jhameia: ME! (Default)
I fell into the Youtube rabbithole last night and encountered this horrifically ridiculous earwormy video clip from a movie I'd never even heard of before, but which appears to be recent. Which meant I had to read up and watch all clips related to it. After trying to find it on Netflix streaming (which it is NOT, btw; it's DVD only), I poneyed up $4 to stream it on Youtube. I have to say.... that trailer really does not give this plot away.

I can see why people hated the movie. It got a lot of bad reviews, it was called unimaginative, the graphics are supposedly good but the story is supposedly terrible.

None of these reviews matter, because they are all wrong, and they remind me very much of the vitriol Jupiter Ascending got--beautiful visually, but bad story. When in fact there's nothing wrong with the story, really, aside from some minor editing issues. Same deal with Strange Magic. In fact, I have to say, it's actually REALLY refreshing, both in its humour (which works on several levels: worldbuilding, meta-knowledge, comedic beats, and genuinely quirky characters), and the way it uses tropes (beauty and the beast, but where the beast doesn't change! beauty who isn't exactly valued by the antagonist for her beauty! nagging parents! sisters! BFFs who fall in love! grumpy people who have been burned falling for each other! the villain becomes the love interest! it saves us a lot of time trying to justifying our ships by making them canon in the first place). I also love how the binary of Fairy Kingdom vs. Dark Forest isn't a versus so much as it presented as two sides of a whole, and the fairy princess learns to appreciate the Dark Forest, which she has an initially very bad experience with.

DID I MENTION THAT IT'S A JUKEBOX MUSICAL? And that the songs, which play at seemingly random times, ACTUALLY SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE SCENE/CHARACTERS? There are DUETS that demonstrate the relationships/connections between the characters singing! SUGAR PIE HONEY BUUUUNNNNCCCHHHH!

The ultimate moral lesson of the film--that love is built on common ground and good chemistry, not on infatuation with the other person's looks (and that you don't get rewarded with love for doing certain things)--is possibly a bit too subtle, but I REALLY love the alternative masculinity presented in this film, contrasted against the toxic masculinity of the antagonist, who manages to pass as a good guy to most of the people within the film through manipulation. Get you a man who: can sing; has a DAD LOOK; knows how to be gentle; is given consequences when he does stupid things like lock away the fairy who made him the love potion he requested without giving her a chance to explain how he fucked up; learns from his mistakes. I know it's kind of a low bar but I was kind of impressed he remembered that he has to rescue his mother.

There are a couple of moments re: expectations which are also surprising to me, worked in as jokes, but somehow are also taken seriously that yes, this is a thing in this universe! it's not just a joke this is real life for them! It's all weirdly heteronormative, but I feel there are some characters you could imagine to be queer, and one character who I think reads as asexual.

I've already read complaints that there were too many subplots, but everyone's plans and arcs weave together really well. Marianne and Bog King's romance doesn't work without Sunny's crush on Dawn which doesn't get acted on without Roland's power hungry attempt to get Marianne. Most of the side characters are also delightful: Griselda as the Bog King's nagging mom who keeps trying to set him up; the Sugar Plum Fairy is HILARIOUS; Stuff and Thang as the incompetent lackeys. They add something to the script, and the script might have been poorer without them. (Although, I'm... still kind of shocked at the role the pixies play in helping Marianne train. Like, oh my god, is she really... batting at them... with her sword???)

There are a few things that I thought could have been improved on, such as the Sameface Syndrome that it has going on, but I still think there are some very slight differences between Marianne and Dawn's facial structure. They also missed the opportunity to make Marianne a truly plain girl, which would make Roland's philandering more plausible. The use of the kaleidoscope effects at the end are also pretty hideous, even though I KNOW, theoretically, it's supposed to refer to the fact that butterflies are referred to sa a kaleidoscope of butterflies. The voiceacting was a little off at times--Alan Cumming has this weird brogue slipped sometimes, and a couple of the characters have a couple of moments where they sound weirdly British. Still, the animation was quite top-notch--OH GOD THE WINGFIC! And how WELL DONE the WINGFIC!--and the body language of the characters was really great--at some point I said out loud, "well they're gonna have fairytale sex tonight."

My point is, Strange Magic is REALLY FUCKING GIRLY, and I suspect that reviewers panned it because, like Jupiter Ascending, Strange Magic is REALLY GIRLY and some people hate GIRLY FUN. George Lucas conceived of it as something for 12-yo girls to match Star Wars, but honestly, I think it's a VERY ADULT movie, like it's family-friendly in the way that there's humour and layers specifically for adults. And so much of the male characters' masculinity is in service or subordinate to the women of the film (like, gosh, while there isn't exactly gender parity, it's still more speaking female characters than the average film), and the one white-looking dude in the film is the antagonist who never gets a redemption arc. WHICH IS SO GREAT. So the only way you could pan this movie is if you missed or refused to acknowledge the ways it DOESN'T cleave to cishet bro sensibilities.

Anyways, someone tell me they also saw Strange Magic, because I don't want to suffer this earworm alone.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
The sleep test worked this time! The red light on my finger was lit all night. Maurisa had to wait until she got her car back and we went to Loma Linda to get it back. I forgot to nap in the afternoon, but caught some before I went to get the bus to Nalo's reading.

It was nice to hang out although there was... kind of a definite split between the POC of the event and everybody else--I spent most of my time talking to the Black people who attended, because we somehow decided to crowd around? Hopefully I'll run into her again tonight at Eric's show!

I watched two movies last night: Ringing Bell, which is every bit as fucked up as I heard, and Peking Opera Blues.

Ringing Bell: You know, Lambert, the Cowardly Lion? OK, so imagine a story that goes the opposite way: Chirin's mother dies, and Chirin hunts down the wolf that killed her to seek vengeance. After some tenacity and demands to be taught how to be a wolf, the wolf agrees to train him and make him strong. Cue time-lapse sequence where Chirin grows in horns and busts through trees and eventually grows into a bishounen ram that runs alongside his wolf mentor terrorizing the countryside. And starts seeing the wolf as a father figure instead, until the wolf takes him back to his meadow of birth to re-enact the traumatic scene of his mother's death. Instead of helping the wolf kill the sheep (after a sequence where Chirin has kill all the guard dogs), he fights and kills the wolf, who's all "in this world only the strong survive, and I am proud and grateful that you are the one to kill me" and I just could NOT with the logic. Like, I wanna say something about toxic masculinity and homosocial relationships, but, man.

Peking Opera Blues: So I watched this as a young child and the only thing I really remember from it is: Brigitte Lin being really really butch and hot, and there is a scene where she's tied up (which is also really hot) and then through some shenanigans, she and another woman, a singer, convince some soldiers that their general (which has been shot dead) is actually having sex with the singer.

Flailing over Lin's masculine femininity aside, there are a LOT of things going on in this movie that I clearly was not smart enough to pick up at the time: the lead actor of the all-male opera troupe who plays female characters who is then pressured to marry the commissioner (??? or at least sleep with the commissioner??) and thus escapes because he feels this will ruin his chances of being married in the future; the very real resentment of the female characters at how they are treated (there's a wannabe actress who is the daughter of the theater owner and is constantly berated for wanting to be on stage; there's the singer who hates singing and really wants to get rich or get out; then there is Lin's character who is a rebel who always has an upset face when she sees her father with a young woman her age every night); the male rebel character who's obviously meant to be read heroic but really he's rash and causes problems and holy shit is incompetent; the fact that Lin's character is referred to as "Miss" or "Madam" but she gets to be treated like she's a male authority figure and walk in and out of the no-women-allowed theater at all??? What is going on!

The actress and another character, a common soldier, gets caught up in the action just due to the goodness of their hearts; the singer was originally trying to recover some missing jewels she'd stolen; the rebels are trying to get secret documents that will implicate the general-father in a shady deal with foreigners. Lin is the patriotic rebel who is driven by duty to the nation but also recognizes she's betraying the one family she has left in the world. It all ends up being really interesting with how the three female characters are clearly central (even on the posters the biggest faces are usually the women), and they're all SO different and are hanging out and getting fond of each other only because of a stroke of fate. There's a lot of affection and resignation that the affection isn't enough to keep people together. Then there are the telegraphed romances (between the rebel dude and the actress, and the soldier and singer who have a meet-cute because she had actually knocked him unconscious early in the movie) (and there is the misunderstanding from the actress who sees rebel dude comforting the rebel lady and misreads it as him doublecrossing).

It's all very fantastic, and looking back, I guess I really just had this thing for Brigitte Lin's character that was both a sexual awakening and a PURPOSE IN LIFE, a recurring theme I call "Do I want to DO her or BE her" (it is the same feel I got watching Queen Latifah in The Wiz Live).

Three books down! RAGAMUFFIN, CALIFORNIA BONES, and now DIVERSE ENERGIES. I, uh, did not like the last one. I finally posted my GR reviews of all three.

I'm also doing the unwise thing of reading reviews of "Liminal Grid" because I'm a masochist, maybe. Anyway, most people I know have been reading Chien as female, but TangentOnline's reviewer read Chien as male!
The tone was one of melancholy, probably more than I could handle, but the second person point of view the author used to introduce Chien provided me with an intimacy toward him, which brought me closer to him and his difficulties.

This review from a Malaysian warms the cockles of my heart, even though it's super short.
Oh yes, it is made in Malaysia, for Malaysia. Set in a futuristic Malaysia, I am glad that it is relevant and with a fresh appeal. Truly an exciting read and written well with good descriptive feel.

Surprisingly, Lois Tilton of Locus Online also liked it:
I like the grandparents, the way they’ve made this future existence work for them, despite setbacks; I love their bountiful hydroponic garden. But mainly, as a gardener, I’m seduced by the landscape, the verdant spaces. And as a pessimist, I have to wonder with Chien if it’s worth risking all this.

I mean, it IS hard to resist plants. Plants are love!

Anyway, tomorrow starting 4pm PT, I'm going to be in a watch2gether chatroom watching "The Dark Crystal," "Labyrinth" and "Return to Oz" with some folks so if you'd like to be part of this movie marathon chillout, let me know.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
At Incheon in a lounge right now hanging out! I attempted more sleep, less movies this time, because I slept very little the night before and was in LA all day. Spent the afternoon at a friend's house in Baldwin Hills (it was a fancy house, holy crap).

I did catch two movies:
ANNIE -- OMG SO GOOD SO FUCKING GOOD. Quvenzhane was AMAZING, her character was so charming. The updating of the plot was really well done, used social media in a great car/helicopter chase scene. The presence of whiteness is SO interesting considering the racial make-up of the side characters. I've not seen many reviews commenting on Ben Stacks becoming more connected in a community way (that the movie ends with Annie cutting the ribbon on a literacy center) (Stacks' heart visibly breaking when he finds out Annie is illiterate after that AMAZING performance) (Annie covering up with performance art) (UGH ALL THE FEELS) (WHY DIDNT I SEE MORE META ON ANNIE ON TUMBLR I DONT KNOW) (ALSO, wtf that MoonQuake Lake movie scene with THE RIHANNA AND MILA KUNIS CAMEOS and everyone geeking out after?? SLAY ME HERE WHY DONT YOU) I'm going to get diabetes from this movie omfg. Definitely something to buy on DVD.

SEVENTH SON -- ..... This could have been a better movie except for the shitty world-building. Why would you construct a world where there are people hunting down witches because witches are categorically evil and most of the plot revolves around the complicated question on whether witches deserve to be left alive because they can actually do good? How do you manage to balance a cast with POC characters who are all antagonists and hella exotified? UGH. What I did appreciate was that there wasn't a lot of Male Gaze Fail (no gratuitous gore, no gratuitous sexual violence, there's a sweet fade-to-black love scene and the emphasis is clearly on the feelings the characters express for each other) and the witches were actually interesting, and the main character, who IS the Seventh Son, is also grappling with some interesting ethical issue (which fall flat because of the scripts dedication to the good/evil dichotomy and status quo rather than continuing to challenge it as he did throughout the whole film).
jhameia: ME! (Default)
I saw this movie tonight.

I thought the trailer looked incomprehensible and took itself too seriously? WOW SO NOT THE MOVIE AT ALL. It took this ridiculous Tumblr post to convince me to go.

I WILL NEVER REGRET IT

Highlights:

- this is the most fucking nonsensical plot I have ever seen and yet I just had to roll with it because it was that cracktastic
- but why Channing Tatum?? he's not even hot
- BUT HE PLAYS A WOLFMAN BOUNTY HUNTER WORKING TO GET BACK HIS BIONIC WINGS I AM OKAY WITH THIS
- oh my god he has anti-grav boots and is practically rollerblading off walls
- holy shit pew pew fights
- ALIENS
- our main character is a TOILET CLEANER HAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA
- why do these siblings hate each other? why is this one sibling so smugshit, another sibling so AAAAAAAAAAAAANGSTY
- my god but everything in space is so lush and extravagant and holy shit
- there is a black bounty hunter! he doesn't die! in fact, he and his Asian cyberpunk flying motorbike riding partner live and cheat their third! FUCK YEAH
- BEEEEEEEES (the whole "bees recognize royalty" thing is actually biologically not right but WHATEVER)
- SPAAAAAACE FIIIIIIIIIGHTS
- OUTER SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACE
- The Captain of this SPACESHIP is a BLACK WOMAN named TSING and there are SO MANY RANDOM POC I CANNOT
- HAHAHA BUREAUCRACY
- kidnapping and then an unwholesomely INAPPROPRIATE MARRIAGE PROPOSAL LIKE I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS INCEST PLOT TWIST BUT I WILL RUN WITH IT BECAUSE THERE WILL BE A WEDDING CRASH SCENE AND ALSO WHAT THE HELL IS SHE WEARING STILL LAUGHING HYSTERICALLY ABOUT IT TWO HOURS LATER
- THIS POST
- GUGU MBATHA-RAW!!!!!!!!! OMG SHE COOOLLLLLLD!
- This movie totally passed the Bechdel Test. It also passed the POC version, holy shit.
- Also? Proved that you do not need to have a rape scene to threaten your female main character
- lots of Shirtless Tatum
- Sean Bean didn't die!
- SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACE FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHTS
- And ya know, for having spent most of her life cleaning toilets, and despite the fact that she DOES have to get rescued fairly often, which is unsurprising given, you know, livelihood of cleaning toilets, Space Princess does fairly okay! she makes some shitty political decisions but that's totally understandable!

Now, there WERE some flubs in this movie--the romance between Jupiter and Caine, for one, is SUPER AWKWARD AND UNEXPECTED (but good god that awkward dialog, that's badfic territory and you kinda just have to savor the awkwardness, it's so beautiful) -- there're a couple of plotholes -- there's obviously a LOT of backstory we're not getting (which I'm OK with! FANDOM IS REPARATIVE LIKE THAT)

But it was so over the top, and so not serious, and just so decadent in its ridiculousness, I'm gonna roll with it and take joy in its ridiculousness, because YES, of COURSE we women are allowed mediocre stupid movies which are essentially terrible self-insert fic, guys get them all the time so I will totally savor this one.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Books I bought the other day on the B&N run with HH:

- Gail Carriger’s Blameless (because I lost my copy, re-reading to write fic with Chinese characters and my world did not feel right with a missing book in the series)
- Gail Carriger’s Etiquette and Espionage, book 1 of the Finishing School series (I’m not as taken with this series as I am with the Parasol Protectorate… I guess because I feel putting children in an environment where lying and two-facedness is just terrible, but I must make do until the Parasol Protectorate Abroad series comes out)
- Cherie Priest’s Fiddlehead (last book of the Clockwork Century series?! Sadface!)
- Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr. Fox (never read her before, might as well read some of her now)
- Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (because I ought to read some postcolonial literature sometime)
- Essential Arabic (gotta work on some vocabulary and not let that uni year go to waste)
- That comic book with shorts from ATLA. (I read Part 3 of The Search. Blech what they did with Ursa but at least they gave her a happy ending, and she apologized for abandoning Azula and Zuko. I guess.)

The Parasol Protectorate is always a pleasure to read, although I find I have less and less patience for Alexia Maccon and her interminable need to open her damn mouth every chance she gets instead of just listening and being smart about her questions. Same goes for Conall. But Ivy! And Lyall! And Biffy! I tried fancasting for them the other week, came up with:
Ivy: Amanda Seyfried
Lyall: David Tennant
Alessandro Tarabotti: Christopher Eccleston
Akeldama: Tom Hiddleston (Tom Cruise is no longer as effete as in his IWTV days sadly)
Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings: Fassbender
Biffy: Either Blair Dunlop or Ben Barnes
Countess Nadasdy: Julie Walters
Floote: Jean Reno

E&E is... already showing signs of disturbing the canon set in the PP books and that always makes me cranky. I guess I have very little patience for settings which are all cutesy on the surface ~dark brooding danger underneath~ but that might also be the YA standard which I can't deal with.

I considered buying more JR Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood books and then realized how much I didn't care given that I've already given away all my BDB when I left HALIFAX.

Cleaned my office today and then went to see Frozen followed by dinner at a Japanese resto with KK. It was a pretty decent movie. I kind of... don't like Elsa's SUDDEN REVELATION at the end about how to SUDDENLY control her powers? Like, really? It felt very ham-handed. Olaf was not as terrible as I feared and Kristoff could have been drawn Saami and that Hans thing, well, I could have done without it. Meh. Whatever. It was fun for a lark.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
I just finished watching Queen of Langkasuka, a Thai movie about the legendary kingdom. I can't remember watching a more multi-cultural movie. Usually, in English-language movies, the foreign dignitaries will speak English, with odd accents. In this movie, the queen greets foreign dignitaries in their own language. Except, of course, you can hear the Thai accent (assuming you know the languages in question. Queen Hijau speaks English and Chinese, and IIRC Malay). These Japanese characters speak Japanese. The English characters speak English. The Chinese characters speak Mandarin. (Since the Chinese characters are portrayed by Thai actors and actresses, you can hear their accent, but I'm willing to bet they did a better job of pronouncing Mandarin than Firefly characters did.)

The Malay subtitles were a bit hard for me to catch, partly because I'm not that great with Malay and partly because the subs went really quickly. But still, it was neat.

I mean, dude, Pari can summon stingrays and ride on their back.

And the Queen and her sisters get into armour at some point.

Even as one of them gets married to the Prince of Pahang while in love with Pari and stuff.

And there is a loyal warrior and given some time, there is total UST (ok, not sexual, just romantic).

AND SOMEHOW EVERYBODY IS CONNECTED IN TRUE ASIAN STORYTELLING STYLE.
jhameia: ME! (Sparklez for Efferyvun!)
Yes! I kid you not! There awas The Heroic Trio (HK title, int`l English title was Eastern Three Heroes) and the sequel, Heroic Trio 2: Executioners, aka Modern Day Wonder Heroes Legend.





The first movie is fair fantasy fare. The second movie was far more memorable for me, since I remember quite clearly Wonder Woman helping someone recover their stolen bagged water (this dystopian future has a water shortage). I also remember Anthony Wong`s masked character, and Wonder Woman being in prison for a while. She is so depressed over the loss of her family she refuses to eat. Then she notices that all the other prisoners and prison rats are dying after eating the bread. So she drinks the blood of live rats instead, and carves herself a new mask from a piece of metal lying around, and when that`s done, busts out of prison.

I also remember the ending, too.
jhameia: ME! (Sparklez for Efferyvun!)
THIS POST IS GOING TO BE IN mostly ALL CAPS.

under a cut to spare you my craziness )

PRINCESS AND THE FROG. GO SEE IT.
jhameia: ME! (Totes Me!)
So, if any of you wanted to know more about how the Disney re-telling differs from the actual story, well, wouldn't know where to start, since there're many different versions of Hua Mulan (her story stems from pretty much before the Tang Dynasty, and most anything from before the Tang Dynasty is hard to figure out), but the gist is the same - Mulan takes her father's place, becomes a great general, leads the troops to victory, and then goes home and resumes life as a woman. None of this saving the Emperor nonsense - she worked her ass off alongside fellow soldiers to get the glory. Don't ask me how she manages to hide being a woman for more than a decade.

However, I did find this! It's a 1964 movie of a Hua Mulan Chinese opera. So, you'll not only get treated to a more faithful version of the Mulan myth, but also to the joys of Chinese opera!

Lady General Hua Mulan! )

Hear Ye!

May. 7th, 2009 09:58 pm
jhameia: ME! (Sparklez for Efferyvun!)
Friends! I have just returned from the first screening of Star Trek at Park Lane!

It was not by any means an epic, in that strictest sense of the word, but I do declare it quite worth my while! And I shall give you reasons without spoiling what happens in the movie; that can wait for a while. I plan to watch it again.

Shiny graphics! Yes! Because we all love shiny stuff. And if teh shiney Mac-ness of the USS Enterprise does not appeal to you, we have the gritty Romulan ship headed by Captain Eric Bana - I mean, Nero. I felt it was pretty punk on board that latter ship! Steampunk even! When you've watched this, you can debate with me all you like.

Death of a Red Shirt! Ley and I were taking bets on how Red Shirt would die. I think it was kind of sad how we laughed at his horrible death, but it was a Star Trek trope that did not go unnoticed! No, not telling you how he died. Can't you just accept that a Red Shirt died?

Karl Urban as an impeccable Dr. McCoy! Incredible! It was like he was channeling DeForest Kelley! Pitch-perfect line delivery, the writers gave him the best lines and I do think the writing for this character was quite well done for what little screen time they could give him. Well done indeed!

Anton Yelchin as a younger Pavel Chekov was also quite on pitch! Loved the accent, the mannerisms, and of course he's pretty fucking cute too.

John Cho as Hikaru Sulu. Oh yes. My main reason for watching the movie in the first place and I was totally not disappointed! Mmm, I do love me a fencing man.

Also, for my feminist friends who actually pay attention to this sort of thing, the Star Trek Future has an equal amount of women and men in the workforce and among the cadets! Now, the skimpy uniforms are questionable (No, really? They couldn't have used the more practical and gender-neutral uniforms from the Enterprise series?), but it does allow you to see that there're just as many women as there are men. (OK, speaking roles-wise, it could use some work, but I'll forgive them since they were drawing from the original Trek.)

Token Love Interest (hey, there had to be one) does NOT hook up with Goldenboy Hero Type! It's kinda out of the left field, but I am glad that they didn't come up with some far-fetched love relationship for Goldenboy Hero.

So sally forth, my friends, and rest assured that should you spend your well-earned $12 on a movie ticket to see this one, it won't be as much a waste of your time as most other movies on the market that's been coming out! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
Because the screenwriter is a douchebag.

All this time, you’ve been waiting for a director who was going to hit you in the face with this story. To just crack you in the jaw, and then bend you over the pool table with this story. With its utterly raw view of the darkest sides of human nature, expressed through its masks of action and beauty and twisted good intentions. Like a fry-basket full of hot grease in the face. Like the Comedian on the Grassy Knoll. I know, I know...

You say you don't like it. You say you've got issues. I get it.

And yet... You'll be thinking about this film, down the road. It'll nag at you. How it was rough and beautiful. How it went where it wanted to go, and you just hung on. How it was thoughtful and hateful and bleak and hilarious. And for Jackie Earle Haley.

Trust me. You'll come back, eventually. Just like Sally.
- Screenwriter David Hayter's Open Letter to the fans.


HONESTLY?

You did NOT just fucking say that.

You did NOT just compare watching a movie to RAPE.

You did NOT just say that people who don't like it (and by extension, RAPE) simply "have issues".

You did NOT just imply that RAPE is, by and large, just really rough, raw sex.

And you did NOT just say that going BACK "just like Sally" is a GOOD THING.

You did NOT.

Wait.

Oh yes you DID.

There are reasons why victims go back to rapists and abusive situations. Reasons include: lack of perfect agency (due to the power imbalances that render them unable to make good decisions anymore), lack of options, lack of self-esteem, lack of support beyond the situation, the utter destruction of one's own self-worth, and BECAUSE IF WE LEAVE WE ARE LIKELY TO GET HUNTED DOWN FOR FURTHER ABUSE AND POSSIBLY KILLED.

It's certainly NOT for the "rough" and "beautiful" and "thoughtful" and "hateful" and "bleak" and "hilarious" sex.

Douchebag. You and the fucking pervasive, ever-surrounding RAPE culture and your fucking male privilege which will pretty much guarantee that you are significantly at less risk to be RAPED so can make RAPE jokes with impunity like it's a fucking joke.

Fuck. You.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Slumdog Millionaire. What a great film. I couldn't believe how incredibly complex it was - it somehow took me back to my childhood when I spent hours watching Bollywood films and yet it kept me in my present, steeped in Westernization. It was so sad because it took me down to the poverty and trials faced by the poor in India. It was so happy because it is also a story about survival, of the triumph of the humble, and of love. The children, in the story, were abused and forced to beg - mutilated so they could earn more (and this is an unfortunate fact of life, too). But they also had dreams, a sense of humour, and have the occasional chance to laugh. Some people try to simplify it down to "It's a wonderful story about love" or "it's a horrible story about poverty" - criticisms come flying at it for how the movie apparently romanticizes the horrors to make the love seem more poetic. I must disagree. The poverty was a part of life. So was the love.

Which is why it's such a wonderful movie. And I feel Loveleen Tandan, who co-directed it with Danny Boyle, was a major contributer to the film's charm. She's so selfless about the whole thing, saying, "It was meant to be a small film by Danny Boyle."

A small film! It follows the children all over India and it's a small film? It takes us from the dregs of the slums to the opulence of the rich and it's a small film? She does the insane task of translating the script from English into Hindi, does the arduous task of fitting in the cultural cues, and does casting from all over India - and it's a small film?

Ms. Tandan is being modest.

And I love her for it. She's credited as a "Co-Director (India)". But I feel that the voice that comes across in this article is truly the voice that comes across in the movie. For example, when she says, "Slums in India are not isolated. Slum dwellers have a life. It's not like they are these poverty-stricken people sitting around waiting for someone to come and help them. They have a life, a culture, a business. It's a world in itself. It's not a bunch of people waiting around. It's hustle and bustle."

That isn't the only thing she says about the slum dwellers either. She doesn't proselytize about how awful it is for them, how we should do more, no, she understands that she can't speak for them - their world isn't her world, so she doesn't get to say what's good for them and what's not, especially since they have different ideas: "At worst, I thought that the film would jolt everybody in India and abroad by showing the poverty that we know exists but that we ignore, even in our minds. Naturally, there are organisations that work in the slums, and with the communities. I wish that more was being done, but I also see the constraints on the Government. It’s a huge uphill task, and I don’t know that we can fix it overnight. Because I don’t think these communities want that. The Government in Mumbai tried to take people out of the slums and re-house them in housing communities and they’ve refused. There were huge protests. The slum dwellers said, ‘No, we’re not going anywhere. Our business is here. We don’t need to go, and live in so-called “better homes”.’ It’s tricky. You can’t be on the outside and imagine what is good for someone else in that situation. We all have different parameters."

And the thing about the article? It's never about her - it's about what she does, certainly, but of other things: the child actors, the cities, the sets, the film's place in the Indian landscape after the Mumbai attacks, the resultant controversies... she never gets defensive about anything, and she never toots her own horn.

Go read the whole thing. And go watch the movie. Srsly.
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
And M.Night, you really should have fucking known better. I'm gonna cut you some slack and consider the possibility that maybe you didn't have the choice of cast you wanted. Maybe. But holy shit, M.Night, DO YOU NOT SEE HOW ASIANS ARE ALREADY UNDER-REPRESENTED IN HOLLYWOOD? and now, actual roles that could be filled by actual Asians, and Asians are shafted in favour of the likes of the pretty white faces that continue to dominate the world.

Don't give me bullshit about how the Avatar universe ISN'T EARTH and thus ANYBODY can play the characters - the Avatar universe was DEFINITELY inspired by Asian cultures. I don't watch the show, BUT ANY FUCKING IDIOT WITH EYES CAN SEE THAT, OKAY?

And Jackson fucking Rathbone is starting to piss me right off:

Due in theaters in summer 2010, "Airbender" has already begun to face a bit of controversy over the casting of white actors like Rathbone, Ringer and McCartney to play Asian characters — a concern the actor was quick to dismiss. "I think it's one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan," he said of the transformation he'll go through to look more like Sokka.

Where the HELL do you get off dismissing the major DIMINISHING OF A WHOLE SET OF PEOPLE, Rathbone? How the HELL do you assume that a hairstyle, lack of facial hair and a FUCKING TAN will make you ANY LESS WHITE, ANY MORE ASIAN?

"It's one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit."

A little bit? You mean A LOT! A VERY FUCKING LOT OF DISBELIEF!

Talk about an overinflated sense of entitlement!

(Actually, I was pissed off about this much earlier, but just haven't had the time to articulate myself.)
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Stardust passes the Bechdel Test. Lamia talks to Yvaine about the joys of having a hot bath. Lamia and Ditchwater Sal talk about the fallen star. The witches also talk about stuff other than men, marriage or babies. (I love how the screenwriters saw entrail-reading as an answer to just about everything, the function being similar to our Google.)

Also, bonus material has more of the dead brothers, and it is hilarious, because the brothers kinda show physical affection for each other. It's cute. ^^

And I don't think I could ever get tired of Captain Shakespeare. It's not in the book at all, but the air pirates are such a wonderful critique on the performance of masculinity. Yvaine being taught piano is a performance of femininity. Gendered? Yes. But ultimately self-reflexive.

I'm not going to say it's better than the book because they're two different animals altogether, but all in all, very satisfying.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
It shoulda been The Day The Earth Went Batshit Insane, to be honest.

Because I have no patience to write this into something that flows coherently, a lot of these thoughts will be in point form. I'm no Jennifer Kesler.

So clickies for more )
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
Yea, I broke it out this morning to watch before heading down.

The series opens with Prince Adam (He-Man) cooking.
+10

Read for more awesome scoring! )
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
I was meandering around the Internetz like I normally do and came across this link, an essay on why women possibly empathize with Sarah Palin, and in this, the writer, Judith Warner, draws a comparison between Palin and Elle Woods, from the Legally Blonde movies. I've only ever seen the first one, and it happens to be one of my feel-good movies.

Warner writes: "You don’t have to be female to suffer from Impostor Syndrome either — I learned the phrase only recently from a male friend, who puts a darned good face forward. But I think that women today — and perhaps in particular those who once thought they could not only do it all but do it perfectly, with virtuosity — are unique in the extent to which they bond over their sense of imposture.

...

The “Legally Blonde” fairy tales spin around the idea that, because Elle believes in herself, she can do anything. Never mind the steps that she skips. Never mind the fact that — in the rarefied realms of Harvard Law and Washington policymaking — she isn’t the intellectual equal of her peers. Self-confidence conquers all! (“Of course she doesn’t have that,” said Laura Bush of Palin this week when asked if the vice presidential pick had sufficient foreign policy experience. “You know, that’s not been her role. But I think she is a very quick study.”)
"

The last paragraph is what bugs me the most: It implies that Elle Woods got to the point where she did at the end of the movie... by faking it.

And you know what? She didn't. She got to where she did through sheer effort, hard work, and a bit of tacky comedy.

I love Elle Woods. She undergoes some harsh realities and transforms from a silly, self-centered love-struck girl into a woman using what comes naturally to her to win her case. At the beginning of her law school term, she snubs the ones she considers the outcasts and freaks whom she wouldn't be caught dead with in high school, only to find out that this ISN'T high school, and her lack of intellectual capacity makes HER a freak. That was the first point for me in liking her; she's the HS freak who is, for all intents and purpose, too stupid to be where she is. I empathized with that, because I've been there. I've been in the position where people are nice to me only so they can mock me (like how Elle is invited to a "costume party" only to be mocked for showing up as a Playboy Bunny). I've been in positions where the teacher asks me pointed questions just to show how unprepared I am. From that point on, Elle is one of the "little guys".

But through it all, Elle doesn't come off as FAKE. She genuinely gets upset by these outcomes where her sense of entitlement gets her in trouble. Unlike Palin, Elle isn't sheltered from the consquences of her ignorance, her privilege, her sense of entitlement, and lack of intellectual capacity. She is derided, mocked, and sent out of class on her first day. She is dumped for being a "dumb blonde".

But the great thing about Elle is that she doesn't let this get her down. From the start of the movie, she resolved to do whatever she can to get her man back, even if it means taking on this momentous, ultra-boring task of becoming his intellectual equal. Within the first act, Elle is seen studying for the SATs. She confuses her friends by sitting in her room surrounded by books, reading them intently, and studying her way, rather than seducing anybody, to get the scores she needs to get into law school.

The costume party is another turnaround point for her - she realizes that these people are NOT going to accept her because she's not part of their special little intellectual elite. Does she pack her bags and go home? NO! She hits the books, hardcore: she reads in bed with her pet dog, she has her manicurist quiz her, she takes the books with her to the gym...

More interestingly, she starts answering questions in class. It takes quite a bit of courage to be the one always putting your hand up first in class, but she does it, making up for her first-day flub. Palin, on the other hand, isn't proving her mettle by putting herself out there; she allows the McCain campaign to shunt her away from the press, and when she does have press interviews, she's clearly not doing her fucking homework. Look, if the media's fucking MOCKING me about the fact that I have no foreign policy experience, the LAST thing I'm going to do is appear ignorant about it, and the FIRST thing I'd do is study my fucking ass off to make sure I know what the hell I'm talking about. Elle would do it.

So Elle gets to be one of the top 5 in the class chosen to assist her professor in an actual lawsuit. And she LOVES it. She finds that she no longer finds her ex to be the center of her universe and revels in the joy of an achievement she attained all by herself, through her own efforts, an achievement that is prestigious and even BETTER than being married to a rich man's son. OK, this doesn't have much to do with Palin, but I wanted to point out how awesome this is.

Another difference between Palin and Elle? PALIN IS MEAN! And she doesn't even feel bad about it! Elle snubs the outcast guy at the beginning, but later on, while passing by him, sees him trying to ask another girl out, and is being blown off. She takes a few steps away, stops, turns around, and proceeds to make a fuss as if he's some hotshot awesome fuck who didn't call her back. She walks away again, getting him a date, and she has a small satisfied smile on her face. (Later, he helps her out in the courtroom.) She never does anything to really ruin anybody, and she certainly doesn't go out of her way to hurt people. Palin tried to get a librarian fired because said librarian refused to ban books for her, and I'm sure you've read a little bit about Troopergate. WTF?

Elle didn't get by with "native intelligence" and "self-confidence"; she studies hard, fighting back against the reputation she has as a self-absorbed, flighty Barbie doll who shouldn't be at Harvard. And when Callahan hits on her, she's genuinely horrified that for all her hard work, sense of integrity and quick thinking, she's still seen as nothing more than a sex object: the Playboy Bunny of the party. Palin is a GOVERNER... and she touts herself as a hockey mom?? Who never had high ambitions in the first place? What the eff?? Elle WANTED to be on Callahan's team, and she GOT there by wanting it bad enough to do the necessary work; she doesn't take it for granted. Palin just gets picked out of the blue and dismisses it as a fluke with a toss of her hair. Just. Ugh.

Elle is so upset by being seen as nothing but a pretty face she even quits. And why the hell wouldn't she? She fought so hard, and all that effort is dismissed because she could be patronized to and treated like an inferior. So she quits, angry and hurt. Palin is being sheltered, patronized to, touted as physically gorgeous as if that was all that matters... and she doesn't show any annoyance at that. And she should.

(And let's not forget Elle's funny-ass video essay: "I feel comfortable using legal jargon in everyday life" - someone wolf-whistles - "I OBJECT!" Small thing, I know, but obviously she doesn't approve of someone wolf-whistling at her, just as women shouldn't in general.)

Sarah Palin isn't stupid... she's a governer, for chrissakes. But she's nothing like Elle Woods - Palin's brand of confidence borders on the arrogance of Bush, and her speeches betray a blind faith in God that's uncomfortably familiar. She allows herself to be kept out of sight, and even if she believes she deserves the veep position, she certainly isn't showing that she truly does.

Elle Woods may have intended to be some sort of "self-confidence wins the day" fairytale from Hollywood, but her valedictorian (!!!) speech makes it clear how she really got to where she did: Passion. Not just decency, not just self-confidence, not just ignoring the dumb pricks who keep you down - but wanting something badly enough for itself that you drive yourself to achieve it. She got some help along the way, of course, because it's not like anybody could go it alone, but she took their advice, heeded their words, and came out better for it.

So, Sarah Palin =! Elle Woods.

June 2017

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