Tag Archives: movies

allergies suck, podcasting, movies…basically a mayaland grab bag of a post

Excuses: I had the weirdest, sudden, extreme allergy attack this weekend.  Came on as exhaustion, culminated in 36 hours of non-stop sneeze attacks, drip drip drip runny nose, and super intense itchy eyes and palate.  And now it seems to be 90% gone.  Sources say the plantains have just bloomed—could I have a weird and intense allergy to plantains?  Dunno.  But the upshot of all of this is that I apparently have had no interesting (read: blog worthy) thoughts for days and days.  I’ve just been slogging through the tissue box, feeling swelled up and itchy and miserable.  Poor, poor me.

In lieu of a coherent blog post, here are some random thoughts pinging around in my head that, while not quite adding up to a blog post singularly, might, in list form:

I went in to edit episode 16 of Conjuring Raine and found that I really didn’t care for how my voice sounded.  I sounded so awake.  And sharp somehow, kind of…zingy.  Then remembered that I had recorded it in the afternoon, after coffee and driving and normal kidemonium, instead of at my usual quiet, half-asleep, 5 in the morning.  Time of day has a big impact on voice.  Well, duh, but damn.  I’m going to have to re-record, I think.  Oh, and I rewrote the ending again.  That will be about five times.

Thank you everyone who has been leaving me such wonderful comments, by the way!  I really, really appreciate it, and the ones on the podiobooks site might help other people decide to try the book out, too, so double thank you.  Over 8000 downloads of the various eps so far!

Let’s see.  Goat babies are fine, growing, integrated in with the other goats (finally) and seem to have acquired names.  Sam and Sally.  Although Sally is sometimes also called Zippy.  On account of how she zips around, of course.  Soon we have to start thinking about selling them.  Sob!

What else?  Well, we’ve been really looking forward to the Last Airbender movie (you might recall what huge fans we are of the show) but the weirdly negative reviews have dimmed our enthusiasm.  7% on RottenTomatoes.com?  How is that even possible?  The vitriol this movie has accreted is like a farce, or some paranormal curse on M. Night’s head, I mean, these are the worst reviews I have ever read.  How could it really be that bad, when it comes from something so good, and the previews look totally cool?  It’s like M. Night is paying some debt to the devil or something.  Now the bad reviews are starting to have the reverse effect: they’re making me want to go see it just to find out what the fuss is all about.

But while M. Night pays off his bargain with the devil, Stephanie Meyers continues to reap the gains from hers.  Instead of Airbender, I went to see Eclipse.  I actually really liked it.  Somehow the screenwriter has written about 90% of the stupid out of the book, leaving all the good bits.  Also, Bella actually takes some actions in this version, instead of being this passive whiner all the time.  And they finally got Edward’s make-up right.  Oh, and there were no laugh-for-the-wrong-reason moments like that silly future-vision scene in New Moon, or the painfully awful hospital bed freak-out scene in Twilight.  Good job David Slade and Co!  My only complaint was Victoria.  I love Bryce, I really do.  For me, she was terrific in The Village, and Lady in the Water, and I know everyone complains about both of those movies, but I loved them, so sue me (what is it reviewers have against Night, anyway?)—but she didn’t work for me as Victoria.   Maybe it was the strange shape of her hair?  I wanted to like Bryce in the role, but Rachelle Lefevre was just…better.  Sorry, Bryce, but there it is.

Oh, have you read Angry White Pajamas?  Terrific book about a white poet going in for a year of brutal marital arts training in Japan. Makes me glad I do yoga.  You can’t beat someone up with it, but you don’t rub all the skin off your knees or get your arm broken by a vindictive teacher, either.  Recommended read, especially if you like travel lit.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got. Hmmm. Random thoughts don’t add up to much, even in a list.  Ping, pong, this, that, oh and some of this other thing, what was I saying?  This is what the inside of my head has been like—achoo!

Ah well, maybe now that I’m not sneezing as often as breathing, I’ll be able to have a coherent stream of thoughts about something again.

I hope.

in which i rant about The Back-Up Plan, and some goats

I used to (read: before kids) go to movies all the time.  I love going to the movies!  But now, I maybe only get to the theater once or twice a year.  Maybe.  So, on a lark today, when Paul took a surprise afternoon off, I thought, heck, I’m going to go see something. Something fluffy, something frothy, some rom-com, just me by myself, and I’m going to eat a block chocolate while I’m at it.  Given the offerings this week-end, that meant I went to see “The Back-Up Plan.”

About five minutes in, I realized I was in a Perfect Boyfriend Fantasy story for Women Who Have Had Children, a chick flick to end all chick flicks, a towering tsunami of estrogen, because what guy would ever willingly go to a movie about pregnancy?  Basically the movie promises a perfect, sexy, funny, romantic guy, who will stay with you, and still want to be with you, even while you lose your mother-loving shit with the mood swings, all while gaining two pounds a week for almost a year, and that’s just for starters.  And in this one, the kids are not even his, so he’s a saint, too.

So far, so good, I’m in, let’s do this thing. I’m ready for a shot of some feel-good estrogen romance, no I’m not on the rag, why do you ask?  And it was going along okay, J-Lo is adorable and funny and charming, Alex is adorable and funny and charming—the plot is predictable, but okay, I knew that going in.  And then it happens. We hit the MASSIVE PLOT HOLE that trashed it all for me.

But first, back-up (heh), what happened with the guy character?  What happened when the writers were coming up with ‘Stan’?  I mean, casting Alex is great, but you’ve got to give him something to work with.  It’s like they were so busy writing cutsy pregnancy moments for J-Lo, they completely forgot that romance requires TWO, count them TWO, interesting characters to really work.  Maybe ‘Stan’ was just swept away in the estrogen tide?

They did try, I think.  Sort of.  They made him a farmer.  A goat farmer.  And a cheese-maker.  And this is good, this has potential, I mean, farming is manly, and there are lots of possibilities for humor with farmer-boy and city-girl, etc.  That’s all fine.

Except we never see Stan do any farming—minus  that one lovely, shirtless, driving-the-tractor scene, of course.  But where is the mucking out the stall (shirtless) scene?  Where is the milking the goat scene?  Where is the, I don’t know, ANY farming of any kind scene?  Heck, we never even see him eat any of the cheese he makes.  (And do you know how much WORK it would take, how many workers you’d have to have, to make as many cheeses as he’s got in his aging room?  That was a fuck load of cheese!  Making cheese takes a lot of freaking work!  And oh, they never mention the obvious joke—and since it was all about obvious jokes—pregant women aren’t supposed to eat soft cheeses, goat cheese, fresh cheese, it has something to do with the bacteria or something, I never understood it.  I guess that joke (that she never eats his cheese?) hit the cutting room floor.  But I digress.)

Actually, Stan never really does anything at all.  Except react to Jennifer. That’s his entire character and most of his jokes—reactions to the insanity of pregnancy, reacations to J-Lo’s impossible cuteness, reactions to the nuttiness of the situation.  His job is to stay, no matter how whacked the preggo lady gets.  Which he does.  Stan exists as a loving mirror for pregnant women everywhere to look into when they want to believe that they are really still desirable.

And okay, it’s hokey, but it was still going to probably work for me on a shallow level except for one thing, that massive plot hole I mentioned.

I said that he’s a goat farmer, right?  Being a goat farmer myself, and on nowhere near the scale that Stan is, I’ve had every disgusting body fluid that a goat can produce on me at some point, had my hand up to the forearm inside a goat, turning a baby around, I’ve birthed ’em, burned their horns off—I haven’t killed them or castrated them, but you know Stan, with the size of his goat operation, Stan would have done these things.  Because this is what being a goat farmer IS.

There is no way in hell a goat farmer is going to be grossed out, or even blink, at pregnancy, birth, or body fluids.

But half of the jokes in this movie are the requisite pregnancy gross-out moments.

COME ON PEOPLE, WHO WROTE THIS THING????  Obviously no one who knows any real goat farmers.

It would be so easy to fix.  Just give him a different job.  Make him a vegetable farmer.  Make him a dog trainer.  Whatever.

OR.  Why not let him man up and actually be a farmer?  Let him NOT be grossed out when she totally is.  That would have been so much more interesting than yet another Man Passes Out In The OB-GYN Office scene.  Please.  Haven’t we seen that enough times already?  Heck, let him deliver the baby!  Wouldn’t that have been cool?  Get them stuck in an elevator or something, I don’t know.  Don’t they pay writers hundreds of thousands of dollars to think up this stuff?

(And another thing.  Dairy goats cann’t run mixed herds, that is, you don’t keep the bucks with the does, or else you get bucky-smelling milk, which you do not want—but which Stan totally has with that herd of goats we get a brief glimpse of.  Also, you don’t want diary goats with horns, because you’re going to get gored, sooner or later, handling them every day the way a goat farmer must do.  But I’m willing to let all that slide, okay?  The body fluid thing, no.)

I do not blame Mr. O’Loughlin for these faults.  We know he can play a farmer very well, just watch the wonderful, Australian, The Oyster Farmer, a superior movie in every way to the Back-Up Plan.  I’m serious, go watch it, it’s hilarious and moving and worth your time.  We also know Alex can play a strong, manly-but-vulnerable man as the second character to a Super-Strong woman character as in the amazing Mary Bryant, the title character played by the astonishing Romola Garai.  And you should totally see that, except get ready to have your heart ripped out.  Several times.

No, I totally blame the writers for forgetting to make Stan an interesting character.  Or maybe it was the producers for cutting all his scenes?

But most especially, for letting a goat farmer faint at the sight of a little vaginal blood.

As Paul said, after hearing this rant (and I rant because I may not get to the theater for another movie for months and months and I’m sad because I didn’t get my movie fix):

I guess there aren’t that many goats in L.A.

are you buying this?

It was a quiet long-weekend around here for us. But I did get my semi-annual mommy-afternoon-off—woo hoo! I decided to go to the movies, all by my own little self. Man, I used to love going to the movies. I’d meet my cousin every Monday and see a matinee of…whateverthefuck, I sure didn’t care. But it’s been years since those days of carefree Monday afternoons and I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, not only by the price (nine bucks for a matinee???), but by the ADS. I’m not talking about previews. I mean ads. When did this happen?

Okay, I’m sure this is not news to most people. But there were SEVEN ads before the previews even started. I was flabbergasted. Trapped in a dark room with fifty strangers and forced to watch seven ads back-to-back I realized, in these days of netflix and dvr, how few ads I see anymore. And they were…weird. I mean, do these things really work to sell stuff? Does anyone really buy something because of seeing an ad?

The first ad (and no, I’m not going to do all seven) was this really freaking bizarre hard-sell for the National Guard that totally grossed me out. Massive, driving, aggressive soundtrack, Black Hawk Down cinematography, undertone words of “Who will be the next hero?” and images straight out of the movies of attractive, clean soldiers doing all the things you’ve ever seen them do in the heroic moments of soldier movies. You know, carrying their buddy off the battle field (“never leave your comrade behind!”), saving children from a burning building (complete with fancy fire-coming-at-you special effects), flying multi-bazillion-dollar equipment (toys!), training with each other in a test of wills a la “Officer and a Gentleman,” etc. For heaven’s sake, does anyone really believe this is what it is like in the military??? For one thing, the soldiers depicted were either shown saving someone, or pretending to fight in a training situation. Never actually killing someone, which is what all that fancy equipment is for y’all. And hey, I was a military brat, I know something of which I speak—where was the boredom? The humiliation? The loss of personal freedom? The paperwork? I wanted to turn to the teen-agers behind me and ask if they were buying it, and give them a good talking-to if they were (am I getting old?) but I’d already scared them off by asking them (hey, I was nice about it!) to stop kicking my seat. I was horrified by this ad, let me tell you.

Anyway, after we saved the world from a faceless enemy, the second ad was for…wait for it…mayonnaise! That’s right! They advertise mayo at the movies now! I really, really thought this was a farce. At any second it would turn into a joke, these semi-seventies-looking people having happy cholesterol-filled lives were really going to be zombies, or the film would ‘break’ revealing the true ad beneath. Something. But nope, it was a straight-up, irony-free, mayo ad that showed a dozen dishes (including a desert splattered with mayo flecks, ewwww) and a dozen family members just thrilled with life, eating them up—or no, maybe no one was actually eating, just serving the dishes to other people. Maybe eating would be too yucky looking?

Now, listen, I really like mayo. I even make my own. But by the end of this ad, I felt nauseous. Talk about an ad mis-firing.

Or was it just me? Does this sort of thing work on anyone?

The next ad was for a car, I forget which one. These young people had scored (as in, ‘made lines in’) the pavement of a long, straight stretch of road, probably out west somewhere, such that a variety of tones were made when a car drove over the different sections of scoring. (You know how it makes a sound when you hit the scoring on the side of the road at night, when you’re trying not to fall asleep as you drive? No, I’ve never done that, why do you ask?). The variety of tones, as they drove over them, made a song. It took a moment to figure out that this was what was happening. I’m pretty sure the old guy sitting next to me never got it. But anyway, I liked the kookiness of this activity. I’m always in favor of people doing crazy stuff in the name of art. But I don’t get what it has to do with the car. Obviously, it doesn’t matter what car you’re driving to make the little song play. It just has to have tires, right? Is the brand trying to absorb the coolness of the young people’s art project? Do the ad people think they are creating a link there, something along the lines of, “If I get that car, I’ll be cool and creative like those young people…” ? Does that linking really work on anyone? I mean, it only takes a mili-second of direct thought to see that there is no link. Maybe they count on people not taking that mili-second?

There was a Wii ad for Super Mario Brothers. But by now I was starting to glaze. I decided I would count the ads, so I held up fingers to remember how many had gone by, because I knew I would never remember what number I was on if I didn’t. That’s how I know there were seven.

Glazing, sleepy, zoning out…. I remember there was a Wendy’s ad, but I don’t remember the actual ad—except that it had some surprising juxtapositions in it, only I don’t remember what they were, and the only reason I remember it at all was that the theater audience clapped! That made me wake up. People clapping? For an ad? That was strange. I wish I knew why they were clapping! Would they have clapped in their homes? Probably not. Did someone start the clapping and the rest followed, like a stampede? I noticed it was for Wendy’s because the clapping made me focus in on the screen for a second and there was “Wendy’s!” written on it. Maybe Wendy’s hired people to go into theaters across the nation and start clapping at that ad, just to get people to wake up at the crucial moment? Well, I did wake up. But I don’t want Wendy’s food. I know the difference between the appealing, colorful photos and the real item they serve you. Um…yuck. But really, clapping? Huh.

Okay, that’s five ads and I have no memory at all of the other two. If it was your company that paid a bazillion buckaroos for one of those spots, your ad made absolutely no impact on me. Unless I subliminally took in a fierce and irresistible desire to buy…whatever it was. But I doubt it. Sorry. You wasted your money. On me anyway.

Finally, the ads were over and we got…more ads. Previews I mean.

Am I so jaded/sophisticated/numb that ads just don’t work on me anymore? Is this unusual, or status quo for early 21st century American? Ad companies must be freaking desperate if they are trying to get people-like-me’s attention because it’s nigh impossible. My brain’s ad-blocking features are ninja. That is to say, I might even sit there and watch an ad because I’m curious about the little story, or the joke, or I’m trapped in a dark room and can’t leave, but the ad, ultimately, doesn’t work. Even for things I already want, the ads don’t appear to make me want the thing more, or want that brand of thing more, or want that thing sooner.

Maybe I am just not the target market?

Come on, tell the truth, did anyone in that theater go buy some mayonnaise?

And hey, to the fuckheads who started putting ads in front of movie previews: I PAID NINE BUCKS to get into that movie. I have to pay AND see ads? That is just wrong.

/rant

the matrix revolutions that should have been

I heard a “This American Life” once where one of the stories was about this guy, a huge Star Wars fan as a kid (as was I), who had been so upset by Phantom Menace that he found himself rewriting it, nightly, as he fell asleep. He worked out a whole elaborate plot and explained, in the radio piece, how his version would have been So Much Better.

I felt that way about the third Matrix movie. And the time has come for me to get this off my chest.

SPOILERS AHEAD if you haven’t seen the movies and you care about such things.

Okay? Okay.

I remember seeing the poster for the first Matrix and thinking, wow, that looks nifty. It still does, doesn’t it?

And the previews all had all super-cool looking clips, all from the first half of the movie. I saw the first Matrix in the theater on a huge screen that no longer exists, as it was later cut up into two tiny theaters, and then closed down altogether. The theater was packed—wow, when was the last time I saw a movie with that many people? I was immersed in the story, enjoying the mystery of it all, and then WHOOSH—

—Neo wakes up in the Vat of Goo, and WHAMMO! Remember that feeling? That the bottom had dropped out? This is a dream sequence, right? A drug induced weirdness? No? WHOA! This is a totally different movie than I thought it was! COOL.

In a movie full of awesomeness, that moment was, by far, the best.

I liked the second movie. I did. I know some people had problems with it, and it didn’t do for me what the first one had, but it was full of complicated chewy goodness, questions of identity and purpose, meaning of life, ethical choices, and cool leather jackets. And it promised so much.

I was stoked at the end for what they would come up with next, I believed they would make good on their promise. I believed!

But the last one. Revolutions. Oh, man. It hurt, didn’t it? The stupid Kid subplot was awful. The whole business with Niobe and the dude infected with Agent Smith, Bane, what a waste of time. And whe whole Machine City thing made no sense. Neo being a blind prophet, having powers outside of the Matrix, dying in the end—none of it worked.

I’m sorry, but gawd, what happened?

Let’s now have a moment of silence for our hopes and dreams for Matrix: Revolutions.

No, forget that.

Instead, I’ll tell you want should have happened.

At the end of Reloaded, Neo had just saved Trinity and then somehow repelled the incoming Sentinels with some kind of EM pulse from his bare, supposedly human (that is, not in the Matrix) hand. And Agent Smith seems to have taken over a human.

But all of Neo’s powers came from his ability to see through the Matrix code and manipulate it. Outside of the Matrix, he’s just this guy. And Agent Smith is a program, a bit of code—if he is a program, he’s got to have a computer to infect, right?

So clearly, they’re still in the Matrix.

Wouldn’t that have been cool? The Wachowski brothers could have pulled the rug out from under us a second time.

That’s righty, the whole Zion world could have been just another Matrix program, designed especially for those human minds that the Architect said were too rebellious by nature to tolerate the more mainstream 1999 program. Give the rebellious minds a revolutionary city to love and protect and they’ll happily go through their days fighting the Machines while their bodies provide electricity to Machine City.

But no, let’s take it further. Maybe that whole image of fields of human beings in pods, maybe that’s from the past, too. Maybe, just as 1999 was chosen as a time period with which to distract the minds of the majority of humans, maybe 2199 is just another time period chosen as a distraction for these other humans. It was real at one point, but no longer.

So what would real life be like in the Now?

I say, the Machines advanced on. When Neo does his thing to pierce the 2199 program and is awakened from the Matrix-within-the Matrix once more, he finds the Machines wearing beautiful human-like bodies, in a beautiful light-filled, enclosed, city. Here, some of the Machine population argue that the humans are no longer needed for energy, are no longer a threat, and so they should be set free. Kind of PETA for People. And maybe the Machines need the humans for something, creativity, art, ingenuity, maybe they’ve ground to a halt, maybe they’ve lost their sense of purpose. Maybe they want to know their creators. I dunno. But whatever it is, Neo and some of his friends are put into new (cloned, perhaps?) bodies, given a tour of the Brave New World, and are confronted with the idea that the Machines are no longer their enemies.

Should Neo and Trinity trust this version of the Machines? Can they trust their senses? Is the war really over?

And then there would be some intrigue between different Machine factions where some wish to destroy the humans forever, some are just using the ‘Human Question’ to distract from something else, or as PR to make their group look good, meanwhile they really are doing the opposite. Maybe the big secret is that the Earth has repaired itself, that the humans COULD be set loose into it, to coexist with the Machines, while some Machines cover this up for their own reasons. Some programs want to help the humans, some are pretending to want to help, some want to destroy, some could care less. The nature of life, the meaning of existence, what are we here to do with our time, all of that could be questioned and explored. Conflicting information, conflicting goals—what should Neo do?

But it won’t be a cool Matrix movie if it doesn’t have some time in the Matrix, right? So, say the humans can join the Machine communications, like hooking up to the internet, only instead of nasty spike in the head, there is some elegant hand-in-a-light-beam interface or something. Lots of cool mileau stuff you could do here, exploring Machine City. Neo gets to do his thing, maybe some fights, throw in some sex, yada yada, all in the Machine Matrix. Woo hoo!

Until finally, the bad Machines are trounced and a group of humans, in their nice new bodies (no freaky holes in the head!), and some Machines in theirs, escape the confines of the Machine City and go out into the natural world, the environment repaired by the passage of time, to begin anew. Neo is back to being just this guy. Trinity gets to see her sky. We walk out of the theater stoked.

Wouldn’t that have been So Much Better?

I am certain it would have been.

let the right one in

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“Let the Right One In” is the best vampire movie, ever, in all the history of vampire movies. Period. What more could you possibly need to know? Go. Now. Netflix it, rent it, buy a copy, whatever. Watch this movie.

And don’t, DON’T, watch the dubbed version. Go into the ‘set up’ menu on your DVD and be sure to turn OFF the awful, terrible, soul numbing dubbing, and turn ON the English subtitles. You will want to hear the amazing actor’s voices, not the squeaky emotionless dubs, even if you have no idea what the actors are saying (it’s in Swedish). Trust me on this. And if you like vampire stories, or even if you don’t, if you just like fascinating, character driven, quiet, creepy stories—or hell, if you just love stellar filmmaking, you will be mesmerized and moved by this deeply interesting film.