Overheard at our house, French steampunk edition

Me: “So remember that trailer of that French steampunk film I showed you earlier this year?”

John: “Yeah – I think so.”

Me: “Well, apparently it was only in theatres on limited release and isn’t on DVD in the States at all.”

John: “So, New York and L.A. basically.”

Me: “Yeah probably.”

John: “And Northern Maine.”

“Oh, you’ll hate that.”

I have this funny, perverse mental habit.  When someone tells me, “You HAVE to watch X.  You will LOVE X,” I immediately find myself averse to ever looking at such a thing.

My mother is a very smart woman.

She now precedes all recommendations with, “So – you will HATE this.  You don’t want to watch/read/listen to it.”  For some reason, this actually works.

Funny little thing, brains.

Li’l LoLo rides again

What was Milo doing last night:

1. Experiencing Kundalini shakti
2. Taking an odd sort of nap
3. Hiding his face so he didn’t have to watch “Snakes on a Plane”

You tell me.

21 seconds of evil…

…expressed in a squeaky voice.

John was at a conference on the west coast for about a week.  By the day of his return, we were all more than ready to see him home.

You already know about this, right?

Okay – so if you don’t, here’s the deal: Joss Whedon (pause for that angelic choir going "waaaaa!" in the background*) apparently decided he couldn’t stand to not be creative during the writer’s strike.  So he did what any normal person in that situation would do.  He wrote a three-episode, 45-minute miniseries specifically for the web.  It’s an anti-super-hero story comedy about a nebbishy guy who wants to be a super-villain.  And it’s a musical.

You know – run-of-the-mill** stuff.

It’s free on the web until July 20, and it’s available for download, own-it-forever purchase on iTunes.  The first two episodes are available on the website, the last will be available on Saturday.  It’s funny and sweet and seriously silly. Go.  Watch.  Tell ‘em I sent you.

*Okay, so it’s probably "aaah!" but it always sounds like "waa" to me…

**Have I ever written a post with this many hyphens?

Made me laugh so hard I cried.

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Take two utterly insane things, mash them up, and you have Wookies dancing.

You know what there aren’t a lot of?

Female movie reviewers.

I admit to a certain fondness for reading movie reviews, especially for movies I may never see.  I’m an unabashed fan of Roger Ebert’s, and generally appreciate his insights.  That being said, however, I predicted that his first words on the "Sex and the City" movie would be something to the effect of, "I’m not the target market for this movie."

Bingo .

Curious, I scanned the Google roundup page for reviews of the movie.  It seems that there’s a definite gender split between the men and women – women mostly appreciating the movie for all the things the show brought us: witty dialogue, a return visit to characters we had grown to love, and a hefty dollop of high-fashion wish-fulfillment.  The men mostly found it shallow (that word shows up a lot) and admitted that since they hadn’t been viewers of the show, they weren’t privy to the back story.  I may be reading too much into the reviews I have read, but there seems to be a sense of unease in those writers – the sense that manliness has had to take its fingers out of its ears and stop singing, "Lalalalala – I don’t hear you!!" and listen to girly stuff that might… Do Something to them.  I don’t know what, exactly: make bits fall off?

Should I mention that I am the target market for this movie?  Need I mention that I have watched every episode of the series (and on afternoons, home with flu and feeling low, watched again) and enjoyed the series through its ups and downs, its storytelling strengths and weaknesses, the outfits I wouldn’t be caught dead in, and its nuanced and touching portrayals of female friendships?  I don’t know.  I do know the constant obsessions with shoes and labels always seemed to be more of a running joke in the series than anything else, and yet that is what is deemed "shallow" by so many critics.

So, let’s review.  Shoes/fashion: shallow.  Cars/guns/robots/spaceships: serious.  Besides, what is meant by the label "shallow"?  You could also possibly describe these same things as "light" or "entertaining."  But those are positive adjectives – ones that the reviewer might use to say, "Hey – go see it.  It’s fun!"  Instead, we get an adjective that says, "Save your money – this is unserious content, unworthy of your notice or money."

Shallow implies waste.  And waste implies guilt.  And woe be to you who enjoy such frivolity.

My friend Jacob has gone to town on the term "guilty pleasure" and excoriates it in a way that I have been chewing on ever since I first read it:

I hate that phrase "guilty pleasure" more than anything, because it’s a contradiction in terms and seems really self-hating and self-defeating to me, but more than that, I think the one thing you will always get crapped on for is honestly loving — much less rigorously reading — something that’s so heavily feminized, because to be blunt, we devalue women’s experience.

Yes.  Yes, we do.  Women will never be criticized for enjoying a "Die Hard" movie (heck, the first one has Alan Rickman in it – who am I to cavil at enjoying that?), but the term "chick flick" is a derogatory one, and not one a man wants to be associated with.  It’s a hoary cliche, and it’s frustrating.

So we’re back to the split: the ones who enjoy are women.  The ones who don’t are men.  And unfortunately, it seems that there are a lot more men who get paid to watch and opine than women (need I wait while you recover from your shock?).  Do the male reviewers have to like it?  Heck no – I don’t know if I will like it.  But the tediously predictable reasons for why they don’t like it is disturbing, and it saddens me.

As for me, I haven’t seen the movie yet (see here for why).  Will I?  Pass the popcorn.

Some things you don’t outgrow

I used to have a rule: no serious horror movies.  Scary stuff would bubble away in the back of my head until it erupted – usually somewhere around 2 a.m. – and a mostly sleepless night would ensue while evil things scuttled around the corners of my brain.

Because the effects of horror movies were so bad, this has been my rule for years.  Having married The Guy Who Watches Made for Scifi Movies, I have since found out that cheesy, campy, or just plain bad horror doesn’t bother me any.  Which led me to a very bad mistake last night.  John watched "The Grudge " and I watched it with him, thinking that the bad juju from horror was something I had outgrown.

Um.  Right.  Tell that to the insectoid Japanese female with the staring eyes and the death-rattle who stalked me hourly from 2 to about 5 this morning.  Gah.

Ehrm… Stuff.

Hi. I’m back. I was away for about a week (last post was dateline: San Francisco, even though I didn’t mention that).

In my travels, I seem to have picked up a very small gremlin who is industriously smashing my sinuses with a brick.  Also, I got home last night – no, this morning – at about 1:30.  So, that’s fun.  I am home today, feeling achy and low.

Possibly because I am achy and low, I am loving this, in that “Oh, how can I be cynical while there is still hope in the world like this?” sort of way. (Joss himself loves it too, so I am trusting that my sinus-bashing gremlin hasn’t taken a couple of whacks at whatever passes for the taste center in my brain as well).

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Breaking a Fast

Two years ago was the last time we saw a movie in a movie theatre. We saw Serenity, the movie based on Joss Whedon’s short-lived television series, Firefly.

In the intervening two years, we just haven’t felt the need to see a movie in a movie theatre. The big-screen experience just wasn’t that compelling, and the drawbacks (other people talking,* cell phones, sticky floors, uncomfortable seats, and lack of bathroom breaks) just seemed too great. It wasn’t so much that we had this militant stance against movies in a movie theatre – it was more that the movies themselves didn’t seem good enough to draw us out of our home-based routine.

What broke us out of the rut? Stardust. We both love Neil Gaiman, we both love good fantasy and science fiction (well, for that matter, when it comes to movies, John likes really bad made-for-tv science fiction and horror too). I wanted especially to support this sort of movie on its opening weekend (yes, I know – going on Friday night was supposed to be the biggest help, but I was wiped. It was a long week with all sorts of worrying stuff going on: luckily, most if not all of which was resolved by Friday).

So, after a nice sushi dinner at our favorite local (conveniently right across from the movie theatre), we sat in uncomfortable seats with our feet on a sticky floor and absolutely loved this movie. The effects were appropriately magical and marvelously inventive. The script made great use of the source material, without resorting to massive anvil-dropping to get thematic points across.

Newspaper reviews have covered the cast’s superb work. Yes, Michelle Pfeiffer was wonderful: evil and vain and arrogant. Yes, DeNiro looked like he was having loads of fun (and we had loads of fun with him – others have said he goes a bit over the top with this one: I disagree). Yes, Charlie Cox was an absolute find for the lead role, maturing subtly and convincingly from callow youth to brave young hero. Claire Danes started out combining massive irritation with bemusement, a bit of fear, and more than a touch of bravado and gradually showed her softer side.

But for John and me, some of the best bits were the little casting touches – Inspector Thomas Lynley is Tristran’s dad. Peter freaking O’Toole is the King of Stormhold. Other actors like Rupert Everett and Ricky Gervais have important parts, but they spend vanishingly small amounts of time on-screen (it doesn’t matter -they remain memorable. Their efforts are not wasted simply because they spend little time acting). Ian McKellen does the fairy tale voice-overs (melt).

Over all, the movie is perfect escapism: fun and witty, adventurous and exciting, touching. Big thumbs-up from the “we never go to movies in the theatre” couple.

*Heck – just other people. We can be curmudgeonly that way.