meganbmoore: (camelot 1967)


This...I mean...there are elements in it that could be good? And it looks like if they ditched the King Arthur aspect, this could be an entertaining if unoriginal (and way to dude-centric) fantasy movie. But this actual movie looks like a terrible mess. Also, needs more color. Of more than one variety.
meganbmoore: (emilia: eat your brains)
 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a horrifyingly bad movie that could have been halfway decent if they hadn't tied it to Austen. There were brief moments of goodness (such as when Lizzie starts throwing things at Darcy when he tells her why he separated Jane and Bingley, up until that scene turns into weirdly sexual zed violence that was pretty much an excuse to have barely-Clas heaving bosoms) but they were far eclipsed by the kind of awful where you want to stop watching but can't. There were a lot of perfectly decent actors in this movie who have experience in fantasy and period dramas, but they all apparently forgot how to act by the time they finished reading the first page of the script. 

(It also does not understand Austen at all, but I was expecting that part.)

This is probably the most appropriate post I've ever made for this icon, though.
meganbmoore: (curiouser and curiouser)
The Curse of Sleeping Beauty is a modern gothic horror retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Which sounds a lot better than it is.

A reclusive artist named Thomas keeps having dreams about, well, a sleeping beauty who he tries to kiss but can't. He used to be sociable but now just sits in his apartment all day, drawing pictures of the creepy house and sleeping girl in his dreams. Then he inherits a house from an uncle he's never heard of before that turns out to be the creepy house from his dreams. His uncle leaves him a letter that basically ays "Really sorry to do this to you kid, but it really sucks to be part of our family. Also, don't go to the lower levels. Ever. EVER. Trust me."

Naturally, he isn't there for five minutes before he's knocking on basement walls to find secret passages.

The house is full of creepy weird manequins. The local appraiser says that people keep disappearing and everything points to the house, but nothing is ever found. His new neighbor, Linda, tells him thatshe moved to town after the house took her brother, and that 53 people have been disappeared by the house over 125 years, so she's pretty sure it's cursed. OBVIOUSLY, Thomas and Linda go exploring the hidden tunnels and almost die from it.

I would have loved to see this movie get a good budget and a more experienced team (apparently the writer/director Pearry Teo, has done several other indie horror movies, but I haven't heard of them). The concept is there and a lot of the visual designs for the horror and fantasy elements could have been amazing with a good special effects budget. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't have what it needs to fulfill it's potential on any level. Don't get me wrong, I've seen some low budget indie SFF movies that I wished could get the full Hollywood treatment for the budget they needed to live up to their full potential, but still thought they did the best they could with what they had. That isn't what happened here. This movie is a half-hearted mess that threw up its hands in the last 5 minutes and decided not to write an ending in favor of sequel baiting for a sequel that will almost certainly never happen.
meganbmoore: (wbds: ji: sword)

New Dragon Gate Inn (released in the US as Dragon Inn) is one of the odder wuxia movies I've come across.

Set during the Ming Dynasty, Donnie Yen plays an evil, power crazed eunuch, Tsao, who has created his own mini empire in his sector of China and has his own ebvil army. As one does. When his officials start going "Dude, that's not cool" he executes his defense minister and the guy's entire family, except for one son and one daughter, who he plans to use as bait to catch Wai-on (Tony Leung), a rebel general who was the minister's friend. Except that the person who shows up is Wai-on's crossdressing girlfriend, Mo-yan (played by Brigitte Lin), and so Tsao pulls back hoping that Mo-yan will lead him to Wai-on, and everyone is chasing someone else into the desert.

So far, it's business as usual, unless you just aren't used to Donnie Yen as an evil eunuch.

But then Mo-yan and Tsao's spies both arrive at an inn in the desert, run by Jade (Maggie Cheung). Jade is your typical sneaky and greedy innkeep whose clientele is mostly murderers and bandits. She occassionally seduces her richer guests, kills them, and takes their money. Oh, and she sends their corpses to the kitchen to be used to make meat buns, and the blood goes into the wine.

The meat at the inn tastes a bit odd.

When Mo-yan shows up, Jade knows she's a woman immediately, due to the lack of hots for her. (It doesn't exactly work that way, but since she looks like Maggie Cheung, you can understand where she might get the idea.) She decides to spy on Mo-yan in the bath, but gets caught. The women then spend a while trying to rip off each others clothes while staying clothed themselves.

Never let it be said that Tsui Hark does not believe in the power of femslash. I mean, he did make a movie that's basically about Maggie Cheung and Joey Wong seductively writhing, sometimes against each other.

Anyway, after that, Jade meets Wai-on and decides he's cute. Wai-on basically spends the movie looking pretty, trying to protect his virtue from Jade while also trying to get her to reveal a secret passage, and really hooing he doesn't get dumped, while Mo-yan and Jade trade knowing glances. Every 10-15 minutes or so, it cuts to Tsao and his army charging through the desert, accompanied by music of Doom and Danger.

The final fight involves a man stabbing another with the skeleton of his own hand. That's still attached to his body. And desert sand working on bullets. And solid ground apparently turning into quicksand.

Somehow, it all manages to also be very pretty despite most of it taking place inside a dim and dusty inn.

Have a random Brigitte Lin in the desert:



I mentioned the part where Maggie Cheung runs a cannibal inn, right? Because, yeah.
meganbmoore: (classic)
Last night, I watched Thank Your Lucky Stars, a 1943 movie that is largely a hugely entertaining excuse to have as many stars as possible sing and dance.

All I really have to say about it is this (specifically, the Cagney impersonation):



Actually my other favorite bit was Bette Davis singing "They're Either Too Young or Too Old," but I wasn't able to find a clip of it on youtube. I did find the song itself, but it's not quite as fun without Davis on the screen herself.


Oh, and this:
meganbmoore: (gerda: wind and snow)
These are far from all the movies I've watched but not posted on yet the last few months, or even the ones I want to at least comment on (note: most comments are "This is about this. I liked it." But wordier.) but it's a start.

The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer: I haven’t watched many classic movies this year, aside from some swashbucklers This may have actually been first, not counting rewatches? It’s also, I think, the first movie I’ve seen with Myrna Loy that didn’t also feature William Powell. Here, Loy is a judge whose teenaged sister (played by Shirley Temple) falls in love with a businessman (Cary Grant) who’s already crossed the judge. Loy and Grant are playing the characters they’ve played in a few other movies I’ve seen them in, but that isn’t a bad thing. Fairly predictable, but fun.

Blue Beard: A French movie from…uhm…2008, I think. It was built up as an original and revolutionary retelling of “Blue Beard,” but was actually pretty straightforward. It’s framed through two young sisters reading it to each other and starts out a detailed retelling, and then becomes more abstract and starts jumping around a bit. It’s a good movie and a good retelling, it just didn’t really add much to it.

Iphigenia: An adaptation of the play from…uhm…sometime in the 70s, I think. The first 20 or so minutes are dreadfully dull and the movie would have been better served with either text or a narrator providing the backstory info dump. Yes, I know, but you see, that first stretch has necessary information, but is terribly tedious. But then Klytemnaestra and Iphigenia show up, and everything is fabulous. Especially Irene Papas as Klytemnaestra. All in all, it’s a pretty excellent movie, especially if you already have an attachment to the story.

Malice in Wonderland: This is a modern movie loosely based on Alice in Wonderland starring Maggie Grace as an amnesiac heiress named Alice who ends up in the cab of Whitey, a time-obsessed man headed for an important birthday party, resulting in all sorts of strange adventures. Unlike other recent adaptations (and like the books), the story is utterly nonsensical and Alice goes along with it and tries to not end up dead. A strange little movie, but a fun one.

Race to Witch Mountain: I was a huge fan of the Witch Mountain movies as a kid (moreso the second than the first, because it was Tia finding a street gang and setting out to rescue Tony) but haven’t watched them in years. The remake is, unsurprisingly, more about Dwayne Johnson’s taxi driver character than the siblings, but it’s still pretty fun, even if it did make me keep saying things like “Oh, I see. The boy alien kid can phase through things and destroy speeding vehicles. The girl alien kid can…push the break pedal with her brain.” It does improve on that front a bit as the movie progresses. Also, I swear, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actor enjoy working with kids as much as Johnson. The man literally lights up when he’s with kids, even if his character isn’t supposed to like them yet. (Dude only really has 2 strengths-badass who hits things and secret softie with kids-but he does them well.)

The Snow Queen (2005): This is an hour long BBC production based on an opera based on the fairy tale. It’s a pretty straightforward retelling, though various parts of the story are glossed over or zipped through due to the length. It’s also one of those things where they have actors running around in a completely CGI setting, and is one of the most absurdly gorgeous things I have ever seen, with most scenes looking like paintings. Here’s a clip of the summer segment:



The entire movie looks like this. But adjusted for seasons and settings, of course. The take on the tale isn’t necessarily unique or original, but it doesn’t try to pretend otherwise, and the production itself is amazing.

Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior: It’s like if Cordelia Chase were the Slayer! And Chinese! Basically, Wendy is the latest in a long line of warriors who beat up an ancient evil emperor and the terracotta warriors every few generations. It stars Brenda Song and is absurdly fun, but also err, really stereotyped. And guilty of “all Asians are the same!” But it was so entertaining that I managed to not care about things like Wendy’s Chinese monk love interest being played by a Japanese actor until after the movie.
meganbmoore: (coweb)
The other day, I stumbled across The Rebel, which is a Vietnamese movie from a couple years ago set in French-occupied Vietnam. Based on descriptions, it was about a Vietnamese guy working for the French who falls in love with the daughter of a rebel trying to oust the French, and the trailers showed pretty nifty martial arts from both leads, and the girl apparently rescuing herself. So I figured to give it a try, thinking that the worst that could happen to my delicate sensibilities was either his lying to her for half the movie, or a mild case of Stockholm's, and that awesome martial arts would make up for it.

OMG I should have been that lucky!

Within 7 minutes, the heroine is being tortured by the hero's partner while he watched (angstily and looking sad for her, so we knew he wasn't totally evil) and then he took over the torture. Then there was a scene showeing us how messed up the partner was or something, and then we went back to another scene of the partner torturing her while the hero watched. (Angstily. I feel his pain, don't you?)

Thoroughly traumatized, I switched to Ichi, which is a Japanese movie featuring Ayase Haruka as a blind wandering swordswoman. It helps with the trauma.

But seriously! The heroine gets tortured by her future love interest! Who also watches her get tortured! WTF? (And is this, like, normal for Vietnamese movies? Should I run away next time I stumble across one that sounds interesting?)
meganbmoore: (rika-aoyama)

I just watched the jmovie, Ballad, which is about a modern day kid who travels to the Sengoku era (late 16th century) and basically gets involved in your standard epic tragedy where the princess (Aragaki Yui looking startlingly like Nakama Yukie) of a small territory is in love with the super-swordsman samurai, but THEIR LOVE CANNOT BE because he's an idiot who can't step up I'm sorry dude you were fun but it's true a more powerful warlord wants to marry her, and turns it all cute and fluffy.  And then his parents come, too.

And then the movie started to take itself more seriously with, like, big battles and potential Doom, AND THEN...

007gc7ec

What are you seeing?

007gd0ts

If you think you're seeing an SUV driving into the middle of a Sengoku era battlefield...

007ge24b

...and saving the day...

007gf045

...then you are right!

007ggt93

After that, it expected me to take some last minute Doom and angst seriously.

Anyway, fun movie, mostly light.  And...probably the first "young boy has adventures and bonds with warrior" story I've enjoyed in who knows how long.
meganbmoore: (aiw: champion)
Period an fantasy films, with a Thai action flick thrown in.

Alice in Wonderland (2010):

I had put off watching this “sequel” to Lewis Carroll’s books not because I didn’t think I’d like it, but because I was afraid the behind-the-scenes politics (Burton and Depp both being Polanski supporters, and Depp winning the “Rape culture! Yay!” prize there) would affect my enjoyment, despite most people I trust liking it. I found Depp’s Mad Hatter creepy and icky and annoying [Disclaimer: I’ve only actually liked the Mad Hatter character in Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars and SyFy’s Alice mini, and neither was really very connected to the original.], but I thought he was creepy in the trailers, too, so it may have just amplified that. But Alice? Alice is awesome. I admit that I spent the first half of the movie not really invested but liking Alice and the Underland creatures and the visuals, but I loved it once the White Queen showed up and the Champion part kicked off. I could have done without the Alice/Hatter indications (creepy, but thankfully went nowhere) but that’s my only real complaint about the actual movie.

trailer here )

Amelia:

I’d heard mixed reviews on this and so I went from being really excited about it before it came out to just hoping it wouldn’t be bad by the time I watched it. I thought the first and last legs were really good, but the middle part was mostly a dramatization of Amelia Earhart’s lovelife at the expense of everything else about her years in the spotlight, and so I was rather “meh” during a lot of that, though I give the movie a lot of credit for not glamming her up, and actually making Hillary Swank look a lot like Earhart. The main problem, though, was that the movie played out with a bit too much awareness of Earhart’s fate, and so it ended up feeling a bit more like a tragedy than a celebration of her life. Technically good, but not as good as it could have been.

trailer here )

Angel:

An interesting, beautiful, but sometimes depressing movie about a (fictional) popular author at the beginning of the 20th century. The main character, Angel, lives completely within the world of her fiction, even to the point where she starts to rewrite the reality around her in her head. Most characters I’ve come across who live in a world of fiction are portrayed as vibrant and eccentric and endearing. Angel is all of the above, as well as very charismatic, but the movie focuses a lot on how it also negatively affects her life and relationships, and makes them fall apart around her. The movie was excellent (if a bit slow) and Romola Garai and Michael Fassbender were it was very pretty, but I’m not sure it’s something I could rewatch.

trailer here )

Chocolate:

This is, I think, only the second piece of Thai cinema I’ve seen, the other being the first Ong-Bok movie. You are welcome to rec more.

Once upon a time, a Japanese gangster (played by Abe Hiroshi, who alternated between being shirtless and wearing a tidy suit. With a gun. And swords. BLESS YOU MOVIE.) in Thailand fell in love with a Thai mob boss’s girlfriend, and then she made him go back to Japan because she was pregnant and didn’t want the mob boss to kill him. Their love was brief and weirdly silent. Their daughter, Zen, is autistic, but has the ability to mimic anything she sees, and she loves her martial arts movies. When mom gets cancer, Zen and her foster brother, Moom, try to collect on debts owed to her by various shady people, who rough up the kids, and then Zen beats the money out of them. The plot is thin and basically an excuse to have JeeJa Yanin beat people up, but surprisingly manages to be touching and interesting anyway. The depiction of autism is very good, though I don’t know how it’d combine with Zen’s mimicking abilities and coordination in real life. The action scenes are awesome, and not flashy. They were also done without stunt doubles, and the credits show a lot of the injuries that happened during filming. Also, Zen is blessedly not remotely sexualized (I mean, you’d hope they wouldn’t try to sexualize a teenaged autistic girl, but Hollywood has jaded me.) Good stuff said: Has there ever been an action movie with a trans character where the trans character wasn’t the villain’s evil flunky?

Have darkeyedwolf's spoilery picspam of the movie.  (Does Abe Hiroshi's butt need a warning?)

trailer here )

George and the Dragon:

A bit older than the others here (2004) this is a fun quasi-retelling of the legend that reminded me of 80s fantasy. (It even had some battle scenes that seemed to directly referene Willow, and had some thematic similarities to the more recent Dragonheart.) I thought it was a bit on the slow and dull side early on when it was essentially following the traditional tale (With bonus Muslin BFF for George. I…why do guys always return from the Crusades with a Muslim these days in Hollywood, anyway. I think they had way more important things to do than be the enemy’s sidekick!) but it got way better maybe 30 minutes in when we found out what the princess had been up to and she started [rest is spoilery] beating people up for threatening dragons. I would kinda love an adventure series of Luna and George riding around medieval Europe, rescuing endangered magical species. The age difference between George and Luna was kinda big for modern times, but didn’t bug me. I also liked that George clarified that he didn’t change his intentions for her, but because of her. Unless it’s slaying an army out to kill the other, “I did it for you” has a tendency to be more of an indulgence or cry for praise, rather than indicating that someone had an influence on another person, and I think a lot of fiction misses that difference.

I couldn’t find a decent quality version of the trailer on youtube, so have a MV instead:

MV here )

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus:

Or “the movie Heath Ledger was making when he died, so they got 3 other guys to play his part during the fantasy world bits.” Actually, the way they did the “true faces” stuff to make that work was pretty nifty. Many parts of this are about an immortal trapped in an eternal descent narrative, and his daughter, who is trapped in his narrative and needs to escape it, but other parts (and it feels like parts of the movie were rewritten to focus more on this) are about a conartist falling apart when faced with himself. This is, honestly, a pretty decent movie with good performances with some great visuals, but I actually spent a lot of the time I was watching it thinking I could be rewatching Mirrormask instead.

trailer here )
meganbmoore: (st trinians: RAH!)

St. Trinian’s is a series of seven movies (only two of which have a close continuity with each other, with a third supposedly on the way*) about a British all girls school where there are no rules, and the students rule through anarchy and gumption. Based on cartoons by Ronald Searle (which I have not read, but a complete collection is available through Amazon here) the original movie series was four movies in the 50s and 60s, a continuation in 1980, and then the recent reboot in 2007. I got into the series through the 2007 St. Trinian’s School For Bad Girls and its sequel St. Trinian’s: The Search for Fritton’s Gold, then went back and watched 3 ½ of the original movies. I am told on multiple fronts that 1980’s The Wildcats of St. Trinian’s was bad, and so have not watched it.

In most of the movies, the headmistress of the school is Miss Fritton, a transwoman with a scummy twin brother (played by the same actor-Clarence Sims in the original movies, and Rupert Everett in the reboot) and a niece who attends the school. Miss Fritton’s policy is not to properly prepare her students for the world, but to let them rule themselves so that instead the world must be prepared for them. The core difference between the originals and the reboot is that the original movies focus on the people who have to deal with the girls, with Miss Fritton typically having an antagonist relationship with them unless it suits her needs, and the reboot is all about the girls doing their thing (in both movies, the plot revolves around the idea of the school as the only place they can be free and themselves, and fighting to keep it), with Miss Fritton as more of a bohemian mother figure who aids in their plots and schemes.

Of the movies, I admit that the most recent is the only one I absolutely adore from beginning to end. In the 2007 version, Miss Fritton’s niece, Annabelle, comes to the school largely against her will, and much of the first half of the movie is devoted to her being hazed and not liking the school. Much of it relied on the kind of crass/character humiliation humor that doesn’t work for me. But once Annabelle accepted the school and they all banded together to save the school from foreclosure, it turned to pure love for me. The movie also began a subplot that becomes more central in the sequel with Colin Firth (complete with Pride and Prejudice riffs) as Miss Fritton’s ex, and love interest. (This is the only romantic element to the two movies. Had I been told a month ago that there would be something where I rooted for a Firth/Everett pairing, I would not have believed you. Especially if you’d added the part where it was canonically het.)

St. Trinian’s: The Search For Fritton’s Gold features Rupert Everett in even more roles and David Tennant as the leader of a secret society of sexists. (No, really, it’s literally the point of the secret society.) Annabelle’s character growth backtracks a bit and I feel the girls are sometimes treated as being less smart than they were in the first movie, but the movie basically took all the best parts of the first movie and dumped the parts that didn’t work for me and went “ok, how can we make it even better?” How did they? Ghostly possession! Crazy Shakespeare theories! The girls engaging in the most epic crossdressing ever and invading an all-boy’s school! Annabelle and Kelly beating up a secret society of sexists! Secret agent Kelly! The girls stealing a pirate ship! If they’d found a way to include a kitchen sink, they would have.

I am a bit iffy about the fact that something that sells itself as “school for bad girls” has a main heroine who, awesome as she is, is a fairly typical “good, meek girl finds inner awesome” heroine, but she finds it almost purely through other women, and the rest of the cast is made up of characters who would normally be her antagonists, and instead are her cohorts/posse, so it’s only a teeny iffy.

Of the original movies, I enjoyed the first and last-The Belles of St. Trinian’s and The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery the most. Most of the elements the reboot used were from the first movie, but the fourth is closer thematically. I also enjoyed the third movie The Pure Hell of St. Trinian’s, but only watched half of Blue Murder at St. Trinian’s, which bored me. (And kind of had a “teenaged girls are evil seductresses desperate for marriage” plot.)

Embedding is disabled, but here is the band Girls Allowed singing the theme song for the 2007 movie, with some clips from the movie.

Similar for the sequel, though I’m not quite as fond of the actual song:


meganbmoore: (aeryn)

I just watched Cartouche, a 1960s French swashbuckler about an 18th century bandit, Louis Dominique Bourguignon. Dominique himself was real, but I suspect the story was highly fictionalized. (I know little about the real guy.)

For the most part, I thought it was pretty fun, aside from an annoying love triangle that sometimes made it hard for me to like Dominique (Also, were we really supposed to believe that a guy who had Venus would have that many problems making up his mind?  I also found his interest in the other woman so hard to buy into even apart from Venus that I genuinely thought he was faking it and it was some plot for parts of the movie.) and then I got to the end, which was just as bad as I was warned.

spoilers )
meganbmoore: (alexiel/kira)

Magadheera is a Telugu film about reincarnation, evil beards, taking on armies singlehandedly, significant hand touching, Love That Cannot Be, and walking through fire. There’s also a scene where apple=woman is used for the heroine to reclaim her agency during a testosteronefest. (Actually, there’s a lot of declaring/reclaiming agency be her in this movie, even if most of it is about her love life.)

Mitravinda was a princess 400 years ago who was in love with Bhairava, the greatest warrior in their kingdom. She trolls him for kicks when she’s bored and has a giant oil painting of him in her room (the girl is seriously hardcore about this love thing, and doesn’t care who knows, but without coming across as desperate or clingy), who finds the trolling fun, and likes to lurk just outside her bedroom door for various reasons. But theirs is a Love That Cannot Be because he’s her bodyguard, and because all the men in his family die before they’re 30. Except, apparently, they die because they’re so devoted to the royal family that they do absurdly dangerous things for the kingdom? It seems that marrying the future queen would fix that. But there’s an invading army, and Mitravinda’s spurned suitor, Ranadev, who has an Evil Mustache, makes it all turn epically tragic. (As revealed in, like, the first scene.)

They get reborn as Indu, a university student, and Harsha, a stunt biker. Ranadev trades in the Evil Mustache for an Evil Beard and gets reborn as Raghuveer, and is still obsessed with getting in Mitravinda/Indu’s pants. Harsha and Indu meet when he accidentally brushes the hand of a whiteclad woman and ZOMG! knows she’s his true love. Except he didn’t see her face, and by the time he catches up with her, Indu is wearing a black coat, and she’s more than a bit suspicious about the dude looking for her claiming to be her long lost boyfriend. So she decides to troll him in this lifetime, too, and string him along until she figures out whether or not he’s a psycho stalker. Things are going along all cute and fun and mostly fluffy, and then Raghuveer does evil spoilery things, and suddenly theirs is a love That Cannot Be.

I could post pictures and say more, but [info]dangermousie has two huge screencap reviews here, and here , and

[personal profile] shewhohashopehas one here with bonus vids. They are extremely entertaining and extremely spoilery.

The characters and plotlines are pretty straightforward in both the past and present, but the movie was extremely fun. I also apparently took around 1000 caps (I automatically cap as I watch things if I watch on my computer and it’s almost 3 hours long.) A few icons I made from them:
 

 

 

icons )


 

movie: Up

Mar. 13th, 2010 04:16 pm
meganbmoore: (proper ladies deliver justice via flying)
Disclaimer: I watched this on a portable DVD player, sandwiched between my two nephews, with the three year old alternately sleeping on my arm and fussing for his Mommy. It is possible that I missed fascinating bits.

In short, my impression from the previews was on the mark for me: it looked dull, and I found it dull. Maybe if I’d ever been a little boy who wanted to have adventures, instead of having been a little girl who wondered why boys had almost all the adventures in TV and movies, it would have been different. And boy, does the movie play up “adventures are only for boys.” Actually, the first 2-3 minutes, before the montage of some of the most blatant emotional manipulation I’ve ever seen? I would have enjoyed that movie. The rest? Meh. I do want to give Pixar credit for making one of the leads an Asian kid (if his ethnicity was ever established, it was a part I missed) and for making a lot of the extras POC, but I can’t help but notice that it still came down to a pair of white guys duking it out.

Also, I spent way too much time pondering helium and the scientific feasibility of it all.

annoying parts are spoilery )
meganbmoore: (yuna got badass)
Based on one of the stories of Liao Zhai, a collection of hundreds of Chinese horror and supernatural stories (I’m not sure what the proper name is. I’m most familiar with The Strange Tales of Liao Zhai, which is the English title of a series about 6 of the stories from several years ago, but I don’t think that’s correct for the original stories.) this is about a fox spirit, Xiao Wei, who eats human hearts for power and youth. As fox spirits do. When she’s “rescued” from bandits by General Wang Sheng, she falls in love with him, but he’s loyal to his wife, Pei Rong. Pei Rong, meanwhile, is very suspicious of Xiao Wei and asks the general’s brother, Pang Yong (who is Sekritly In Love with her), to learn the truth about her, and the mysterious deaths nearby that began soon after she arrived. The deaths are actually caused by a lizard demon in love with Xiao Wei (the onesided loves, they are many) and Pang Yong teams up with Xia Bing, a young woman descended from demon hunters, but with little actual experience.

The movie is amazingly beautiful (How do Chinese movies always make the desert so pretty?) but I suspect the story was rewritten a lot to emphasize the romance. But then, I suspect it was also rewritten for Moar Things For Women To Do, and likely a bit less of a good/bad binary between the heroines, so I won’t really complain. Most of the cast was excellent (though it was odd seeing Zhao Wei as Xiao Wei after just finishing Princess Returning Pearl, and Donnie Yen, while excellent, was oddly less attractive than usual) but the guy playing the general was like a black hole of dullness trying to suck everyone else in, with the rest of the cast struggling mightily against him. I’m not sure if the problem was the character or the actor. Probably both.

Also, while I really liked the movie, the only English subs I’ve found online are awful, and it doesn’t have a licensed version that I can find. (If I’m wrong, tell me! Please!) A large part of my understanding of various parts was based other similar stories and mythology bits I’ve seen in various wuxia, though I think you can still largely follow it without. But with struggling.

Here’s the trailer:

meganbmoore: (emma woodhouse)
This is a 2002 British movie (that doesn’t seem to have ever had any type of US release) set in 1780s Ireland about a group of younger sons of rich families who abduct heiresses to be their brides.

Apparently based on a true story!

Anyway, this is a romantic comedy (though from what I’d heard of it before hand, I thought it was less with the romance and more with the abducted brides making them suffer) and so the kidnappers remain 99% gentlemen, and take 5 minutes to get to know the women first. Kinda. When one club member, Byrn, kidnaps his heiress, Katherine, his friend, Strang, grabs Katherine’s younger sister, Anne, who is supposed to marry a man with a Very Bad Wig.

This is one pretty decent romantic comedy (Byrn and Katherine) mixed with one pretty weak romantic comedy (Strang and Anne). Between the four, there’s about 2 1/2 brains. Katherine claimed a full brain for herself, Byrn a bit more than ¾ of a brain, and then Strang and Anne had to split the rest. In the interest of full disclosure, I first heard of this because Byrn is played by Prince Wendell Daniel Lapaine from The 10th Kingdom, and I can’t quite separate Byrn from Wendell. Wendell cleans up nice.

The movie has some of the fun elements of 10 Things I Hate About You and House of St. Ives, but lacks the things that make them actually work. Actually, Anne reminded me a lot of Flora from St. Ives*, only…significantly less smart. Ok, Flora isn’t a genius, but she doesn’t think being kidnapped is fun (and funny) and least has a clue about St. Ives’s character before she’s sneaking around helping him. Not to mention that she’s in the position where she’s mentally cast herself as rescuing him (and is pretty on target there). Plus, she lives with an aunt who had adventures all over the world before settling down to raise her. I figure she has diaries full of entries like this:

October 21

Today I saw Aunt Susan polishing her dueling pistols and asked where she got them. She said it was from the gallant Spanish captain (she didn’t say he was gallant, but I’m sure he was) who rescued her from pirates. But she got a very strange look when I asked if her captain taught her to shoot, too, and if she thought there were any pirates who were women.

October 22

Today Aunt Susan wrote her letters. I accidentally read one that fell on the floor. It was to a friend in Italy, asking about convents. I wonder why she was asking about convents in Italy?


But anyway, at least Anne was sometimes amusing? And I can handwave a good chunk of it with her obvious extreme boredom. Strang I can think of no excuse for. But that’s ok, I’ve mentally edited the movie down to mostly just Anne and Strang reenacting Kat and Patrick.

I should mention that, though the end result was way more conventional than it really needed to be, the movie managed to avoid feeling like the heroines suffered from Stockholm’s Syndrome (ok, mostly because they thought the men were idiots) and managed to get in some hitting, vase throwing, and shooting. I’m a touch bitter at who wasn’t involved in the inevitable rescue near the end, though.

Here’s the trailer, if anyone is curious:



But mostly, I’m curious about the “real” club? I mean, what happened to the women who didn’t agree to get married? Why weren’t the men more worried about the fathers just disinheriting their daughters? And I really doubt the historical version was as…innocent (comparatively) and chivalrous as the movie.

*If anyone knows of an available, decently priced version of the book, point me in the right direction? I’ve been looking for a while, but…
meganbmoore: (a woman who will not be denied)
Wow. The rumors are true: there really is a character not even Amy Adams can make likable. Based partly on Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France, and partially on Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell, a woman who created a blog to created all 524 recipes in 1 year hoping to use it to get famous, the movie succeeds in portraying Julia Child as an amazing, fascinating, and adorable woman, and Julie Powell as an attention hungry, self-serving twit.

Julie’s blog is supposed to be some sort of life-fulfilling, enlightening event for her, but it never comes across as more than a publicity stunt. And while Julie claims to idolize and Julia and find her amazing, she consistently seems to look down on Julia. The best example of this is likely the “climax” of Julie’s story, where she learns Julia (who loved cooking for cooking and for food, not fame) doesn’t like what Julie’s doing, and she and her husband agree that the important Julia Child isn’t the real Julia Child, but the Julia Child in Julie’s head, who’s her best friend and supports her. I mean, it’s one thing to say that you’re sorry your inspiration doesn’t like what you’re doing and you respect that, but what you’re doing is important to you. It’s another to say that they’re irrelevant because the idealized version of them in your head likes you.

Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are both in excellent form as Julia and Julie, but while Streep’s character and storyline can only favor her, Adams’s character and storyline are pretty much dead from her first few scenes.

meganbmoore: (damsel in distress)
For the most part, I really enjoyed this. But then, “Disney Princess” movies are a fairly significant part of my childhood, so it's possible that it would have had to suck 9which it didn't) for me to not like it. I really liked the Jazz Age setting, and was grumpy anytime princess dresses replaced the 20’s frocks. I’m glad the final version is Tiana as a hardworking waitress, given what I’ve heard of earlier versions. Naveen looks less like a derivative ofGaston’s design. It may be helped that they played him as a dork.

a few comments with spoilers )

And you know, I know Disney knows Africa exists thanks to Lion King and Tarzan. I’m quite fond of both, but I wonder if, when deciding to have a black princess, they ever considered setting it in Africa with an African princess from one of the many cultures there. But then, when I heard about Guenevere in Merlin, my reaction was “Oh, so she’s actually a princess working undercover as a servant?”
meganbmoore: (xena)
Brief (and not so brief) comments on a few movies that I watched recently (by which I pretty much mean “sometime this year”) and liked, but never got around to posting on.

cut for length )

I don’t really do much for New Year’s Eve/Day. Going out drinking isn’t my thing (I’ve never deliberately had alcohol, and have no interest in changing that) and while my brother’s anniversary is the 1st and my nephew’s birthday is the second, they don’t live here, and his birthday party isn’t until next week. I do, however, gleefully do those year-end polls, and shall no doubt spend all of tomorrow on that. Except for the part where I possibly try to go to The Princess and the Frog. That depends on how crowded the theater looks when I drive by.

 
meganbmoore: (crossroads)
Last night, I watched the 1969 Italian film, Medea, which is pretty much a direct adaptation of the Medea myth, if you removed the actual plot and replaced it with a focus on the concept of forcing a person to conform to the rules of a society and culture, and then using it to strip them of everything and kick them out.

Basically, it was one of the randomest and most pretentious things I have ever seen. And, as a result, often accidentally hilarious.

About 90% of the dialogue in the first half of the movie is in the first 5 minutes and is infodumping from Chiron. I was distracted from what was being said by the fact that part of it included what appeared to be a 4-5 year old boy sitting naked an bareback on a horse, and hoping that wasn’t what was actually going on, because, uhm, owie. Chiron also randomly changed from a centaur to a human during those 5 minutes. Jason didn’t seem to notice. This was eventually explained, but that didn’t necessarily help, and made Jason look even dumber than he already came across. (Has there ever been an adaptation in which Jason seemed remotely intelligent? Oh, wait, the one in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys wasn’t so bad, but he also had very little to do with the mythic character after his first appearance, and got a lot smarter after that.) Even after he grew up and got clothes, Jason was still in severe need of pants the entire time.

The movie assumes that anyone who watches it is very familiar with the myths surrounding Jason and Medea, and so doesn’t bother with a plot. I pity anyone who watched it without knowing the story. Because it’s still confusing when you know the story and are watching it with someone all but married to Greek mythology who’s also confused. As such, things like the Argonauts patiently waiting while Medea hacks her brother to pieces in the carriage and his head randomly (until the last half hour, everything really does seem to be a random assortment of scenes, and the scenes themselves made up of randomly selected images and events) flies out are unintentionally hilarious, as they’re just inserted and extremely dramatic.

The actress who played Medea seemed to be an odd choice at first, but was absolutely brilliant in the end. I understand that she’s actually a famous Greek actress who played Medea onstage, so that makes sense. Because as pretentious and nonsensical as much of I was, the latter part of the movie did an excellent job with her psychology. I’ll never quite “like” Medea due to the whole “murdering small children” thing (probably as close as I’ll get to it, though), but I’ve always found her fascinating from the perspective of a woman giving up everything for a man (and doing most of the work for him), only to have that man later try to take everything from her, and getting revenge by taking away everything they value in return.

Oh, and there were nuns in Medea’s village. Ok, probably not actual nuns (I hope!) but their outfits really, really looked like medieval habits. They confused me the whole movie. Also, when Jason first went to confront Pelias, he started flirting with one of Pelias’s wives, and all I could think was “But what if that is your mother!?!?!”

meganbmoore: (platonic height difference of mutant ang)
So, the X-Men movies? Are mixed in terms of silly things like quality, but are pretty enjoyable. I'm not even bitter that the original, fairly Jubilee-centric plots were changed in favor of a de-aged Rogue with passive powers and a superangsty version of Kitty Pryde's personality anymore. Ok, a bit. But that's character preference mixed with "But that's not Character X at all!" as opposed to flaws with the actual movies as independent entities. This? This is pretty awful, and a fairly incomprehensible mess. I mean, I think I could only follow the plot because I'm familiar with the canon it's based on. I shudder to think about watching it cold.

Maybe they expected us to be distracted enough by the eyecandy to not notice? No, wait, women and gay men don't like action/comic book movies, and bisexual men don't exist. Good lord, that probably means they thought it was good.

The first 10~ minutes are the best part. Primarily because you get a montage of Hugh Jackman fighting in various period outfits whilst sporting floppy hair. Actually, I think it was supposed to highlight the deep manly bond between Wolverine and Sabretooth, but I don't care about deep manly bonds where one half of the bond is a sadistic, raping, mass murderer. After that, the plot is this terribly convoluted thing meant to cram in every male x-character they could think of, regardless of whether or not they made sense in the story or were recognizable as their original versions, and I think the only way most of them would make any sense at all is if you had at least a passing familiarity with the basis for them. It also wreaks havoc on the actual movie canon from the X-Men trilogy, especially regarding character ages. (And then comic book fans stop and realize that if they ever did Gambit/Rogue in the movieverse, he'd be 40 years older than her, and go cower in the corner in fear.)

Can someone tell me in Lynn Collins's character was meant to be Silver Fox? If so, then I am wowed that they managed to make her original story even more full of genderfail.

For the good parts: Ryan Reynolds makes a pretty good Wade Wilson, despite being far too pretty for the role, Hugh Jackman wears tight jeans and still does the screaming angst well, Lynn Collins does her best with a horrifically bad and stereotypical character arc, and the fight scenes are pretty good.

However, to save you the pain of actually watching it, I offer up 2 far more entertaining alternatives:



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