Monday, November 02, 2015

old news: The Martian

I saw The Martian when it came out a few weeks ago, and wanted to write about it, but had a hard time putting it into words until I saw this by the great Sarah Mccarry (her blog is The Rejectionist) who writes, "who doesn’t love space, idiots is who, but what was missing from that movie for me was a sense of wonder, of joy, of holy shit guys we’re on Mars, look at the crazy nonsense human beings get up to for absolutely no reason: art, poetry, flying around in spaceships, discovering the secrets of the universe. For a movie in which things are constantly happening there is next to no interiority, so little joy or emotional truth, and so ultimately it’s boring."  Yes.  So much yes.

I liked The Martian but it sort of felt like a morality tale that was basically: When something bad happens, just figure out how to resolve it and get through it, dummy.  Which, whatever, that's fine.  That's a fine lesson for school children but is it a great movie?  Not really.  The whole time I'm wondering, doesn't Matt Damon have a family on Earth?  That he misses or even thinks about occasionally?  He's supposed to be out there alone for 3 years or whatever.  And even if he doesn't have anyone, why does he want to live anyway?  Like, take Gravity, an amazing movie - Sandra Bullock's daughter is dead, all joy is lost from her life, for some reason she goes to space, everything goes to shit, but you see her decide: Actually, I do want to live!  Simple - "emotional truth" that's exciting and beautiful and touching.

Anyway, this guy gets stuck on Mars by himself in a kind of Home Alone situation, and so he's like, I'd better start growing potatoes in my own shit pronto, and at the end of the movie, in case you didn't get it, (spoiler: he makes it) he talks to a group of incoming astronauts and says You Gotta Work the Problem.  And that's the point of the whole movie, I guess?

In other Mars news, many of my friends have been raving about a book called Red Rising, about a miner that lives on Mars.  So far, I really like it, although it was all too obvious the beautiful, passionate, 16 year old wife was not going to make it, and, what a surprise: she gets killed (didn't work the problem).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

There's Bears in the Pool

What I love the most about this video is how the underlying subtext of both the Mama in the pool and the Mama in the window is Will You Idiots Give Me Two Seconds of Fucking Peace? Poor Mama Grizzly holds her cub’s head in both her gigantic paws and does that thing bears do where they seem like they’re going to bite your entire face off: Will you! Just. Quit. HANGING on me. Meanwhile Mama in the window’s eye rolls couldn’t be more obvious even though we never see her face. Her toddler is freaking out: There’s BEARS in the POOL! and whining: ONE IS EATING MY CAAAAAR. The dog’s barking, the husband’s disgruntled: Well, that’s it! The pool’s done for the summa. Moma in the window is like: It’s fine. Let them play. Will you! Just.

I thought this was all happening in like, northern Canada, but it turns out it’s fricking NEW JERSEY (I hear it in the Dad’s accent now). I guess it’s true that flora and fauna will quickly take over after we leave this Earth. There’ll only be the rare survivor of the apocalypse to whine about bears swimming in our pools and sleeping in our beds and eating our porridge.

Mama in the window is trying to enjoy the, I mean, really quite astounding visage of another mother relaxing in her pool - just like we do, leaning against the edge, resting her arms on the ledge and chucking out all the extraneous detritus. She just watches as bears ransack her already ransacked yard and dirty her already dirty pool. Her children are crying and whining about their domestic goods, her husband flips out and leaves (where did he go? I mean, WHAT is more interesting than 6 bears frolicking in your own corner of the world?) She only shows the slightest dismay that her expensive floaty is getting ripped to shreds by baby bears. She’s more afraid the Mama Bear will eat the chlorine or electrocute herself. Utterly sure the cubs will be fine - they’ll follow where their mother goes and she will protect them, that much is clear, just as her own cubs are perfectly fine in their suburban home one hour’s drive from Manhattan, separated by a fence from a wilderness full of bears.

Anyway, summer IS over and what a dramatic ending: THERE’S BEARS IN THE POOL! My own realization was no less shocking as I rode my bike to the beach for my last possible weekend day there and stepped into the 50 degree waters of Lake Michigan. It was like looking out my back window and seeing bears swimming in my proverbial pool. Summer IS OVER, y’all. Get out your sweaters, hide your kids, hide your floatie, hide your porridge. There’s bears in the pool.

Monday, August 24, 2015

me, riding my bike to work

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Stuff I'm watching

I'm a die-hard Tom Cruise fan from way back.  Nothing shatters my loyalty, not the couch-jumping or the Scientology or anything.  Mission Impossible 5 (or whatever) is a fine addition to the MI movies, not as good as the first one of the last one but certainly not as bad as the second or the third one.  There's this new, beautiful (Impossibly beautiful!?!) actress named Rebecca Ferguson that does this nifty trick where she jumps up around a dude's neck and like, thighs him to death or something.  Jesus Christ if I could do that...

 Then there's the weird fact that Tom Cruise did that whole HANGING OFF A PLANE BIT FOR REALZ.  So what if he had a couple of safety harnesses OMG?????

I'm also watching True Detective which I really love but can hardly understand AT ALL.  I'm currently reading recaps to figure it out but if anyone knows WTF is going on, please let me know.

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.