delphipsmith: (queenie)
We went out for dinner with some friends last night (mmmm, seared ahi tuna...) and while yakking about this and that, B. pointed out something I'd never noticed before. Not one of the Disney princesses has a mother. She said that that's why, in the new live-action Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson, they added a sort of "vision" of the past where Belle has a chance to see her mother and learn what happened to her.

Of course, given that the Disney princess stories generally draw on fairy tales, and girls don't often have mothers in the fairy tales either, perhaps it's not so weird. But even the non-fairy tale ones -- Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Pocahontas, Jasmine (Aladdin), Elsa and Anna (Frozen) -- don't have mothers.

The only two exceptions I could think of are Merida (the red-haired Irish girl who wins her own hand at the archery tournament) and Mulan (the Chinese girl who learns fighting from her father and goes off to war). So basically the only ones that have mothers are the ones who apparently don't need mothers because they're off doing "boy" things.

Isn't that weird?
delphipsmith: (GrampaMunster)
Forget the candy and costumes -- give me vintage horror movies! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

TCM is doing a marathon today through Monday. We just finished watching "The Blob" (1958) and now "Village of the Damned" (1960) is on, squeee!!! Also on the schedule, among others: House of Wax, Cat People, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, To the Devil a Daughter, The Mummy, Black Sabbath... I can hardly contain my glee :) I may have to call in sick to work on Monday lol

Saturday lineup
Sunday lineup
Monday lineup
delphipsmith: (queenie)
because real life has taken over for the moment, but I had to recommend this article which rebuts accusations that the new Cinderella movie (which is AWESOME, how could it not be because KENNETH BRANAGH) is anti-feminist:

...What absolute rubbish. Once again, the idea of “feminist media” has been twisted around, so that anything short of sassy female characters dishing out one-liners and kicking butt is seen as “weak” and “anti-feminist.”...Cinderella’s great strength is not just that she stands up to her stepmother in the end. It’s also that she retains her own kindness, remains true to her personality — she doesn’t have to become someone she’s not to escape...

Read the rest ==>
delphipsmith: (books-n-brandy)
Well hello there, LJ, long time no see!

I have been AWOL for quite some time lately. Partly this is because Fearless Leader of my dept is leaving has left and we are all busy sorting out who does what until we get a new Fearless Leader, partly it's because the semester has started up again so I suddenly now have lots of editing clients beating a path to my door, partly it's because the deadlines for [livejournal.com profile] minerva_fest and [livejournal.com profile] luciusbigbang are LOOMING HUGE on the horizon, and partly it's because I got my grubby little hands on the third in Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy (squeee!) and I decided that I wanted to re-read the first two before getting into the third one so I wouldn't miss anything. So I've been submerged in The Magicians and The Magician King for the last four days (and WOW I'd forgotten how good they are!) and as of yesterday am deep into The Magician's Land. Yay!

While my dad was here a couple of weeks ago, we saw Lucy, with Scarlett Johansson and a VERY sexy French guy. Has anyone else seen it? All three of us thought it was just tremendous (probably because it's not a Hollywood movie, therefore has some originality to it). I only wish that it had been based on a book so that I could have had a deeper/longer version of it. An intriguing exploration of what a superintelligent being might be like and what they might choose to do. It has some similarities with Ted Chiang's novella Understand but the main character makes a very different set of choices.

On the fandom side of things, I've signed up for the always-fun low-stress [livejournal.com profile] mini_fest (yay!), but does anyone know what's happened to [livejournal.com profile] hp_holidaygen? It appears that reveals were never posted last year, and the comm has basically been silent since last December. I hope it has not been abandoned.

Finally, I am VERY happy to say that we have 46 participants for the inaugural [livejournal.com profile] sshg_giftfest!! We have not only attracted some experienced "old salts" to the ship but some new sailors as well, and I look forward to the wonderful stories, arts and crafts that will result :)
delphipsmith: (waka waka bang splat)
So I'm sure everyone is aware of the kerfuffle over the NSA logging phone numbers, call durations, email, chat, etc., yes?  Today I went to view a document I needed to review that was posted on Google Docs, and I see this:

googlewarn

Has anyone else ever seen this message?  I've been looking at/working with files on Google Docs for the last 18 months or so due to a couple of international committees I'm on, and I don't recall ever seeing this before. Coincidence?  I THINK NOT... (cue ominous music)

In other news, our kitchen remodel is done -- new countertops! new cabinets!! freshly polished/finished floors!!! -- so I can start cooking again, and we can have proper popcorn instead of Boom Chicka Pop out of a bag (it's very tasty, but it doesn't beat the hot fresh popped item).  So yay for all that.  Also we get to go behind-the-scenes with wolves on Thursday at the zoo (v. cool).  Ooh, and the first trailer for the next installation of The Hobbit is out, complete with Mirkwood, a red-haired elf, and SMAUG'S HEAD! Yesssss...  I'm selfishly pleased that it's coming out in December, as that will distract me from my annual Christmas "Why are there no more Harry Potter movies?" mopage/whinage.  We likes it, precious, yes we do :)
delphipsmith: (Elizabethan adder)
Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing has a release date: June 7, 2013. Exactly 38 days from today. Tick, tick, tick...

And there's a new trailer. yay!!


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delphipsmith: (the road)
Blecch -- HATE the new posting interface. Way too 70s looking with the rounded corners, and all those little fields make me feel as though I'm filling out a form. NOT what I am wanting when I go to share brilliant insights with flist. Thank goodness for "switch to old version."

I see that C.S. Lewis is being honored -- or, I should say, honoured -- with a memorial in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey, right up there with Shakespeare, Chaucer, Kipling, Samuel Johnson et al. I'm pleased for old Jack, but my gruntle is more than a little dissed by the fact that, really, Tolkien should have gotten the hono(u)r first. I just don't see how ten transparent Christian allegories, no matter how lovely and pleasant to read*, top the incredibly rich and detailed world that Tolkien created, complete with millennia of myth, legend and history and at least four different languages, not to mention a cracking good quest narrative. Nevertheless, congrats, old boy.

Speaking of Tolkien, of course we all know that the opening of The Hobbit is now only two weeks away, and Mr Psmith and I have already bought our tickets for the midnight opening (I haven't been to a midnight opening in I-will-not-admit-how-long and am almost ridiculously excited about it). In honor of The Big Day, [livejournal.com profile] a_execution posted an interesting discussion of several of Tolkien's characters which you might be interested in.

Alas, no matter how long I live, I fear my reaction to movie!Legolas will be forever colored by the hilarious Very Secret Diary of Legolas ("still the prettiest member of the Fellowship"). Heeeee....

* Not to mention the Problem of Susan
delphipsmith: (Luddite laptop)
During filming of The Hobbit, Ian McKellen had an angsty moment over the fact that he was acting with thirteen dwarves and yet not a single actor was there on camera with him -- all he had were 13 photographs of the dwarves on top of stands with little lights; whoever he was "talking" to their light would flash, but the actual actors did all their camera time separately and were filled in later by the computer techs. "I cried, actually. I cried. Then I said out loud, 'This is not why I became an actor'. Unfortunately the microphone was on and the whole studio heard..."

I sympathize with him. Much as I love special effects and amazingly realistic goblins, dwarves, dragons, monsters, spaceships, etc., there's something missing when 90% of what you see was produced inside a computer. The best, most memorable performances I've ever seen are live: Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Mikado, even the junior high musicals I was in (under protest) and the high school musicals I worked tech crew on were magical in a way that movies can't be. When you know there are no second takes...when the actors are responding in real time to the audience...there's a wonderful feedback loop that gets going, and its remarkable. Light years different from what happens in a movie theater, where your reaction makes no difference at all to what's playing on screen.

This is also why I'm very excited about the movie version of Les Mis that's coming out next month. Instead of the usual approach, where the singers do all the singing in the studio months ahead of time and then have to time their acting to what they did weeks earlier, this production is allowing them to sing in real time, while they act. It's an interesting middle ground between live performance and movie-musical, and the actors are pretty excited about it.

We've already bought our Hobbit tickets; may have to snap a couple of these up as well.
delphipsmith: (meh)
Saw Snow White and the Huntsman this weekend. Visually stunning, excellent black feather cloak (WANT), pretty horsies (WANT), pleasing Thor eye candy (WANT), and the dwarves were quite funny. Otherwise -- dialog, script, acting, character development, plot, etc. -- all meh.
delphipsmith: (magick)
We attempted two unusual movies over the weekend. One was an utter failure and the other a rousing success. The first was Stalker (warning: link has spoilers), a subtitled (strike 1) 1970s (strike 2) Russian sci-fi flick which appeared from it sepia tones to have been filmed in the 1940s (strike 3) and which had not a single line of dialog for the first ten minutes (Yer out!!). The premise ("an expedition led by the Stalker to bring his two clients to a site known as the Zone, which has the supposed potential to fulfill a person's innermost desires") sounded intriguing but the execution left a lot to be desired. Plus we weren't in a subtitley mood, so after 15 minutes we called the game on account of "Meh."

The second, however, was intriguing and I highly recommend it. It's called Ink, and came out in 2009. Visually it's unusual and striking -- overexposed in parts, strange fades in and out, abrupt scene shifts back and forth in time, and events are rather subtle in that you have to be patient but also pay close attention to comprehend events. Very much like a dream, which is apt since the story is about two factions, one group that brings good dreams and another that brings nightmares. The story concerns a little girl who is kidnapped by the scrofulous raggedy-robed Ink, who intends to give her as payment to a mysterious group known as The Assembly (they're the ones that bring nightmares), in exchange for beauty, wealth and happiness.

There are also Storytellers and Pathfinders -- one of the best scenes is one in which the Pathfinder "conducts" a series of coincidences to create the situation they need. They travel by means of doors, which they open by playing rhythms on small drums. And the child who plays the little girl is extraordinary: both adorable and fierce, like a tiny Gryffindor.

There's a psychological element to the movie as well, because what's happening in the real world and the dream world interact and affect each other. I don't want to say to much more for fear of spoiling it, but it's a wonderful and thought-provoking movie. (As you might guess, it never made the mainstream theatres but played the art house and film festival circuit.)

Anyway, I highly recommend it. It's not a traditional movie where the storyline is blatantly obvious, but it's well worth the time and patience to experience it.
delphipsmith: (at Tara in this fateful hour)
Saw the Hunger Games movie this morning, yay!!! Overall I thought it was an excellent adaptation of the book. They realized the people, places, even the buildings almost exactly as I'd imagined them when I read the book, which never happens. Of course I cried like a baby when Rue died -- they gave the scene its full due, it was very powerful and genuinely heart-wrenching.

What's funny and sort of "meta" though is that afterwards we walked down to the comic book store on the first floor (yes, we're like the Big Bang Theory guys) and there on the main display table was a Hunger Games board game! You know, with cards and dice and stuff. I found myself hugely disappointed that Collins had licensed this, since it's basically the exact same thing the book is railing against, which sort of devalues her whole message. It's like Katniss getting used/marketed all over again :(

But the movie was well done -- so relieved they didn't pretty it up or Twilight-ify it. Looking forward to seeing how the other two come out.

Still no trailers for The Hobbit, damn it!!
delphipsmith: (tonypm)
I can't wait LOL!!!

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delphipsmith: (at Tara in this fateful hour)
Watched "The Book of Eli" this weekend. Astounding movie. I'm predisposed to like post-apocalypse tales for some reason, just like I read post-apocalypse novels and I knew this would be one. But I didn't expect the twists and turns, nor did I remotely expect the ending. I need to see it again, perhaps several times, to get all the nuances out. I highly recommend it, and if at all possible try to see it without knowing anything about it ahead of time. There are at least two or three scenes where if you know what's coming it will be spoiled. And the end -- well, as a librarian and archivist, let's just say I approve wholeheartedly.
delphipsmith: (CullensBuffy)
Joss Whedon has apparently filmed, secretly, in 12 days, his own version of Much Ado About Nothing! So it's my favorite Shakespeare ever + Joss = ♥ ♥ ♥ It's a perfect one for him to do: the dialog is fast and clever and witty, much like his own. He cast a bunch of Whedonverse folks in it, including Captain Tightpants (aka Nathan Fillion), Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker. (Sadly, no Giles though.) He filmed it as indie flick but I really hope it gets picked up for wide distribution. Must! See! So excited!!!
delphipsmith: (DamnNotGiven)
So we watched A Vanishing on 7th Street last night. Talk about your strangely weird flicks. We were seriously creeped out by it initially, to the point where I didn't want to go out and pull my car (left in the driveway earlier due to Haste to Open the Wine) into the garage because I was afraid of the dark. Thank goodness for motion-sensitive spotlights. The shadow-beings, the constantly shrinking hours of daylight, the flickering lights and the tension of WHEN WILL THEY GO OUT AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! were all very well done.

Then we got to the ending and were left all WTF-y. NO resolution at all, vast numbers of questions left unanswered, loose ends raveling everywhere, logic holes abounding. Most vexing. Not surprised it grossed a laughable $22K. What's really sad is that it had great potential -- the shadow-creatures, the creepy soundtrack, etc. -- but it was really poorly executed (and marketed, I guess, since I never heard of it when it came out).

If only Hayden Christiansen had Vanished before he played Anakin Skywalker...
delphipsmith: (Hepburn)
I've always liked this movie (Joan Crawford and Eve Arden) and only found out recently that it was based on a book, so of course had to read it. It wasn't really what I expected -- in some ways it was better than the movie, in others worse. Better in that we get a fuller explanation of why Veda is the way she is, and why her mother puts up with it, but worse in that Mildred comes off as much stupider. The ending is completely different from the movie, much less dramatic; it ends -- literally -- not with a bang but a whimper. Cain apparently also wrote Double Indemnity (another favorite movie of mine) and The Postman Always Rings Twice. His writing isn't anything terrific -- the characters are two-dimensional and cliche, for the most part; maybe that's why they did better as movies where that doesn't matter so much. Bottom line: meh. May have to see the Winslet version, just so I can compare.
delphipsmith: (Elizabethan adder)
Saw "Cowboys and Aliens" this past weekend. Excellent popcorn flick, I highly recommend it -- and they've broken the mold in that the dog actually survives, all the way to the closing credits! How refreshing.

Was pleased to see Harrison Ford has still Got It, and looks good on a horse. Daniel Craig also looks good on a horse (ok, he looks good full stop). Was amused to note that, despite his having quite a good American accent and playing that quintessentially American character, A COWBOY, he still posts to the trot like a good Brit. Some things are just bred in the bone.
delphipsmith: (thinker)
1) If you go to a movie at the mall at 2pm on Thanksgiving Day, there will be no one else in the entire theater. Even if the movie is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Which was made of awesome, by the way.

2) Surprisingly few people actually travel by train on the day after Thanksgiving, if my observation of Union Station in Chicago right now is anything to judge by. All the hordes of people must be flying. Or too comatose from yesterday's overdose of tryptophan to move.
delphipsmith: (bookgasm)
OK, on the plus side, I discover that Goodreads has added a "stats" feature. Click on this and it shows you a nice bar chart of how many books you've read in a given year. Click on "details" and you get a pie chart breakdown by category (your own categories). Click on "pages" and it changes to give the number of pages you've read.

It's kick ass. I've updated my info for last three years based on the paper lists I was keeping, so it's pretty impressive ;)

Plus, they answered my question about how to be able to include different language versions on your list, rather than having them collapsed into a single title. So I now have both Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone and Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers, along with both Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter et la chambre des secrets. w00t!!

Finished a new bio of Anne Boleyn yesterday. Being accustomed to Genevieve Bujold in Anne of the Thousand Days, Mr Bernard's Anne was something of a startlement since he assumes she might actually have been guilty of the charges of adultery brought against her, but as historical analyses of primary sources go, he's on pretty solid ground. Given that the earliest biographers (not detractors, but biographers) of Anne were writing during the reign of her daughter Elizabeth, it's not surprising they would have inflated the power, piety and Protestantism of the mother of their beloved queen. Bernard does some scrupulous deconstruction of contemporary sources to demonstrate that in fact Anne might simply have been a beautiful sexy woman who engaged in a few indiscretions and then had the appallingly bad luck to be found out. He still makes some large-ish assumptions, but his logic and his deductions hold up pretty well.

I always thought Genevieve was so beautiful. Until I googled her tonight, however, I had no idea she was the original choice for Capt. Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager!!

And people say the internet isn't useful for education...
delphipsmith: (books)
0 hrs, 0 words (I wrote a lot of words in my head, does that count?
(...42 days...)

First, a link to this fabulous article about the difference between online friends and real friends, and how our ability to customize our environment is just possibly making us both lonelier and less tolerant. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kilter for the link.

Now, on to the book stuff!

Read Teen Dreams the last couple of days. The subtitle is "Reading teen film and television from Heathers to Veronica Mars" so of course I'm all interested, having though John Hughes was a god (not THE god, but certainly part of the minor pantheon). In a nice concatenation of circumstances, in the couple of days before that we had watched Breakfast Club (for probably the 47th time) and Heathers (for probably the 20th time), so at least those two were fresh in my mind, and of course I have huge chunks of Buffy committed to memory...

Best part of the book was the way Kaveney, who it turns out is on LJ as [livejournal.com profile] rozk, traces the evolution of the teen genre film from something ABOUT teens that treats them as anthropological curiosities, to something FOR teens that treats them as a critical and appreciative audience in and of themselves, intelligent enough to be at least somewhat self-reflective. For example, one way that a "low" type of entertainment graduates to a "high" level is when it demonstrates it can take "high-culture" icons and adapt/adopt them, so for example Cruel Intentions (Dangerous Liaisons), Clueless (Jane Austen's Emma), 10 Things I Hate About You (Taming of the Shrew). She also gives the lineage of some of the stock characters, like James Dean => John Bender => Jason Dean (J.D.) and has some interesting things to say about the various representations of class as exhibited in, for example, Pretty in Pink vs Bring It On. One thing she doesn't discuss, which I think is interesting, is that most of the movies seem to represent the well-off and/or preppy characters in a negative light -- shallow, venal, self-absorbed -- while the lower-class characters are represented as sensitive, kinder, less prejudiced. Think for example Steff vs. Keith, Claire vs. Brian, etc.

She does spend a bit of time in each chapter highlighting what she sees as same-sex attractions/undertones/implications, which in some cases (Buffy/Faith, for example) I think are valid but in others seem a trifle manufactured. It's perfectly plausible that people of the same sex can be close friends, even to the point they will put that friendship above heterosexual romantic relationships, without there being a sexual element to the friendship. Maybe the hetero-romantic relationship is on the rocks, or not as long-standing, or (at the moment) not as much in need of reinforcement or support, to give only a few examples. I also learned that there was such a thing (for directors) as "coding" a character as gay or straight (or, I suppose, neutral). Having never taken a film class I didn't know this was something directors had to deliberately think about.

It was fascinating to see movies like American Pie analyzed critically (who knew there was a valuable statement about female sexuality buried in there?), to think about the "family tree" of movies, if you will (e.g. the way Heathers was in a sense a rebuttal of John Hughes' more wholesome/less dark vision), to consider changes in the way virginity is viewed from 198x to 200x, etc. I did think Buffy -- both the show and the character -- got short shrift. The show is mentioned in scattered places throughout but it wasn't clear to me why it didn't rate its own chapter. However, Kaveney's written extensively on BtVS, so maybe she thought she'd covered that subject.

I have to pan the index, though. There are two: a movie index and a subject index, which is in theory a great idea, but they're both inconsistent and incomplete. For example, Dangerous Liaisons is included in the movie index while Taming of the Shrew isn't, in either the movie or subject index. And although characters from all the movies and shows are mentioned by name in the text, the subject index has only the names of actors/actresses (e.g. Veronica Sawyer of Heathers is discussed in the text, but only Winona Rider is listed in the index). (With one notable exception: all the characters from Buffy are listed LOL!) In addition, the two indexes are not cross-referenced, so for example let's say I remember the character Watts was discussed. Watts is not in the index. So to find all mention of her, I have to a) remember the actress and look her up under "Masterson, Mary Stuart" and also b) remember the name of the movie (Some Kind of Wonderful) and look that up in the movie index. A minor nit, but as an indexer I feel compelled to mention it :)

So: two thumbs up for anyone who (like me) likes deconstructing pop culture, teen movies, the evolution of gender in film, and just reading about some really awesome movies. And now I'm going to go put Cruel Intentions on my Netflix queue ;)

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