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Oh yeah, did I mention that I'm housesitting. Dude! I have access to a car! And a huge tv with surround sound! Also, dog. This means that I get to bring [ profile] kehrli out to North Seattle and we watch ridiculous Nick Cage movies while playing with the dog. (First, Face/Off, last night, Con Air. Up next, The Rock)
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So I've had the theory that one of the vital motifs of the Western (and related samurai movie) mythos is the division of townspeople and gunfighters, of innocent and jaded, of being inside civilization and the law, or outside. You can't really be both at once. The townspeople need the gunfighters to do the things they can't do (kill people) without losing their innocence and protected status. Right now, I'm rewatching The Magnificent Seven. The brutality at the end, of the villagers rising up and basically massacring the bandits, is making me question my theory. These guys are doing plenty of killing themselves. (and they're going in with shovels and chairs and their bare hands. They don't have the distancing luxury of guns.) You know those videos of army ant swarms tearing apart spiders way bigger than themselves? This reminded me of that.

Many Westerns, of course, tend to gloss over the effects that killing people has on the killer. One of the reasons The Magnificent Seven is so great is that it instead highlights this and questions the glamour.

So are we supposed to assume that the villagers aren't going to be afflicted with some serious PTSD? That that girl who goes and buries an ax in some bandit's back isn't going to have nightmares about it for the rest of her life? At the end, the movie redraws the line between inside and outside. "The farmers are like the earth, and you (the gunfighters) are like the wind driving away the locusts, coming, and then going." The gunfighter who stays with the villagers, the first thing he does is take off his gun. You can't live on both sides of the line.

But is this actually an example of the two sides I spoke of merging? Now the villagers have lost just enough innocence to be able to defend themselves, but still have the benefits of community and order. Or is the point I should take home that the dividing line isn't being able to kill, but being able to live in a community?
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Just got back from seeing House of Bamboo at the Northwest Film Forum with [ profile] mimerki. It's a slightly surreal movie in that it takes place in post WWII Japan, was actually filmed in post-WWII Japan, and involves actual post-WWII Japanese culture. It's like a film noir plot and characters suddenly stumbled into a moving National Geographic article. It was a soothing balm after all the racist WWII-era stuff I've been watching.
Even if the hero is the square-jawed variety who doesn't bother learning Japanese, but just shouts English more loudly at people, he has some charmingly vulnerable moments when his Western cultural mores clash with those of the Japanese love interest. (She's trying to get him to come out of the bathtub to breakfast, completely not giving a crap about his nakedness. He's freaked out and chooses to look like an idiot who likes eating his breakfast in the tub rather than get up and be naked.)

Plus! Bonus Gangster Doctor McCoy!
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I'm going to take a moment to wax pleasantly about The Ghost and Mrs Muir, which I found for cheap last night. This is one of those movies my mom and I bonded over when I was a kid. It's a film version of an old gothic romance, and hits all the right notes for me. It's got a strong woman (Mrs. Muir) and a dark and broody man (The Ghost). You can get all the creepy stalker fantasies of Twilight (He watches her do pretty much everything, since in fairness, it's not like he has anything else to do) without the wimpy women or implied violence. I suppose, in theory, The Ghost could inflict some emotional damage, but being non-corporeal, there's not much else he can do. And his rages just slide off Lucy like water on oilcloth. One of my favorite bits is when he's yelling at her for chopping down his monkey-puzzle tree. I love him for having a monkey tree, but I also love her for making the house hers. After all, he's dead, and if he doesn't like what she's doing to the house that is now hers, he can just move on. (This movie is also a good banner-carrier for the need to have a proper will. You never know when you're going to kick the gas-valve while you're sleeping.)

It's a romance, but at the same time, it's not. Their relationship is based entirely on friendship and learning to respect each other. He's too crotchety for any proper romantic scenes, and in any case, the movie actively subverts that sort of romanticism, basically saying that blunt honesty and mutual respect is better than fluffy condescension and kisses in a flower garden.
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In other news, last night was movie night at Keffy's.
First off: Mad Max. Keffy was frankly surprised at the fact that with all the leather-clad men, the movie wasn't a gay cult classic. I pointed out that it was made in a time when most people didn't realize that a bald, mustachioed man wearing nothing but leather pants and a scarf while chomping on a huge cigar and watering flowers was in fact, one of the gayest things out there. Plus, it mostly negative towards gays, despite the awesome, flower-watering police chief and his leather-clad teammates. From a social commentary perspective, it's an incredibly fascinating watch. (And there's, you know, awesome car chases and lots and lots of style and leather.)
A lot of commentary I've seen focuses on the misogyny, and well...I've seen worse. There are three women of consequence in the movie, one is purely a victim, and I don't think gets any lines other than whimpering. One is Max's wife, who, while victimized, doesn't do much of the stupid crap that most screenwriters like to make their female characters do in order to get them stuffed into a refrigerator and was able to stand up for herself without her man nearby. The third is a kickass little old lady who's a fair amount more competent than the men around her. Considering how damned manly this film is, I'm surprised it actually passes the Bechtel test!

Okay, after Mad Max, we felt bold and put on the Super Mario Super Show. One episode was far more than I could stomach. Truly, it is glorious in its awfulness. It's like the producers knew they had a built-in fan base, so they simply kept production costs as cheap as possible (The copious amounts of cheaply animated creamy white tears and saliva are disturbing beyond words.) and then threw in as many things as they thought kids would like. (How about rap? Kids are all over rap these days!")
Here it is, courtesy Youtube. If nothing else, watch the opening. You haven't lived until you've seen two badly green-screened Brooklyn-Italian stereotypes rapping to old 8-bit video game tunes.


Oct. 1st, 2011 07:55 am
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I really liked the Captain America movie, and it made me actually want to see Thor, so I could get the whole set and appreciate the experiment that Marvel is doing with their movies.

I can't say Thor did it for me like Captain America did. I can't take guys in mysteriously stiff square capes who talk with really awful English accents seriously. At the end, I saw J Michael Straczynski helped write it, and then it made so much sense, since the stuff I couldn't stand in this movie was the same sort of thing I couldn't stand in Babylon 5. I wish there'd been more of Thor on earth, and less of the Asgard stuff. (especially the battle scenes. bo-ring!) If the whole movie was just Thor getting tasered, tranquilized and hit by trucks, I'd be a happy camper.
I'm sure part of my preference for Captain America comes down to the simple fact that Thor is a jock, and Steve Rogers gets beat up by jocks. (Not that Thor necessarily used to beat up the ninety-pound Asgardians, but we don't actually see that he doesn't, do we?) So while it's nice to see the jock realize he's an idiot and change his ways, it's even nicer to see the physically weak guy valued for his inner strength. Captain America's muscles are incidental to his character; they're just a way for him to reach his fullest potential.

There's also the imbalance Thor's movie had, in that the interesting storyline (the intrigue with Loki) took place with Thor mostly offscreen. Thor himself was a catalyst in that drama, but except for the very beginning, not an actor. I thought there were two interesting things going on in the movie: Loki drama in Asgard, and Thor putzing around on Earth eating pancakes. But the twain did not meet, and honestly, I would have preferred more pancakes, more of Thor appreciating his humanity and his inner ninety-pound weakling. (And getting tasered, but I'm a sadist that way.)

But hey, loads of people love this movie, and I like that. Like Captain America, it's got it's own distinct style, and Marvel is doing a good job appealing to a variety of tastes. If one movie doesn't ping my own tastes, that's fine. I think they're doing a great job setting up an interconnected world. In Captain America, the MacGuffin is this glowing blue box. When I saw that I was all, "Glowing blue box? Oooh-kay. Fine, whatever, just keep showing crazy Hugh Jackman drooling over it." Then I saw Thor, where Asgard is full of glowing blue boxes, and I'm all, "Oh, duh. They did get the damned thing from Norway and called it the Cube of Odin or something like that."

Captain America actually made me excited about the Avengers movie, but Thor has lessened that excitement. How are they going to reconcile the styles of all these characters? Iron Man has his glossy glamour, Thor has his plastic Lord of the Rings look, and Captain America's all gritty and muddy. And then they've got the men in black of SHIELD holding them all together. Either there will be awesome fun playing with the juxtapositions, or it will be a hideous crazy-quilt.
nonionay: (sepulchrave)
Today I went north to spend an afternoon with friends in honor of a certain friend's birthday, which he would have forgotten if not for me and his girlfriend. So I bought him some chocolate almonds that I know he loves, and he was most happy.
We saw Attack The Block, which is a moderate-budget British film that is totally awesome. Aliens invade a crappy part of London, and a local gang of teenaged thugs has to save the day. It's about ordinary, flawed people having to take responsibility for their actions and be badass to save their home. I must say, it's more impressive watching some kid who you know is genuinely scared shitless overcome their fear (without any sort of whining) and whack an alien over the head with a baseball bat than some shiny action hero who you know will survive a fifty foot fall without a scratch.

The aliens are both ridiculous and creepy at the same time, but they're kept simple, and I like their explanation for why the aliens are there, and why the invasion was so localized.

It's more horror than science fiction, and does a good job with it. Unlike Shark Night, which they showed a preview for, and which is so damned cliched, I thought it was a joke at first. (The black guy dies first. Seriously! Moviemakers actually still do that! You'd think they'd at least shake things up a bit and have him die second. In Attack The Block, if a black guy had died first, it actually wouldn't have bugged me, because most of the cast was black! But even that they subverted.)

But before the movie, we hung out at a playground, and I totally bashed the heck out of my legs. Going down a slide, I misjudged my speed and distance, and started to raise my legs and stand up sooner than I should. As a result, I whacked the back of my legs, right below the calf muscles, and now have twin horizontal welts. I'm sure you'll all get to see them at Worldcon, when the bruises finally show up. Which reminds me, I have to go stick some packages of frozen burritos on those things.
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Well, I saw it last night, and it was pretty much exactly what I expected, which was a lot of fun explosions, special effects and chiseled muscles. (How is Daniel Craig's chest not made of plastic?)
The acting and dialogue was a little worse than I'd expected, but I was amused by being able to predict exactly what was going to happen to a character by the way the camera angled on them. This is not a groundbreaking movie. Every single element of it is a reliable old trope, but strung together in a way that's fun if you're willing to turn off your brain. I'm pretty sure it would be an excellent tool for teaching basic storytelling. The opening scene in particular is classically handled, the camera carefully pointing out everything we need to know, and doing it in silence, which is a good thing, because Daniel Craig cannot do an American accent worth shit.

Also, there's a dog. Dog doesn't do anything except hang around people, and I imagine he's there because some exec said, "Hey, throw a dog in there. People love dogs!" And indeed, he is a lovable dog, hooking up with whoever killed his last master.

Now, me being the sort of person I am, I'm most interested in the aftermath of the events in this movie. Slightly spoilery stuff behind the cut:
Read more... )


May. 29th, 2011 09:34 am
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I had a nice, busy day yesterday. After discovering ants in my kitchen, I headed out to get some traps. This happened in a very roundabout fashion, as I got waylaid by an estate sale and had to lug home a 20$ set of drawers. It's going to be perfect for keeping my craft supplies in, and was great exercise. I can totally feel it in my arms and back this morning. :-)
In the afternoon, I went to Folklife, which was having a Bulgarian singing workshop I desperately wanted to attend. I keep meaning to join a choir, since I totally miss singing. There was well over a hundred people there, and I learned some fascinating stuff. I've been trained to mostly use my head voice, while Bulgarian music focuses on the chest. It's really, really hard to do that if you've been trained like me. Our instructor was Tsvetanka Varimezova, who's renowned back in Bulgaria. Afer hearing her sing, I realized she's on some of the CDs I own. She's the lead singer in this, which is a beautiful example of why I love this music so much:

This one is just her, but though the sound quality isn't the best, it's a great example of her capabilities.

She was excellent at getting her point across in few words. Those trills aren't that hard to do!
Anyway, this was the song we learned:

Afterwards, I wandered the rest of the festival for a bit. I wish I had some money to spend, but I gave myself a budget of 5$, and stuck to it. There was lots and lots of wonderful music everywhere, from a little girl playing the trombone by herself in a corner, to a barbershop quartet on stage, to some bagpipers and drummers playing Happy Birthday for a friend. Eventually, the crowds overwhelmed me, and I went home.
I worked on my webpage at home, and ended the evening with The Godfather. I've never seen it, because I either never remember to get it at the video store, or I'm not in the mood. I thought it was good, though not Blow Me Away Good. (Though Al Pacino was amazing, considering that was his first major role.) I think that about most of what are widely considered to be the best movies ever, like Citizen Kane and Casablanca. They just don't hit my particular buttons.
I'm not sure what I'll do today. Probably more research for WWII, since I'm in the mood for that. Maybe check out Folklife some more.
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I haven't posted in a while, partly because I didn't have internet for a while, and partly because I've been so busy, I've just had too much to talk about.

I've been settling into life in Seattle. My stuff is still a little haphazardly organized, and while my furniture arrangements are perfect for one person, they're not so good if I want to have anyone else over. I did once, though. [ profile] kehrli came over one Friday night, and I lounged on my bed while he sat at my desk, and we both wrote and hung out like the old days back in the State Street loft.

This obnoxiously cold spring we've been having hasn't been too conducive to walking, but I've done a fair amount of exploring--basically picking a bus at random and riding it somewhere, then walking in the general direction of something interesting. I've got a bajillion photos of spring buds from the arboretum I could show you. Maybe I'll upload them later and attempt to describe my own flailing attempt to understand my fascination with texture and macro shots. (And the frustration of achieving the perfect macro shot with a point and shoot camera!)

Living next to the Seattle Center has been awesome. The more I go there, the more I love it, particularly the fountain, which always has children running through it. They've been having cultural fairs almost every weekend. Yesterday was West Africa. I adore many types of African music, so of course I was there, listening to Naby Camara. This older white lady who looked like she should be teaching junior high got up to dance, and encouraged others to join her. Soon, the floor was full of an interesting mix of white tourists, hippies, and actual black people. Two of the black women were dancing while bent double. There were quite a few people in front of me, and I couldn't see clearly. Part of me was thinking, "er, are they doing some variety of traditional dance?" But then the view cleared, and I saw they were both holding the hand of a teeny, tiny little girl, just barely old enough to stand on her own. :-)

After I bought a cd, I made my way (MONORAIL!) to the U District, where I bought a new outfit from a thrift shop that didn't seem to realize that sorting by size is a nice thing. Then dinner with Keffy, and then home to spend the evening with Harry Potter and his latest movie. I avoided the Deathly Hallows pt1 in the theater because I dreaded the interminable wandering through the woods wailing with angst sequence I hated so much in the books. However, even though that was in there, the pain was worth it just for the scene of everyone bouncing around half naked looking like Harry. ("Don't look at me, Bill!")


Jul. 17th, 2010 08:10 am
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Went and saw Inception yesterday, because I'll see anything Christopher Nolan does. It was exactly what I hoped it would be. Complex, psychological... and OMG the Second Level fight scenes are like nothing I've ever seen.
The ending was perfect. Perfectly perfect.

My only criticisms are that Nolan's characters all talk in the Same. Profound. Voice. But everything going on is pretty profound, so whatever. (Nolan uses themes and tricks that in lesser hands, would be utterly stupid. See: the ending of this movie.) Also, I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but I don't think he pulls off slick and stony as well as other things. Still, I'm glad to see his career take off.
nonionay: (wwjd)
Just watched Inglourious Basterds, which I liked a lot, but holy smokes was that movie padded out. I read the Tarantino slaved and agonized over this script for years, and that it just grew and grew. Yeah, it shows. I know he's capable of good pacing. I mean, it's been a while since I've seen Reservoir Dogs, but I don't ever remember thinking, "yes, there's a guy bleeding on the floor. Moving on now!" But this movie had an awful lot of "yes, there's Nazis and they know what the good guys* are up to. Moving on now!"

*Using the term, "good guy" very loosely.

Anyway, I watched it at this particular moment to get general inspiration to work on the Mistworld stories (my own alternate WWII world). I've got a long printout of WWII dates to go over and determine how my timeline differs. Somewhere in my room is a book about female war correspondents back then. I even set it out so I could read it. It's an omen, but does it say to put off this novel, or to get off my ass and clean my room?


Feb. 16th, 2010 07:22 pm
nonionay: (wwjd)
Tonight there was Zombieland and macaroni and cheese, and lo, it was good.

And at the video store, when I was picking out movies, I saw a wide grey case with the classy phrase, "Criterion Collection" on it's spine, and beneath those words was, "The Rock." I picked it up. The The Rock? Yep. I stared at it for a long time. I looked at my hands to see if they'd turn purple and I'd snap into a lucid dream.

I like The Rock. It was the first ever Rated-R movie I saw in a theatre. But...Criterion Collection?
nonionay: (Default)
Having heard that [ profile] awriter has never seen The Goonies, I remedied this tonight. have to have grown up with it.


One thing I'd never seen, which was included with the special features, was the Cyndi Lauper music video, which I will here embed for your pleasure. Probably you'll need to be on as many drugs as Cyndi and company were when they made it. It's Loooonnnggg... originally a two-parter, I think. However, at least try to watch the end, which has the weirdest and best deus ex machina ever. EVER.
About 10:30 minutes in.

I want Summon Andre the Giant as my superpower!

nonionay: (Default)
Watched The Men Who Stare At Goats. It was funny, if occasionally filled with "oh, hippies, you hurt my brain," moments, some of which were unintentional. (Mainly at the end.)
Here's a nice review discussing the realities the movie was based on, which wasn't all psychics and woo woo stuff.
I was pleasantly surprised at the level of self-awareness. (They call themselves Jedi, in a movie starring Ewan MacGregor. Anyone who's read Sith Academy will have a "Mr Fluffy, noooooo!!" moment, not that the writers intended that.)

In other news, I'm indulging myself by writing about characters from my older books, which I probably won't get around to rewriting for years. I actually had a coherent plot in mind, but then this other character showed up, the plot went out the window and the characters went out for drinks. But if I ever do get the novels published, this will totally be an "aw, look at when they first met!" story that people will eat up.
nonionay: (sepulchrave)
okay, okay, okay.
Keffy's going to write a magnificent post of joyous doom, ( he took notes. lots of notes) but I'm going to get mine up first, so it'll be quick.
First, you might want to wait until 2012 hits the small screen so you can MST the crap out of it. I almost hyperventilated not trying to laugh out loud. Second, there's a seizure-inducing lighting setup at the climax. WTF HOLLYWOOD?
If you're a science fiction writer, you need to see 2012, because it is the greatest lesson on WHAT NOT TO DO. EVER. in science fiction.
This is high quality bad science. The highest I've ever seen. How high? As high as a boat getting smashed into the top of Mount Everest!
The blah blah emotional family plot is fine and standard and hits all the cliche notes except one which I was actually disappointed by, especially since that particular heroic sacrifice had a perfectly clear spot later in the movie.

It was good with the having lots of not white people, bad, bad bad with the not having a lack of sexism. Why the hell did they even have women in this movie? They only did any good when they were using their Magical Mother Rays to communicate. Oh yeah, the German Chancellor. She was worthwhile.

I'm sure someone somewhere will have fun breaking down the exact nature of the bad science somewhere. It would fill a couple volumes, though. I'll just hit my personal favorites behind the spoiler cut.

Read more... )
nonionay: (Default)
Just got back from 9. Definitely see it--it's a beautiful movie that doesn't pull any punches.
Just don't think about it too much. There's a whole lotta metaphysics that are hinted at and ignored. Nature of the soul in relation to the body, anyone? On the one hand, I understand, because there's no time to explain stuff and anyone who could explain is dead. On the other hand, I strongly suspect they just grabbed some genuine alchemical imagery, polished it with visual cues contextlessly yanked from Dali's Secrets of Master Craftsmanship, and threw it onscreen knowing 99% of people wouldn't care.
I'll rant behind a spoiler cut, which will totally give away the ending.
Read more... )


Aug. 26th, 2009 09:25 pm
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I just watched Izo. It's about the ghost of a killer hacking and slashing his way through the afterlife. Super surreal, super symbolic, but not in an obvious, Hero's Journey way.
In the special features, the creator (I missed if it was the writer or the director.) said that he was trying to show "the spirit of the Japanese man." I could definitely see that, though to look at some of the reviews out there, I'm one of the few who can. The movie's like a visual poem, especially at the beginning, where it's interspersed with flashes of stock footage which adds to the emotional content, sometimes in clashing ways. A one-eyed cat, a flower, a naked woman.
Time overlaps, and we get samurai fighting on a bridge while trucks swerve around them. Vacation home salesmen turn into demons. Flashbacks to his life. He's got a tyrannical boss. Throughout the film, Izo is called the very spirit of irrationality, and you really have to keep that in mind if you want to experience this film. It's not a rational, linear plot. It's a peeling back of the facade of the modern world to expose the neurotic blood and guts beneath. (lots and lots of blood!) As with poetry, you have to let each image spark an emotion, and just marvel at the tapestry of sparks that's created.
Crazy, awesome movie. Definitely not for everyone.
nonionay: (sepulchrave)
Give squish mittens DUE attention

In other news, I watched Beyond the Valley of the Dolls last night, which is like an unholy mashing of Scooby Doo, Josie and the Pussycats, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They totally played the Evil Tranny card.
nonionay: (Default)
Yeah, Keffy sums it up well
I thought it was okay, but disappointingly so. I'm not sure how they managed to make it so boring, but they did. But hey, hot people were hot, and Christian Bale's character was totally badass for like five seconds.


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