Posts tagged with "movie" - Faerye Net 2013-04-15T05:45:55+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Maybe I've heard this argument way too often... 2013-04-15T05:45:55+00:00 2013-04-15T05:46:11+00:00 <p>But this exchange from Martin McDonagh&#8217;s <a href="" target="links"><em>Seven Psychopaths</em></a> cracked me up:</p> <blockquote>Hans (Christopher Walken): Martin, I&#8217;ve been reading your movie.<br /> <br /> Marty (Colin Farrell): Oh. What do you think?<br /> <br /> Hans: Your women characters are awful! None of them have anything to say for themselves, most of them get either shot or stabbed to death within five minutes, and the ones who don&#8217;t probably will later on!<br /> <br /> Marty: [Clearly at a loss] Well&#8230;it&#8217;s a hard world for women, you know. I guess that&#8217;s what I&#8217;m trying to say!<br /> <br /> Hans: Yeah, it&#8217;s a hard world for women, but most of the ones I know can string a sentence together!</blockquote> <p>Next time I hear the argument that horrible treatment of women in fiction is motivated solely by a high-minded pursuit of gritty realism, I&#8217;m going to see Colin Farrell&#8217;s clueless little pout-shrug. &#8220;Well&#8230;it&#8217;s a hard world for women, you know!&#8221;</p> Creepy Kid Calibration 2011-05-30T15:58:13+00:00 2011-05-30T15:58:21+00:00 <p>Creepy kids in movies are a thing. I&#8217;d go look it up on TVtropes, except that I would lose hours of time reading TVtropes. So let&#8217;s just take it as read, as denizens of popular culture, that there are a lot of creepy kids in movies (and TV, and books.) They&#8217;re a horror clich&eacute; at this point, especially the female version &#8212; and why are they so often female? There&#8217;s another blog post there, don&#8217;t spoil it for me by being brilliant.</p> <p>Anyhow, the creepy Feral Child in <em>Road Warrior</em> made me think of other movie children I have known, and try to set his creepiness amongst them. I must confess, I initially made this scale run up to a maximum of St. Alia of the Knife, but Ryan disabused me of this notion, arguing persuasively that the scale was recalibrated in 2002 if not earlier. So, feast your eyes on this <span class="caps">SCIENCE</span>!</p> <p><img src="" title="scale of creepy kids" /></p> How did we get here? 2011-03-22T12:42:20+00:00 2011-03-22T12:50:52+00:00 <p>Yesterday <a href="" target="links">Ryan</a> and I continued our Peter Weir kick (which has <a href="" target="links">already taught me</a> that Australia itself, not just its fauna, wants to eat you) by rewatching <a href="" target="links"><em>The Truman Show</em></a>. In case you don&#8217;t remember, Truman&#8217;s annoying TV-wife does forced, saccharine product-placement bits and nags him to have a kid to complete their suburban-perfection lifestyle. Her character-within-a-character is incredibly conservative, intrinsically conservative in the textbook sense: she functions to keep Truman the same; she is the caretaker of their retro, confined fantasy of a white middle-class heterosexual utopia.</p> <p>And, trying to smooth over Truman&#8217;s accidental glimpse into a backstage area through an elevator door, she tells him about an &#8220;elevator disaster downtown&#8221; caused by &#8220;those non-union workers. Monstrous!&#8221;</p> <p>I have to admit, this threw me for a moment. The climate has turned against unions so fast that this line, from a 1998 movie, seems nonsensical. Sure, thanks to a tip from <a href="" target="links">Camille Alexa</a> I know that <a href="" target="links">Ronald Reagan said unions were a basic right</a>. But in spite of his conservative canonization, Reagan was a while ago. In just 13 years, we&#8217;ve gone from an artificial shill of corporations and conservatism casually lambasting non-union labor to the <span class="caps">GOP</span> trying to break the back of unions across the country.</p> <p>I like to understand why things are happening. We all do: that&#8217;s why conspiracy theories are so popular, because lack of explanation is primally terrifying. But more, as a history nerd and someone who thinks in stories, I want to know how we got here from there. I&#8217;m going to have to read up on it, because it boggles the mind. It seems like a nationwide revolution has been accomplished by sleight-of-hand within my lifetime. How can the wind change so entirely in such a short time? Why is the history of labor in America so often hidden history, when this is a country built by greed and baptized in the sweat of workers?</p> Top ten ways I could be a better action heroine 2011-02-15T21:40:16+00:00 2011-02-15T21:43:57+00:00 <p>Some people achieve action heroism, others have it thrust upon them unexpectedly after they finish their waitressing shift at Big Jeff&#8217;s burger joint. I&#8217;m not a good prospect for the former: although P.E. activities with a hint of adventure or violence (obstacle course! archery!) got a better performance from me than team sports, I was never a prospect for rippling athleticism. But there&#8217;s always the latter. You can&#8217;t predict being the accidental survivor of a zombiepocalypse, or indeed the fated mother of mankind&#8217;s savior. I&#8217;d rather be prepared, especially if there&#8217;s any chance of 1980&#8217;s-era Michael Biehn shirtlessness involved.</p> <p><strong>How I could be a better action heroine</strong><br /> <em>Note: list draws from sources in a gender-neutral manner.</em></p> <p><strong>10. Learn Morse Code.</strong> I&#8217;m not sure how useful it is if no one else knows it &#8212; in the absence of Starfleet Academy, I may not put this one into effect.</p> <p><strong>9. Play flight simulators</strong> (See also #8) A little bit more theoretical knowledge of how to fly &#8211; and especially land &#8211; a plane can&#8217;t hurt, and occasionally it can really help. No reason not to do this.</p> <p><strong>8. Practice driving a stick.</strong> In theory, I&#8217;ve known how to drive a manual transmission car since I was commanded to learn for paleontological purposes. Realistically though, I haven&#8217;t driven one in over five years. The choice of cars for breakneck chases and last-minute escapes is not always wide, so it&#8217;s best to be prepared for anything. Should an opportunity present itself, I should practice.</p> <p><strong>7. Practice cheeking pills.</strong> I&#8217;m not saying I <em>expect</em> to have to avoid swallowing mind-numbing medicine in a mental hospital or hoard pills in order to poison my captors, but I don&#8217;t expect to be an action heroine, either. Taking my daily pile of pills just got more heroic!</p> <p><strong>6. Train up sense of direction.</strong> My sense of direction isn&#8217;t bad, precisely. It&#8217;s just limited. If I&#8217;m on foot, it works pretty damn well, and has even impressed people. If I&#8217;m in a car, not so much &#8212; this could get really awkward in case I&#8217;m ever in a car chase. But then, what do I need to know but &#8220;away&#8221;? I may forego doing this, and just hope I&#8217;m never called upon to, say, lead survivors through a maze of ventilation ducts pursued by an alien horde.</p> <p><strong>5. Get baseball bat.</strong> (Or cricket.) Good for zombie-crushing, fending off murderous failed novelists, and, given sandpaper enough and time, staking vampires. It&#8217;s actually very strange I <em>don&#8217;t</em> have a baseball bat, because I was raised in a house where the baseball bat was the what-was-that-noise weapon of choice. As a side note, I&#8217;ll mention I already have done one thing right: learn a sport with a swinging tool. Sure, a tennis racquet is a lousy weapon, but I bet I get a free point in shortsword for that.</p> <p><strong>4. Learn when to remove things from wounds, and when not to.</strong> I often think characters are pulling, say, shrapnel from exploded Terminators from their flesh when they should leave it in at least until there&#8217;s a tourniquet. If I learn this, I can be more helpful in an emergency <em>and</em> a more confident know-it-all when watching movies!</p> <p><strong>3. Get a shotgun.</strong> Watching <a href="">shocking numbers</a> of action movies, not to mention playing video games, has reminded me that the shotgun is your friend. It is suitable for big damn heroics, zombie slaying, and applying delaying force to nigh-unstoppable cyborgs. However, here in the real world, I&#8217;m not sure I&#8217;m ready to take this step. Even though I&#8217;d love to have a shotgun (or a replica pulse rifle, to be honest) hanging on the mantel with a brass plaque reading &#8220;Chekhov&#8217;s Gun&#8221;, it might cause an endless stream of gun-rights arguments in the unlikely event of us inviting people over. Not to mention, it&#8217;s a slippery slope from one gun on the wall to crossed guns and a mounted deadite head, and that just wouldn&#8217;t go with my aesthetic.</p> <p><strong>2. Start carrying a lighter.</strong> Due to my personal history of primness, practicality and asthma, I have never smoked. (Once I had to fend a cigarette off physically &#8211; ah, France!) However, it has not escaped my attention that the ability to summon fire is dead useful. Whether it means summoning help (<em>also</em> 1980&#8217;s Michael Biehn, although tragically fully clothed) via fire alarm or completing an elemental ritual in order to save the universe, the lighter pays its way. Much like a bit of rope in another context, you&#8217;ll want it if you don&#8217;t have it. I&#8217;m seriously considering this.</p> <p><strong>1. Cardio.</strong> (Run away, run away!) Already working on it.</p> What makes a good sequel 2011-01-08T22:07:28+00:00 2011-01-14T16:55:59+00:00 <p>In the movie-watching spree that constitutes the Ryan &amp; Felicity holiday tradition, I have recently watched partial or complete arcs of the following movie franchises: <em>Back to the Future</em>, <em>Star Wars</em>, <em>Alien</em>, and <em>Terminator</em>. (Small spoilers only &#8212; and if you&#8217;re not spoiled on this stuff, welcome to my blog!)</p> <p>Early on in this decadent parade of wonders, Ryan remarked to me that <em>Empire Strikes Back</em> is one of the best movie sequels ever. We talked about that and what it does so well. Then, just now, after rewatching the somewhat lackluster <em>Terminator 3</em>, we watched <em>Terminator Salvation</em>. We had been told it was bad. We decided to try it anyway, out of an unusual completionist urge. (I haven&#8217;t watched <em>Alien 3</em> and don&#8217;t plan to, okay?)</p> <p><em>Terminator Salvation</em> was great. Surprisingly tightly plotted. New Skynet tech and types were logical, part of a burgeoning machine ecosystem. It was well acted, full of ties to the original movie and winks at the entire Cameron oeuvre.</p> <p>This has cemented my desire to think (and therefore ramble) about what makes a good sequel (and in part, what does <span class="caps">NOT</span>.)</p> <p>1. <strong>A good sequel expands the universe of the original.</strong> This should be true of a straight sequel, not just the second act of three. Yes, the viewer loved the first one, but if you rehash the same material, some part of them will wonder why they didn&#8217;t just watch it again. <em>Empire Strikes Back</em> took us to new worlds, showed us a hint of the Emperor we&#8217;d only heard of, brought us inside the Imperial Fleet.</p> <p>2. <strong>It stays true to the original.</strong> This is tricky, but to my English-major self that means it develops at least some of the most important themes of the original. <em>Aliens</em> is a different <strong>genre</strong> from <em>Alien</em>, and some might argue not a true sequel, but it&#8217;s still about the same things: conflict between corporate and human interests, the relationship between human and artificial intelligence, social class, et c. It also means you don&#8217;t add a bunch of extraneous new characters that detract from the ones we know and care about.</p> <p>3. <strong>It deepens the characters.</strong> The feelings between Han and Leia, the risk-taking prompted by Marty&#8217;s insecurity, Ripley&#8217;s motherhood&#8230;these are things that didn&#8217;t exist in the first story, but don&#8217;t contradict it. They breathe new meaning retroactively into the first story while using the increased space granted by success (a necessary condition for sequels) to increase the emotional attachment of the audience.</p> <p>4. <strong>It follows through.</strong> If we were promised post-apocalyptic guerilla warfare, give it to us. If you hung a craft full of alien eggs on the wall like Chekhov&#8217;s gun, take that sucker down and start firing facehuggers. Don&#8217;t promise &#8220;I&#8217;m going to show these people what you don&#8217;t want them to see&#8230;.A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries.&#8221; and then ignore those people to have boring fisticuffs with infinite agents instead.</p> <p>5. <strong>It rewards the audience&#8217;s fidelity.</strong> This is perhaps the riskiest part. See number 1 &#8212; don&#8217;t rehash. The peril of the sequel, especially in action movies, is doing the same thing over, but bigger and fancier. Catch phrases become atrophied, meaningless, a string of checkboxes or gotcha moments. Chases become an obligation, not a thrill. The script serves the formula rather than the story. We didn&#8217;t need to see the T-101 shoot up a bunch of cop cars and smugly calculate 0 human casualties in T3. It was something we&#8217;d already seen, but shorn of the context that made it relevant in T2. A good reference is something that makes sense in the new context to someone who hasn&#8217;t seen the referent. If we haven&#8217;t seen <em>Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom</em>, we don&#8217;t scratch our heads in <em>Last Crusade</em> when Indy says &#8220;Fly? Yes. Land? No!&#8221; Obviously it matters whether he can fly a plane, and his incomplete knowledge creates tension and humor. T4 was full of shots, sets and moments that made devoted fans point and grin, but those things served this movie. Rhyme, don&#8217;t repeat.</p> <p>6. <strong>It surprises us.</strong> Keeping your promises doesn&#8217;t mean being predictable. We have expectations now, and you can play with them. Having the T-101 be the good guy in T2 reversed our expectations. (In T3 it was just a bit tired.) It surprised us. It surprised John Connor. It surprised Sarah Connor into an iconic image of surprise (I know I mentally fall down and backpedal against a waxed floor from time to time.) Set up a love triangle, then knock it down with a relative revelation. Make us expect the repeat, then play against it: a formidable swordsman menaces Indy, he reaches for his gun &#8212; but it isn&#8217;t there.</p> <p>Really, what this all boils down to is respecting the original but showing us something new. The <em>Star Wars</em> prequels contradict the originals and depart from their spirit. <em>Star Trek V</em>, among its other sins, takes us past a Galactic Barrier we crossed in the series and acts like that&#8217;s where no man has gone before. This is simple stuff, really, but I imagine that deep in Hollywood, making something complicated and expensive with hundreds of other people, it&#8217;s easy to forget what you&#8217;re really doing. You&#8217;re gathering the children by the fire to tell them a story. They say, &#8220;Tell us another!&#8221; They say, &#8220;What happens next?&#8221;</p> The Antilles Theorem 2010-12-26T21:23:59+00:00 2010-12-27T15:02:53+00:00 <p>In the course of acquainting myself with <a href="" target="links">Ryan</a>&#8216;s childhood favorites, the <em>Star Wars: X-Wing</em> series by Michael Stackpole, I have come up with yet another of my kooky and largely impractical theories. I call it <em>The Antilles Theorem</em>. It is a litmus test for (old school) Star Wars fandom. Because, let&#8217;s face it, they&#8217;re lovable movies. Many people <em>like</em> them but are not fans. Fans watch and rewatch and quote; some know the Expanded Universe or play the roleplaying game. Before you jump to conclusions and start talking about mouse droids and assuming your interlocutors are aware that <a href="" target="links">Han shot first</a>, I suggest applying this.</p> <p><b>The Antilles Theorem: Any real fan of the original Star Wars series knows who Wedge Antilles is.</b></p> <p>So you just say, &#8220;One of my favorite characters in <em>Star Wars</em> is Wedge Antilles,&#8221; and if the respondent says &#8220;Get clear, Wedge, you can&#8217;t do any more good back there!&#8221; or starts babbling about Rogue Squadron tie-in novels, you are gold. (Likewise if they say, &#8220;Did you know that the captain of the blockade-runner in the first scene of <em>New Hope</em> was going to be named Antilles too?&#8221;) If they stare blankly at you, unable to recall this crucial and beloved but secondary character, I recommend smiling kindly and keeping the conversation general.</p> <p><em>Many Bothans died to bring you this post. You&#8217;re welcome.</em></p> Inception 2010-08-03T15:22:23+00:00 2010-08-06T10:26:10+00:00 <p>So, since I started using <a href="" target="links">The Twitter</a>, I haven&#8217;t posted a lot of extremely short bloggets. That&#8217;s why I haven&#8217;t blogged about <em>Inception</em>: I didn&#8217;t really have anything more to say than I put in <a href="" target="links">this tweet</a>:<br /> <blockquote>Apart from bits of expo-rich clunky dialogue (&amp; mild Zimmer) Inception was <span class="caps">FANTASTIC</span>. Best movie I&#8217;ve seen in a while. Don&#8217;t read, just go!</blockquote></p> <p>I didn&#8217;t want to give you spoilers. Or information of any sort. I went in totally without knowledge (I knew it was sci-fi, who directed and who starred. That was it.) and that felt perfect.</p> <p>But I felt like it was worth reiterating in a shockingly content-free way for my blog readers who may not be on Twitter: <em>Inception</em>. Very good. So good I wondered while still in the foyer of the theatre whether there should be a cooling-off period or I should just add it to my list of favorite movies right away. So good <a href="" target="links">Kyle</a> and I spent 13 loooong pages of instant messages discussing and praising it the other day. So good I don&#8217;t really care too much that Hans Zimmer did the soundtrack (on first watching. It may really bother me on second watching, we&#8217;ll see.)</p> <p>So please, do as I say: read nothing about the plot or premise, just go see the movie. If you like that sort of thing. And by that sort of thing, I mean Christopher Nolan, science fiction, or movies that are awesome.</p> Terminator Week: Top Five + Five ways pets are like movie monsters 2009-11-02T11:17:08+00:00 2009-11-02T11:20:53+00:00 <p><em>Spoiler: Still spoiling</em> Terminator<em> after more than a week.</em></p> <p>As we all know &#8212; because surely those who have not watched <em>Terminator</em> have either rectified the oversight or abandoned my blog for the duration of <a href="" target="links">Terminator Week</a> &#8212; at the end of the original film, Sarah Connor has a dog. There is a certain thread of pro-dog propaganda in the Terminator movies which has always led me to believe James Cameron is a dog person. After all, he was stuck with that cat when he made <em>Aliens</em>: it was left over from Ridley Scott.</p> <p>But perhaps something deeper is at play here. Let us consider the Terminator and the Alien.</p> <p><b>5 by 5. Terminators don&#8217;t get along with dogs. Aliens don&#8217;t get along with cats.</b> While they don&#8217;t necessarily eat them, it&#8217;s clear Aliens and cats have a natural antipathy, as manifested in copious hissing. Dogs, on the other hand, flip out when they detect a Terminator.</p> <p><b>4. Terminators keep themselves clean. Aliens slobber.</b> You don&#8217;t see any Aliens heading home to freshen up and check the mirror before continuing their killing sprees.</p> <p><b>3. Terminators are lone predators. Aliens hunt in packs.</b> Yup.</p> <p><b>2. Terminators don&#8217;t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. Aliens are full of family feeling.</b> Now here I&#8217;ll admit the cat/terminator parallel has its flaws &#8212; cats do appear to feel fear, tho&#8217; pity and remorse are quite unlikely. But cats do tend to have a centered self-sufficiency more akin to the autonomous Terminator than the social xenomorph.</p> <p><b>1. Terminators are manipulative. Aliens are straightforward.</b> Either an Alien is going to growl and attack, or he&#8217;s going to sniff and attempt to snuggle you (really, Joss Whedon told me so.) There&#8217;s none of this &#8220;Oh, I&#8217;m just a cute cat, please further my mission goals.&#8221; Sure, currently they wiggle their way into our homes in order to eat food and sleep in the window, not open fire with chainguns, but you can give a Terminator a friendly mission too. Cats are infiltration units. We may love them, but let&#8217;s not let them have access to our launch codes. I don&#8217;t want to know how far this parallel goes.</p> Terminator Week: Fate, no matter what you make 2009-10-28T14:03:58+00:00 2009-10-28T14:11:43+00:00 <p><em>Spoiler warning: Terminator Week may spoil the original</em> Terminator<em>, which you really should have seen anyway. Oh, and today there may be mild spoilers for the first trilogy of </em> Dragonriders of Pern.<em>Yeah, you heard me.</em></p> <p>One of the reasons I love <em>Terminator</em> is that it&#8217;s not just a good action movie, it has a good sci-fi story. The dark vision of the future &#8212; the war machines grinding over a layer of human bones, children happily watching the fire they&#8217;ve made in an old TV shell &#8212; is compelling, but the actual plot is interesting, too.</p> <p>I grew up loving time travel stories. I could probably blame <em>Back to the Future</em> for this, but let&#8217;s not let <em>Star Trek</em> off the hook either. In serious childhood conversations with my dad, I asked about how time travel worked (Hey, my dad knew everything. I probably thought he took a class in Time Travel at Caltech!). Based on the theories he outlined, I had to admit that a <em>Back to the Future</em>-style universe seemed unlikely, one where you could make changes, perceive them, correct them, et c. But it took a while for me to warm up to the Immutable Universe alternative.</p> <p>Perhaps my first experience of the immutable timeline in fiction was in Anne McCaffrey&#8217;s original <em>Dragonriders of Pern</em> trilogy, where mysterious things have happened in the past, and the characters gradually realize they have the ability and the duty/destiny to go back in time and cause those events. It&#8217;s a tricky thing to write, but when it&#8217;s good it&#8217;s very good indeed.</p> <p>And the original <em>Terminator</em> was one of those times. You can dispute me based on the movie you saw, but I&#8217;ve read the original script. In the original script, the reason they end up at the factory at the end is that Sarah wants to try to prevent the rise of Skynet by blowing up the company that will eventually build it. Reese thinks it isn&#8217;t possible to change the future, but she manages to drag him along. After the final fight, we see a manager of the company pocket a computer chip from the Terminator. It&#8217;s a perfect closed loop: Skynet is made possible by technology that came back from the future Skynet created. John Connor is made possible by the <del>hot freedom fighter</del> <span class="caps">DNA</span> he sent back from the future he saved.</p> <p>Now, <em>Terminator 2</em> used the reverse-engineering conceit, but one of the reasons my affection for it is tinged with regret (besides the fact the Kyle Reese dream sequence is a deleted scene! Oh, and that damn kid) is that it ruined the perfectly finished time-knot of the first movie. Sure, all the details in the original script didn&#8217;t make it into <em>Terminator</em>, but nothing in the movie contradicts them: closed loop. Suddenly in <em>Terminator 2</em> you can change the future. The loop is open and frayed. Probably it made sense to a national consciousness emerging from the gloom of the Cold War, but I loved the austere fatality of the 1984 movie. It was an elegant little story, one that met the challenges of plotting in an immutable timeline admirably.</p> Terminator Week on 2009-10-26T12:57:43+00:00 2009-10-26T12:58:18+00:00 <p>Gentle reader, twenty years ago today, the original <em><a href="" target="links">Terminator</a></em> came out. It launched a franchise, but we&#8217;re not here to talk about that. In the wake of three sequels and some sort of TV show, it&#8217;s easy for the first movie to be overlooked, and that&#8217;s a crying shame. It&#8217;s a compelling movie with good pacing and a pet iguana, and it pioneered James Cameron&#8217;s use of the special effect that would serve him so well in his early career: Michael Biehn.</p> <p>But seriously, I love this movie, with all its 1980s fustiness and even its jerky stop-motion ending. I have ever since the time Mom was out of town and Dad and I roamed the video store aisles, looking for something suspenseful or violent. This week I&#8217;ll be sharing some reasons why. Very little mention will be made of T2, and none of T3, T4 (which I haven&#8217;t seen) or any TV shows (sorry, Summer Glau, I haven&#8217;t seen those either.) If you are allergic to time travel and fighting implacable robotic overlords, you&#8217;ve been warned: come back next week, when it&#8217;s safe.</p> <p>Everyone else, come with me if you want to live.</p>