Category Archives: Reviews

Joy Is At The Helm

Boyfriend and I saw Inside Out last night.  Why is it anyway that they’ve starting showing movies that open Friday at like 7pm on Thursday, anyway?  Regardless, this was a very good movie.  No, it wasn’t any Up as the previews kept saying.  However, I think that Inside Out is going to be a movie that starts some very important conversations.

First up, the plot.   The main character, Riley, an 11 year old girl has some major changes come up in her life.  Actually, the main characters are the personified emotions in Riley’s head: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.  They each have their own role in keeping Riley safe, happy, and healthy, by basically influencing her into making memories.  We all know how that goes – something happens, we’re influenced by some emotion based on past experiences, and we react and create new memories.

When these big changes happen in Riley’s life, her emotions are thrown into a panic, but Joy tries to keep everything together.  She tries to keep Riley happy and well, joyful.  Joy is at the emotion that seems to be “in charge,” she’s at the helm, trying to keep Riley in her personal happy places.  Unfortunately, when Riley’s life is in flux, Sadness has an uncontrollable urge to touch the memories, which starts turning them blue.  Joy and the other emotions try to banish Sadness and prevent her from touching anything, but she cannot seem to stop it, and doesn’t know why, so she’s eternally apologetic.

When all this was happening, I turned to Evan and said, “Holy crap, she’s depressed!”  Even though I’m no mental health professional and I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, this sounded like every conversation I’ve ever had with someone about their diagnosis, if they have either depression or bipolar.  What’s important to RIley starts to crumble away, and Joy and Sadness embark on an epic quest through long term memory to bring Riley back to them.

I don’t want to give away too too much, but the ending, the moral, it’s a heavy one for kids.  It’s okay to be sad sometimes.  We can’t always be Joy.  And without Sadness, Joy loses it’s luster.

This movie could seriously bring up what needs to get brought out of the shadows and into the light of mental illness.  It’s the beginning of a conversation about how no matter how wonderful and how perfect our life seems and how much of a happy face we put on, there’s a million more things going on below the surface.  It’s the story of how we’re all different, even though we have the same emotions (for each glimpse into another person’s head, there was a different emotion, “at the helm”).  Emotions are simply not that simple and memory can change over time.  And sometimes things go wrong and we need help.

Let’s talk about childhood depression.  It exists.  It’s heart-wrenching, and it’s usually swept under the rug.  Thank you Pixar, for taking steps to bring it into the light.

That being said, my new mantra is: JOY IS AT THE HELM.  Maybe I can keep Joy at the helm of my life (though I can’t imagine – I think Anger’s at my helm).

Joy is at the Helm

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One Seriously Bad Ass Botanist

Six days into a mission on Mars, Mark Watney is left behind by his crew during an emergency evacuation.  He is left with the Hab, in which to live, an assortment of research vehicles and materials, enough food for 6 people to live on the surface of Mars for another 50 days, and absolutely no way to communicate to Earth that he is still alive.  Mark was part of Ares 3; Ares 4 will be coming to Mars in about four years.

 Thus begins on seriously bad ass botanist’s struggle for survival on an alien wasteland.

The Martian is mostly told from the first person perspective of Mark, in his personal logs while he attempts to survive for as long as humanly possible.  What I didn’t realize from the descriptions of this book before reading it, is that it is fucking hilarious.  After many many days alone on Mars, Mark starts to get punchy.  His sense of humor is dry and sort of not-funny funny, which is perfectly on point for my sense of humor.  I was literally laughing out loud as I read, and I don’t do that when I’m reading Terry Pratchett.

Here’s a taste of the ridiculousness that comes in between the science, which this novel is chock full of.

“LOG ENRTY: SOL 61
How come Aquaman can control whales?  They’re mammals!  Makes no sense.”

Speaking of, this book is definitely full of science.  I had to go back and re-read passages numerous times to really understand certain things that Mark was doing to a) fix equipment b) create water/oxygen c) make his vehicles go further and faster and with enough power to go for days.  Surprisingly, this was not a detriment.  Far on the other side, in fact, it called to mind classic science fiction pulled from my father’s shelves when I was too young to really understand the science, that once I opened, I could never put back down.  It brought back Asimov and Anthony – even though their science was … less scientific by the time I read them, it still brought back that feeling of science being totally epic.

AND MARK’S ONLY A BOTANIST!

Seriously, Andy Weir – thank you so much for writing this book.  I laughed out loud, I sat on the edge of my seat, I cheered for the characters.  I burned dinner the night I finished it because I could not put it down long enough to take the shit out of the oven.  Okay, I didn’t burn dinner, but I would have, if the boyfriend hadn’t taken it out of the oven because I sure as hell wasn’t doing it.

So why are you all still reading this?  GO READ THE MARTIAN.

PS.  I’m super excited for the movie, but I don’t know how I feel about Matt Damon playing Mark.

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The Moral of This Story: Research Before You Move

I don’t think that I’ve ever timed anything so well in my life.  I managed to see two movies today, Ex Machine and Poltergeist 3D and the overlap was nonexistent.  I finished movie one and stepped into the theater of movie two as the previews started to roll; win, massive win.  Usually on two movie days, I find myself with some arbitrary amount of time to kill between films and therefore out of boredom eating double the amount of popcorn that I should.  As is, I sit here with uncomfortable popcorn-belly.  I’m having a popcorn baby, you guys!

So, I was impressed by both movies, but I think I’m going to write on Ex Machina later, as I think that requires a little more chewing in my brain before I can really digest it properly.  So I guess that makes this post about Poltergeist 3D.


Let’s start with this detail: I’ve never seen the original Poltergeist, and honestly, even as a horror fan, I know nothing about it.  I recognized some nods to iconic scenes, but I feel like those scenes I’ve only seen as nods in other movies.

It starts as every haunting story that I’ve ever seen starts, a family moves into a new house for whatever reason they had to leave their last home and are forced to move somewhere new.  The children immediately find something wrong with the house, whatever that may be.  One child is terrified, one embraces, and one is apathetic.  Something happens to convince the parents that the children are not making this up.  They call in experts.

Of course the idea that the child is sucked into the Poltergeists’ dimension is not something I’ve ever seen and that’s where it started to feel different, special.  Because someone has to go in after her.

I’m not sure how necessary the 3D was to the effects, but the effects were pretty good.  There wasn’t anything so overblown that it took me out of the moment.  There was a lot more creepy made up hands and flickering lights than over the top effects.  Of course the portal is a little strange and that’s where most of the overblown unbelievable effects happened.  But really, the only thing that took me out of the moment was the horrible girl sitting behind me who kept gorram kicking my seat.  And I cannot blame the film for that.

I actually found myself emotionally invested in the characters, as well as jumping out of my skin – both hallmarks of a very good horror movie.

I now have every intention in the world of seeing the original.  I really can’t believe that I have made it to 28 and never seen it.

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It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World

All Cards on the table:  Going in to see Max Mad: Fury Road, I knew less than nothing about the franchise.  I knew it was a franchise called Mad Max, and I picked up from the previews that it was set in a post-apocalyptic world.  Other than that, I really knew nothing at all about the goddamn films, but the previews for this one made me want to see it and hard.

Good, good decision.  Go see it.  Go.  Now.


In a post apocalyptic wasteland, what are the two most important resources?  Water … and women.

Okay, phrased like that, it sounds pretty horrible.  But really, think about it.  Most of the human race is decimated, oil is basically nonexistent, water is a precious commodity (can’t grow food, or control the masses without it).  In order for the human race to continue, what do we need to do?  We need to reproduce.  And we don’t just need to reproduce, we need to have healthy children, with a healthy gene-pool.  Otherwise, not only have we broken the world, but we’ve effectively wiped the human race off the planet.

Water and Women.  Truly, the most precious commodities in the entire Mad Max verse.  And yet, somehow they made this apparent without being something that made my inner feminist want to punch things in the face.  The female characters started as people that were irritating and sheltered, but they did this thing, and here’s the part that I liked, they grew as people.  That’s the whole difference.  That’s what takes what could have been a teeth grinding anti-feminist issue into something believable, something epic.

Women are actually the only precious commodity that they seem to value at all, in fact. The wars that broke the world were about oil, yet they spend their days in modified 4-wheelers and other cars that have been modified into flame spouting war machines.  Water is rare and controlled, yet they find the time to bathe the sexy women in true Sports Illustrated fashion.  Yet somehow, who the hell cares about the realism?  The movie was epic.  The special effects were even more epic.  The explosions are goddamned amazing.

On the same note, though, those wasteful ridiculous moments are clearly a commentary on our waste in the modern, real, world.  We’re very close to an oil crisis, but do you see anyone slowing down on consumption?  Nope.  We actually have a drought in California, one that’s going to have devastating effects on agriculture for the world, and what are we doing about it in the rest of the country?  Turning a blind eye and turning on our sprinklers.  Seriously, for an action packed, action movie, there was some serious commentary on the world, if you took a moment to look.

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Is it possible? A Female Joker?

If you haven’t watched the last two episodes of Gotham stop now.  Seriously stop reading.  There are heavy duty spoilers ahead.  Why are you still here?  SPOILERS AHOY!

Evan and I finished the last couple episodes of Gotham last night and they were pretty good, considering it felt that for most of the season the show sort of floundered.  Batman’s a hard genre to tackle in a real world setting and I’m not sure they got it quite right for most of the season.  Until Fish returned.  Now she stank of Batman-villain and it was glorious.  Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.

The point is as follows:  When the season started, I heard rumors that by end of the season they were planning on introducing the Joker.  So, needless to say, I had high expectations for the season finale.  Now, you’ll have to forgive me, we binge watched the last two episodes so I don’t remember exactly what happened in the second-to-last versus the last.

Barbara is kidnapped and in true Stockholm Syndrome fashion is asked by the man who kidnapped her and claims to love her “Who do you want me to kill?”  Via some police work, Gordon learns that they’re on their way up to Barbara’s parents’ house.  We see Barbara and her kidnapper speaking to her parents and she whispers, “Please.”  The next time we see Barbara, her eyes are totally blank and her dress has blood on it.  She is rescued, but her parents are already dead.

The creepy-ass blank look in Barbara’s eyes, this is clearly why they hired this actress, which I truly never understood before.  This was also when an idea started to come to me.  Was it possible that Barbara was the Joker?  Wouldn’t that turn the fandom on it’s head?  I’d away suspected that Gordon’s current girlfriend was being set up to be Harley Quinn and we know from her relationships in the comics that she swings a little bit both ways (Hello, Poison Ivy).

During the last episode of the season, there’s a mob war going on between Falcone and Marconi, facilitated by Penguin.  It’s a pretty epic war, and what makes it most epic is Fish and Selina Kyle’s appearance.  During all of this, Barbara is being counseled by Gordon’s girlfriend.  She is pushing Barbara to talk about what happened at her parents’ house.  She wants Barbara to talk out her problems, when it turns out that Barbara’s problems are really reality.  She feels “this is the dream […] that [she] will wake up and he will be alive and coming for [her].”  Which the Doc interprets as an unrealistic fear – I interpret as wishful.  She then tells the Doc that she killed her parents.  I believe that she had fallen in love with her captor, that he had turned her, convinced her that this crazy, murderer was her true self.

I have come to believe that Barbara could be the Joker!  That it would be a truly awesome turn.  It would, as I stated previously, turn the entire fandom on it’s head.  But!  Imagine the merch!  Imagine the cosplay!   If they do it correctly, imagine the most epic female villain in the entire Batman universe!  Joker has always played chaotic evil, what would be more chaotic than to change his evil persona to her evil persona.  I would be truly excited to see the next season.  It could give the show the character that it so badly needs – it could give the show the direction that it needs to continue.  Or it could crash and burn.  But I would truly love to see that.  It would be an amazing experiment in making the Joker longer living – what if he’s not a single man, but the mantle is passed down from crazy to crazy?  What if this time it’s a woman?  Joker’s so mutilated that it’s impossible or should be to truly identify even the gender of the Joker.  Especially since Gotham‘s sort of kind of in modern times with possible facial recognition?  Is it possible that this is why Joker cuts off his face in the new comics?  Is it possible that he handed his mantle to a woman?

Apparently I’m a conspiracy theorist!  JOKER IS A WOMAN.  JOKER IS A WOMAN.  BELIEVE IT.

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Still Alice – I’m Not Done Yet, Do We Have to Go?

On Tuesday, Boyfriend and I went and saw Still Alice and Birdman (there will be a seperate post for that if I ever work out how I felt about it).  Basically, I picked a movie and he picked a movie.  Of course both of these movies were on our lists of movies to eventually see, since they had won awards at the Oscars, so I didn’t feel too badly choosing Still Alice, I actually assumed he’d be choosing Birdman.

Alice is a linguistics professor at Columbia.  She lives the life she’s always wanted – travelling, learning, teaching, and loving her family.  This all changes when she starts to lose little things. She forgets a word.  She gets lost on campus. She can’t remember things told to her moments before.  In secret, without telling her husband or grown children, she starts to see a neurologist who eventually diagnoses her with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

As someone who is a caregiver in this field, I have some questions as to how they came to the diagnosis.  I know diagnostic tools have gotten better, but we still cannot definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s until autopsy.

The rest of the movie is the story of her loss, how she masters the Art of Losing.  It’s a story of how her family members cope, both well and not so well.

This part was heartbreaking because not only is Alice losing the memory of her family, but in some ways she really is losing them because they’re pulling away or changing entirely to cope/notcope with Alice’s changes.  There was a line in a PinkBerry, where Alice’s husband asks her if she still wants to be here (meaning New York, the house, etc. etc.), she responds: “I’m not done yet.  Do we have to go?”  In the entire movie there is no line that sums up this disease better.  All of the people afflicted have lived lives and none of them deserved to have these lives ripped away from them.  The people afflicted have more to give if we let them, they’d have even more to give if their entire lives hadn’t been ripped away from them by the betrayal of their own brains.

Everyone that has this disorder.  Everyone.  They weren’t done yet.  They weren’t ready to go.

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Dear Everyone,

How the fuck did I not know that The New 52 Batwoman is a lesbian?  Fucking awesome.

Love,

A Batgirl fan

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Happy Banned Books Week!

Unbeknownst to me, Banned Books Week began yesterday.  If I had known, I would have planned a week of bloggish things.  So, here’s just a quickie for today.

I scoured the ala lists of challenged books and used my memory of lists of banned books that I’ve seen over the years, and then I poked through my shelf of unread books and decided on two for the week.

In honor of Banned Books Week, I’ll be reading:

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

image yanked from here.

John Green in one of my favorite authors and a more modern addition to the lists of books that are challenged or banned.  I’ve read most everything he’s written except for some reason this one, and this is the award winning one – it is strange, even to me.

Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is another one of those authors that I adore, and yet have not yet read her most critically acclaimed work.  I actually had to look pretty hard for a copy of this book, which truly surprised me, considering that she’s a Nobel Peace Prize winner in Literature.  All of her books were easy to find, except this one, which I really truly was searching for.


I also picked these two books for their range.  One young adult book written by an average middle aged, middle class, nerdy, white dude; and one adult prosaic book written by an older, fiery, Nobel peace prize winning African American woman.  Both are authors that are often banned, but for vastly different reasons, and yet they both appeal to this reader.

So embrace the variety that banned books bring.  Embrace their message.

READ ALL THE BANNED BOOKS.

…And now I nap.

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We Finish Each Other’s … Sandwiches

What Now

So, when they started showing previews for Frozen, I had no bloody idea what the previews were for.   I had very little interest in seeing the movie because I didn’t know what it was.  Now, for me, this is strange.  When the nominees for the 2012 Academy Awards were announced, I had seen one movie up for best film and all of the movies up for Best Animated Movie.   So, really, the fact that this movie started getting such glowing reviews and I didn’t know what it was about was frustrating the hell out of me.  Finally someone told me that it was quote, “a Disney Princess movie with a feminist twist.”  I still didn’t know what the fuck that meant.  But, honestly, it sums up the movie pretty damned well.

Frozen is a story of sisters.  Let’s stop right there.  That in itself makes this story different and more feminist than the rest of the Disney Princess movies.  I didn’t say, “Frozen is a love story,” (which it is) I said, “Frozen is a story of sisters.”  That’s amazing.  Recently Pixar had their first female protagonist, Brave.  Now this.  Evan put it best.  The girls that grew up with Disney Princesses are now creating Disney princesses of their very own.

Elsa is the elder sister and is born with this power of ice and snow.  One night, her younger sister Anna wakes her up to play in the ballroom with her magics.  An accident occurs that makes Elsa hide her magic from everyone, including Anna.  She shuts Anna out, completely.  Until the day of her coronation, Elsa hides, but then her emotion gives her away and she runs.  The main journey is Anna’s journey to rescue her sister from herself.  But, can we take a moment to realize that this is the story of two completely different, completely independent, girls growing into themselves and becoming women?  How amazing is that? A story of womanhood?
One where the moral is, “yes, falling in love is nice, but we don’t need it to solve our problems.”

Men, I’m sorry.  Sisters before misters.

Also, can we take a moment to talk about how beautiful the animation is in Frozen?
Elsa
Angels sing.

It felt nostalgically like the animation and passion in the old Disney movies with a modern sensibility in the story. (side note: how sad is that, that ‘a story of womanhood’ is considered modern).  There was a sense of romantic beauty that’s been missing from Disney in recent movies.  It doesn’t need to be all about impressing the boy to be romantically beautiful.  There’s a sort of soft loving beauty to the way that Frozen was animated.

GO SEE THIS MOVIE.  JUST DO IT.  AND TAKE YOUR SISTERS.
I’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER.

Sven

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Raggedy Man. Goodnight.

Halloween - The Doctor and Starbuck

As we all know, Christmas was Matt Smith’s last episode with Doctor Who.  If you didn’t know that and you’re a Doctor Who fan, you’ve been living under some sort of rock for the past 6 months or so.

I thought I was going to be crying like a little baby through the entire episode.  While I believe that David Tennant will probably go down as my generation’s Doctor, as Tom Baker’s was my mother’s generation’s Doctor, Matt Smith was my Doctor.  No, he wasn’t my first Doctor, that was Christopher Eccelston.  But Matt Smith was my Doctor.  Not only does he look like my boyfriend, the man that I plan to marry, he has the same Suessical sort of sense of ridiculous sense of humor.  From the moment he burst forth from David Tennant, he stopped being the sad man that we all loved in Tennant.  When he started eating fish fingers and custard, which I will forever asociate with the Doctor, I knew we were dealing with a very different sort of Doctor than Tennant was.  I see Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith as the Doctor going through the phases of grief after Gallifrey fell.  Tennant was sadness, and Smith was denial -which left him with this manic sort of sense of fun.  We all get manic, and when the love of my life gets manic, he even moves like Matt Smith.

Don’t you agree that he sort of looks like Matt Smith?  Look at the picture!  Do it!

With Matt Smith came one of my favorite companions – Rory.  Rory wasn’t a companion, you say?  Well fuck you very much.  I don’t actually recall asking you.  I liked Amy, but Rory struck a special chord in my heart, because of the special frenship that he had with the Doctor.  He fell somewhere between bros and competitors for Amelia Pond’s heart.  Amy was sort of the third leg that held most of the weight during their travels, but Rory and the Doctor’s relationship with each other and with her are what held her up.  Rory was also sort of  … the Kenny of the Whoverse for a while.  Oh, look Rory’s dead again.  I wonder how they’re going to bring him back this time.  Until they didn’t.  I sobbed through that episode.

Spoilers from the Christmas episode under the cut.  Snip snip.

Continue reading

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