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Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Weird Jungian Coincidence

A few weeks ago the unrated version of Knocked Up was on Amazon Unbox for ninety-nine cents, so I rented it even though I’d seen it once before.

I started watching it yesterday, and I think the fact that the other time I watched it while passing a kidney stone is significant. Because compared to the pain of the stone that movie was some light harmless fun. But in watching it yesterday I was struck by just how freakin’ MEAN it is. All the women are nags who selfishly want their own way. In fact, the very act that results in the titular pregnancy is Katherine Heigl’s character’s sharp, snappish command to “Just Do IT already!!!” The guys on the other hand are mostly fun, easy-going chappies who also only care about themselves–but that’s okay because they’re funny. Right? I mean, make somebody laugh and it’s fine that you are an illegal immigrant who doesn’t pay taxes, has no real job and spends their days getting high and making homophobic jokes with your unwashed compadres.

So, seriously, I did not like it at all the second time around. What’s funny is then when I was getting caught up on blogs, I see that Brittney felt the same way…and so does Katherine Heigl. Although I’ve got to hand it to Heigl….mad props for takin’ their money and then calling them names!!! Way to go!

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I Just Watched The Weirdest Movie

Have any of you dozen people who read this blog ever heard of Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer ?

I know that I hadn’t, and I’m embarrassed to admit that, because it seems like the arty literature type thing I would have heard of.

It’s based on a famous book (which I’d also never heard of until today), and seemed like it might be a nice diversion.  Who wouldn’t love an historical drama starring Alan Rickman, Dustin Hoffman and narrated by (I think) John Hurt?  Of course, you’d think that’d I’d gather from the “story of a murderer” part that it wasn’t going to be all sweetness and light.

But I was not expecting THAT.

Spoiler-y highlights:

  • The antihero’s name is Jean-Baptise La Grenouille, which I think means “John The Baptist The Frog”.  Grenouille is one of those French words which sounds romantic but is really blunt in English.  The only reason I know that Grenouille means “frog” is because of NCIS.  Go, subpar TV! Who says I never learned anything from television?
  • Frogman kills a girl selling fruit in order to obtain her “scent.”
  • Ooops.  I should add here that JBFrog has a remarkable sense of smell, and is driven like a dog by that sense of smell.
  • He boils a cat.
  • He boils a girl.
  • He then kills 13 women, slathers them in lard and then distills their “essences” to make a perfume by which he can control the world.
  • When they try to execute him, he opens his bottle of perfume and the entire town has a naked orgy at the execution square.   I personally was amazed at how well-shaved the townspeople of 1765 rural France were.
  • He then goes back to the Paris fish market where he was born, drenches himself in his world-beating perfume and is devoured by peasants.

Weirdest movie ever.  Did I mention this was based on a German novel?  No?  Well, it was.   Much like The Tin Drum it has that bleaky post-war German feel to it.  I think I’m about as fond of post-war Germanic novels as I am most Russian literature.

Anyway, unless you’re in the mood for boiled cats, boiled women, peasant orgies and light cannibalism you might want to watch something else.

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Amy reviewed this a few days ago. She even sent me an email, which I forgot to respond to until it was too late. So I’m writing this post, instead, to let all of you know what I thought of The Prize-Winner of Defiance, Ohio.

Or, at least, the first 15 minutes of said movie.

Because I’m sorry…I could not sit through it.

Here’s the thing. I love my husband, and he’s a man. I love my dad, and he’s a man. I love my brothers. Yep, you guessed it. They’re both men, too. Heck, even my DOGS are men. Well, male anyway.

And from what I saw of PWODO, it was yet another Carnival of Misandry disguised as a “fun family film.” You know what I mean if you’ve seen a single episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond”. It’s all that business about how men are duffers–at best they’re goofily incompetant. At their worst, they’re raging alcoholics burning through life at the expense of long suffering family.

Now, I don’t doubt the existence of these men who are dullards and drunks. But I feel more and more as though the last ten years of popular culture has put forth the idea that all men can only be one or the other. (Okay. They can sometimes be both.) PWODO was no exception. The father, played by Woody Harrelson, was a raging alcoholic who couldn’t keep his family of twelve in shoe leather. The mother, played by Julianne Moore, was a wise woman who kept the wolf from the door by “contesting”–writing jingles for soap, appliance and food companies. Once again, a smart woman has to bail out her family after the stupid man keeps ruining things.

I believe in smart women. I am one. I know many. But you know what? Brains are not a zero-sum game. There are smart, good, hard-working men out there. Well, everywhere except in the movies.

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Remember when I used to come up with clever titles for blog entries? Those days are gone, my friend. I SOOO could not think of what to call this post. Although I do think it’s high time we turned July 5 into a lesser sort of holiday, kind of like Boxing Day. That way there’s not all this pressure on the 5th to get out and do something elaborate, but you do have a sanctioned excuse to rest. I just read a bunch of books set in Ireland and they were forever going on about Boxing Day as though it were some beautiful rest cure for Christmas. Then they also have Easter Monday. I think. Anyway, someone has “Easter Monday”. And it’s not official but we’ve got Black Friday as the “day after Thanksgiving.” Now, that’s kind of backwards, though, at least around my house, because Thanksgiving is the quiet and restful day, while Black Friday is the day of going to the mall to watch other folks lose their minds. It’s become a sport for us. Maybe this year we’ll even place bets on which people are gonna crack.

Sorry. None of that was what I meant to write about. My brain just got stuck in this loop. Moving on…

Yesterday was the best Independence Day I’ve had in awhile. We got to go to Casey’s house to watch his fireworks display. Let me tell you all something right now. That man takes his fireworks seriously. And by seriously I mean that I live 3/4 of a mile from Nashville Shores. Three times a year (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day) I take my Adirondack chair to the end of my driveway and watch their show for 15 minutes. Casey’s show was more impressive AND it lasted for two hours and change. For real.

Before the fireworks I had the creepiest thing happen. I met this guy named **Declan** (That’s not his real name, but I don’t hand out real names on the internet. That’s bad juju.) Anyway, meeting Declan was both cool and weird.

Because Declan is just like me, if I were somehow turned back into a ten year old. And turned into a boy. (At least I think he was 10. He may be 9. It’s hard to tell with kids like us. Because we’re tall and we talk like miniature adults.) Declan and I apparently both got the “don’t talk about politics” speech before the party, so we were banished to the kitchen where we–yes–freely discussed politics. The best non-firework related party moment was when he asked me if I ate only liberty. See, he’s a vegetarian and so the natural assumption would of course be, upon hearing that I was a libertarian, that I ate only liberty. And anyone speaking to me for any length of time and familiar with KIBO will know that yeah, it would seem like I eat liberty.

So that was cool.

Also cool, yet weird, was finally getting to talk to Casey in person. Do you all know how odd it is to have exchanged long emails with people for more than a year, have long debates in comment sections, follow their every move on Twitter and then finally say “It’s nice to meet you”? Yeah. The Internet sure has made life odd, don’t you think? Casey is very cool in person, and also very into explosives. So that could either mean that he’s genuinely cool OR that I’m afraid he’ll blow up my house. In this case we’ll go with genuinely cool.

So this 4th July was awesome. It beats other 4th of Julys hands down. I didn’t even have to come up with a new Epic Movie Marathon. (Other years we’ve done LOTR, Star Wars & Jurassic Park. Prior to Casey’s invitation this 4th was looking more and more like Tarantino’s year.)

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Over at NiT I wrote the story of why I wasn’t allowed to see A Certain Movie until many years after it was popular. I’ve told that story before in other places and always chuckled at the thought of it.

Today as I wrote the post for Nashville Is Talking I decided to go to YouTube to see if anyone had posted the original trailer. Sho’nuff, there it was.

And you know what? I think my dad was right to be upset. Watching the trailer removed from any of my life-experience context I realised exactly why my dad–who was exactly the age I am now, come to think of it–was so angry. There’s a lot to learn from this, I think.

  1. Even when it seems silly, our parents have our best interests at heart.
  2. When taken out of context, it’s easy for something fun and innocent to seem frightening.
  3. If you want your message to be well-received, consider the audience.
  4. You can find absolutely anything on YouTube.

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Or “give my opinion”.   Whichever thing I have the right to do, I guess.

Spoileypoos after Jump Street…. (more…)

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Knowing

About 82% of Everyone in Blogland is upset about Richard Schickel’s cranky dismissal of bloggers’ critiques. Lileks did a fairly good job of fisking the fellow, so I won’t bother.

I would, however, like to point out that I think pieces like Schickel’s are fantastic. They’re the writerly equivalent of one of those scenes in a civil rights movie where the politely restrained white person breaks (around act three or so) and unleashes a diatribe of racist invective–leaving no doubt in the viewers’ minds that the Kindly White Character’s niceness was a facade and that the heart of bigotry is pumping undiluted poison through the system.

Folks like me talk alot about the Great Snob Divide in our culture. Some of that may be sour grapes on our part. We didn’t get into Harvard and we didn’t get into UCLA film school, so we have to whine about how great those schools aren’t. Really, though, I think one of the scariest things about the world of Blogs is how it gives lie to the Myth of Betters. It’s got to be intimidating to the Schickels of this world that there are puppies without pedigree who are just as cute.

But the real dilemma here is the value of knowing. What is knowing in post-modern culture? The gist of Schickel’s piece* is that some people are better-suited to be critics because their opinion is formed through education, experience and erudition. Those opinions are then of more value and should carry greater weight. What an insecure position to hold! And how bullying!

Opinion is one person’s evaluation of an experience. It is not fact. The danger of our over-educated, self-satisfied culture is that too many people mistake their opinion for the ultimate in truth. They attempt to validate this by offering their opinions’ curricula vitae as though that makes fact. “I didn’t like this movie. I’ve studied movies for years at the Greatest Movie School Ever and have read 800 books about movies, many of which I will quote to ensure you that I do, indeed, know things about movies. That means this is a bad movie.” Of course, all the people who bought tickets to the last Pirates Of the Caribbean film disagreed with those critics. They thought it was a good movie. So is the movie good or bad? Who knows. It’s a matter of opinion.

To be sure, there are still facts. The sun is hot. Water boils at 212 degrees celsius fahrenheit. But so much of our dialogue is comprised of opinion–both filtered and unfiltered by education–and it’s a shame that some of us don’t realise that we’ve skated for years on offering our wordy opinions for money. Don’t look now, Schickel, but for every one of you being paid to snoot all over the paper there are about twenty-five thousand of us who realise that opinions are exactly like a…holes. Everybody has one and most people don’t get paid to show theirs in public.

*I’m not linking directly to the Schickel piece because why should I? Who wants to participate in the irony of the LA Times getting increased web traffic by insulting the web? Not me, thanks.

update Magniloquence asks the question “Who gets to have an opinion” about a completely different topic. Yet, still, eerily the same.

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Steampunk Star Wars

deathstar.jpg

Les Jones has a great diversion for a cruddy Monday. Steampunk Star Wars! I’m not even into Steampunk, because I prefer the edgier, more dystopian Cyberpunk (You can always tell a Dick fangirl…but you can’t tell her anything happy). But I must say, these dealios are quite cool.

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Grindhouse

So.  Who’s going to see this?  I’m normally a Tarantino-Opening Day person, but I’m not quite sure I’m sold on Grindhouse yet.

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Well, the day has come. Emma Watson has refused to sign for the last two Harry Potter films.

I think Emma Watson and I have something in common.

As much as I love Harry Potter, I think the movies are actually doing the books a great disservice. As each book gets longer and more complicated, the corresponding films have more widely-gaping plot holes and greater contrivances. If you are a fan of the books to the same degree as I, where you have whole sections inadvertantly memorised from repeated readings, the first two films are okay as sort of a series of moving bookplates. It’s like having only random portions of your book illustrated for you. But Cuaron started the trend of artsy-fartsying it up and moving things around to suit his filmic vision. Now the movies have no purpose. They aren’t good bookplates because they don’t match the books and they aren’t good movies because they leave so much necessary narration on the cutting room floor in exchange for long and boring sequences with flying things–hippogriffs over lakes and dragons over Hogwarts.

I’ve read several fan recaps about the upcoming Order of the Phoenix movie. I’m seriously thinking that I may not go see it at all. Tonks barely makes an appearance, and there is nothing to suggest her eventual romance with another character–a romance that is an important plot point in Half-Blood Prince.

I know that Emma Watson is probably just leery of being typecast and tired of the long days. She probably thinks that she’s a much better actress than she actually is and that she has a long career ahead of her, which she most likely doesn’t. (Two words, Emma. Gary. Coleman.) But I can’t blame her for being tired of the increasingly exploitative nature of the movies and their make-a-buck attitude.

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