jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
The 9-to-5 gig is going well and turns out to involve some opportunity to practice information architecture as well as content strategy, yay! But it limits my time on social media, so I thought I'd catch you all up on what I've been watching and reading.

Based on Connie Willis' recommendations in the prologue to The Winds of Marble Arch, I've started reading the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. They're lovely, although clearly meant to be savored, rather than my usual breathless page-turning. I'm going to try the audiobook of Gaudy Night to see if that slows me down appropriately.

I recently started watching "The Librarians" again (having bailed on the first season), and decided it was worth showing to the kids. They love it. N is old enough to get a bunch of the jokes. K mostly likes watching with us, although she gets scared about the monsters sometimes. The writers have been giving Jacob some great lines lately. Paraphrased from And the Infernal Contract:

"Get ready for chupacabra jerky!"
"Ew, you're cooking him?"
"No, he's makin' it! He's awesome!"

And the classic moment (in "And the Image of Image") where two guys can't get a the nightclub, so the burly one's going to cause a distraction while the slender one sneaks in. But the fight that Jacob starts with the bouncer is a literature throw-down.

"Name me one poet or writer who can measure up to the best of Britain."
"You want 'em alphabetically or by century? -- tell you what, we'll just start with the twentieth. E. E. Cummings. Allen Ginsberg. You got William Carlos Williams, that’s a good one. I mean, you got Lowell, Sandburg, Plath, Frost, Sexton. And, if you will, my personal favorite, Raymond Carver."

So far the one "Librarians" episode I didn't care for was the rip-off of "Live Die Repeat" (originally released in theaters as "Edge of Tomorrow"). I like Ezekiel and Eve, but they're no Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Actually, Rebecca Romijin is pretty great in action movies, so she could substitute for Emily Blunt, but not in this role.

I watched one of the classic movies I got for Xmas: "The Bachelor Mother", with David Niven (who reminds me of Tom Hiddleston for some reason), and Ginger Rogers. It was wonderful. Sometimes these screwball comedies trip some kind of lever for me, and my brain rebels against all the stupid misunderstandings. But this one was perfect, I think because the Ginger Rogers character is also rebelling against the stupidity. And it's set around Christmas and New Year's.

A few weeks back, I had less fun watching "Jupiter Ascending", which I thought would be great fun based on the enthusiastic review of [livejournal.com profile] jimhines. I got about halfway through and was enjoying it a lot (I mean, how can you not love a werewolf with flying skates?). And then I suddenly realized the character we were watching was Elena fucking Gilbert, just in a different setting. I think Kunis is adorable, but I was just done at that point.

I've given up on "Gotham". The Man showed me about half of the first season. It has exciting plot twists. Everything with Alfred is great. Young Selina Kyle is annoying, but they did an amazing job of finding a tween who looks just like Michelle Pfeiffer. But the thing I can't get past is that Gotham is a bad place where everything is doomed to turn to shit.

Hobbit III

Dec. 29th, 2014 07:14 pm
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
We (The Man, the kids, and I) saw Hobbit 3 the other day. I think that somewhere, under the CG effects and the wire-fu inspired action, was a good story. But it's hard to find it.

To elaborate a little bit, you know how Hobbit 1 ends? Kind of like if the writers were having a late-night DnD session fueled by Skittles and Mountain Dew and someone said, "You know what would be awesome? If the dwarves climbed into the trees and then the trees caught on fire!" And someone else said, "Yeah, and then if the trees were also falling over!" "Whoa, yeah! Over the edge of a cliff!" Well, Hobbit 3 feels like one long scene written in that way. :/

There were some great character moments that I liked:
Read more... )

One last thought: Bard spends the entire movie raising the bar for single dads everywhere. Sure, you may love and provide for your kids, but have you saved their lives today? How many times?
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Fall has arrived and with it the new TV season. The Man and I have picked up some new shows (and dropped one already):

  • "Constantine" -- Loving Matt Ryan in it; he seems perfect. I like how episode 2 introduced an artist, so we have an excuse to look at drawings of Constantine. Not loving how they have him and the artist stand super-close to each other, I guess for some false suspense about "Will they kiss?" (It's a bit like the emotional looks Abbie and Ichabod give each other on "Sleepy Hollow".)

  • "Scorpion" -- We dropped it after 3 episodes. Though the first episode was fun, the second one got on my last nerve (in addition to being a computer genius, Walter was also able to read gene sequences at a glance and know what they code for -- AAAGGGGH), and the third was just too little butter spread over too much bread.

  • "Forever" -- This mash-up of (1) "Elementary"/"Sherlock" (British guy who is incredibly perceptive) with (2) "Castle" (female cop with fashion-model looks is paired with a non-cop male partner) and (3) "Sleepy Hollow" (British man out of time tries to navigate modern society) seems likely to be cancelled. Which is a shame only because Ioan Gruffudd's charisma carries the show so well.

  • "Madam Secretary" -- I'm liking Téa Leoni in this role, better than Geena Davis or Sigourney Weaver (in previous iterations of floating the trial balloon). It's actually not just a trial-balloon show; I'm pretty sure it's also lifestyle porn for women who wish they could have a powerful career and a spouse with Jim Caviezel-type looks who is completely supportive and unthreatened by it (but manly, hence we have him doing a joint lock on a belligerent drunk in one episode and storming into a church full of righteous outrage in another). Plus beautiful house and kids, of course.

Also, we saw "John Wick" recently, and it was great fun. I felt like that movie should send notes to "Taken" on how a revenge flick should be done. Fun action scenes, great sets, non-crazy cinematography. My only nitpick would be that as I am now old and have never had great vision, I would prefer bright lighting. But I get that dark is probably de rigeur when you have a character known as Baba Yaga.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
It was pretty bad. I say this as someone who loves action/adventure movies. But it was so much a dad's revenge fantasy that I couldn't get into it.

Cut for me rehashing the play-by-play... )
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I saw "Guardians of the Galaxy" at a matinee. I loved individual scenes in it, especially the irreverent bits highlighted in the trailer. But it didn't work for me as a whole: the tone felt all over the place. I think I know why: I saw a different movie than the friends raving about how much fun it was. Pregnancy turned me into the person who tears up at Subaru commercials and Verizon commercials. And I seem to have stuck that way. Anyway, the movie I watched started with a little boy, not much older than my son is now, experiencing a tragedy. And the rest of the movie is filled with visual and auditory reminders of that tragedy. So we'd have fun stuff happening like you see in the trailer, and I'd be having emotional whiplash because I was still searching for a tissue. It's possible that this will be solved by repeat viewings, because I'm sure we'll be getting it on Blu-ray. But maybe not: the damn commercials still make me tear up every time.

Should you go see it? I'd say yes. Nine out of ten people love it and had a lot of fun. Also, I have "Hooked on a Feeling" stuck in my head now. (Reviews that say the soundtrack is a character are not kidding.)
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
(the Luc Besson film starring Scarlett Johansson) but my friend [livejournal.com profile] amnesiack described it so perfectly over on Google+:

Watching Lucy is like playing a one shot rules light RPG in the three hour slot at a convention. At first you're really taking your time, establishing scenes, characters, and details and making sure that the established fiction is really respected and built on deliberately. Then you realize you've only got thirty minutes left in the slot, and suddenly you're just rushing to get to the end, ignoring details, and not worrying too much about how things mesh together. Then you've only got five minutes left to play out the climax, and +Gray Pawn is over here describing a giant gun battle while +Jackson Tegu is describing a montage of scenes from history back to the dawn of time, and you're just trying to figure out what happens with the organic supercomputer you established in the previous scene. Then it's all over, and it doesn't really make sense, but the first half was so cool, and now you're really more concerned about where to get food before the next slot starts anyway.

And that really just sums it up.
jinasphinx: (therapy)
I was rewatching "Frozen" again last night, like you do when you have small kids, and I started thinking about Kristoff. On the one hand, it's a bit of a bummer that Anna needs the help of a guy, unlike Merida, who doesn't even think about asking her three suitors for help -- she ends up being helped by her little brothers, but only towards the end of the movie.

On the positive side, Kristoff is a lot more three-dimensional than most heroes in Disney animated movies, and he differs in other ways as well. He's basically the anti-Prince Charming. Not only is he not a prince, his status in society is pretty low. Of the non-princes in Disney animation, John Smith is an explorer from a rich and powerful country, and Mulan's guy, Li Shang, is an army captain and a general's son. Aladdin becomes a prince via the genie. (Although Kristoff is a step up in society from Flynn Rider, the wanted criminal.) And he's prickly, not charming: he gets thrown out of a shop and follows it up by having an argument with Anna while they're being chased by wolves.

He might be the only Disney hero with a great sense of humor: "But people smell better than reindeers / Sven, don't you think I'm right? / That's once again true, for all except you." And although all the Disney heroes are brave, Kristoff also worries about everyone else first. Even at the end when he's frantically riding to save Anna ("like a valiant, pungent reindeer king!" as Olaf says) and he and Sven the reindeer take a spill on the breaking ice, he has to make sure Sven's okay before he takes off running.

And there's the "unmanly blondness": except for John Smith in "Pocahontas," I think Kristoff's the only blond "prince." (Here's a picture of the Disney prince lineup that's recent enough to include Flynn Rider.)
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I saw Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier this weekend, and was going to write a review, but Harry Connolly pretty much covered it all, especially the comment that "the power fantasy aspects undercut the spy thriller parts". I found the action sequences to be so in-your-face and over-the-top that they overshadowed the quiet little moments. Normally I'm a big action-adventure fan and am all for more fight scenes and car chases, but in this movie, I really preferred the character moments and ended up rolling my eyes at a lot of the action. Although I was happy to see more of Black Widow fighting. She fights in a way that totally makes sense for her: use deception and ambush, hit hard, and then run away. And I found out the name of her signature move: flying headscissors takedown.

I don't mean to sound all negative about the movie. Those character moments were worth it to me; I would rewatch the movie for them, and I'm not a big rewatcher. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson were both great. I've heard that Evans wants to quit acting and get into directing; I can totally understand that but think it's a real shame for us viewers.

Looking forward to seeing what the plot developments in the movie mean for the "Agents of Shield" TV show. Maybe they'll give it a shot of caffeine. And speaking of shots, I need to start an AoS drinking game where you take a drink every time someone says how special Skye is to them.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
TL;DR version: If you're not already watching Elementary on CBS, you should probably start. Because feminism. Also, stuff about Star Trek: Into Darkness.

I've been wanting to write something about the display of women's bodies. Most recently, this has come up for me in media when we saw Star Trek: Into Darkness. As you know from the trailer, there is a cheesecake shot of Dr. Carol Marcus in her underwear, and you probably know that J.J. Abrams (director) and Damon Lindelof (writer) have taken some heat over it. (There's some great coverage of the issue -- no pun intended -- on The Mary Sue.) I also recently watched the season finale of Elementary, the CBS series about Sherlock Holmes. Up until then, I had preferred Sherlock, the BBC series. But Elementary is now the superior show, and I will try to tell you why without spoilers.

I will probably spoil Sherlock for you if you haven't already seen the 2012 episode, "A Scandal in Belgravia." I will try not to spoil Star Trek: Into Darkness. [ETA: Now, with a cut tag that actually works! Sticking to HTML mode editor from now on!]
Read more... )
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
A couple weeks ago, The Man and I watched Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. I was expecting it to be quirky and funny, like Juno, but it did not hit that bar for us. Perhaps if we were into indie music we would have liked it more, but as it was, we basically watched the weaker half of the plot of Holiday (the Kate Winslet/Jack Black half).

Also recently seen: The Dark Knight Rises. It was oddly slow in between action sequences. I liked it okay despite the weird pacing. Everything with Joseph Gordon Levitt was great, although I didn't need Batman telling him twice to wear a mask to protect the people you care about. I loved Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, but I do appreciate that in the intervening years we've at least come far enough that a woman doesn't have to be insane to kick ass. (Or at least any more insane than one would be to dress up like an animal and jump into life-threatening situations.) There was a nice nod to Pfeiffer in the beginning, with Anne Hathaway putting in the same mousy performance, and then the great moment where she rips off the mask figuratively speaking. Could have done without the shots of her ass while she was riding the Batcycle. Also, have I mentioned lately how great Black Widow's footwear choices are? Wish she would give lessons.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I think all the flaws have been pretty well addressed by Genevieve Valentine, in her post "Ten Things You Should Know About the Hobbit". Martin Freeman is awesome. Born to play Bilbo.

Read on for very minor spoilers... )

I can't comment on the awesomeness or fake-looking-ness of 48 frames per second, because I watched the movie in 2D. I refuse to wear an extra pair of glasses to watch a movie; wearing one pair is enough of a hassle for me.

But, all that being said, I was just so pleased to see Middle Earth again. Bilbo is great. Gandalf is great. We get to see Elrond and Galadriel again. (Which felt unnecessary to me, but I do like seeing them.) And if Peter Jackson produced a movie called "Hobbits Read the Alphabet", set in the Shire or Rivendell, I would totally pay full price to go see that for 3 hours.
jinasphinx: (Default)
Recent media consumption:

  • "Seventeen Again". Zac Efron (if you don't know who he is, ask a tween girl) plays a 30-something man, a loser at life, who finds himself magically in his 17-year-old body. He re-enrolls in his old high school and in the process reconnects with his estranged teenage kids and his about-to-be-ex-wife. Maybe it was just my low expectations, but I found Efron to be a surprisingly good actor. And I found the plot to be a good-hearted comedy. What I mean by that is that a lot of comedies are at their hearts, mean. For example, Adam Sandler's "Click" has a similar plot, but the main character is a narcissistic, sex-obsessed a--hole up until the very end when he is forced by a higher power to learn a lesson. In this movie, Efron's character is a bit self-involved, but as soon as he finds out the problems his family's been having, he decides that his purpose is to help them. He's flawed and he makes mistakes, but he's basically a good person.

  • "Hope Springs". Romantic comedy about an empty-nester couple during a week of intensive marriage counseling. This type of movie works or doesn't on the strength of the acting, and in this case the leads were great. Meryl Streep plays a repressed people-pleaser very well, and Tommy Lee Jones plays a defensive, grumpy cheapskate with flashes of charm (gosh, I wonder how the casting director ever thought of him). I liked that their issue was more complex than one of them being right or wrong.

  • "The Bourne Legacy". Probably the second best Bourne film. Jeremy Renner plays Aaron Cross, a secret agent cut from the same mold as Jason Bourne, and hunted by the same organizations for the same reasons. Rachel Weisz is lovely as always (has she aged a day since "The Mummy"?) as a virology researcher helping him. The science sounds vaguely plausible, which is all you need in a movie like this (no "A, G, T, and P"). The role of Aaron Cross will probably invite comparisons between Jeremy Renner and Matt Damon, which Renner can't win. But he does a fine job in the role. I am a little worried that this is now the second role he's played in which he suffers some loss of mental abilities. It's a tiny niche to get typecast in. :) Some reviewers complained that there wasn't enough action in the movie; I don't know what they were watching.

  • Finale of "The Closer" and premiere of its spin-off/successor, "Major Crimes". A satisfying ending to a show we've loved. They managed to pull off some plausible character growth and a career transition that made sense for Kyra Sedgwick's character, plus she made a choice that was, for her, worth ending her LAPD career over. I love Mary McDonnell's character, Captain Raydor, for her attention to details and her compassion for others, so I hope they can sustain the spin-off.

  • "Common Law". USA Network's thing seems to be lighthearted escapist fantasy that looks really pretty (high production values, great locations, and of course pretty actors in stylish clothes) -- the TV equivalent of a take-to-the-beach novel. And hey, it works for me, since this is the 4th of their shows that I watch. This one is about two police detectives who have so much trouble getting along that their captain sends them to couples counseling. It's silly fun, and one of the leads (Michael Ealy) is a surprisingly good actor. I guess he's been around a while, but I don't watch "The Good Wife" or "Californication", so I hadn't seen him before.

jinasphinx: (Default)
Recently viewed:

  • "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows". Beautiful "sets", and I liked the slow-mo of bullets hitting trees when they're running through the woods. It was a nice way to convey the chaos and danger without resorting to shaky-cam. But personally, I prefer Aspergers Holmes to Action-Figure Holmes. The British show makes it exciting to watch Holmes think, and the rapport between Holmes and Watson doesn't have a corny "buddy cop" feel.

  • "Little Miss Sunshine". Except for the last 15 minutes, it falls short of funny. I think I enjoyed it more than The Man did, because watching the characters pile into a semi-working VW minibus was like every family vacation from my childhood.

  • "Date Night" with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell. I guess I'd call it an action comedy, a lot like "After Hours", but in this one it's a married couple on a date who get mixed up in a crime. I liked it, and they nailed the DIWKs arguments.

Also recently seen: my first and last episode of "Game of Thrones". Enough horrible things happened in the first episode, and even the good guys have to be brutal, that I don't need to go back there. I can just re-read Suetonius.

Still watching: "Foyle's War". Now into series 3, still awesome.

Recently read: Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman's Road and The Lost Steersman. How is it that I only recently heard of this author? She's great. Reminds me a bit of Janet Kagan. A vaguely medieval world, a society of mostly women scientists (but not exclusive of men), and "magic" that readers recognize as technology. The plots are not predictable; so far I've been pleasantly surprised by plot twists in both books. But I also have a sense of knowing things that the main characters do not, and that makes me eager to see how the characters figure this out. Because they're low-tech but clearly not stupid.
jinasphinx: (Default)
I went to see "The Avengers" on Monday, as part of pre-screening it for my son. The result of which was that N. won't be seeing it for a few years. I liked it, although it was definitely a Joss Whedon show, with the good and bad that involves: It was fun. Dialog was snappy. The plot did a good job of balancing several main characters. And something happens halfway through the movie that pissed me off. But I do recommend it for folks who are at least 7 years old. :)

Jim Hines made an interesting point about Black Widow being vulnerable in a way the male characters weren't. And with all the quote marks, I'm not sure who originally wrote this great essay about Banner and Stark's relationship, though it sounds like something that @jacobTWOP would have written.

If you go see it, there is a tag at the very end of the credits, so stay until the lights come all the way up.

The surprise for me was Mark Ruffalo's performance as Bruce Banner. I've watched Edward Norton play that role, and he did okay. I suffered through the Ang Lee "Hulk" movie too, so I've seen Eric Bana's performance. And I've never found Hulk to be at all interesting anyway. But Ruffalo plays it like a guy who takes nothing seriously, who's always got an easygoing smile, because, well, the alternative is bad. Robert Downey Jr. also plays a genius scientist who doesn't take anything seriously, but with Tony Stark, there's this negativity to it as he mocks everyone, including himself. With Ruffalo's Bruce Banner, there's no negativity. He just seems like a genuinely nice guy. Because all the not-niceness is in "The Other Guy", as Banner refers to him.
jinasphinx: (Default)
I've seen a couple people post about "Avatar" and race. They're saying that it's racist and they're sick of the white messiah story. It's easy to see it as a story about race. The Na'vi are people of color, literally; they're blue. But I think there's another story being told. A man spends his formative years as a Marine, a real tough guy. He is thoroughly inculcated into that culture ("the Clan of Jarhead") and without much thought takes sides with the Marines over other human beings. Then he is exposed to a new culture, the Na'vi, and he comes to not only appreciate it, but to identify with that culture. The new identity is so strong that he chooses it over his culture of origin, opposing the Marines and other humans, and leading the Na'vi in counterattack. But not only that: the end of the story is that he changes his body to be part of this culture. The transgender community should be proud that this movie is a blockbuster. Because Sully's story is a thinly disguised transitioning journey.

August 2016



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