Things

Dec. 19th, 2015 11:44 pm
sienamystic: (commedia)
I have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and loved it. I had a few nitpicks post-movie but while it was happening I was super into it and I'll be going back and at this moment I have nothing but squee in me for it.

Currently reading Mary Beard's SPQR. I'm not that far into it but so far it's really enjoyable.

Speaking of, still have to do my final Italy picture post on Rome, so will try to do that soon. I'm also contemplating putting up a review blog on Tumblr because I've become obsessed with Nesti Dante soap but I'm a bit dubious about Tumblr because I don't know how to format things nicely there. My current usage of Tumblr is 99.5% reblogging other people's shit so I don't have a lot of the finer points down.

I got a hilarious painting of a pony at my office's white elephant. Have to figure out a way to hang it in the office where it can preside over my Funko Hannibal, my assorted collection of skulls and cephalopods, and the Office Squirrel. Sometimes it's nice being in the basement where the public doesn't see us, because we are free to go absolutely nuts in our office.

Ant-Man

Jul. 18th, 2015 11:48 am
sienamystic: (Sophie)
Saw Ant-Man last night and really enjoyed it. It’s light, and funny, and full of people I liked hanging out with for a couple of hours. Less on the O WOE quotient, you know? Had the bad guy won, things would have potentially been bad, but it's not quite end of the world stuff. I kinda thing Marvel needs to pick up this sort of storytelling a lot more - less "the world is about to end right this second" and more "hey, this would be bad, let's stop it and be awesome character explorations along the way!" which could result in things like a Bourne-ish take on a Black Widow movie.

Paul Rudd is super appealing, I enjoyed Michael Douglas a ton, Evangeline Lilly is going to be great as *spoiler*. Plus, I liked Scott's scruffy crew, the ex-wife is not demonized (nor is the new man in her life, although he is justifiably suspicious for most of the movie), the little kid is cute and not syrupy, and the villain is serviceable (but doesn’t transcend the role). Overall. just a breezy delight. The shrinking/growing effects are super super super fun, and yes, Thomas the Tank Engine was pretty damn funny.

Oh, and on a purely shallow level, Paul Rudd can get it.

Honestly, I walked out of Age of Ultron wondering if the MCU magic was finally over for me. I’ve enjoyed even the ones that are less lauded, because there are always moments I love in them, but even though there were bits I liked in it, Ultron was mostly lurching and loud and I never went back to it and it’s been disappearing out of my brain steadily. I had a lot more fun at Ant-Man.
sienamystic: (Bourne)
Doing a little traveling for work. I love tiny airports - this one is bigger than the home airport but still quite small and the TSA agents are friendly and it takes you no time at all to get through security and then to your gate. I'm right on the Mississippi and drove past all the Stately Homes of Old Money with the river views and drooled over a bunch of them. After a stop or two I'll be in Toronto. This is my first trip to Canada, and it's not to Prince Edward Island for an Anne pilgrimage, but I will make those plans for another trip. For now I plan to eat tons of awesome food and do a little shopping and sightseeing but I will not be paying the tons of money to go hang out on the glass floor of the CN tower, because holy crap, yikes. I may not even do the CN tower at all, since I like a good view and all but not enough to pay for it. I would rather buy a ton of gel pens at Muji.

Just finished the first Elena Ferrante book My Brilliant Friend and will start the next in the series on the plane. Really enjoying them.

Also, we saw Big Hero 6 on Saturday night and I loved it. The design of the city was lovely, and even though there wasn't a lot of character development with anybody besides the brothers and Baymax, it was a very sweet and I fell in love with everyone. Also, cried. Yup. I'm an easy mark but I'd have cried even if I had a heart of stone.
sienamystic: (iron man)
Just got back from the movie. For the first time, I was pretty spoiled going into it - I saw some stuff accidentally and at a certain point said "what the fuck" and stopped avoiding them, although I suppose I never actively sought anything out. I don't know if it made a difference, but I suspect not.

Anyway:

-Although I'm a pretty enthusiastic Clint/Natasha shipper, I did see a spark in the first movie (enough to write two fics on the topic) and so theoretically was willing to see what happened. I can't put my finger on why, exactly, but I wasn't buying it now, for the most part. It was rushed, there was too much lampshading by the rest of the cast but not enough time with the two of them developing whatever was going to develop, and most of the time Bruce seemed to be backing away slowly from a hearts-in-her-eyes Natasha. The two of them have interesting potential but this was a wasted opportunity.

-I also don't object to Happily-Married Clint in theory (and I swear to god, they better not kill off his family for funsies in a later movie) and I loved parts of it - Natasha as auntie, Clint with happy kids. But...it just didn't work. It feels like something that got shoehorned in because somebody got a bright idea to give Clint more story since he spent the first movie brainwashed.

-The whole movie was overstuffed. The action scenes weren't bad, and I love the idea that most of the endgame was about helping civilians escape, but it didn't have the cohesion that you need. I get that it's difficult - too many characters to juggle. But it worked so well in the first one that seeing this one lose its grip on all the multiple storylines was disappointing.

-I loved the Vision, even though I know zilch about him, comics-wise.

-Loved the twins, too, and I'm sorry to see Pietro get the obligatory Whedon death. I don't think one was called for.

-Overall, too much boom, not enough breathing room. I never felt that breathless happy sensation in my chest that makes me fall in love with a movie and want to come back and read and write and talk about it. I hope it hasn't made me uninterested in the characters, because I still love what went before, but it didn't spark anything new for me.
sienamystic: (Joan)
Rented Hobbit #2 and watched it last night after the husband went to bed. Pretty much what I expected - some good moments, a big video game sequence or two (the barrel ride made me think I needed a controller in my hand and I play video games approximately once a year these days) and a plot that bore only a passing resemblance to the book. I suppose I can forgive them that, but I don't get how they so sadly did nothing with the epicness that is my shapeshifting giant bear boyfriend Beorn. SRSLY.

I knew Monuments Men wasn't going to be very good, but if there's a designated audience for this movie, I'm probably it, so I knew I'd go see it anyway. (The book is very good, as is Rape of Europa.) It seemed like a movie comprised of a lot of interesting and compelling moments that were not really taken advantage of, all played very very low-key in a way I kind of liked but can see didn't really work. For example, the humor is bone-dry in a very masculine comradely underplayed sense, which made me smile but was probably lost in a movie theater. Each different actor brought something interesting, and I definitely appreciated Cate Blanchette and Matt Damon and their whole relationship, but the plot sort of bobbed along in a really episodic fashion.

I wish this had been a tv miniseries, because you could break off and follow each team of men into their different areas, and the story telling wouldn't have had to be so compressed. Keep the same actors, but let them go deeper into their individual stories. Or, if you're serious about doing something awesome, you just make a movie about Rose Valland, the inspiration for Cate Blanchette's character, because the lady was a badass.
sienamystic: (surly bonds)
Went to see the movie on Friday, and accidentally bought the pricier, reserved-seating, electric recliners theater tickets. Not a hardship, exactly, but it was an extra ten bucks. The husband was happy about it, though.

So. I am one of those with absolutely no comics knowledge about this chunk of Marvel, although I have some vague knowledge of the Kree because of Charles Xavier and Lilandra and her great hair. But from the trailer, I was on-board because it looked like a great romp in the style of the 80s adventure movies I love so much.

I walked out of the theater really happy. I don't think it was a perfect movie, by any means - Gamora and Nebula's relationship was really underwritten, Gamora's position as a bad guy or good guy sort of changes with no real sense of how long she was planning to betray Ronan or what, precisely motivated her to do so at that specific point), Lee Pace didn't have a whole lot to do (and not giving that man something to do onscreen is a crime) and the first twenty minutes or so after the opening threw a lot of stuff out that was difficult to follow because it's all big space opera names and sometimes I can't hear dialogue and was not entirely sure what the hell was being said.

But. I have that love of found-family tropes, and hello, this just hit it squarely. Bunch of misfits with pain in their past learning to lean on each other? Yes, please. The movie was not just funny but it was delightfully goofy at points, but it had moments where I just wanted to squish everybody. Baby Groot! Drax scratching Rocket's ears! Chris Pratt dancing through an Indiana-Jones-esque theft with his Walkman playing! So adorable, a big fuzzy dog of a movie.

Oh, and I doubt it was deliberate, but Peter's mom totally made me think of the X-Files ep Small Potatoes, where the woman thought the father of her baby was Luke Skywalker.
sienamystic: (commedia)
I have been unposty! But I have been doing things! Here is what I've been up to:

- Read The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, which I love love loved, and Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch and I loved it a lot too and just bought the next three books because it's been a while since I was excited by new reading. Oh, also read the newest Harry Dresden book and enjoyed it a lot as a return to form after two books I was really disappointed in. Not to say it was perfect but it made me decide to stick with the series after I was considering bowing out.

- Watched Edge of Tomorrow after all the good word-of-mouth and really enjoyed it. Fun, thrilling, funny, tightly edited, well done, bravo bravo and I don't understand because it apparently didn't do well at the box office? Boo on that, it was great.

- Traveled to Chicago and San Antonio and had a very nice time in both cities while getting some work done there

- Learned the basics of making jam, in a rough-and-ready fashion. Also, brioche.

- Currently entertaining some of the in-laws, on account of a Significant Birthday of my husband (who is not exactly happy about the birthday but it coping with it better than feared)

And that's all I can think of at the moment.
sienamystic: (Bourne)
Everyone should post their ten most CRUCIAL CRUCIAL CRUCIAL-ASS movies, like the movies that explain everything about yourselves in your current incarnations (not necessarily your ten favorite movies but the ten movies that you, as a person existing currently, feel would help people get to know you) (they can change later on obviously).

In no particular order:

Singing in the Rain
Empire Strikes Back
Ladyhawke
Labyrinth
Mostly Martha (the German original)
Bread and Tulips
Grosse Pointe Blank
The Bourne Identity
Casino Royale
Strictly Ballroom

Of course as soon as I posted this I thought of thirty more movies. How did I not get a Branagh on there, either Henry V or Much Ado? What about my favorite musicals and thirties screwball comedies.
sienamystic: (Venice)
I enjoyed it a bunch, although I don't know that it would rank top three for me. Specifically great were super-suave Robert Redford and the unbelievably charismatic and Anthony Mackie, who needs to be around lots and lots. I liked Black Widow's role very much and was a little surprised that they didn't hit the Bucky-Steve stuff a tiny bit harder. What was there did work well, though.

I'd really like a moody, beautiful Bourne/Hana/In Bruges kind of movie for Natasha guys. It needs to happen.
sienamystic: (iron man)
It's 0, or below zero, or 12 degrees, or what the hell ever, so after aikido this morning I've spent the day watching movies since I have a free trial of Amazon Prime. Rewatched Thor and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and then finally got to see Galaxy Quest, which was purely adorable.

Chili was also made. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.
sienamystic: (Venice)
A quicky review: saw it last night, enjoyed it thoroughly. Little bit disjointed, little bit too exposition-heavy, but not enough to disrupt the amusement. Very funny in parts. Wanted more Frigga and Loki relationship stuff but what's there is very good. Hemsworth continues to be quite loveable - honest and true but not stupid about it, despite what his more conniving brother thinks on the topic. Lots of good Jane and Darcy and Selvig stuff.

Back to trying to figure out my two big holiday fics, because while I have ideas laid out for them, they don't seem to go anywhere.
sienamystic: (horse)
Apparently I finally timed things at the local Blockbuster (yes, we have one and yes, I occasionally use it) to be able to pick up a copy of Pacific Rim. I wasn't entirely sure what the movie experience would be, since the movie has been all over my Tumblr so I saw all the obsessive fan focus before seeing the movie for myself. If I hadn't stumbled over something that said so, I'd never have realized, for example, that the Russian team has about four lines and the Chinese triplets about two - after seeing fanart and elaborate headcanons, I'd normally have assumed that they made up a slightly bigger portion of the movie than being primarily in the background of scenes as they were.

I'm glad I saw the movie, and enjoyed it, barring the simple fact that the dialogue was scraped from the bottom of the Action Cliche barrel. There's sparse, and then there's this movie. It was kind of cartoony, really. I was reminded of my childhood afternoons watching Voltron. (I was never a big Godzilla fan, but of course the rubber monster trashing cities thing is familiar.) All in all, the action was a lot of fun, the people were pretty, I could have watched Mako and Raleigh spar for another three hours, and it definitely filled all my Robot Hitting Monster needs for the near future.
sienamystic: (book and heart)
So in a rather delightful way, this has been a summer of Much Ado About Nothing for me. It was the local amateur Shakespeare troupe's choice, so I saw it in a local park for free - reset to the 1980s, with parody pop songs and a bunch of cheerful actors doing their best outdoors in the humidity.

Then, of course, I got my DVD of the Branagh version and rewatched it. I am a pretty unabashed Branagh-Thompson fangirl, so you can imagine how beloved this movie is by me. There are a couple of tiny hammy bits, but that's ok (I saw someone say the movie was now dated, which I don't quite get, but ok) and in all other things...I just love it all. The banter, the scenery, the vast majority of the acting (I kind of adore Keanu personally, and he's not in the movie enough to slow it down too badly, but if the role had been bigger it would have not been great) and the music are all superb. And Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh just...nnngh. I get weak in the knees.

So I'm a Whedon fan, too, essentially. I came late to his stuff, and backwards - I saw a trailer for Serenity in a theater, thought it looked interesting, and so started out with Firefly and then back to Buffy and Angel, and of course rounded things out later with Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible and The Avengers. Seeing one of my favorite plays done in such an intimate manner - literally in his house with all his friends - I knew I'd at least see it. And since it has been making the film festival rounds, it was nice to get a sense of the film early - that it was good, that it wasn't something where I'd slide down in my seat and feel embarrassed for everybody concerned. And when it finally, this week, came to the local arthouse theater, I knew I'd want to see it at least twice, once on my own and once with my friends in the playreading group I'm a part of. (It's kind of in hiatus now, but this will hopefully kickstart it back into life.)

I saw it on Friday, and came away very happy, in a kind of...well, warm and snuggly fashion. It is very low key, at times perhaps a little bit too much so - I wish Alexis Denisof had been a little bit more, well...what's the word I want? Animated? He's very understated and a little snide through most of the movie, and so some of the crackle that Amy Acker was putting out there got muted when it crashed up against him. Then again, he had a purely delightful bit of slapstick that made me so very happy.

The music is great, and I've been playing the interpretation of "Sigh no more, ladies" a lot.

Amy Acker was just. Mmmph. So good. So solid. And by and large the rest of the cast did great jobs, with Sean Maher's role becoming a little bit more interesting when given a female Conrad to bounce things off of. Nathan Fillion played Dogberry so straightforwardly that I actually got more of the wordplay and watching him run around with his buddy playing CSI: Messina was delicious. Clark Gregg and Reed Diamond were, as expected, lovely, and as somebody who actually liked quite a lot of Dollhouse but who did not watch Cabin in the Woods (don't do horror movies), Fran Kranz was a delight. (Although next time, go ahead and cut the "Ethiope" line. Just...cut it, Whedon.)

It didn't reach quite the emotional pitches that the Branagh version does, where I get teary with how happy I am with everything. But it's a movie that can be described as delightful, not in a patronizing way but in the simple fact that it brings delight. Looking forward to seeing it later in the week with my playreading group.
sienamystic: (horse)
Genevieve Valentine's take on the movie

Two different threads on Metafilter, one before the movie came out, one afterwards

[personal profile] musesfool has some discussion over here and pointed me towards [personal profile] selenak's discussion over here, which is very M and 007-focused.
sienamystic: (Bourne)
Casino Royale is one of my favorite movies, so I had high hopes for this much-praised new entry in the Bond canon. By and large, I came away from the movie pretty happy. Firstly, it's gorgeous. A fight scene set in a Shanghai skyscraper was only one of the several genuinely beautiful moments - the movie is full of scenery you want to fall into.

Secondly, I adore M and Judi Dench got a lot of space to flex her muscles.

Thirdly, besides the scenery eye candy, the cast is ridiculously gorgeous throughout. Teeny tiny Q and his cardigans, Bond and his bespoke suits, Naomi Harris in gorgeous dresses...fabulous. Poor Javier Bardem is apparently carving out a niche role for himself - psychopaths with terrible hair.

I don't, however, think it came up to the standard of Casino Royale.

a few of my issues with the movie )

Anyway, I enjoyed it a whole bunch, but I don't quite agree with some of the rapture I've seen around. But an opportunity to watch Daniel Craig and Judi Dench be awesome will never be passed up by me.
sienamystic: (iron man)
So, my comic book dorkiness never actually encompassed the majority of the Avengers in their solo works, let alone their group books. As a little kid, I read Batman, Superman, and Spiderman almost exclusively (with a smattering of Scrooge McDuck and other Disney comics), and mostly those were comics picked up on my family's many cross-country drives. And then, in the late eighties, I went through a big X-Men thing where I read a ton of stuff and bought a bunch of back issues (and holographic trading cards, god help me), with just a tiny sprinkling of Sandman in after a friend recommended them. (This era is why I have an unabashed love for Gambit/Rogue, Pryde/Wisdom, Polaris/Havoc, and Banshee/White Queen, by the way.)

My love for the Avengers, separately and together, has all come from the movies. Since I'm on Tumblr and following a bunch of more dedicated comic folk, I've gotten to see some backstory in panels people put up and comment on, but I'm ok with just knowing rough outlines. So really, how did I end up so excited about all these characters? Without that knowledge of the comics, was I coming into the story without the spearpoints that Jo Walton described, which can be so important to emotional impact in storytelling. I might not have enough forward momentum to bring me into the story on a level deeper than "ooh, 'splosions and funny!" But the movies (barring the various Hulks, which I didn't watch) have been so excellent in their own individual ways, and interconnected just carefully enough, that I fell in love with them in this particular medium, and came to this movie with as much excitement as if these had been my nine-year-old self's favorite comic book purchase at the Stucky's somewhere off a highway.

So, the movie )

The thing is, if you build up this kind of connective tissue, it makes all the big action setpieces resonate. It makes them live, it gets us invested. Otherwise they just turn into emptiness. There's probably nothing I like better than a really smart genre film, and this is a pretty good example of that. I ranted earlier in someone else's LJ about a condescending-as-fuck Slate reviewer talking about how clearly Joss Whedon's brand of humor had been brought to bear on this movie because it's the only way adults will excuse themselves for watching this sort of silly tripe meant for kiddies - if we couldn't say to ourselves, "But it's ironic!" than of course we'd stay away from the big pretty popcorn movie only meant for kids. Screw that. I've never been particularly attached to a nerd identity, but there's no better way to get me to fly into a pure, unholy nerd rage than people who think that if a story fits a "lesser" genre, the story automatically has no value.

Assemble

May. 4th, 2012 09:59 pm
sienamystic: (jello horror)
So, The Avengers? Totally lived up to the hype. Whedon, you magnificent bastard. I remain in awe at his deft juggling of so many characters and their personalities. Also, the funny. Saw it in a packed theater, and everybody was captivated (barring a few tiny children running up and down the stairs).
sienamystic: (Festina Lente)
Yes, I have joined the bandwagon. Well, to clarify, I read the first book today. Tore through it, actually. It was brilliantly paced and very compelling, and the plain, straight-ahead prose was much to its credit. It's a little pocket rocket of a book, and I was happy being dragged along for the ride.

I don't know that I was avoiding the whole Hunger Games thing, exactly, just not sure if I wanted to read the books, but the movie looked interesting and, in all honestly, this heartbreaking and raw and awesome and horrible and beautiful Iron Man/Hunger Games fic by [livejournal.com profile] quigonejinn probably tipped me over the line. A coworker passed along her copy and I read it mostly over lunch, and will probably drag along the Bemo tomorrow to see the movie.

Oh, and the book also emits some sort of signaling beacon. I was chatted up by a bunch of people who saw me reading it over lunch and wanted to share how much they liked it as well. That didn't seem to happen during the Harry Potter boom, so I'm not sure if people are just more open about being fans of "kid books" or what, but I definitely heard from a few people who wanted to tell me all about how much they loved it and hoped I'd fall for it just as hard.
sienamystic: (eiffel tower)
A movie I had been waiting to see, and which is actually my first Woody Allen movie. I was attracted to it for two things: A) lush shots of Paris and B) a storyline that revolved around several of my big interests, Paris in the twenties, time travel, and fluffy adorable-ness. It did not disappoint on any of those grounds. It is just a sparkly bit of fluff, but that's just fine. I liked that the time-travel setup wasn't overworked or explained, it just happened. And of course, I was really excited to meet so many people I enjoy reading and reading about, even if it's mostly a lightning quick moment with them. A few quibbles. I think I get why Owen Wilson was chosen for the lead - he's so aggressively American (Californian) that he contrasts well to everyone in the past. But lord have mercy, listening to his nasal voice and drawl throughout the movie camethisclose to spoiling it for me because I found it so unpleasant. I wonder if they asked him to play up his usual manner of speaking for the movie? Also, his present-day girlfriend and her family were so unpleasant that it got me thinking about why they had ever gotten together in the first place. I could handwave most of that, though. Finally, what it made me realize is that I actually want a movie focused in on Hemingway and Fitzgerald and the rest of that crowd, the Murphys and Zelda and Picasso and the whole rowdy crew. Here, the past is mostly standing in for a lot of stuff (the point of the movie, really) but just like I wanted Julie and Julia to stay with Julia Child for the whole shebang, I wanted to stay in the twenties (and hell, a separate movie in the Belle Epoch would be fine with me too) and dig further into those people as main characters.
sienamystic: (LIfe)
Have recently watched How to Train Your Dragon and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and enjoyed both. The first was excellent, although I had a problem getting past the lead character's weird deadpan. The second was thoroughly entertaining for the majority, but god, Joss, we get it. Happy endings are for suckers. Find a new trick.

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