9.21.2016

"Oh, I'll bring it. Don't worry."


THE MOVIES were as follows:
  • Bring It On (00)
  • Groundhog Day (93)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (15)
  • Matilda (97)
  • Star Trek: Beyond (16)
   I recently realized I had to fill a giant hole in my movie-watching life and finally watch Bring It On, and it Did Not Disappoint. It was fun! I was so glad about the cheque thing and how it wasn't the story of a white saviour. I also spent a great deal of the movie shouting things like, "they cannot actually allow 17 year olds to do this in real life". Like the car wash? Please tell me that is a movie-made myth. Also, Gabrielle Union was TWENTY-EIGHT when they made this movie.

   I watched Groundhog Day ALSO for the first time, and here are some thoughts I had, in no particular order:
  • There is no explanation of why the day starts repeating, and no actual explanation for why it stops:
    • Arguably, it stops because Rita agrees to stay at the hotel without Phil trying to ply her, but that's only circumstantial. 
  • Phil indulges his id (the car chase, eating whatever he wants, picking up women, dressing up as Bronco), his ego (learning French, piano, etc), and his super ego (a wide selction of good deeds), all in turn;
  • He also goes through the evil-neutral-good/lawful-neutral-chaotic spectrum, sort of?;
  • This movie is MUCH DARKER than I thought it was;
  • Phil doesn't know when the day will stop repeating, or even if it will. Based on his experience, he has to conclude that it is going to repeat forever, meaning:
    • Phil has died and is in purgatory;
    • Only when he has learned to disregard the self and only act with the good of others in mind does he complete the 2nd of Feb; and,
    • And when he wakes up on the 3rd, he has worked his way through purgatory, and moved on.
  • Based on clues, we have to conclude that Phil has been repeating the 2nd for at least several years. When he goes to the movie, he says he's seen it 100 times, and I was going to count how many times Rita slaps him when I realized, "I can just google this," and discovered that people have calculated either 8ish or 34 years.
    • Based on his learning French (presumably, since he busted it out a few iterations into their date), piano, ice sculpting, and card throwing, I'm inclined to agree with 34 years. 10,000 hours to achieve mastery, you know? 

   If you thought I'd be tired of watching and re-watching Mad Max Fury Road yet, you thought WRONG. It's a cinematic triumph and I love it. 

   I had vague memories of both watching Matilda and not being allowed to watch Matilda, which I'm sure combined into baby-me watching it, getting scared, and then not being able to talk to my parents about it without blowing my cover (hi, mom). 

   DISTINCT LACK of needlessly naked ladies in Star Trek: Beyond, well done, JJ (and others). I found myself being jarred out of my suspension of disbelief by some VERY ridiculous physical feats, especially things like people sliding very fast down a long thing, landing squarely on their feet, and not immediately breaking every leg they had. It's like when people in movies use non-dynamic rope and don't get cut in half, or when there's some good ol' TV CPR. IT'S THE WORST. Other than that, this is a fun movie, Spock/Bones are great, the Sabotage scene was truly amazing, and there are ladies who exhibit agency and individuality. A good flick.  

9.04.2016

The Witches / Stacy Schiff


   Every once in awhile things will suddenly start popping up everywhere, in a way that I associate with the word "synchronicity", although I think my terminology is faulty. This has happened with two things lately, the first is Dungeons & Dragons, which has been showing up ALL OVER THE PLACE. A small selection of instances: an acquaintance on the fbook who said he wanted to get into playing tabletop role-playing games, The Adventure Zone along with other podcasts, a set of knuckle tattoos in the shapes of various dice used in D&D posted by the artist who did my latest tattoo, and in Stranger Things. It seems like a lot of D&D!

is the universe telling me to play D&D?

   The other one has been more spread out, and the other one is witches. Suddenly, witches are showing up everywhere. On the exact day that I finished reading The Witches by Stacy Schiff, A Century of Murder - which is a documentary about witch hunts mostly in Scotland in the 1500's-ish - appeared on my "recommended for you" tab on Netflix. There was another book - Six Women of Salem - I was trying to put a hold on that led me to The Witches in the first place. Basically: what is with witches and D&D, and is it actual sorcery, someone let me know. And now that I've read this book about witches I've also realized that it's Fall, otherwise known as Spooky Reading Time.

   So: I started reading(listening to) The Witches because suddenly witches were everywhere and I've always wanted to know more about Salem anyways (I haven't read The Crucible because my deep dislike of Death of a Salesman has kept me away from it, please someone let me know if I need to read that play, or see it). The Witches is a very long book. Goodreads says it is 417 pages, and the audiobook version that I listened to was just over 18 hours. That's a lot of reading! There are a lot of Puritans to keep straight! Who on earth names their son "Increase" and/or "Cotton"?!

   First: two genuinely baffling things:

  • The last of the executed women weren't exonerated until The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand One; and,
  • A few years after 1692 people from the area were like "at least we didn't BURN anybody" AS IF BEING PRESSED TO DEATH IS BETTER THAN BURNING, and as if you didn't really do anything wrong by hanging innocent people because at least they didn't get burned.

   As a function of being very long, this is very thorough. Now that I've read it, I'm wondering why it isn't billed as a scholarly source instead of just a lil history book on witches. This thing Goes Into Detail; BUT it still somehow manages to be a bit scattered and confusing timeline-wise. This impression, however, could be largely due to my sometimes zoning out while listening.  Even so, I learned a great deal and knowledge that I already had was greatly fleshed out. I now know names like Sarah Good and Bridget Bishop and Rebecca Nurse, women whose primary crimes were things like being poor, being ornery, being old, or being loud. It was a horrifying time to be an even slightly unlikable woman in Salem and the surrounding areas. 


   Schiff also includes the stories of the "afflicted girls", and how their lives played out post-1692. Some of them were fine, and went on to get married and have babies and live out their lives, while others died early or remained in an afflicted state until they died. Before talking about where they ended up, Schiff talks about how the witch trials began in the first place. 

   While trying to answer the question of why the girls started to accuse people, Schiff spends a great deal of time dwelling on hysteria. As soon as the word "hysteria" popped up, I was off put and disappointed. Schiff used the term interchangeably with conversion disorder, and I wish she would have just used the more accurate and specific diagnosis to describe what she had arrived at as a possible cause of the beginning of the accusations. "Hysteria" has a fraught history, and isn't in use anymore as a diagnosis, so why pepper it throughout the theorizing on what caused the fits, hallucinations, and convulsions? There was so much talk of hysteria and nary a mention of ergot poisoning and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. 

   To sum up this somewhat disjointed review: very informational, kinda dry, too long, "hysteria" isn't a real disorder, and I was planning on reading Schiff's book about Cleopatra but now I don't know if I will. 

8.27.2016

"WRONG LEVER!"


   The movies from the last post:

  • The Emperor's New Groove (00)
  • Galaxy Quest (99)
  • Love & Friendship (16)
  • The Secret Life of Pets (16)
  • True Lies (94)
   I don't think I need to tell you how good The Emperor's New Groove is. Pure gold. 

   Here is a video talking about how Galaxy Quest ought to be considered a comedy classic, and I am in agreement. What a gem of a film. I loled aplenty, as well as feeling genuine emotional attachment to the characters. 

   Love & Friendship easily earned a place in my top-five movies of the year, and I saw it twice in theaters. It is witty and hilarious. Kate Beckinsale plays a woman who is 40 times smarter than anyone else around her and absolutely runs circles around them. She essentially manipulates everyone into doing what she wants and it's amazing. And then! Other women in the movie learn to play the game and it is like this giant battle of wits with a polite veneer on it, it's so good. Here's the trailer. Highly recommended for anyone who likes jokes, banter, or good movies. Watched it twice in theatres. 

   I saw Zootopia earlier this year, and was so thoroughly impressed by it, and I think it may have heightened my expectations for The Secret Life of Pets. Pets was disappointing, racially problematic, and fairly boring. I thought it was going to be fun, and it wasn't. I thought that it would maybe have the same kind of thoughtful commentary that Zootopia did, and it didn't. It had one good joke near the end. Skip this one. 

   A few years back my brother and I spent a great deal of time watching Arnold movies, but somehow skipped watching True Lies. Imagine my glee when I was hanging with some pals and their cat, and we discovered that we were all in the mood for some Arnold time. True Lies  not only includes SEVERAL hilarious lines, it ALSO features and outdoor-to-indoor motorcycle chase when instead of being on a motorcycle, Arnold is RIDING A HORSE, and the horse TAKES THE ELEVATOR, and it is AMAZING.

   Movies! I love them.