Sunday, July 12, 2015

So many movies!

I've seen a lot of movies this spring, most of them good!  I will try to briefly recap...

Last week we saw Inside Out - what a beautiful, funny movie.  I wish so hard I had seen this when I was 11.  Really applaud Pixar for making a film about emotional intelligence.  Genious.  Here's me in last 10 minutes:

Also saw Jurassic World, which was a fun, big-screen movie with the always charming Chris Pratt who is just a joy to watch and inspired zoo-keepers everywhere to create his scene with the velociraptors and provided a nice opportunity to revive all those classic Jeff Goldblum lines.  Life, uh, finds a way.  The only thing is, the movie was soooooooo unrealistic.  I mean, Bryce Howard wears heels through the ENTIRE thing?  Come on.  

Oh dear god, I also saw Magic Mike XXL which I thought was going to be a hilarious romp with a handful of girlfriends, but was more like a constant barrage of crotches shaking in faces.  For reasons I don't quite understand, the movie is getting excellent reviews.  Although I did appreciate the diversity - including women of color, women of size, and even a scene where all these straight dude strippers stood around respectfully clapping and smiling at the mad skills of these other dudes at a gay bar.  So, there's that.  

Let's see... we also saw Spy with Melissa McCarthy.  It was a fun movie that thankfully was made up of more substantial material than.... hey look at this goofy fat lady jokes.  It was smart and pro-woman and also very funny.  Mad Max Fury Road was totes amaze.  Was like, literally gripping the arms of my seat through entire movie and it was just like a pure, big-screen experience that was everything I love about going TO the movies.  Not for the faint of heart.  

I saw the Chicago premier of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl at the Music Box with the director in attendance.  We all had to physically turn off our cellphones while entering the theatre as a draconian usher observed.  It was like The Fault in Our Stars only not saccharine or manipulative.  So, if you like movies about young people dying of cancer, this one's for you! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015


When I was in LA, I went to see Cinderella with my sister and nephew.  I love going to the movies with my sister and I love going to the movies in LA. Cinderella is a beautiful movie to look at, but, unfortunately there's nothing new about the story - it's pretty faithful to the 1950 cartoon.  A major theme is that you should "have courage and be kind." I don't have much beef with the advice to "have courage" but "be kind" is pretty rotten advice to give a girl.  By being "kind", Cinderella allows herself to become a slave to her step-mother and sisters and only gets out of it by being overheard singing sweetly in her attic prison.  Telling girls, especially, to smile through their pain and suffering lest they make someone else uncomfortable is a 1950's attitude and frankly, a horrid message to put out there in friggin' 2015.

I guess one minor improvement was that the prince actually recognizes her at the end of the movie without going through the humiliation of trying on a shoe to prove her identity.  That always bothered me.  I mean, NO OTHER WOMAN IN THE VILLAGE WORE A FUCKING SIZE 8.5?  Also, does anyone else think the act of Cinderella putting on the shoe is a kind of a gross expression of hetero-normative behavior?

I do.  Perfect fit, etc.? An example of Cinderella's purity and virginity? Whereby the phallic symbol slides into the glistening precious vessel thus proving ultimate ownership?  

Anywho, the aside from the just awful representations of gendered behavior, etc, the movie was pretty much straight up Costume Porn, which, I'll admit, I like very much.  There's this very strange bit, however, when Cinderella's homely yet lovingly made dress is discarded/morphed into her gown.  In the 1950's version, it looks like this:

In Branagh's version, the fairy godmother sends her into what my sister aptly called a "dress-gasm" whereby she spun and spun and spun and ooh, she's still spinning because that dress just feels sooo good.

I will only mention that the glass slippers appear to have no less than a four inch heel and then I will slowly shake my head.

My favorite costumes were worn by the great Cate Blanchett and the two stepsisters, hilariously played by Sophie McShera (Downton Abbey) and Holliday Grainger (The Borgias).  
 The fabric in the sister's dresses is slightly sheer.  Blanchett's hat and skirt... I can't even.

I wish we had seen more of these dresses in the movie - they were so crazy fabulous. The scene below was quite funny - the sisters in these bonkers cages and undergarments fighting over lavalieres.

This is the wedding dress, which you just get a glimpse of in the movie.  It's sort of ridiculous and old fashioned but also I can't stop looking at it?  I love it and hate it just like Angelina's wedding dress.

And, finally, this is what Cinderella wore to the ... premiere.  Those pockets!  I mean, you can't put anything in there but your hands, but!

Sunday, March 22, 2015


I had a fantastic trip to California last weekend.  Struggling to get through the tail-end of this winter, I really needed some sunshine and warm air.  I nearly wept just to feel the sun on my bare arms (and not wear socks! or a down jacket! or boots! or gloves!)  Not to mention I got to see my beloved sister and nephew!  Aside from just sitting on my sister's balcony rueing the day I ever left California for the god-forsaken hinterland that is Chicago.  I love California and would really like to move there again, although I also spend a fair amount of time imagining an apocalyptic future where I valiantly cross the country to "save" my sister, only to find her happily nestled in my friend L's backyard in a tent with pit latrine at an appropriate distance.  Supposedly the people who survive "The Big One" will be the ones who know how to dig their own toilets.  Doesn't help that I recently read The Parable of the Sower about just such an apocalyptic future with people painstakingly meandering up the 101 toward the promised land that is, of course: Canada.

I digress.  One day we went on a lovely hike not far from my sister's house where there was that wonderful diversion:  A Rope Swing Over a Gentle Brook.  Beloved Nephew made many valiant efforts and I made one supremely pathetic one.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On The Fall and Smirking

I finished up season 2 of The Fall which was half-good and half-terrible.  What a stink of an ending, which I won't disclose here except to say it stunk, and I was really grossed out by all the smirking going on by the murderer.  Gillian Anderson was radiant, and I'm filled with a strange desire to rewatch the entirety of the X Files.  So, I didn't realize that that guy the played the serial murderer in The Fall is also the dude who will play whatshisname in 50 Shades of Grey (here's my post on the same).  So, imagine if you were really into The Fall and 50 Shades (which I am not, btw) - wouldn't your mind get all confused between sexy serial killer and sexy s&m guy?  I bet you ANYTHING he smirks through the whole damn thing!

I saw The Fault in Our Stars on a plane, and, yes, even though I wept hot tears of shame throughout the whole entire movie, I was so grossed out that what passed for romance between two cancer-ridden teenagers was - you guessed it!  Smirking!

My friend, MZ, and I had a hilarious chat about how much smirking at women goes on in the movies, as if all a girl wants is someone to look at her with nothing but bald-faced irony to cover any true feelings of love that might linger under their smirking exteriors.  She figures Harrison Ford started it, which sounds about right to me.  

It's actually hard to find a picture of Harrison Ford where he isn't smirking.

Here's Edward Cullin on his own damn wedding day, smirking as his bride walks down the aisle!

Other over-smirkers include George Clooney (and the entire cast of Ocean's 11), Sean Connery, of course James Tiberius Kirk in all his incarnations, basically anyone who plays a vampire (see especially: True Blood), any and all super-villians, and Robert Downey Jr (all he does is smirk).

Saturday, November 22, 2014

On Serial

I started listening to the podcast Serial last weekend - I listened to the first 8 on a road trip to Indiana and got hooked, just like everyone else, on the way Sarah Koenig is telling the story of this decade old murder.  It's so compelling and, yes, entertaining that about every 30 minutes I get really depressed about how entertained I am by the murder of a 16-year-old girl.  A child.  About whom, aside from being murdered, we learn very little.  So, there's that.  It's gross how so much of our popular culture surrounds the violent death of women.

Also I'm getting more and more disturbed, as I listen, whether Koenig is practicing responsible journalism.  I mean, seriously, IS she?  Because she clearly believes Adnan, right?  And she wants to believe in Adnan, and therefore, who doesn't she trust?  Jay.  So, she paints Jay as a liar and a possible murderer and now half of America thinks Jay's a murderer.  Which I guess wouldn't be so bad if Jay weren't a real person, trying to live his life.  Like, Hae's dead, nothing worse can happen to her, unless post-life-mortification is a thing from having your diary read out loud to strangers, the defense attorney is dead, Adnan's in jail, but Jay, who we learned, works long hours at a menial job only to be surprised on his doorstep by two reporters who are most likely ruining his life.  But, I don't know... say Jay was the murderer, then... it's all ok?

I'll admit that I couldn't stop listening to 1-8, but I think I'm done now.  And, since 8 and 9 pretty much went no-where, it feels like the story might be finished too.  I suspect there won't be a satisfying ending to this story where we learn why a 16-year-old girl was murdered and half-buried in the dirt.  There couldn't be a satisfying answer for that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Over the weekend we saw The Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.  It was So. Good.  I highly recommend it.  It's one of those movies that's kind of better if you don't know that much about it, so I will not summarize.  It turns out it's based on a Japanese novella called All You Need is Kill.  What a title.  M doesn't like Tom Cruise but my love for him is eternal and everlasting.  I got so excited about Tom Cruise I watched Mission Impossible III on Sunday, pausing half-way through to browse the internet for pictures of Tom Cruise and Suri.  Then for a bizarre 20 minutes or so I fantasized I was Suri and Tom Cruise was my dad and he held me in his strong, powerful arms and protected me from the glare of the paparazzi.   I'm not proud of that.  Then I put Far and Away in my netflix queue - another fact of which I am not proud.

On Sunday night M and I watched Her, which I also thought was wonderful.  It really got me to thinking about consciousness and the body and I suppose I need to read some Alan Watts to follow up on all of that.

Right now I'm in Utah at a conference and I can't quite seem to get over the exhaustion of travel.  I am So. Tired.  Also it's really cold here.  But, it's awfully pretty.

Monday, June 02, 2014


This past weekend we went to Indiana to visit our families, particularly M's Gran, who isn't doing very well.  I find a good solution for high anxiety is the alluring, mind-numbing power of tv and movies, so my moms and I went to see Maleficent.

I'm not a big Angelina Jolie fan, but, I have to tell you, this is one of the greatest movies I've ever seen her in and certainly one of the top movies I've seen this year.  I thought it was super-fun to watch, I loved the visuals and the story and everything!  It really does for Sleeping Beauty what Wicked did for The Wizard of Oz (OMG, will there be a musical in a few years?  I wouldn't be surprised...).  It makes you think about the story in a completely new light, considering the entire tale from the point of view of the soi-disant "evil queen".

Without giving too much of the story, I'll say that the story begins in a magical land (near a norm-core land) where all types of fairies and magical beings live, and Maleficent is a young, winged girl who's inquisitive and kind and helpful and strong, etc.  And she meets this human guy from nearby who eventually fucks with her.  If there's one person in the entire world you shouldn't fuck with, it's Angelina Jolie, right?

If there's one thing I didn't like about the movie, it was the lipstick on Maleficent - it was kind of like Barbara Streisand's fingernails in The Prince of Tides... (yeah, I just made an uber-cool reference to a 13 year old movie nobody's seen) too distracting.  The whole time you're thinking, like, Does she have a tube of lipstick in her cape?  Where does she go to get more lipstick?  Sephora on the Glen?  But, otherwise I thought her look was totally amazing and a nod to the glamour of the queen in the 1959 Disney movie.