’ out of the loam.

cemetery9

That’s it for cemeteries. Coming up: alligators.

Movies I’ve seen recently. Get ready for a big pile of creepy.

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

I spent a great deal of my youth not watching what everyone else was watching. Ergo, I missed many of the movies that were the zeitgeist of the 80s and 90s. And one of those films was Se7en. Remember Se7en? With Brad Pitt? And Morgan Freeman? “What’s in the box?” That one. I had, as one does, heard just about everything that happens in that film (grossness) but I figured it was time for me to experience it, finally. Though the city that this takes place in is never named, I decided that it was the same city the movie Delicatessen takes place in. The set directors must have had a glorious time make all that flaky paint and peeling wallpaper. I would have had a blast. (Some of these shots are Delicatessen and some of them are Se7en. I wanted to jumble them together to show you how similar they are in decrepit interiors.)

0000225769 BDDefinition-Delicatessen-n-1080 Bildschirmfoto+2012-08-06+um+19.53.24 delicatessen09 seven050211

I was astonished at how not squeamed I got watching this film. I knew about sloth and how that was portrayed so as soon as I saw the air fresheners all over the ceiling I covered my eyes with a hearty NOPE because I don’t need those memories of Crusty Bed Dude. Other than that I watched the whole thing like a big girl. Alone! At night! In my apartment! Alone! By myself! I was very proud of myself. Did I mention I was alone? Because I was. It is not a particularly stellar movie. Maybe it doesn’t hold up well over time. It’s been twenty years after all. I just didn’t find it really evocative. It felt like an extremely icky long-form episode of Law & Order or CSI or Criminal Minds, that kind of soap-opera-style procedural. Kevin Spacey was awesome (no surprise there, that man is a national treasure) but I’ve never much cared for Brad Pitt and he’s in, like, every scene. Boo. However, I’m glad I’ve finally seen it because now I have seen it.

The other movie I saw that was NOT a Nicholas Sparks movie was Perfume. Ah, Germany. Never stop being German. You know the Grimm’s Fairy Tales? They’re still bringin’ that level of “nightmares forever” type of storytelling. Brief summary: A young man is born with an unbelievable sense of smell. He loves all smells, he doesn’t rate them as good or bad. He becomes a perfumier and he figures out how to bottle the scent of femininity and happiness. Problem is you need to render that scent out of the source which means a lot of pretty ladies die so he can de-scent them. When, finally, he is caught and is taken to be hung for killing all these young ladies he releases his perfect perfume on the public and it overwhelms everyone in attendance with feelings of compassion and love. And then there’s a mass orgy. Great movie. Really weird. Really disturbing. I wanted to watch it because I love the lead actor, Ben Whishaw. If you’re not keeping an eye on him, you should. He is gonna be a big damn deal someday. It was originally a book by Patrick Süskind. Neenernator recommended it to me back when we were in college (I think she read it in the original German). Here is Amazon’s summary of the book:

In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift—an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.

I believe Perfume is streaming on Netflix so go check it out.

I saw some art house films! And I only regret one of them.

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

A little while back I read on the internet that Lars Von Trier made a very long movie that had been split into two. They are Nymphomaniac Part I and Nymphomaniac Part II. I didn’t really have any interest in seeing them based on how they were reviewed but the director’s cut of both is presently streaming on Netflix so I thought, eh, what the hell. I hunkered down and watched Nymphomaniac Part I. Yeah. Sooooo, I can say it’s beautifully shot. It’s an incredibly well-composed film. Looks real evocative. That’s the positive. The negative is that it’s one of those movies just chock-full of intimate relations that makes you dislike sex, the opposite sex, the same sex, the English county of Essex, really anything to do with the word “sex.” Shia L’Boof kinda does an accent, Christian Slater doesn’t even try, everything is depressing and no one laughs ever for any reason. But again, looks great, not too depressing. Once I had gotten through this half I figured I needed to see the other half which is Nymphomaniac Part II and that’s when the regret kicks in. Oh dear Lord. This one is flat-out depressing to the point of making you want to drink drain cleaner. Not only do you hate sex, you hate all the everything everywhere forever. I’m going to put some bullet points right here that list some of the reasons you should not under any circumstances see this film, but they are intense and you are welcome to skip them.

 

Things you get to see in Nymphomaniac Part II:

  • a sex scene with two foreign men the female lead has just met which has equal parts intercourse and arguing over who gets what orifice
  • an at-home abortion with at-home utensils
  • frequent shots of the female lead’s bleeding genitals due to excessive masturbation
  • a whole bunch of rape (because who doesn’t like rape?)
  • a solid flogging with a knotted rope flogger
  • the unveiling of a pedophile in a creeptacular scene I will not go into detail about because it makes me barf a little in my mouth
  • just a smattering of (unrelated to the above) pedophilia
  • someone peeing on someone else who is lying in an alley after being beaten
  • Willem Dafoe

 

Hi, people who made the right choice and skipped the bullet points! Welcome back. I was seriously bummed out for about a day after seeing these films, specifically #2. It haunted me with its bumminess. So my opinion is only watch these if you’re in college and you need to write a paper about female sexuality or dystopian society, or you really really liked Breaking the Waves. Other than that, skip it. NO WATCHO.

I did, however, see a art house movie I did like, which is Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe. I think it’s supposed to be a horror film but it’s not very horrific. It’s more like a modern-day Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I don’t want to tell you too much about it because the viewer discovers the twists along with the main character and I don’t want to rob you of that but if you liked Slither or Pan’s Labyrinth then this is the movie for you. It’s weird, Harry Potter does a great job, the scenery is gorgeous, I was totally into it the whole time. Good film. Surprised it didn’t get more press.

http://news.moviefone.com/2014/10/30/horns-review/