prodigy: Stephen Maturin from Master & Commander with caption "You don't say" (you don't say)
Cursory post acknowledging I've seen The Avengers and it was pretty good, actually, if you don't think about it too hard.  The plot was pretty stupid, Fridge Logic abounds, and the movie sort of accidentally endorsed a mildly fascist set of philosophies and handwaved away the sheer abundance of civilian death that transpired during it, but I was a fan of the way the characters were handled and a lot of the individual sequences were neat.  I liked it.  It was good popcorn entertainment.  Joss Whedon did the best by what he had, I think.  Black Widow and Hawkeye were my favorite characters, followed by Hawkeye's arms.  Over and out.

Back to adventures.
prodigy: Mr Darcy from 2005 film, caption "well fuck a doodle do." (well fuck-a-doodle-doo.)
Girls is awful. It's really bad. It's just bad. It has no redeeming qualities. I watched all three extant episodes out of curiosity and also trainwreck syndrome and afterward I feel a bit dirty and regretful, like I slept with a scuzzy dude who disrespected me and was a terrible lay. Well, Girls basically does disrespect me, as it is casually racist, homophobic, and contemptuous of everyone who is not its entitled and self-pitying target audience. It was also a terrible lay. I recommend watching it if you are a giant douchebag and want passive-aggressive reinforcement that your sociopathic behavior is somehow normal, or if, like me, you enjoy pain for some reason.

It's the usual 1899-masquerading-as-2012 conservative shock-jock fare, but with tits. That's about all I have to say on the matter.
prodigy: Erik from "Horrors of Literature," illustrated by M.S. Corley. (pity comes too late)
This film was more or less the opposite of Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead. Hot Fuzz is an action-comedy satirizing cop action movies where the plot's influenced by the characters' awareness of action movie tropes. It's incredibly sharp and pointed and packed wall to wall with visual and cinematographic references to a lot of different action movies, as well as in-text dialogue ones. You can tell the director's watched a lot of action movies. It's also an excellent and compelling action movie in and of itself, as well as being fucking hilarious. In making Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright didn't waste any screentime or camera angles; it's just intelligent enough to be good meta and it's just stupid enough to be fun. As far as self-aware send-ups go, it's a damn good self-aware send-up.

The Cabin in the Woods was not Hot Fuzz. The Cabin in the Woods was like an attempt at a horror movie satire by someone who doesn't actually watch a lot of horror movies. Which I wouldn't be surprised if it was. It was bland. It was at turns kind of funny, faintly vexing, boring, and baffling. It wasn't terrible. It wasn't great. It was indecisive, mostly toothless, sometimes exploitative under the guise of irony. Basically, if you got a somewhat clever but overconfident 14-year-old to write a meta horror movie for their NaNoWriMo, you would get The Cabin in the Woods.

But I guess it's watchable. Spoilers. )

On second thought, pretty much everything I have to say about it is negative, aside from a few things being funny. I still can't say that I hated it, though. It just didn't inspire that kind of strong emotion. It's lukewarm, faintly annoying, a bit soothingly predictable. It's not worth hating, but I'm not sure it's worth nine dollars, either. I am disappointed, though, I was really hoping this would be the Joss Whedon vehicle that convinced me he was back on his feet at all.
prodigy: Oregon Trail screencap recaptioned "FUUUUUCK!!" (shitcaulks)
Liveblogging this time.

There is only one god and his name is Spoilers. And there is only one thing we say to Spoilers. )
prodigy: Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones. (she's liable to grow up mean)
Brienne! Brienne Brienne Brienne! Game of Brienne! What Is Brienne May Never Die!

You have to understand, of my four favorite ASoIaF characters, one of them is in my icon, one of them is in two of my other icons having a bad day, and one of them is in one of my other icons having a really bad day. And one of them is the Maid of Tarth.

But rises again, harder and spoiler. )
prodigy: Richard Madden as Robb Stark from Game of Thrones. (young wolf)
Second verse, same as the first.

Did you pay the spoiler price or the spoiler price? )

I'm not sure all that much happened in this episode either to advance the plot, but it felt like it went faster than the last one, I think because they didn't try to cover all the plotlines (a notable absence of Robb, for one). I liked it, but I hope this goes more places next week.
prodigy: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones conked out on the ground. (f. m. l.)
The past few weeks have been a bunch of time spent on planes and, consequently, laid up with a bacterial infection.  I had plenty of time to read.  Here are the reviews I'm too lazy to write.

these turned out longer than anticipated )

This post used to be titled "Media Summary" because I'm pretty sure I've watched more than one movie too, but I've forgotten what they were.  Oh well.  Oh yeah, I saw The Hunger Games movie and Titanic 3-D.  THG was a pretty faithful adaptation of the book.  The soundtrack is really good.  Titanic 3-D is the movie Titanic, but in 3-D.
prodigy: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones, scruffy, bleeding, and grinning. (no men like me)
I love the episode title "The North Remembers," it's a fine one for the opener of Clash of Kings. Err, I mean, Game of Thrones Season 2. I mean it, though, titling in general can be a frustrating endeavor but I can't help but think that coming up with Game of Thrones episode titles must be fun.

Where to begin? Oh, we have HBO now! And the S1 box set, so I can do a longer meta post about the adaptation of A Game of Thrones to S1 of GoT if I get up the gumption and the motivation. And I have a fever, which I also had while watching the season premiere, so my memory might be... febrile.

To review, spoilers for Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire.

Because when we've got this much exposition to cram in, the important thing is that we dedicate time to this prostitute character we made up for the show. )

Overall I thought the ep was all right, but not a lot happened in it. It was a "Meanwhile, In..." episode reminding us where we left off.
prodigy: Dorian Gray from "Horrors of Literature," illustrated by M.S. Corley. (swan king)
TWD is sort of hitting that 2-season limit I have with a lot of TV series, which is why I get bored and walk away around that time: the waterskier-approaching-the-shark point when it's starting to look like all the plot they have left to generate centers around people having stupid arguments and a terrible chain of communication. This is often my issue with television in general and the television drama genre in specific -- they're almost always about literally the stupidest and most socially maladjusted group of people you could possibly get in whatever setting (office, noble house, post-apocalyptic travel band, whatever). They're generally about as incompetent and unreasonable as a band of people could possibly be without actually all dying. Anything that can go wrong does go wrong. It's really boring. But I'm not really a TV person anyway, so.

They really need to get back on the road one way or another. The zombie post-apocalyptic genre is pretty ridiculous and implausible just in concept, and one of its big unspoken genre suspensions of disbelief is that humans could or would stay in a state of anarchy for an extended period of time, so part of this involves an empty Mad Max world they can wander around encountering new things like they're in a video game. You kind of need that, because without it there's not enough plot and the threadbare science and sociology of the setup shows through a little too much. The first season had the benefit of things like the CDC episode and other straight-up science fiction that took advantage of the world's potential for fun and creepiness; getting held up too long at Hershel's farm is turning this into a tedious HBO drama.

That being said, the last two episodes weren't bad or anything, just that they depended on Rick having the decisionmaking skills of a small goldfish, Carl's apparent demonic possession, and their walker watch system making basically no sense. I'm really not sure why Daryl isn't in charge at this point. Well, yes, I am sure, in that Daryl doesn't exist in the comics, but on a pragmatic level I really have no idea why Daryl isn't in charge, can you think of one good reason?

Eh, TV writing.
prodigy: Dorian Gray from "Horrors of Literature," illustrated by M.S. Corley. (swan king)
I really wanted to like this movie. It left me lukewarm. Not entirely cold, just sort of lukewarm -- I wouldn't warn anyone not to see it, but I would give the proviso that I wish I'd gotten beforehand, which is that it's unsatisfying and raw and sophomoric altogether, both as a horror film and as a movie. In the end, it seemed like a lot of good material roughly pushed together into a slow, confusing, pointless mess of gothic-horror-standard set and sound design. The Woman in Black didn't offend my senses or anything, but it didn't electrify them either, which is what I'm looking for out of a good horror film: in a horror or suspense film I want to be dragged out of my own cynicism, I want to be forced to stop thinking about the number of scare chords on the soundtrack. Unfortunately, The Woman in Black was not that film.

The whole thing suffered from a number of weak points, but I think three stood out as the biggest: (1) the passivity and nonsensical behavior of the protagonist, who spent the entire film puttering about; (2) the confusingness and bad exposition in the plot that left me wondering more about unclarity than suspense; (3) the thematic incoherence and feeling of general pointlessness pervading the storyline. The plot itself was a fairly standard wronged-woman-becomes-vengeful-ghost monstrous-feminine unheimlich haunting number, which was good and bad, so it took some effort to make that confusing. Then again, it also took some effort to fill a house with such an egregious quantity of creepy dolls.

I'm also choosing to believe that Daniel Radcliffe is the Doogie Howser of Victorian solicitors because that is the only way this movie makes sense. He's actually a pretty talented young actor, though, and Ciarán Hinds was a treasure in the movie and every scene with his character was much better than those without. I hope the movie's good for both of their careers. Ah, Ciarán, why couldn't you have been the star?

In the end, the movie would've been eminently fixable with the attention of a good screenwriter, but I think that was the problem: it didn't have one. The production designer needed to trot on back to Tim Burton. It takes more than some canned creepy-doll, creepy-child, and creepy-woman imagery to make a fresh horror film.
prodigy: Gif of the "let's all go to the lobby" pre-movie cartoon. (LET'S ALL GO TO THE LOBBY)
If I kept better track of the books I read, I'd do this for books too, but I read too many and in peculiar sequences. And my TV and movie standards are much lower, which helps me pass for a facsimile of a fun and easygoing person under casual scrutiny.

You know, I never was much of a film person and I'm definitely not a TV person. I'm still not much of a film person -- inasmuch as I wouldn't pass up any form of entertainment or possible art, I wouldn't pass up a film, but it's not high on my list of preferred forms of art or narrative. And never mind the television, if I watch more than 2-3 hours of that a week I start getting depressed and confused like a large shark in an aquarium tank filled with electrical interference.

I once had a friend insinuate that children who grew up without TV were doomed to being socially awkward and out of touch with culture. She was cool. I was 13. I was briefly worried. Now with some perspective I'm happy to report that this was probably one of the dumbest things that came out of anyone's mouth at the time, though some people who are insecure about how much time they spend watching TV are doomed to being out of touch with tact, apparently. But partly due to the company I keep -- and mostly due to having a comparative surfeit of time on my hands -- I have 34 entries and counting under my "TV" tag.

Also, Doctor Who played in 2011, and I wouldn't want to be socially awkward and out of touch with culture! (And there was Game of Thrones which I would've watched if I had to watch it on someone else's smartphone.)

Restricting this to a retrospective of TV/movies in 2011 with an exception or two, I am assigning letter grades for some perspective, as it occurs to me sometimes I say I like a movie and what I really mean was it was about a C on the report card but inoffensive and I was bored. Also one-sentence rundowns where they apply.

2011 was a decent year for TV. )

2011 was a shit year for movies. )

Because best is not the same as favorite:

Favorite TV: Game of Thrones, The Hour, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Sherlock, Downton Abbey.

Favorite Movies: Fright Night was the only one I particularly imprinted on. Sigh. O tempores, o movies.
prodigy: Thomas and O'Brien from Downton Abbey, scheming. (the ladies who lunch)
So it turned out Barnes & Noble was having a buy-2-get-1-free sale when I was trying to hunt down S1 of Sherlock. It's absurdly easy to get me to spend more money under the pretense of spending less money, so I picked up The Hour and Downton Abbey while I was at it, thereby creating a shopping bag overflowing with even more white people than National Public Radio. Anyway, I'd been meaning to watch DA so I could feel like an internet cool kid again, so we did.

Okay, so I didn't really know what Downton was about before I picked it up and couldn't get a straight answer out of anyone. I think this was because no one wanted to say "it's an expensive, high-quality Edwardian soap opera." Because it is an expensive, high-quality Edwardian soap opera. The best expensive, high-quality Edwardian soap opera. I mean, seriously, if they put this much effort into actual soap operas I would never get anything done during the day again. I would watch Passions more often were it overflowing with scenery porn, period costume, and good actors.

Anyway, I have thoughts on Downton, but more importantly I have feelings on Downton so I am going to talk about those instead. )

While we're at it, can we talk about my creepy and animal attraction to Thomas Barrow? I even waited to post until I could find an icon of him gossiping with O'Brien like Regina George. Never mind he's the token Depraved Homosexual that's in every single period drama these days. I realize I am attracted to practically everything, but though I cannot deny the charms of Matthew Crawley's inexplicably beautiful face or John Bates's egregiously stoic high-melodrama manliness, I can't stop staring at Thomas's evil red-lipped vampiric-Rudolph-Valentino-looking face. I can't help it. It helps that I also love O'Brien and I was thrilled every time the Gossip Girls met to scheme and bitch about things. Thomas, I would maintain the delusion that I could somehow provide you enough emotional support to mend your wicked ways until it ruined both our lives. Just for you. Just for you and your red lips. You're right, they don't appreciate you at Downton.

Cripes, this show makes me sound like a goddamn Avengers fan or something. That's probably a high compliment, though -- it says something for the je ne sais quoi entertainment value of a show if it causes me to turn off my Dave Strider personality, that doesn't happen a lot. I'm glad Hugh Bonneville was in this and caused me to watch it despite no particular understanding of why anyone liked it.
prodigy: Titus Pullo looking really sad. (sorry about that)
Well.

Spoilers, naturally.

Feelings )

Thoughts )
prodigy: Sherlock intently half-smiles at John. (you see the things they never see)
Going to try for spoiler-free on this one. Overall -- that's more like it! I'm relieved it was solid. I'm really relieved it was solid. This was the ep of S2 I really hoped was going to be good, considering it was The Hound of the Baskervilles, and all in all it was a pretty decent adaptation of the theme of that story to a modern-day context; I guess it's turning out that I prefer the Gatiss episodes to the other writers, considering "The Great Game" was my last-season favorite. The pacing was just plain better than most Sherlock episodes and it unfolded something like a regular mystery rather than a Moffat Plot Twist Carnival, and didn't keep introducing new elements willy-nilly, which was good.

The character writing for Sherlock was considerably better than "Scandal" and gave BC an opportunity to give him a pretty wide variety of reactions and mannerisms -- it added to his watchability on whole. That said, uh, I realize a lot of people are jumping on Sherlock's actions this ep for being inappropriate, and it's not like they aren't, but I can't be the only one who thought John was rolled-a-natural-1-on-Diplomacy levels of mean?

Overall I agree with [personal profile] relia that the ep could've done better being a 120-minute movie than a 88-minute episode, so it reached about 70% of its potential as it is, but it's better than 30% or 10%. Sherlock really is the uneven series that can't decide whether it's written like a long-running show or a miniseries.
prodigy: Sherlock Holmes tinkers with his chemistry set. (i used to live alone before I knew you)
Hard book to adapt. Better than I expected. Could've been improved with more dialogue, more left on the cutting room floor, and more thematic focus. Sets a little too stylish, mood creepy and disturbing enough. Mark Strong not the man I would've picked for his role, but wound up being my favorite. Benedict Cumberbatch adorable, blowing his boss. Everything else is probably a spoiler.
prodigy: Tulio and Miguel from The Road to El Dorado. (mighty and powerful gods)
I saw two movies this extended weekend in theaters! One was an over-the-top spy-fi action flick, one was a war drama; one got a very high Rotten Tomatoes rating, one got a good-to-okay one; one was not very ambitious or meaningful and one was rather meant to be serious; the first one, of course, was Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and the second War Horse. And in the end I have to agree with Rotten Tomatoes. They were both reasonably good, but MI:GP was much better.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol: This was a movie where people climb like frogs on the sides of Dubai skyscrapers and use magical illusion screens to sneak down hallways in the Kremlin. It pretty much advertised that from the beginning, though, so if you accept that it's a Mission: Impossible flick it was successful and entertaining; it did a fine job of making sure something was always, and I do mean always happening, and at being funny, and at somehow making me like Tom Cruise again for a few hours. Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg were also in it and were adorable. I guess my main issue was that our intrepid heroes spent so much of the movie failing like D&D characters rolling a series of natural 1s that Rel dubbed it "Mission: Incompetent." It kind of was. It was still fun.

War Horse: Despite the fact that Tom Hiddleston is sexy, I don't think this could really decide what kind of movie this was, a Heartwarming Heroic Horse Movie or a War Sucks Movie, and the pacing dragged and the mood stagnated as a result. There were a lot of good moments and all, and Hiddles was sexy if I didn't mention, but it felt like a gritty war movie that didn't quite have the stomach to be gritty. Horse was cute, though.

Black Swan: The second time around, it's amazing how detailed this movie is and how much of it comes through even more on rewatch: the Rothbart's-forest green of Nina's apartment other than her room, which is the only green in the movie, how long it takes her to wear any black, the uncertainty of exactly when her psychosis unfolds, and as Rel pointed out, the brilliance of the emphasized end of the Swan Lake choreography where she's meant to look at Rothbart, Siegfried, and then the audience, and her final three glances in the movie are to her mother, to Thomas, and to the camera. So brilliant.
prodigy: Sherlock concentrates looking into a microscope. (rebels at stagnation)
This episode -- there were definitely elements I liked, especially Sherlock and Mycroft's relationship, and I think all the actors did the best by what they had, but overall: if your gender politics are more backwards than those of a short story published in 1891, you have a problem.

Moffat. Moffat Moffat Moffat.
prodigy: Tate Langdon from American Horror Story. (khthonios)
Fright Night! The Las-Vegas-set horror-comedy-horror Dracula homage I didn't know I wanted for Christmas! I'm sad it had such a limited run in theaters, because it seems like it had a positive reception and it really deserved one -- aside from the matter of David Tennant in eyeliner and leather pants, which stands alone, it was the best vampire movie I've seen in a couple years. As a caveat, I haven't seen the original and I have no idea why they decided to run this in 3-D in theaters, barring faddishness.

From the billing I was expecting something a lot heavier on the Shaun of the Dead side of things; what I got was actually a hilarious-in-bits but otherwise suspenseful and creepy Rear Window-ish contemporary vampire tale. Colin Farrell and David Tennant were both pretty pitch-perfect for their roles, especially Farrell, who got to creep harder than I've ever seen him creep. It had a lot of good lines, line delivery, and 2011-appropriate visual humor, but it benefited especially from some very creepy/beautiful camera shots and deliberate symbolism and social commentary. This movie definitely underscored the sexual assault/molestation element of vampire mythology and underscored it remarkably hard, all things considered, with some fairly disturbing scenes up that alley, as fair warning. I thought it contributed, though, rather than detracting.

Anton Yelchin and his little curly mop are really cute.

Otherwise I am assembling my Yulerecs and eating yogurt.
prodigy: Sherlock Holmes tinkers with his chemistry set. (i used to live alone before I knew you)
A for entertainment! Better than I expected, definitely better than I feared, and 1000% gayer than I expected which is saying a lot considering the first one. Disclaimer: if I was 10x more likely to be kindly disposed towards a paean to the sweeping love of Professor X and Magneto, I was and am about 100x more likely to be kindly disposed towards a paean to the sweeping love of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Which Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes movies are turning out to be. Like, even more so than the vein of Holmes-themed adaptations in general -- that movie was more than bromantic, it was romantic. Even Jude Law knows it.

Aside from that, though, A Game of Shadows was a straight-up entertaining film that rolled along fast enough to make me forgive its inconsistencies and thinner plot elements. The main weaknesses in plot were some individual clues in the mystery that didn't make sense, the lack of attention our scruffy heroes drew to themselves, and the way they wrote out Irene Adler -- which in itself, frankly, did not bother me, as every additional minute Rachel McAdams has spent in these movies has caused me a small degree of physical pain, but the plot point itself was weak. Pretty much everything else came rolled-up in the genre of steampunk action-adventure, but I suspect anyone who didn't want to see a steampunk action-adventure movie would not have come to see this film in the first place.

It was fun! Really fun. And funny, which was the important thing -- there was a lot of amazing stuff in the way of line delivery, reaction shots (esp. from Jude Law), and straight-up visual humor, which kept the whole thing from being tiresomely taken-too-seriously despite having a somewhat more serious tone than the first film. The franchise is making a solid choice in capitalizing on the fact that RDJ is an actor with a high charisma score and an exceptional level of cuteness, and lets him look unreasonable and cute more often than levelheaded and charming. Noomi Rapace and Jared Harris were good enough in their roles, but their Sebastian Moran was surprisingly cool (and, uh, dedicated to Moriarty), which I was happy about considering too many Holmes adaptations totally waste Moran in the first place.

My favorite thing about the Ritchie Holmes franchise is and continues to be Jude Law's John Watson. The rest of it is basically just bouncy and entertaining -- he's genuinely solid and serious in the role and lends the only real emotional heft to the films via his relationship with his frustrating Manic Pixie Dream Genius boyfriend. I think he's an exception in this case to the general idea that a handsomer actor will be less talented and less suited to an important role: he carries what's an otherwise silly and adrenaline-fueled story to being something you can bring yourself to invest in, and he's dead sexy. I will pretty much watch anything with Law!Watson in.

And RDJ looks pretty cute in lipstick.

ETA: AS [personal profile] relia SO KINDLY REMINDED ME, SORRY SORRY STEPHEN FRY: MYCROFT! MYCROFT MYCROFT MYCROFT!

Shame

Dec. 11th, 2011 03:31 pm
prodigy: Frodo Baggins looks haunted and somewhere to the right. (but i do not know the way)
It takes a pretty engaging movie to make you forget that Michael Fassbender is as egregiously handsome as he is. Shame was that engaging -- more engaging than that, actually. At the beginning I was wondering how a movie featuring a character's sex addiction as a central and serious plot element was going to be carried off without being lurid or glamourized with such a ludicrously good-looking leading man, but after about 15 minutes in I stopped looking at his ass and forgot I was interested in looking at his ass in the first place; by the end I felt like I was watching the humiliating struggles and breakdown of some poor troubled person and that getting off on it would be creepy and voyeuristic, so in that sense, the movie did really well. (So did his acting.) Sex is a hard topic to carry off seriously in American cinema. We tend to be really uncomfortable with it.

Actually, I really liked the movie altogether. I can see why it's gotten such an excellent critical reception. It's been sort of billed as being about a yuppie's sex addiction, and being "like American Psycho with sex instead of violence," and in that it's a repressed-overachiever-has-a-downward-spiral film it's got some things in common with American Psycho and Black Swan, yes. But Black Swan is part psychological horror film and American Psycho is dripping with Bret Easton Ellis's contempt for 90s yuppie culture -- Shame on the other hand has plenty of compassion for its unhappy main character, which is what really makes it work as a movie, in my opinion. A movie called Shame about a miserable protagonist drowning his sorrows in a pathological sex addiction could have been incredibly exploitative and/or judgmental, but I never got the sense I was supposed to look down on Brandon (or Cissy) or feel superior to them. I felt like I was watching someone's unhappy life, with all the little embarrassments and miseries involved. There was some underscored subtext of an abuse history that the siblings shared, but it wasn't beaten to death.

The NC-17 rating liberated it to show whatever details of Brandon's life we needed to see to understand him, which made it succeed without being prudish or shock-value -- cutting it to an R would've upped the luridness factor considerably. It says a lot that a film like this was an NC-17, though. As I recall, the only disturbing content was one short, violence-centric scene near the end (well-done, but disturbing). The rest was just nudity and sexuality.

Meanwhile, Hostel clocked in at an R. Yup.

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prodigy: "Blondie" from Leone's Old West trilogy accompanied by Pikachu. (Default)
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