when the status quo frustrates.

Sucker Punch Review

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

A couple of weeks back, Hubby and I went to go see “Sucker Punch”. The movie has a pretty involved plot line for something that is at its heart an action fest. For the people who haven’t seen the movie, this trailer does a pretty good job of explaining the feel of the movie. I don’t normally do this, but heavy trigger warnings.

The rest of this post after the fold is going to be heavy on spoilers, so it goes after the fold.
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Toy Story 3

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Toy Story, the original, came out when I was 10. I went to the theatre to watch it and was entranced, and I own (and still occasionally watch) it 15 years later. I loved the characters, I loved the secret suspicion and day-dreaming that the toys were alive shared with others and brought to reality on the big screen. As an adult, I love the themes and inside jokes a missed as a young child. My adult, cynical self suspects that this movie concept originally was green-lighted because it was easy to make toy tie-ins, but I really think the creators of this story wanted to create something long-lasting, not just a cheap marketing gimmick. They told a story with the reverence most children do show their toys. Also, this was the first time I had been introduced to Pixar’s “gag real” during the credits, and I laughed about as hard at those as I did during the movie.

Toy Story 2 came out a few years later, and by this time I was fully on my path to a cynical teenager, who had long ago learned that “sequel” normally meant “sucktastic”. Nevertheless, I went, and I took along my two kids sisters with me. I was so thrilled with the sequel- in a lot of ways it was even better than the original because it dealt with complex themes of loyalty, who you are, and the choices you have to make to decide where you want to be. It wasn’t a “sequel”- it was another story in the same universe. If you watched the movie by itself, it was still a good story. If you watched the first movie before it, it was an excellent continuation of who the characters were. It found, I think, the balance between establishing the characters for new viewers without boring the people who had come before.

When I heard that they were going to make a Toy Story 3 movie, I was excited and worried in equal measures. I was excited, because honestly Toy Story 2 did not seem like the end of the story. It left to many things open, too many things unresolved. It felt like part 2 in a trilogy. I was hopeful that this was going to continue the characters I really loved and felt, in a twisted sort of way, that I had grown up on. But I had been burned before. There was Cinderella 2, the straight-to-video nightmare that I try to forget*. There was Return of Jafar**. This summer alone I went and watched “Shrek Forever After”*** which made me even more worried that it was going to be drawn out crap.

I went in worried, was made more irritated by the fact that a matinée was $7.50, and then watched the Pixar short that was the most insulting thing ever (more on that later). But then, the movie started, and soon I was an entranced little 10-year old again. (Some light spoilers, but I’ll try and keep away from the biggest ones).
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A Whole Ton of Movie Reviews Part 3: A Christmas Carol

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Substantive blogging is on the way, but for right now, I’m just enjoying the relative lull in “OMG ur a humorless feminazi” comments.

So, Jim Carrey decided to take on that holiday favorite, Charles Dickens’s “The Christmas Carol”. “The Christmas Carol”, for all of you who do not live in the western world and eschew all forms of media that aren’t the internet and don’t read, is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a money-lender and landlord in London. Scrooge, as we’re introduced, is a cold-hearted, unkind, cheapskate of a man. He treats everyone terribly- from his employee, Bob Cratchet, to his nephew Fred, to people collecting for the poor- he is polite to the point of rudeness, mean, and just generally a bastard of a man.
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A Whole Ton of Movie Reviews: Part 2 The Princess and the Frog (Bonus, Pinocchio)

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

“Holidays” for me means “movies” so here we go:

I went and watch Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” with a friend last week (hey, what can I say? I have a soft spot for Disney). This movie starts out with Tiana and her rich friend Charlotte listening to Tiana’s mother Eudora (Oprah Winfrey) tell the story of the Princess and the Frog while Eudora is finishing one of Charlotte’s many princess dresses. Charlotte is all for the idea of kissing a frog as long as it means she gets to be a real princess, whereas Tiana is completely against the idea. Tiana and Eudora then go home, to Tiana’s father, James (Terrance Howard), where he shares his dream with Tiana to have a high-class restaurant of his own, called Tiana’s Place.

Fast forward about a decade, and you see Tiana (Anika Nori Rose) working multiple jobs, scrimping, and apparently never going out with her friends because, despite all the nay-sayers, she wants her restaurant is prepared to work really hard to get it. She has the added reason of wanting to see it fulfilled because her father died in WWI, and she wants to be able to make her dream come to fruition.

At the same time, Prince Naveen (Bruno Compos) from a fictional country comes with his servant Lawerence (Peter Bartlett). Prince Naveen, we discover, has been cut off financially from his family for basically being a lazy lay-about. Now he has to get married in order to support his habit of doing nothing but a shifty lay-about, and, judging from the look of the girls that are sighing at his feet, shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Especially since Miss Charlotte (Jennifer Cody) is still aching for her prince, and Big Daddy LaBoff (John Goodman), the sugar baron of New Orleans, and Miss Charlotte’s father has arranged for Prince Naveen to come and stay at his guest house.

Prince Naveen’s visit is fortuitous for Tiana as well, because Charlotte in an act that is part generous and mostly curious pays Tiana quite a lot of money to make her famous desserts* which gives her just enough money to buy an abandoned sugar mill for her restaurant. She goes and tells the financiers that she wants it, and they promise to bring the paperwork at Big Daddy’s party for Tiana to sign.

Prince Naveen, on the way to the LaBoff’s, is waylaid by a voodoo priest that everyone calls “The Shadowman” (Keith David). The Shadowman makes a deal with Voodoo spirits and tricks Naveen into coming into his “lair” despite Lawerence’s warning.

At the party, Tiana is heartbroken to discover that the financiers did not bring the paperwork because someone has apparently out-bid her. She has until Wednesday to come up with the remaining money, or her dream of starting a restaurant will not come to fruition. At the same party, Miss Charlotte is going crazy because Prince Naveen has not yet showed up. Yet, she calms down enough to help Tiana into one of her millions of princess gowns after the dog, Stella, ruins Tiana’s costume.

Just after Tiana gets into her dress, Charlotte hears Prince Naveen enter and is away in a fog of squeals to waltz the night away with her beloved. Tiana is left in Charlotte’s room, and finally gives wishing on a star a try, seemingly having run out of options. A frog jumps up on the balcony and she asks it if it wants a kiss, and then completely freaks out when it answers “A kiss would be nice”. After she calms down a bit, Naveen introduces himself, and convinces her to kiss him because “His parents are very wealthy”. After much waffling, Tiana decides to pucker up and kiss him, only to become a frog herself.

The two are chased out into the bayou, and after finding a hiding place from some very hungry alligators, discover that neither is whom the other thought they were. Naveen admits that he’s broke, and Tiana says she’s not a princess- she’s a waitress. They decide to find away to get back to New Orleans, and while Tiana is rowing, Naveen decides to play a little banjo. His banjo-playing attracts the attention of Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), a jazz-trumpet playing alligator. He wants to play in a jazz band, but his one attempt ended poorly. He tells them about Mama Odie, a good voodoo priestess who could probably help them out. He decides to take them to Mama Odie, also deciding to try and see if she would turn him into a human too.

Louis gets them hopelessly lost, so a Cajun firefly by the name of Ray (Jim Cummings) gives them a hand.

The rest gives away massive spoilers, so I’ll just let you watch it from there.
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A Whole Ton of Movie Reviews: Part 1 Sherlock Holmes

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

‘Tis the Season for me to…watch a bunch of movies at the theatre. It’s perfect- I get to hang out with the in-laws because they have all of this free time, but we don’t actually have to talk to each other (which tends to lead to unpleasantness). It’s bonding without all the messy “getting to know one another parts”.

For Christmas day, Hubby, FiL, and Baby Brother all went and watched Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is a movie that is loosely based on the series of novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They got some of the major characteristics right- Sherlock Holmes is an eccentric genius that can derive a lot of information based on tiny details (and an annoying coke-head between cases), Watson is a doctor and ex-military. Man of the lines from the movie were directly lifted from the books (I particularly like the “never have theories before facts, or one will undoubtedly twist the facts to support the theory), though not in the same context. But, Robert Downey’s portrayal seemed more martial than I remember Sherlock Holmes being, and Watson I always sort of pictured as a military man gone slightly to seed (not the sexy Jude Law character*).

The movie starts out with a chase scene, and Sherlock Holmes capturing an occultist called Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). Holmes and Watson go off and we learn that this is to be the last case that Holmes and Watson do together because Watson intends to be married to a nice girl named Mary (Kelly Reilly). Though Holmes never says it, directly, he does not seem to want Watson to move out and get married. The first time he meets Mary (Kelly Reilly) (under duress) he insults her by implying that she was a gold digger.

During this time, Lord Blackwood has managed to scare everyone in the prison- prisoners and guards; mainly due to his guard seemingly being struck by possession. Lord Blackwood’s last request is to see Sherlock Holmes, whom he tells that he will rise from the grave, and kill three more people, whom Holmes will be powerless to stop. Lord Blackwood is seemingly, and Watson is the attending physician to say he is dead.

Holmes, now thoroughly bored without a case to pursue, is busy doing coke and odd experiments with flies, gets a visit from one Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), who offers him a ton of money to find a missing person, a ginger midget. Watson comes by, and giving the audience a bit of back-story, tells us that Irene Adler is the only person who has managed to trick Holmes. Twice. Holmes decides to take the case.

Three days after the burial of Lord Blackwood, we find his coffin has been destroyed, and a witness said that Lord Blackwood had walked again. Inside the coffin is a ginger midget, the same that Holmes had been paid to find. Now Holmes’s new case is to find Lord Blackwood, and find out what his plan is (and stop him if necessary).**

It was a fun movie, and really, that’s the highest praise I can give it. The writing was fun, the directing was okay (it avoid “shaky cam” but not as much as I would like), the costumes and sets were amazing. If you like martial scenes (like Hubby and Co. did) you’ll really enjoy the martial scenes***. I was thrilled to see that McAdams not only had way more of an important role than the previews gave her credit for, she was also in way more clothes than the previews gave her credit for. Additionally, I was thrilled that McAdams did not attempt and English accent (Downing’s wasn’t actually too bad. Believable, at least to my ears.) This movie fails the Benhdel Test (and hard) and McAdams was the only one who really did anything in the movie, and even she was kind of flat, character-wise. But, as this movie was supposed to be an action flick set in Victoria England, I can’t really blame them too terrible much (individually, at least. It’s a different story on why do we get a million of these action flicks but only a handful that pass the Benhdel test?)

Prognosis- Nice popcorn flick, but get someone else to pay for the ticket (like we did) or rent it.

*Not that I’m complaining. I like sexy men in my movies too.
** I won’t give away any more. Seriously, this is just a fun ride to enjoy.
*** My tastes in martial scenes are more “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” than Bruce Lee- more art, less martial. Not a big fan of the sound of crunch bones or the sight of bright red blood.

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

I went and saw Watchmen yesterday. It was a pretty good film, if you like iron age comics (which I’m not a huge fan of). I haven’t read the comic books, but the gentleman I went with has and he claimed it was a mostly faithful representation of the comic book.

Technically, the film was very strong. There were scenes that were very comic-book-esque, without actually being comic shots like in 300 or Sin City, and to boot, they were some awesome shots. The casting was about perfect for the characters, although I think the characters weren’t terribly well-rounded (though that might be intentional). My only real quibble was the music; pick any over-done cliche war song from the 60′s that they like to stick in Vietnam movies and it was there. That, in and of itself wasn’t so terrible bad (again, it might have been intentional) but the fact that they engineered it so it was the loudest fucking thing ever was really annoying to me (particularily since I think that the movie theatres have the sound too loud in the first place).

Spoilers below the fold (and trigger warning for a rape scene)
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Peace

Thursday, September 11th, 2008
Peace, attended by her handmaidens Bounty and Jamboree (basking in the praise of rustic types with red noses)

It was my first day in England, where I had flown with my brother to join the cast of a play. We were wide-eyed and jetlagged, and all of a sudden these guys in a pub are grabbing my arm and asking if I was American, and that somebody had flown a plane into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Within minutes we and our baggage had been led into the Soho YMCA and we watched the unfolding disaster from the comfort of orange waterproof furniture alongside a bunch of increasingly teary-eyed muscular men with immaculate eyebrows.

The play my brother and I were there to perform in was a joyful anti-war comedy by Aristophanes called “Peace”. It’s the tale of an Athenian farmer caught in the middle of the Peloponnesian War, who just wants to be able to grow his food, drink his wine, and screw women in peace. He travels on the back of a giant shit-eating dung beetle to Heaven to complain to the Olympian Gods, only to find that they have vacated and left that brute War running amok, and the poor damsel in distress Peace trapped under a rock. So the farmer hero calls upon his all-singing all-dancing farmer buddies (including yours truly) to band together and let Peace out from under the rock. She brings out her hot to trot handmaidens, Bounty and Jamboree, and it ends with the farmers having a big party where everyone dances and sings and gets all the wine and sex they want.

Now that’s a story I can get behind.

Our joint American-UK effort ended up performing at literally the same time as another joint American-UK effort was aerially bombarding Afghanistan. “Ah, the delicious irony”, thought the innocent children who were caught in the crossfire, as their bones were crushed or their entire bodies engulfed in flame.

“Peace” was, by far, Aristophanes’ most optimistic anti-war play. He wrote it at a time when things were looking up for a peaceful resolution to the Peloponnesian War. Athen’s most prominent hawk, Cleon (who hated Aristophanes) and Sparta’s most prominent hawk, Brasidas, both managed to get themselves killed in the same battle. So Aristophanes was in a good mood. And indeed, there did end up being peace for a few years before the carnage resumed again.

And now it’s been a few years since our carnage resumed again. In the aftermath of 9-11 we Americans got to feel inside what it’s like to be bombed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to have created much empathy for all the other people who we then went out and bombed for it.

But to look at it in another light: it certainly was one hell of an opportunity. I’m sure Aristophanes would agree with Jon Schwarz on this one: Leaders love war. That’s why there’s so much of it.

Sometimes the most obvious statements are the deepest.

So is our best hope for peace to put all of our bloodthirstiest warmongers in a single battle and hope they happen to knock each other out simultaneously? Or is it to get a band of farmers together to pull a goddess out from under a rock?

Alas, they both seem just as unlikely. Here’s to all the current victims of war, and my fervent wish that they manage to find some nice peaceful food, wine, and sex as soon as possible.

Dina Gottliebova

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

dina babbit

This is amazing. As a young woman, Dina Gottliebova Babbit survived the Holocaust, and saved her mother’s life, by painting portraits at the behest of Dr. Josef Mengele. Apparently, Mengele, who was seeking to describe Romany genetic inferiority by documenting their skin colour, was unsatisfied with the quality of the photography at the time, and felt that paintings would be more accurate. He also commissioned her to create paintings depicting his horrific experiments on his victims.

Dina was liberated from Auschwitz and went on to become an assistant animator for MGM and Warner Brothers. Some of her paintings also survived, and are in the possession of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland. The museum won’t relinquish them—reminiscent of all sorts of ill-gotten historical artifacts that end up in museums even though their rightful owners have legitimate claims on them.

Neal Adams, Joe Kubert and Stan Lee have come together to make a 6-page comic that tells Dina’s story. You can read it in PDF form here, and you really should. She’s a truly remarkable woman.

Hat tip: my step-dad, who shares my love of comics.

Superheroes

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Mexican superheroes
JOSÉ ROSENDO DE JESÚS from the State of Guerrero works as a union organizer in New York.
He Sends 700 a month.

Check out this amazing photo-essay by Dulce Pinzón:

After September 11, the notion of the “hero” began to rear its head in the public consciousness more and more frequently. The notion served a necessity in a time of national and global crisis to acknowledge those who showed extraordinary courage or determination in the face of danger, sometimes even sacrificing their lives in an attempt to save others. However, in the whirlwind of journalism surrounding these deservedly front-page disasters and emergencies, it is easy to take for granted the heroes who sacrifice immeasurable life and labor in their day to day lives for the good of others, but do so in a somewhat less spectacular setting.

The Mexican immigrant worker in New York is a perfect example of the hero who has gone unnoticed. It is common for a Mexican worker in New York to work extraordinary hours in extreme conditions for very low wages which are saved at great cost and sacrifice and sent to families and communities in Mexico who rely on them to survive.

Hat tip: zenlari

…and now, some GOOD news

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

From the best of all possible worlds.

Funny how getting good news — even when it’s completely fabricated — can make you feel so… well… good.

The Rolling Exhibition

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

A guy with no legs travels the world and photographs people staring at him.

Really, go look.

…And I’ll build my own blog! With hookers! And black Jack!

Friday, October 27th, 2006

In the long tradition of the various unnameable nobodies who left major bands right before they were famous, I am leaving Punkass.

Do not ask why, let me instead blame it on harrassment by Ann Blartow, as everyone else seems to be atm and I feel I’m at that time in my life when I feel insecure enough in my self to mindlessly follow the pack and fit in with everyone else for once.

Okay, now for some final words:

First off, I call down a curse on feminists, the curse shall be “cuntensquirten”, I urge them to use it wisely.

Second off, I challenge the photoshoppers of Left Blogistan to incorporate the phrase (or some variation of it)…

Do it bold, do it with… Diebold Ultrathins

For when you don’t care about the results

…into something.

And last but not least, I urge everyone to keep their fellatio fingers flying. (more…)