In honour of this auspicious occasion…

A dramatic vignette!

Monty Python and the Holy Grail came out in 1975, so it, and, as of today, I, are 37 years old. So needless to say, I had to do it. 🙂

King Arthur: Old woman.
Dennis: Man.
King Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
Dennis: I’m 37.
King Arthur: What?
Dennis: I’m 37. I’m not old.
King Arthur: Well I can’t just call you “man”.
Dennis: Well you could say “Dennis”.
King Arthur: I didn’t know you were called Dennis.
Dennis: Well you didn’t bother to find out did you?
King Arthur: I did say sorry about the “old woman”, but from behind you looked…
Dennis: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior.
King Arthur: Well I am king.
Dennis: Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how’d you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society.
King Arthur: I am your king.
Woman: Well I didn’t vote for you.
King Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.
Woman: Well how’d you become king then?
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Recent movie watching

This summer has been unusually quiet for me on the movie front. Sure, summer blockbuster season doesn’t tend to be the most intellectual of cinematic experiences, but I loves me an epic and things ‘sploding from time to time.

That said, I still haven’t managed to get out to Harry Potter, and in the last couple months I’ve only seen Cowboys and Aliens and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

The premise of Cowboys is enough to get me out to it, even though I’d been hearing for a while before going that Joss did it better. (Well, duh.) And of course one must temper one’s expectations when a movie boasts five writers. It’s a pretty solid red flag.

All in all, an entertaining enough movie, but it wasn’t “good”, and Sherry and I agreed that it was like they had checklist of archetypes and stereotypes they just had to pack into this movie (maybe they were getting paid per?) From the hired hand who was the son that the hard, grizzled rancher always wanted to the whore with a heart of gold, it’s all in there.

But hey, Daniel Craig looks good dirty (and shirtless), and who doesn’t go to a Harrison Ford flick still hoping for classic Indie? Plus, Olivia Wilde gets her kit off if you’re into that sort of thing. (That girl should take a vacation; is there anything she hasn’t been in in the last year or two?)

I actually heard very little about Apes before it was released, and never saw a trailer, but it got really good reviews almost from the get-go, and the quality of the CGI was specifically mentioned a number of times, so I was intrigued. (I never saw the previous remake or most of the original series.)

But it was well done. I’m not a James Franco fan, but at least he wasn’t distractingly annoying. You could watch the apes without being constantly aware of the CGI, though there were moments of being impressed by it. (I am still stuck on how a molecular compound that enhances brain function somehow also made it physically possible for apes to speak in clear English, but whatever.)

I quite agree with the statement that this movie couldn’t have been made before now. Or if it had, it would have been horrific. I gather they used the technology pioneered in Avatar. And it’s not like Andy Serkis is ever going to get a role where he gets to just be some guy. But at least he’s good at his thing. 🙂

There was some suspension of disbelief, like the diabolical boss’ sudden turnaround in supporting research seconds after hollering about the project NEVER seeing the light of day. Cuz in science, finding out your star researcher did something illegal totally changes the direction of the company.

The movie would actually stand alone quite well, though this is Hollywood we’re talking about, so a sequel is pretty much inevitable. The movie does set up what we know happens from the original films, but actually did it in a way I didn’t find too heavy-handed. One gripe I’ve long had with Hollywood is how nothing can be allowed any subtlety. God forbid the morons are every confused for a second, or have to try and connect the dots…

In any case, if I manage to squeeze in Harry Potter I’ll be happy, and then I think I’m good for a few months until the Christmas season starts in November.

Review of Legion

When Sherry, Melissa, and I went to see Legion, we were the only ones laughing in the theatre, as far as we could tell. And believe me, the movie is ludicrous.

That said, we all loved it. Hot Angel Bettany. Religious “interpretation”. Blowing shit up. Awww yeaaaah.

It was a bit problematic the following day when my brain switched back on and started asking questions about logic and plot. Blessedly, Sherry and Melissa set me right, for that way lies madness. (I’m still annoyed the movie poster lied about Hot Angel Bettany being shirtless in the film, though, and that there was no hawt Michael/Gabriel gayngel action.)

Anyway, Sherry found this gem of a review of the film, which sums up our sentiments exactly. Enjoy. 🙂

“You’ve killed God!”

Last weekend Sherry and I went to see Creation. An interesting juxtaposition to seeing Paul Bettany in Legion not long before. (Inside tip: at no point in the film does Hot Angel Bettany get topless like in the poster. Also, no hot gayngel action. Just FYI.)

Fascinating how Bettany didn’t even look like the same person in Creation. Also, Martha West, who played Annie Darwin, totally reminded me of Billie Piper. But that’s neither here nor there.

They set the movie during what would at first seem like an improbable time in Darwin’s life to make a movie about — post-Beagle voyage, pre-publication of On the Origin of Species, and at a time when he was, by all accounts, pretty miserable.

I’d known Darwin had a hard time with the ideas in his evolutionary theories, and with his wife’s beliefs (she was devoutly Christian). He tried to maintain his own Christian faith when evidence against God’s perfect creation was right in front of him (and all around him on the ship, in his study, in his dovecote…) I don’t know if it actually happened or not, but there’s a scene where his daughter comes home with bloody knees from being made to kneel on rock salt — her punishment from the local parson for contradicting him and insisting dinosaurs did exist, as her father said.

I hadn’t known, however, just what a mess Darwin’s mind and body were for so long. Apparently at any number of points in his life, including before he and Emma were married, pressures on him and his work caused his health to suffer. Of course, given his extensive global travels and the relatively primitive nature of medicine in those days, it’s certainly possible he picked up a chronic ailment or two as well. The deaths of three of his 10 children, including Annie, his favourite, couldn’t have helped his state, either.

The emotional torture he went through vacillating over whether to make his theory public is present throughout the story, and they also tie it closely to the demons he fought after the death of Annie, as well. She is his wife Emma’s foil in the story, as imaginative and excited about science and the natural world as his wife is opposed to its “dangers”. Even receiving correspondence from Alfred Russell Wallace, who comes to develop the same theory as Darwin, completely independently, don’t fully spur him to complete the book. Quite the opposite; Darwin seems relieved to be able to hand the mantle of “God-killer” to someone else.

It’s also interesting to consider the excitement with which many of Darwin’s contemporaries looked forward to the theory of evolution going public and changing everything. Though Darwin was astute enough to know what they didn’t seem to want to acknowledge — that science wasn’t going to kill God. Those, like his wife, who wanted to believe, would continue to do so, regardless of evidence. But even a few hundred years earlier, Darwin and anyone else who dared propose such theories would have been persecuted, tortured, and killed for such heresy.

Of course, in the end, Darwin’s health and psychological state improve, and the book gets written and published, thanks to Emma Darwin. (I hadn’t known that, either.) Darwin gives his wife the finished manuscript, asks her to read it, and leaves the decision of whether or not to publish it with her. A rather monumental offering, when you think of it. One of the biggest ideas in modern history could have ended up on a bonfire. Or had burning lamp oil spilled on it. Or fallen off the mail wagon into a ditch when it was sent to the publisher.

The constant head-butting of science and religion is a major theme throughout the movie, of course. But what was equally interesting was the head-butting between the beginnings of a new chapter in modern science and what seems like still-medieval medical practices.

The theory of evolution is about to change the world, and yet you’re still hearing the Darwin family doctor recommend increasing their sick daughter’s doses of mercury, or recommending bleeding. It’s fairly appalling. Or the Gully water cure, in which Darwin was apparently quite a believer, but which seems pretty bizarre nowadays. (Though I’m sure being doused by a deluge of cold water early in the morning is quite bracing…)

All in all, worth watching, and not quite as “quiet” a many English period films, blessedly. Though really, they could have made a film entirely comprised of Darwin’s tales from his travels and the scientific world around him and it would have been wonderful. (Like the tragic humanity of Jenny the orangutan.)

Technology and storytelling: not mutually exclusive entertainments

We went to see Avatar last weekend. If you’ve been anywhere near media over the past few months, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty. We didn’t have terribly high hopes — the preview we’d seen months ago really was nothing special, and the animation actually looked less sophisticated than some of what we’ve already seen.

But we went, and had the full 3D experience (which I highly recommend). The movie was gorgeous. Some of the most beautiful visuals I’ve seen — in any format of film. The 3D was used carefully, so wasn’t just missiles blasting out of the screen and whatnot. More often it was subtle touches like floating pollen grains wafting among us. Lovely. And they’ve begun achieving things with textures that are spectacular. I’ve no doubt this movie will be the starting point for amazing things.

And, as they note in this post (humorous intentions aside), James Cameron does know how to put a scene together. Orchestration as opposed to mayhem.

However, the story was another matter. Now, yes, it’s James Cameron. You’re not there for stellar dialogue, intricate storytelling, or nuance. And you’re not going to get any. This was written with a club. Capitalism and environmental destruction bad. Living as one with nature good. Metal-clad bad guys do horrible things, but can be defeated by plucky natives and animals… at great personal cost. When you let go of your indoctrination, you can become eloquent, enlightened, and find love. Check your brain at the door: it’s paint by numbers; it’s not Rembrandt.

But what if it could be?

I couldn’t help but be disappointed by what could have been. The combination of those rich, intricate, beautiful visuals with a story that matched it. A story with nuance and textured mythology and 3-dimensional characters and moral dilemmas and bad guys you kind of liked and good guys you kind of didn’t.

Wholesale slaughter turns people off — we’ve seen too much of it. I don’t just mean emotionally, though that’s true, too. I mean mentally as well. There’s nothing to it but fast movement, loud noises, and carnage. Sure, big battles are exciting and move the story along… somewhat. But talk to Joss Whedon about the shock and power of a well-placed and well-timed single death. He can do more with offing a bit character than Avatar could do with one of the leads.

I understand the whole lowest common denominator idea in movies, books, TV, etc. And I get that it’s the intersection of investment and revenue potential. But I still prefer more of a long tail idea. I don’t think the NASCAR set is incapable of enjoying something that includes both explosions and thought. And I don’t think the Mensa set can’t appreciate a well choreographed action sequence.

Some day in the future I imagine someone will weave together that stunning technology with a story that makes both my brain and heart contort til it hurts. I can’t wait. Though I suspect I’ll probably have to see it at the Princess because the Galaxy will deem it incapable of raking in enough bucks.

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

On Saturday I attended a screening of Gone with the Wind at the Guelph Galaxy with Andrew’s Mom, Mary, and sister, Jan. One-day-only event at a few venues, showing the film in HD. I’d only ever seen it on tape before, so I was totally looking forward to it. HD doesn’t really make a difference on a print shot 70 years ago, but it looked as good as it’s gonna get.

The theatre was pretty much full, which is kind of awesome. And, not uncommonly for such special events, there was a certain camaraderie in the air. I also found out later that an old high school friend of mine was at the same show.

Continue reading“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

A plotty one, as Andrew would say

Quantum of Solace isn’t the best Bond movie, not by a long shot. It had neither the excitement nor the nom-ability of Casino Royale. Of course, if you’ve been anywhere near the internets for the last 24 hours or so, you already know that.

Of course, it doesn’t matter. It’s Bond. Daniel Craig could sit in a chair (in a tux, sipping a Vesper, natch) reading his grocery list and we’d all flock to the theatres. I know this because I bought tickets this morning for the 4:10 showing this afternoon, and while waiting in line to get them from the kiosk, heard the announcement over the loudspeaker that the 3:30, 4:10, 6:40 and 7:10 showings were all sold out.

Really, what constituted QoS would have made a nice sub-plot in a bigger film, and things were really weak with the ladies. “Agent Fields” was a complete waste of time (except, perhaps, for the homage she starred in — won’t give it away), and Ms. Kurylenko… well, one presumes what they didn’t spend on blowing things up was spent on bronzer for her. Also, her accent — wtf?

However, despite there being precious little car, gadget, and nekkid Craig goodness, it was a Bond film, and so a pretty and mindless good time. And let’s face it, I’d pay $9.95 to stare at Craig’s eyes pretty much any day. 🙂

Because clearly I do not have access to enough social media…

I am not big on online video. Unless they are very short or on something I find very compelling, I am rarely inclined to watch for long.

However, video appears to be an ever-increasing part of online interactions, and it’s kinda my job to keep my finger on the pulse of the internets. Plus video is pretty central to the business models of several of our fellow portfolio startups. So, time to learn.

Fortunately, the barrier to entry with most internets stuffs is pretty low, so I have leapt in with my first feature-length cinematic experience. I know the sound is crap. It’s an experiment.


Weekend Roundup on 12seconds.tv

Culture

Last week Andrew and I went to see the much anticipated Death Race. We’d even checked out the original in advance. (Oh yeah, it’s bad. And features a young, woman-beating Stallone. And a seductive David Carradine.)

It was as delightful as expected, with many deeply intellectual moments involving a shirtless Jason Statham, a jiggly Natalie Martinez, a lot of metal getting wrecked, bodies getting pulped, and things blowing up.

And some truly awful dialogue. Like, “WTF was that supposed to mean?” terrible, not just cheesy and delivered in a wooden fashion, as is to be expected.

Joan Allen also needs to fire her plastic surgeon. She’s getting that tight, squinty look of having had too much bad work done.

However, if you want to check your intellect at the door and exclaim “Awesome!” many times, this is the testosterone-fueled event for you. And me. 🙂

Saturday I spent up at my parents’ place, partly on baby-watching duty while my parents judged a fair, and while my profoundly hungover brother and friends played in a baseball tournament. (Chad also wore a sweet mullet wig most of the day. Just… cuz.) In exchange I got delicious Eggs Benedict for brunch, and a BBQ featuring potato sausage and more Cumbrae Farms steaks for dinner. (Alas, Gordie wasn’t there this time.) And I didn’t have to cook any of it. w00t!

Yesterday Andrew and I caught the last matinee of Avenue Q at the Elgin in Toronto. A thoroughly good time to be had. Catchy tunes, irreverence, profanity, and profound insights into the human condition… as explored by puppets.

I agree with Andrew that the first half was stronger than the second — more catchy tunes and fun and the pace moved more quickly. Which is to say Andrew and I are shallow and don’t like introspection, and so were uncomfortable with the issues presented in the second half. 🙂

And, of course, it was a dream come true to see The Internet is for Porn performed live. Heh. I did have to explain to Andrew what this “internet porn” is. He seemed intrigued…

The Toronto run ended last night, so you can’t go see it, least not in TO for the time being. However, it is a delightful and somewhat dirty romp if it comes to a venue near you. Leave the kids at home. Srsly.

And after the play, we went for Korean BBQ, as we are wont to do. Nom nom nom meaty. I was telling Dad about the concept on Saturday, and he was quite intrigued… until I mentioned it was in Toronto. Hopefully we get one in KW at some point. We have a place called Korean BBQ, but they cook the food, so no BBQs in the middle of the table, and what fun is that?

After Korean BBQ, since clearly that’s not enough food, we hunted down coffee and a crepe at a place called Cafe Crepe (I think) down the street. Quite tasty. Headed home after that, the coffee keeping us conscious, since a hardcore food coma set in once we got home. I was in bed by about 9:30pm. I know, I’m a wild woman.

And today I am chillin’ with the pupsters and doing laundry while Andrew is once again in Toronto, trying to salvage as much of the Film Fest as possible after getting cornholed sans lube by being in nearly the last box processed. Might I note that there was similar selection carnage two years ago when I couldn’t attend, too? Coincidence? I think not…

Oh, and this? Was my “not busy” weekend til some time in October…

Movie watching

Let’s see…

Saw Dark Knight a second time with Sherry. Still excellent. Pondering whether the Riddler or the Penguin would be preferable for the next villain. (Andrew favours the latter; Sherry the former.)

Finally got around to watching Lars and the Real Girl the other night. What a wonderful movie. Sweet, quiet, funny, poignant, quirky. Big kudos to Ryan Gosling. (Though seriously dude, no more mustaches, please.) Plus, who doesn’t love small town characters? I totally want to be Mrs. Gruner when I grow up. And the sweaters! 🙂

Dan and I went to see The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor the other night. No, we weren’t expecting it to be good. We went for the CGI creatures! And we were not disappointed. Delightful cheese, sweeping vistas, plots holes that pretty much literally had trucks driven through them… good times. And seriously? The Yeti alone are worth the price of admission. Score! (Teehee.) Though they should have given Michelle Yeoh a chance to kick more ass. And there are some issues inherent in the definition of “kill” when you’re pitting two armies of the reanimated (and dessicated) dead against each other. I’m just sayin’…

Andrew’s cousin gave him Soylent Green for his birthday, so we watched that last night. I’d never seen it (though I did know what The Secret was). Not a bad movie, though certainly Heston-y. And fake blood in the 70s was really bad. We were pondering how watching the film would have been different NOT knowing the ending, but then afterward we watched the original trailer, and… cripes, if you couldn’t figure it out from THAT… We could have just watched that and saved ourselves two hours.