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This is what I have learned from watching the first fifteen minutes of The Doll Master, a 2004 South Korean horror film featuring hordes of BJDs by Customhouse. As demonstrated by Young-ha, a BJD-owning character, they're all sulky, introverted weirdos with no social skills and a tendency to treat their dolls as independent equals, rather than toys.

I've wanted to watch this movie ever since I learned of it, partly because my first BJD was a Customhouse Jun [Zephque], partly because the BJD community refers to Doll Master as the equivalent of BJD: The Movie. Further comments when I'm done.

If you're so inclined to watch a horror movie about dolls, you can find the entire Doll Master film on Youtube with subtitles.

P.S. You know what actually is really fucking creepy? That life-size doll hanging from the ceiling as a lamp holder in the weirdo BJD owner's room. It looks like it's being tortured. :( Won't someone please think of the mannequins? :p

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Slant magazine provides some of the most pretentious, convoluted, obtuse, overwritten, horribly bad movie "reviews" I have ever read. Here's an example. Basically the author dislikes the movie for being overly sympathetic to all characters and not judgmental enough. But God forbid he come right out and say that. Instead we get Death by Adjectives and phrases like "limning a milieu with extraneous humanism," which sounds like it just came from the keys of someone who has recently discovered the thesaurus [or maybe the Increase Your Word Power! section of Reader's Digest].

As you can see [if you can make any headway in the impenetrable thicket of purple prose], the reviewers make it a point to dislike pretty much everything. Then they expound on their dislike with the grandiloquent bloviation worthy of those self-important people who think that they are too stupendous to crack jokes. To a man [and I think they're all men], they're acutely allergic to clarity of expression and direct communication of ideas. They clearly believe that, the more subordinate clauses their "reviews" have, the better they are.

I like to read stuff like this occasionally, just to roll my eyes at its egregiousness. It reminds me what not to do.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a milieu that needs some limning with extraneous humanism. :p

P.S. This also brings up the question -- if you hate movies, both generally as a concept and specifically as individual films, which the writers of Slant apparently do, why write about them in the first place?
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Hot Toys is doing a 1:6 scale version of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, as she appears in The Dark Knight Rises, played by Anne Hathaway. I'm getting her! Well...I'm getting the whole doll, then selling everything but her head, as Hathaway has always reminded me of Frank [my version!]. ^_^

And look! Her stupid mask is removable! You would not believe how long it took me to discover this information. In a spectacular failure of communication, both the Hot Toys official site and the Sideshow Toys official site [= official US dealer for Hot Toys] showed the doll only with her mask on and no indication whatsoever of whether the damn thing was permanently attached to her face. No one wants a doll with something permanently attached to its face [well, unless it's Bane -- that's okay because we never see him without his mask]. That just reduces the versatility of the fig drastically.

P.S. The movie was all right, but there were only 2 female characters, Selina Kyle and Thalia Al-Ghul. Otherwise, Gotham was made up entirely of men. How boring, not to mention unrealistic. I also could have gone for at least 15 minutes more of Anne Hathaway. The screen lit up whenever she appeared!

EDIT: The picture I got was not actually of the doll. Still not sure if her stoooooopid mask comes off. Have asked Sideshow Toy.
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We watched The Muppets last night. It was a pretty cute movie, with most of the humor at no one's expense, but I was continually bothered by the rampant sexism on display in the plot between the 2 human leads, Gary [Jason Segel] and Mary [Amy Adams].

Gary and Mary have been dating for 10 years, but they don't even live together. They're not engaged either. Mary wishes that Gary would propose to her, but he does not. In fact, their 10th anniversary trip to Los Angeles ends up including Gary's Muppet "brother," Walter, in spite of Mary's obvious displeasure. Gary constantly privileges adventures with Walter over adventures with Mary, who acquiesces by trying to put on a brave face. When Gary forgets his 10th anniversary dinner with Mary, Mary goes back home, leaving a note that addresses the source of her upset only obliquely: "Are you a man or a Muppet?" Gary follows Mary back home and proposes to her. She says yes, blah blah blah, whoop de doo.

This entire plot could have been avoided if Gary and Mary had just had one single solitary stinkin' conversation about their expectations and desires. On a deeper level, it also would have been a much shorter movie if Mary hadn't been trapped by expectations about feminine passivity. If she loved Gary so much and wanted to marry him, why didn't she propose to him years ago? Why does she suffer Gary's callous, clueless behavior in silence, without speaking up for herself? Why is Mary such a spineless, retrograde drip? Why is Gary such an inattentive, uncommunicative clod? Does anyone really think this relationship is going to work out?

My favorite character was '80's Robot.
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Thanks to Racialicious, I just watched episode 1 of Awkward Black Girl. It's a first-person Web-based comedy series with short eps about ABG's awkward social life. Issa Rae, the creator, director, writer and star, is hilarious. Watch her express her frustrations by secretly writing rap lyrics in her bedroom. There's 1 season of 12 short eps out so far.
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Yesterday, I watched another Lifetime Xmas movie, The Road to Xmas, in which a woman is happily engaged to an Italian man. He's preparing a surprise wedding for her in Aspen and, when one of her photography shoots is canceled, she decides to fly out early to surprise him. When her flight is canceled, she hitches a ride with a widower and his teenaged daughter. The woman [naturally :p ] falls in love with the widower, conveniently discovers her fiance's infidelity and dumps the fiance for the widower.

For a Lifetime Xmas movie, The Road to Xmas was surprisingly tolerable. This is probably because the movie itself was a road-trip romance that happened to occur arround Xmas, rather than a film in which Xmas plays a starring role as the holiday of cliched and enforced happiness for all.

Because I could watch Road to Xmas without gagging on holiday cheer, its problematic elements stood out all the more strongly: 1) homophobia and 2) domestic violence.

You see...the photographer's fiance wasn't just having an affair with some random woman...he was sexing it up with the male wedding planner. After unbelievable excuses, the fiance protests that he really wanted the wedding between him and the photographer to work out, which makes him seem like not only a cheater, but a cheater deluded enough to think that a straight marriage would somehow keep both parties happy when one party is secretly gay. After an entirely heteronormative movie, two gay characters appear only to provide a devastating [yet convenient] end to the photographer and fiance's relationship, thus reinforcing the idea that gay people are selfish homewreckers.

I also objected to the domestic violence at the end of the film. When she discovered that her fiance was gay, the photographer swung her fists at him, slapping him and pounding him in the chest. He said something like, "Please don't hit me!" or "Why are you hitting me?" Her response was something like, "It's the only thing I can think to do, and it feels good." The photographer's blows against her fiance were shown to be ineffectual and comic, but just make the assailant a man and the victim a woman to see how chilling this exchange truly is. Can you imagine a male character justifying violence against a female character by saying, "It feels good"? Most people would recognize such a situation as the abusive behavior it is. When the assailant is female, however, and the victim male, the situation is minimized, diminished and played for comic relief so that the violence seems more palatable, even acceptable and dismissable! Vomitorious.
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They all contain female protagonists who are over the hill at my age >:( [Eve's Xmas] and who learn the true, fulfilling value of heterosexual marriage through the intervention of unrealistic "meet cutes" [His and Hers Xmas] or Magical Wise Negro fairy godfathers. Vomit vomit vomit. They're sort of fascinating in a stomach-churning sort of way.
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1. The Cowardly Lion is so gay in this interpretation. All his mannerisms are stereotypically swishy.

2. Despite Dorothy's fervent proclamation that "There's no place like home," her home pales in comparison to Oz. Let's see -- at home, Miss Gulch tries to kill Toto; her guardians, Em and Henry, dismiss her constantly and talk over her; even the hired hands pay no real attention to her. To top it all off, the place is in boring sepia and infested with tornadoes. No fun at all. By contrast, Oz contains Technicolor glory, magic and Dorothy's acclamation as a hero just for being the rather nice, forthright, polite, unassuming girl that she is. No one in Kansas accepts Dorothy for who she is, but, in Oz, everyone valorizes her character. Why does she wish to return to a place that's so actively hostile toward her?

3. Wow, that movie version is looooong. Takes about 50 minutes to collect all 4 companions together. I'm sure it could have been done in half the time, but many of the songs, if not all, would have to be cut.
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I had never watched Die Hard (1988), with Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman [yay!], before, so I watched it streaming last night. ‘Tis a silly film – are we really supposed to believe that Willis’ character, John McClane, routs the baddies while not wearing any shoes? Come on now!

I also noticed that Die Hard seems to share with Fatal Attraction a reactive misogynist hatred of the independent woman. The specter of independence raised by Holly, John’s estranged wife, who dares to use her maiden name and separate from her husband for her career, is ultimately subsumed into the patriarchal family mode. In fact, the whole movie sets up a situation wherein the wealth and success of the Nakitomi Company, where Holly works, brings the terrorist attack upon itself. Therefore, we can see Hans Gruber [Alan Rickman, yay!] and co. as narrative punishment for Holly’s proto-feminist attitude. She’s so uppity, being a successful career woman and having a Rolex, that she deserves to be smote with the degradation of victimhood at the hands of the terrorists. But she learns her lesson; by the end, she’s using her married name again, happily signifying that she belongs to the manly-man action hero of John McClane. What a load of sexist crap.

Also this weekend I watched a weird three-part miniseries, Tin Man, the SyFy Channel’s story inspired by The Wizard of Oz. I really liked looking at the world, a combination of majestic Vancouver forests and glitzy, vaguely 1930s cities where everyone wears weird hats. Grey machinery mixed with verdant landscape in a cross between steampunky dystopia and wildlands utopia. However, I felt that the pace was rather draggy, especially in the middle episode [middle episodes of trilogies almost always suffer from sluggishness]. I liked the fact that a sisterly bond between the Dorothy equivalent and the Wicked Witch equivalent redeemed the Witch equivalent’s character, but I disliked the fact that monkey bats came out of the Witch equivalent’s heaving cleavage. That was just SILLY.

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The concept of Daybreakers is: When everyone's a vampire, who's the lunch? In the near future, humans are becoming extinct as more and more of them are turning into vampires. Hematologist Ethan Hawke pairs up with humans Claudia Karvan and Willem Dafoe to find and propagate a cure. Many car chases, scenes with evil businessvampires, dramatic washed-out shots in mostly colorless tones and scenes with portentous music result, but I find it hard to be sympathetic, even if Ethan Hawke can't stand to drink human blood and feels pity for humans. Something about these vampires, indeed, this whole movie, is remarkably bloodless. Entertaining time-passer, though.

P.S. Also the slow-mo gore is unintentionally hilarious. Oh the humanity vampirity!

New Moon

Nov. 24th, 2009 05:38 pm
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I saw New Moon this weekend. It was a damn sight better than Twilight, since it had more plot and more active characters. However, I picked out at least 5 times where it could have ended before it actually did. Also, unfortunately, Robert Pattinson was absent for the bulk of the movie, so I couldn't stare at his nose.
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In a country where it's always snowing, 12-year-old Oskar, a boy as pale as the sun, meets an enigmatic girl one night, Eli, with her dark intense gaze. The two couldn't be more different -- he a scared, passive kid on the young side, she a solemn old soul -- but they're both lonely, and they both want to do violence to the people who threaten them, so that brings them together.

As Oskar struggles with bullying at school, he becomes friends with Eli, who solves Rubik's cubes instantly, but doesn't remember her birthday. About them swirl two mysteries. First, who is killing young boys around Vallingby, the suburb where the two live, and draining their blood? Second, what kind of creature is Eli, who must be formally invited in and who licks blood drops off the floor? Read more... )


Aug. 7th, 2009 06:09 pm
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I am interested to learn more about this movie, as it is about a set of female twins in their late 20s and one uses a wheelchair and one walks!

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Everybody slurs their stilted speech as if they're all tranqed, at least until the last half-hour, when suddenly a chase occurs. The viewer realizes suddenly and irrevocably that no one has any talent in this movie except Billy Burke as Bella's dad and Robert Pattinson as Edward. The viewer ceases to be intrigued by the murky, pretty colors of the depressing, pretty scenery and falls asleep, despite the pointless chase scenes trying to compensate pathetically for the complete lack of plot. Danger and death do provide a certain illicit thrill, a primal libidinal allure that we cannot distinguish from fear because, at base, all our emotions are a type of arousal, but viewers will certainly find no exploration of the allure of the deadly in this movie. The vampires are not deadly in this movie; boredom is.
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So I watched the first 30 minutes of Twilight last night before my copy crapped out. It was so boring. I liked the pretty colors on the screen, very gloomy, dense and rainy, but the stupid, empty script, combined with the endless staring, drove me up the wall. Kristen Stewart may be hot, but she apparently has Jennifer Connelly Syndrome: an inability to keep her mouth from hanging open. Rob Pattinson has a fascinatingly angular profile, and his acting is a damn sight better than Stewart's, which, in this film of feeble performances, is not saying much. The movie Bella has all the personality of a piece of uncooked tofu, while the movie Edward is prickly, insulting, pissy and completely unattractive. I don't know what these characters see in each other.
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I really liked the aesthetic choices for the elven characters. All of them had yellowish white skin, like spoiled milk or dead cheese. Their lips were dark if not black, their irises glowing yellow, their hair the color of thin piss. They had no eyebrows, which made their eyes extra striking. They looked sickly, corpse-like and vampiric, appropriate for a race of characters going extinct.
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Yay, I finally saw Hellboy 2, in which Hellboy, Abe Sapien, Liz the firestarter and Dr. Strauss the ectoplasmic comic relief race to keep an insane elf, Prince Nuada, from activating mechanical warriors and destroying the world. Meanwhile, Hellboy and Liz have domestic disputes, which are magically resolved when Liz gets pregnant with two devil/human halfbreeds, and Abe goes gooshy and loses all dignity for the insane elf's twin sister, Princess Nuala. Cigars are chomped; monsters are dispatched; quips are tossed off, and everyone has a silly good time.

This movie is amusing, diverting and charming, and it could be even better with a reduction of romantic goop, which is out of character for all the characters, and a greater focus on Nuada and Nuala. They're actually interesting, since they know they're part of a dying kind; even though Nuada fights back, both he and his sister seem to know that the elves and all the magical creatures that they represent are doomed. Thus the film argues for a manifest destiny sort of colonization of the imagination, with Hellboy et al. in especially weird positions because they're on the colonizers' sides. But the film ultimately prefers to wallow in sluggish love songs, rather than this interesting thematic tension.
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So I just watched a Youtube version of Zydrate Anatomy, a song from Repo! The Genetic Opera. Murky and full of visual hiccups, it featured Alexa Vega and Paris Hilton and some guy who looked like he was out of a steampunk Liaisons Dangereuses. I am reminded favorably of Marilyn Manson and the New York Dolls in both concept and costumes. Perhaps this would be an interesting movie to see, although, of course, it's probably not showing anywhere near me. [Trailer here.]
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A picked-on little boy falls in love with a vampire girl. Winter, ice, moodiness and death result. Looks good. Based on a novel?!
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I've wanted to see this movie since I saw the preview.
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Johnny Depp signs on to do Pirates 4. Stop beating a dead horse to death, Disney.

Also, we get a preview of Disney's horrid Princess and the Frog [previously discussed here], with a princess of color, and's sick. Why in the squackity squack is the firefly missing teeth and talking like Jiminy Cricket in blackface? Also, "Tiana's" very stretchy face and wide mouth make her a knock-off of Ariel. It makes me want to PUKE kick my heels up and PUKE throw my hands up and PUKE throw my head back and PUKE... [Apologies to the Temptations.]

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Watch two octopi try to escape obsessed sushi truck driver in this brilliant animated short. Best parts: The squeaking sound effects for the octopi...also the exasperated look that the pink one gets on its face right before the very end. This is almost making up for the crappy week I'm having.
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So I just checked out a 42-minute movie, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, on Hulu. It's a love triangle story between aspiring evil mad scientist Dr. Horrible, macho doofus Captain Hammer and activist mushball Penny. It was truly tragic that such witty dialog, catchy songs and all-around solid performances were called into service for an UTTERLY UNORIGINAL AND SEXIST PLOT. I object to the purity, innocence, naivete and kindness of the mushball Penny because these qualities did not make her an effective foil character for the guys; they just objectified her and made her an unintelligent, unperceptive pawn. Her character was so unoriginal, boring and unattractive that I almost quit watching. Vomit vomit vomit. I'm especially annoyed by the putrid sexual politics of this movie because the creators, Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy, are known for slightly more complex, interesting and dynamic portrayals of important female characters. The songs, acting and script were all good, but the plot fucking sucked. Therefore, the film overall gets a mediocre rating, and I'm so deeply offended by the stale sexism that I can't, in good conscience, recommend this to anyone.

P.S. Stalking is not cute, comedic or romantic.
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Continuing in a long tradition of mediocre remakes of classic films [Psycho, Wicker Man, War of the Worlds, King Kong, et hoc genus omne], MTV and 20th Century Fox are apparently retreading The Rocky Horror Picture Show movie. Like most remakes, it will be weak, pointless, dull and did I mention POINTLESS? Useless, pathetic remakes always make me roll my eyes in disgust; my eyes are revolving especially hard in their sockets now because Fox and MTV are messing around with a movie that I like. Blech. WHY???
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In the latest Batman reboot, Batman has to deal with both the Joker and Two-Face, all while contemplating whether he's any better than the ends-justify-the-means dudes that he fights. Movie portrays a consistently murky, satisfactorily melancholy vision of Gotham in which it's always night and no one is quite sure they're doing the right thing. New ass-kicking technology, including wings for Batman and a muscular Batmobile with LOITER and INTIMIDATE modes [and the ability to eject a Batbike], provides spectacular pyrotechnics to distract from the fact that most of the acting is serviceable but not exciting. 

Should be telling that the audience cheered and laughed only when the Joker was on the screen. While everyone else is repressed and dire, Ledger's Joker capers in his own manic world, creepy, unpredictable and much more interesting than Bale's Batman, who we know is dull enough to eventually do the right thing [supported, of course, by moralizing from Oldman's Commissioner Gordon].

The movie's strengths are its action scenes, special effects and the Joker. Weak points are the otherwise complete lack of humor, frequently ponderous script and lack of psychological realism, especially in the character of Gyllenhaal's Dawes. Why does Rachel like Harvey Dent? There's no chemistry and no interest. After all those resentful looks she passes Bruce Wayne, why does she insist that his penthouse is the safest location in Gotham? Who cares? This is not a movie about female characters. Screw the female characters. We have no need for them [even though the mayor, some Mob players, Lau and Gordon could be female characters without any problem at all]. This is a movie about MEN and MORALS. Also BIG FUCKING EXPLOSIONS. At these three things, it succeeds.

Three and a half out of five stars!

modernwizard: (Default) recommends books and movies with vampires. May be good for finding a few non-romance vamp titles...
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Here it is: "artillery-laden ski pursuits." Ever since reading this phrase off the back of a video box for the Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service, I've tried to worm it into my daily vocabulary as much as possible. When I'm really rich and I have extra money to throw around, I'm going to buy just for the hell of it. That is all.

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 Appealingly fleet in pacing, Tim Burton's adaptation of the opera -- filmed in two colors: sepia and BLOOD RED -- plays up the mordant comedy with stylized performances from all principals. Pasty, broody Johnny Depp, distracted by vengeance, anchors film as Sweeney Todd with a very inward, focused melancholy. Pasty, frazzled Helena Bonham Carter holds up much of the comedy with her insouciant, greasy gaiety as mad scientist of pies Mrs. Lovett. Music is competent, but players mumble too much, but that's not a problem because the simple, pantomime-like nature of the story communicates everything you need to know through body language. Cliched objectification of walking plot points Lucy, Sweeney's wife, and Joanna, Sweeney's daughter, severely mars an otherwise lightweight and satisfying feature.
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Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn's impressive physical comedy -- with rubbery, expressive faces and slapstick timing -- really make Death Becomes Her.  Competing for the affections of plastic surgeon and undertaker Ernest [played by Bruce Willis], Madeline [Streep] and Helen [Hawn] characters ingest a magical elixir that guarantees perfect youth. Unfortunately, the formula does not guarantee perfect invulnerability, so Madeline and Helen prevail upon Ernest to do their heavy-duty make-up and maintenance. Will they tempt Ernest  to immortality? Will they be able to keep themselves together [literally]? Who really ends up with immortality in the end? 

With dry wit, the script deftly skewers the modern equation of youth with beauty and happiness; Streep and Hawn, masters of zingy delivery, drop bons mots that kept me chuckling. They play their constant goat-getting with such relish that the fact of their misery goes slightly less noticed until the end, when they attend Ernest's funeral and learn that, through his kindness, charity, sense of humor and good works, as well as his descendants, he has truly reached immortality.

On a vampiric note, I enjoyed Death Becomes Her for its investigation of the flip side of immortality. Madeline and Helen's physical fragility exemplifies a damning and unexpected consequence of living forever. [I particularly liked Madeline's confrontation with the medical establishment. Her controversion of all laws of physics drives the examining physician to drink.] Meanwhile, Ernest, who thinks of immortality as boring, lonely and pointless, provides the philosophical argument for a finite lifespan.

[Filed under "vampires" for treatment of immortality.]
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I am firmly convinced of this. I just saw the teaser trailer for Twilight [previously mentioned here and here], in which Bella, a mortal, falls in love with Edward, a douchebag vampire. Because the trailer usually provides a condensed view of the movie's tone, cinematography, plot and acting abilities, I have no faith in the upcoming film. It appears that it will consist of people standing around looking dyspeptic and occasionally making hammy, passionate proclamations, all with portentous special effects and no sense of humor whatsoever. Regrettable, really, when Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are each young actors known for actually doing some good acting.

Wait...I take back what I said about there being no good vampire movies. Nosferatu is good.
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As a movie, Underworld did not interest me, despite the presence of vampires, werewolves, Bill Nighy and lots of corsetry. In fact, it punished my senses, so I turned it off, bored, halfway through. I do, however, enjoy the soundtrack. In fact, I play it regularly when working on LHF. It reminds me of the sort of music that vampires would play ironically.
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Seasons 1 and 2 of The Twilight Zone, one of my all-time faves, are available for streaming online with commercials. YAY FREE TWILIGHT ZONE!!!
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Neil Jordan, director of Interview with the Vampire, introduces the film on the DVD by saying that the characters are "the saddest vampires you'll ever see."  I think he meant to say that the vampires were UNHAPPY, but I cracked up because they're actually the most PATHETIC and RIDICULOUS vampires I've ever seen. Needless to say, I enjoyed the movie a lot more than I enjoyed Bram Stoker's Dracula [a.k.a. Coppola's Love Fest of Heaving Bosoms and Red Water]. Here is the real screenplay:
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Keanu Reaves as Jonathan Harker: [brain is on screensaver]

Anthony Hopkins as Abraham van Helsing: I chew ze scenery, ja? Is between my tees, ja? HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Bill Campbell as Quincey P. Morris: Goldurn it and tarnation! I'm madder than a riled-up hornet. Dadgum -- how many fake folksy expressions does a feller have to use to compensate for the fact that his Texan hick character has got as much karikter development as an advertising picture on the side of a feed sack?

Gary Oldman as Dracula: I am sensitive. Note the deep wells of feeling in my large liquid brown puppy-dog eyes. Well, actually, they're more like the eyes of a hairy horny werewolf, given that I screw Sadie Frost's character on a sundial in a labyrinth while looking like a monkey/bat combo. But pay no attention to my furry palms.

Winona Ryder as Mina Murray: Sure, it makes no sense at all that an unaccompanied fin-de-siecle woman engaged to be married to an utter twit would a) be walking around scummy London unaccompanied and b) allow herself to be accosted by a mysterious "Prince Vlad" and then c) go see nudie movies with him and d) pet wolves, but THROW ME A BONE HERE! I'm doing the best I can with utterly stupid material.

Bosoms: [heave heave]

Red Water: [gush gush]

Scenery: Hello! We are obviously matte paintings and sound stages and overly employed dry ice! Not to mention soap flakes for snow. But you should give us an Oscar anyway. Or two. Or three. PLEAAAAAASE.

Crosses: Watch how we break. This is Very Symbolic. VERY SYMBOLIC.

Annie Lennox: You know, I'm just going to ignore the entire movie and write a seriously awesome love song for the end credits that transcends any of the efforts put forth by the cast in terms of quality. 

EDITED TO ADD: Viewers: Mmm, this cheese tastes good.
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In her comment on my previous entry, katranna notes that Disney actively avoids black characters. This is true, but they used to be a little less avoidant. For example, the original version of the animated Fantasia had a little black centaur girl in the Beethoven's Pastoral section. The little black centaur girl, Sunflower, was being a sycophantic slave to the white centaur girls. Sunflower has since been cropped out, denied and otherwise suppressed during Fantasia theatrical and DVD re-releases. See here for a still of Sunflower and even a clip! The rest of the article [about Disney's most racist characters] is worth reading as well. 

The subject line comes from the #3 most racist characters, the Indians in Disney's Peter Pan [admittedly based on J.M. Barrie's stereotyped Pickanninny tribe, which, in a confusing stew of racism, are named after a derogatory term for African-Americans]. They sing a song with that title.

P.S . The list at forgot Stromboli, the fat yelling Italian stereotype in Pinnochio, as well as the eeeeevil slanty-eyed suck-uppy Siamese cats in The Lady and the Tramp who don't speak grammatically ["Now we looking over our new domicile / If we like, we stay for maybe quite a while"].
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As the stepparent of a 6-year-old, the Disney princess marketing machine is old news to me. This article by the always-behind-the-times Newsweek pisses me off, though. Here's part of the concluding paragraph:

Considering that "What's Love Got to Do With It" attitude, it's no wonder that Disney is modernizing its princess formulas.

P.S. For bonus nausea [and possibly VOMITING!!!!!], note that the 2009 Princess and the Frog is set in New Orleans. Cue the sassy Southern mammy stereotype, the comic and subhuman speaker of Cajun creole, not to mention the stupid, ignorant, stereotyped jokes about voodoo [more properly called Voudon, I think]. Extra bingo points for gratuitous depiction of New Orleans as some sort of swingin' place full of cheerful Stepin Fetchits just groovin' to the wild rhythms of that racy, "uncivilized," "wild" jazz. 

P.P.S. For a bonus bonus, read Deborah Siegl's review of Enchanted, which uses the movie as a case study to argue many of the points I bring up here.
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...I Learned from A Film Freak Commentary...

In any event, this is not supposed to be a speech about a dragon. This is, indeed, a song about a dragon...

No, seriously...In Film Freak Central, Alex Jackson provides some personal and perceptive commentary on Rocky Horror [and Shock Treatment, but I'm ignoring that part].
modernwizard: (Default) about a guy with a Real Doll and his brother and sister-in-law who are worried about him. The preview plays it as a comedy about a delusional, immature man who needs to migrate from silly, lifeless toys to much better real-life people. 

Plot-wise, that's the least realistic thing imaginable. From my research [see documentary Guys and Dolls here] and experience, people who are that into dolls, especially sexual substitutes, usually pursue this interest because a) they've have bad experiences in the past with women or b) they actually aren't interested in real women. In case a, they've turned away from interactions with real people, and they are not likely to turn back because they are soured. In case b, they fashion their experiences with love dolls to such an idealistic extent that no real women would ever satisfy them in the same way. All of this is to say that, if this were a realistic movie, the man would probably get a girlfriend who would break up with him because of his RealDoll, and he would return to the RealDoll, soured and even more intent on remaining with his safe, plastic toy.

That said, I'm very curious about the movie. While playing for obvious laughs, the preview seemed to treat all characters with respect. Hmmmm...
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Carnival of Souls does not have much going for it. There's the cheesy title, a definite strike against it, followed closely by its director Herk Harvey, better known for making simplistic mental hygiene films designed to drum good manners into 1960s schoolchildren. Then there's the low special effects budget, which means that the creepiest things our protagonist experiences are attack of the pancake make-up and occasional periods where the soundtrack just fades to silence.

I'm happy to report, though, that Carnival of Souls rises above these limitations to be a surprisingly effective, almost existential, horror film. Read more... )
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Since most of my movies are packed in preparation for my move, I'm watching movies through my compooper. The latest...An earlier example of German expressionism than Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1919), directed by Robert Wiene. I highly recommend it because a) it's the prototypical horror film, involving murder, twisted psychology and the analysis thereof; b) it really exploits the form (black-and-white) to heighten the delirious, dream-like atmosphere; c) it's a well-done classic.
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So saith Perversion for Profit (1965), an anti-smut rant. "Newsprint filth" apparently weakens children's moral fiber, leaving them less capable to resist the Communist threat. With a few changes in stats and terminology [I doubt the Communist menace would fly really well today], I think this content would transpose very well into anti-porn propaganda put out by, say, Focus on the Family.

I'm not going to even argue with the mindset portrayed in the film, but I do seriously question its tactics. Announcer George Putnam wants you to believe that exposure to porn corrupts innocent minds and damns people irrevocably. So why does most of the film contain examples of porm?! Following the logic of Putnam's argument, wouldn't these examples [even if eyes, butts and tits are barred out] corrupt at least a few innocent minds? It would be far more effective for this film to attempt to tie porn to violent crime by studying the porn habits of child molesters, serial killers, rapists, domester abusers, etc., to establish a [supposed] causal connection between newsprint filth and criminal perversion. In other words, don't show us the perversion; show us the result!

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So I just watched Boys Beware (1961), a mental hygiene film warning teenaged boys against "homosexuals." My brain broke because
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Here are my most frequented Web destinations, ordered alphabetically. Can anyone recommend some good sites of news analysis, kind of like weekly news magazines, only less rarefied than The New Yorker and less hebetated than Time and Newsweek? Particularly intelligent pop culture blogs and tech blogs.
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Kissed, the movie mentioned in my July 3rd entry, came in the mail on Monday, and I watched it. I'm only now reviewing it because I was busy priming and painting Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kissed, a closely focused movie with very few extras or characterological background, is a character study of two characters who are debatably nuts, yet perfect for each other.

Despite the inherent unlikeability of the characters, Kissed is an interesting, solid movie. It's by no means as artistic, philosophical, psychologically profound and daring as it thinks it is, but it's interesting and saved largely by convincing performances. The acting is all-around low-key, underplayed, even a bit deadpan [hah], which keeps the story from becoming sensationalized. The lack of extras [never have I seen a more desolate college campus] mars the realism, but also adds a dreamy, depupulated atmosphere to the story, demonstrating how much Sandra and Matt are focused on things besides the real world. The languid camera work and the poetic voice-overs add a meditative mood to the proceedings, though there are far too many fade-to-the-white-light-of-transcendent-orgasm shots. Also, the voice-overs could have been used much more parsimoniously, at the beginning, the end and during the extended childhood flashback of Sandra's. 

Apparently Kissed is based on a short story, "We So Seldom Look on Love," by Barbara Gowdy. I'll have to look into it. Maybe it provides some history for Sandra and Matt.
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Last night I watched The Aristocrats, primarily under duress, because we had to return it before the late fees became atrocious. The Aristocrats features scores of prominent comedians yammering about a show-biz in-joke that is not really that funny, then analyzing what makes that joke so compelling.
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Very rarely am I generally impressed with a movie, but that's my reaction to the latest Pixar effort, Ratatouille.
I also just have to mention that we saw a trailer for Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium,
Wake me up when Stardust comes out. Despite my fear that it will be a thoroughly formulaic, thematically light fairy tale [Neil Gaiman is not notable for significant depth], it does have some good actors in it and possibly some nice swordplay. Alternatively, I'll check into The Golden Compass, just to see how much of a compressed turd they make out of a good book by putting a Scientologist nutball as one of the lead characters [unless I'm wrong and Nicole Kidman swore off the space aliens Ponzi scheme religion once she broke off from Mr. "Not Gay No Way" "Big Nose" Cruise].
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About two weeks ago, I caught Spiderman 3 at the cheap seats.

On the other hand, I saw Blades of Glory last night.

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Given my interest in a) South Park and b) dolls, I've long wanted to see Team America. Ever since it was originally announced in 2004, I was fascinated by the idea of a movie starring a cast made entirely of 1:3 puppets. If the content was generated by the same foul-mouthed pop-culture satirists, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, behind South Park, that could only be a bonus, right?

Wrong, of course. BJD lovers should see below for my extensive critique of the puppetry.



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