starlady: The Avengers regroup in Midtown (Natasha, Steve, Clint, Thor) (more legendary and more desperate)
New Winter Soldier trailer! I cannot begin to express how this movie appears to be absolutely everything I want. EVERYTHING. Also I think Steve is my favorite character in the MCU at this point. Well, Steve and Natasha. How did that happen? 

Days of Future Past teaser trailer teaser! This movie looks so good. I am still bitter that they gave Wolverine Kitty's role in the storyline, but OMFG I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS MOVIE.
starlady: (moon dream)
Europa Report. Dir. Sebastián Cordero, 2013.

This is one of the best science fiction movies I've seen in years. I turned to my friend J after the credits rolled and I said, "This is the movie that Prometheus wanted to be," and I stand by that statement. Europa Report blends a great story and a real love of space exploration with a meticulously unfolded, decidedly plausible science fictional premise and great performances from its actors.

The movie tells the near-future story of the first human-crewed mission to Europa, the Europa One, organized and funded by the private company Europa Ventures, LLC. For the first six months of the mission, cameras inside and outside the spacecraft connect the Earth and the astronauts in near real-time, but after unforeseen developments knock out the communications system, those left on Earth can only wait for communications to be re-established. Meanwhile, up in the Europa One, the crew must attempt to carry out its mission to seek out extraterrestrial life on Europa, if it exists, alone in the dark. Europa Report is the story of what happened after Europa One went dark, and what the crew found there. Post tenebras, lux.

It looks like the movie's theatrical run is coming to an end, but if you can't catch it in theaters you can still rent it on Google Play or the iTunes store, and I really recommend it! If you like space exploration or science fiction, particularly in the lower-key, realistic vein of movies like Moon, this is for you.
starlady: Uryuu & Ichigo reenact Scott Pilgrim (that doesn't even rhyme)
Pacific Rim. Dir. Guillermo del Toro. 2013.

I really liked this movie! I was expecting to find it enjoyable, but I was surprised at how much I genuinely liked it! I in fact am planning to go see it again! It's not perfect by any means, but I really liked it. If this is an example of the animeticization of Hollywood, then I say, bring it on. If you like anime, or action movies, or Neon Genesis Evangelion, you should see this movie.

Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, and a bunch of white guys are cancelling the apocalypse )

Anyway. It was great! Go see it.
starlady: A girl bent over a sailboat on a lake (build your own ship)
Orlando. Dir. Sally Potter, 1992.

This movie was maybe not the best choice to watch immediately after I got my wisdom teeth out. It's been probably about ten years since I read the book, which given that Wikipedia tells me the book is different, is probably salutary. In particular the atmosphere of each is very different--the book is dreamlike, but the passage of time is much more punctuated in the movie, which jumps from era to era with very little indication of any change, other than the costuming.

I very much enjoyed the movie all the same, because the costuming is gorgeous and Tilda Swinton is brilliant, and the settings were also pretty amazing. Basically I will watch Tilda Swinton in everything, and I was not disappointed in this movie. I liked the fact that in the film Orlando has a daughter, not a son. I also liked the fact that the movie was pretty upfront about the fact that it's society's expectations that change around Orlando based on its own prejudices about gender, not that Orlando's behavior or character ever changes. Ah, feminism.
starlady: Feminist Hulk ponder capitalism's complicity in patriarchy: Hulk smash for free (hulk smash for free)
The Great Gatsby. Dir. Baz Luhrmann, 2013.

I was describing this movie to [personal profile] shveta_writes and her husband, and at the end I realized that my description was actually pretty positive. I liked this movie! I don't think it's anywhere near as terrible as many critics made it out to be, though I should mention that it's been a good ten years since I last read the book--since, in fact, my eleventh grade English teacher assigned me an essay on the color symbolism and when I worked out the color symbolism it revealed that F. Scott Fitzgerald was pretty misogynist.

It probably shouldn't have taken me an essay on color symbolism to figure that out.

My sister and I agreed that the movie gets a lot of things right--the atmosphere of the 1920s, New York in the Jazz Age, and how over the top it really was, in a way that's familiar to the 1% of our era but was unimaginable, or unfilmable, for most of the intervening decades. It goes without saying that the man who directed Moulin Rouge made sure that this movie had a phenomenal soundtrack, and the music works very well as part of the movie, too. (Check Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine in the film, playing the part of the girl who sings while crying!) The costuming too was pretty great, and I have to say that I am willing to let some of its minor anachronisms slide. Primarily, of course, Baz Luhrmann is a genius at putting parties on film (which is kind of ironic), and given that half the plot of Gatsby is either driven by or a reaction to "he throws big parties OMG," the man and the subject matter are well matched. Ain't no party like a Luhrmann Gatsby party.

I thought the actors did a good job too. I really can't stand Tobey Maguire, and in some ways I think he's the weakest of the leads, though by the end I was fine with his performance. (Though, seriously, don't get Tobey Maguire to read your audiobooks.) Leonardo DiCaprio and Carrie Mulligan were also pretty good; my main problem with the actors and the script, in fact, was that THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH JORDAN BAKER. She is so great! And there was so little of her!

I also had a lot of problems with the shoddy conversion to 2D--filming the movie in 3D makes a lot of the establishing shots look like bad miniature work, and in many of the close-up night studio scenes the actors' skin looked mildly pixelated, and there was a bit of a prism effect at the edges of their faces. Relatedly: they should have done fewer of the night scenes in the studio. Especially in a smaller theater, all this was really obvious; it's not obvious to me how shooting in 3D made this a better movie, as the composition of the shots wasn't really designed to take advantage of 3D. (Dare I say that there are a lot of movies that have no compelling need for 3D.)

In the end, this was a very credible adaptation, and probably the best I've seen. It says a lot about how The Great Gatsby is taught in schools that it took the movie's visually hitting the audience over the head with the race and class structures on which the story is based for me to really grasp that this book isn't about the American dream or what the fuck ever; it's about class and classism, and how for Fitzgerald class is not something you can ever overcome. Race isn't even on his radar, except in his anti-Semitism, which thankfully the film didn't seem to make too much of. Nick is alienated enough from his birth class by his need to have a job that he's able to connect with Gatsby, and then to leave New York and write the book; the revelation to him that Gatsby is worth all the rest of them put together, after everything, is the central moral judgment of the story. The end of Gatsby's extraordinary career bears him out.
starlady: The Avengers regroup in Midtown (Natasha, Steve, Clint, Thor) (more legendary and more desperate)
I went to see Iron Man 3 with several awesome people last night. Many awesome people have said more interesting things than I have to say about this movie, so the following is mostly a collection of links and a few bullet points of commentary, but it's all going under a spoiler cut all the same.
When the big guy with the hammer fell from the sky, subtlety went out the window. )
starlady: don't fuck with nurse chapel (nurses are awesome)
Trance. 2013. Dir. Danny Boyle.

I went to see Trance at the Shattuck Cinema's "screener lounge," which has couch seating and lets you drink beer, on Sunday, and it was a wonderful break from entirely too much time over the past few weeks spent with my face buried in spreadsheets. I recently saw somewhere someone going on about how we are in a terrible era for cinema, but somewhere in the middle of the introductory heist sequence in Trance I found myself thinking, "Well, there's at least one director out there who still knows how to make a movie," and I stand by that statement.

Although I've enjoyed other Danny Boyle films, the real reason I went to see this was that it stars James McAvoy, who is a fantastic actor, and his performance and those of the other two leads, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson, did not disappoint. The script is also quite clever--although I was able to guess some of the plot twists, I didn't guess all of them, or their full scope, and I enjoyed not being able to entirely predict where it was going. Aside from the acting and the script, the cinematography and the colors of the film are also brilliant, and the music is fantastic. It helped that I was forewarned by the NYT review not to be distracted by the McAvoy pretty.

No work of art is worth a human life. ) One of the things I really liked the movie overall was the way the script gradually reversed our perspectives on Simon and Elizabeth, and though I still had some unanswered questions at the end, it was a really enjoyable and satisfying film all in all.
starlady: (compass)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Dir. Peter Jackson, 2012.

Having now seen this movie twice, in HFR 3D and in 2D, obviously, I quite enjoyed it. I deliberately didn't re-read the book before seeing the movie, but I don't have to do so to realize that the principal thing PJ has done, in bringing The Hobbit fully into the ambit of The Lord of the Rings and its appendices, is all but obliterated the whimsical quality that The Hobbit shares with Tolkien's other early works--Letters from Father Christmas comes readily to mind--but not his later ones. I liked that whimsy, once I learned to appreciate it; but at the same time, it's good to go back to Middle-Earth. I haven't realized, but it's been nearly ten years since The Return of the King, and I've missed it powerfully.

The first of the Hobbit movies covers approximately the first third of the book plus a good chunk of back matter from the Appendices. I know where PJ is playing fast and loose with the time scales of various parts, but almost all of it is canonical. (EXCEPT THAT DAMNED RABBIT SLEDGE, WTFFFFFFF.) The Appendices have always been some of my favorite parts--IF PJ DOESN'T DO THAT THING WITH GANDALF AND THE SMOKE RINGS AND SARUMAN AT THE LAST MEETING OF THE WHITE COUNCIL I'M GOING TO FLIP OUT SO HARD--and I loved seeing this stuff on the screen, not least because Galadriel is my absolute favorite and bringing in the Appendices stuff puts her back on the screen, and gives the movie its only female character with a speaking part. I could watch the bearers of the Three Rings chum it up in Rivendell forever, not gonna lie, though Christopher Lee totally nailed the Sarumansplaining.

I liked the dwarves! I liked them more than I thought I would, and I was suitably impressed by Richard Armitage as Thorin, though I am bored by his not-quite-canonical dwarfpain and really really really wonder whether PJ is going to work in Thrain's canonical fate or not--I hope so! It also struck me that PJ is really playing up the Hobbit/LotR::Thorin/Aragorn parallels, which is somewhat tiresome but was also well done, at least in this movie, which plays the once-per-trilogy deus ex eagle card to great effect. (Sidenote: Aragorn is fairly low manpain, isn't he? I like that about him, and resent that Arwen's plotline was basically sacrificed to give him angsty backstory.)

I feel like Peter Jackson is really imitating George Lucas in these movies--making the prequel trilogy after the first trilogy--and the cinematic hobbyhorse that PJ is riding is shooting at high frame rate, specifically 48 fps (as compared to the standard 30 fps). [personal profile] epershand and I shelled out extra cash to see the film in HFR 3D, and it was wildly disorienting. The HFR image is very oversaturated, which actually (because modern 3D is done with polarization rather than color-splitting of the light) really flattens the 3D effects. Because the HFR is so hyper-real, however, it has the paradoxical effect of looking really cheap, like a K-drama or an old BBC show, and also of making Middle-Earth seem really real, like the filmmakers just went out and cast a random dragon and some trolls in these parts. It was really, really disorienting, and particularly at the beginning of the film, it makes the cinematography look like total crap, which it isn't. I got used to the effect partly, but never totally--every so often there would be a shot that would jar me out of my acclimitization, and I'd be left thinking again that it was so weird.

My sister and I saw it in 2D on Christmas night, and she actually reported a lot of the same impressions I had even at standard frame rate and without the 3D. To me, the 2D seemed pleasantly normal, though with rather too much detail of everyone's pores for true comfort. Movies are not life! Cinema is artificial, and I like it that way! And it's not like I can't go to Middle-Earth already--the Green Dragon has a Facebook page, FFS--so while I enjoyed the hyperrealism, I don't actually need ti. PJ: let the HFR go.

On Christmas night we did not see it with our fellow geeks and nerds, and the people in front of us actually turned around and glared at me when I laughed at Bilbo's last line. Don't look at me if you haven't read the book, fools! It's funny if you've read the book, and I refuse to apologize for having read the book.

Postscript: Andy Serkis as Gollum = still amazeballs. SOMEBODY GIVE THAT MAN AN OSCAR ALREADY, FFS.

Bonus postscript: If you haven't read Sarah Rees Brennan's Hobbit parody of hilarity, do so.
starlady: (basket of secrets)
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 51


How are you seeing The Hobbit

View Answers

IMAX 3D. Star Trek Into Darkness here I come!
2 (3.9%)

HFR 3D, for I am a cinaesthete.
2 (3.9%)

3D. Keeping it new old school!
3 (5.9%)

2D, like God and JRRT intended.
29 (56.9%)

I'm not, because of Reasons that I may or may not elaborate on in the comments.
18 (35.3%)

starlady: (007)
Skyfall. Dir. Sam Mendes, 2012.

I saw this movie twice in four days. I really have only two questions: whether it's the best Bond movie ever (almost certainly), and whether Craig is a better Bond than Connery (almost certainly).

I really, really liked this movie. Aside from it being slashy as hell--and it was; there were multiple points at which [personal profile] kuwdora and I could only clutch each other in mute disbelieving joy ("Is this actually happening?" "Yes.")--it was also really funny in a way that the other Craig outings haven't been. And I loved Casino Royale and I also actually really like Quantum of Solace, but I'd forgotten how fun Bond could be, and this movie brought that back, in spades, while keeping the best of modern Bond, and in particular Craig's Bond. In a word, the action was brilliant, the supporting and female characters were great, M was a badass, and at the end we went back to the future, which is just like the past but only without the annoying sexism and the ridiculous gadgets. (Q: "We don't really go in for that sort of thing anymore.")

Spoilers have got to be joking. )

I hope the next two Craig films, and the franchise, don't lose what Skyfall has gained. I also think that, while Brosnan was the first Bond I saw in theaters and always had a good deal of my affection for that, his movies may well turn out to be in front of only Roger Moore's in the end. What the Brosnan era added, in retrospect--and I suspect that Goldeneye, the first, will turn out to be adjudged the best--was fleshing out the secondary characters, which the Craig films have excelled at. James Bond will return. I can't wait.

ETA: Go read [personal profile] toft 's post on Skyfall, the final three paragraphs say everything I think about this movie.
starlady: (compass)
Death and the Compass. Dir. Alex Cox, 1992/1996.

The BAM/PFA does a lot of cool movie retrospectives and whatnot that I never get around to seeing (even when I put them on my calendar!), but I managed to convince my roommate N to see this with me because it has Christopher Eccleston. I'd never actually heard of Alex Cox, but I really enjoyed this movie, both in itself as an adaptation of the Borges short story of the same name.

Cox was actually there at the screening (we watched his personal print, which unfortunately has some sound issues), and in the Q&A afterward I asked how he decided to adapt this story - he said he originally wanted to do "The Aleph," but the BBC didn't have the rights to it, so he wound up with this one. Some elements of "The Aleph" still linger in the movie, even so.

The 1992 version was shot for a TV miniseries event for the BBC and a Spanish television company, celebrating, as Cox put it, "the 500th anniversary of the burning of the library at Grenada." The original version is about 1/3 shorter; Cox expanded it by shooting scenes of Treviranus, post-retirement, explaining the events of the story in increasingly self-delusional, and inaccurate, fashion.

I don't know. I read all of Borges' short stories ten years ago, in high school, but I didn't particularly remember this one; I did really, really like the movie, which is simultaneously surreal, OTT, darkly humorous, and mordantly sarcastic and exaggerated. It was shot in Mexico City, and I think the Latin American setting definitely adds a certain something to the movie as a Borges adaptation. I also really liked the music, which was overpowering and bizarre, and the costume design, which puts the characters in some of the most brightly colored suits I've ever seen and makes, in context, total sense.
starlady: (we're all mad here)
The Master. Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012.

I saw some very favorable and interesting reviews of this movie before it came out, and I remember really liking Magnolia lo these many years ago (though it's been long enough that I don't even remember what it was about). I don't precisely regret seeing this movie, but I also think that at some point Anderson basically jumped his own shark.

The fundamental problem with this movie, for me - it centers around an L. Ron Hubbard-like figure, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffmann, and the feckless ex-sailor who falls into the orbit of his cult played by Joaquin Phoenix - is that I didn't actually care about Joaquin Phoenix's character at all. He is fucked up, and it is not interesting, and I was way more interested in Philip Seymour Hoffmann's character, and his wife, played by Amy Adams in high and terrifying style. Really, it's an actor's movie, and a film critic's movie, and possibly an Oscar movie too; the rest of us are just the peons in the back, transcribing the ramblings of the cult master and being hypnotized to remember our lives trillions of years ago.

The movie could have ended at almost any point after the first act, and by the time Philip Seymour Hoffman started to sing "Slow Boat to China" in the end it felt both interminable and rather ridiculous. I didn't start laughing, the way one of my friends did, but it was more out of a sort of "really? really?!" attitude than still taking it seriously. There was some sort of metaphor for filmmaking in there somewhere, one suspects, but really, Paul Thomas Anderson: get over yourself already.

What makes the movie endurable is the film itself - shot in 70mm, and it's really well done, and interesting to watch - and the music, by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. I love his music, and this score was just as great as I expected it was going to be.
starlady: (hitsugaya smirk)
Looper. Dir. Rian Johnson, 2012.

I really, really liked this movie. It was very well-done in a lot of ways, and JGL and Bruce Willis and the whole cast, really, did an excellent job.

Wired:: The movie gets major points for handwaving the mechanism of time travel - at one point Old Joe even says, "I'm not going to explain how it works, we'll be here forever with straws for diagrams, fucking time travel," and really, that's about right: no science bullshit that people who know science could see through from a mile away, no mess, no fuss. I also really liked the well-thought out details of worldbuilding - who else caught that by the 2040s the world is on a unified currency? - and the way that shiny new tech coexisted with older, jerry-rigged and repaired tech. I like Joe's fashion sense and Abe's and the fact that this may be the only movie I've seen in eons that actually understands how quantum mechanics works and what its actual ramifications would be in the event of actual time travel. The movie also understands the mob and how it works pretty well, which I always appreciate. Perhaps inevitably, I was reminded of Holly Black's Curseworkers trilogy, and unlike some other people I know, I found it pretty realistic that humanity would invent time travel and then immediately cede it to the mob. We're the civilization that invented the internet and now uses it primarily to serve advertising, after all. I don't think our posterity is going to give us very high marks in that respect.

Spoilers are from the future. Go to China. )

JGL did a great job playing Bruce Willis, and the movie was really great overall. If you haven't seen Brick, you really, really need to.
starlady: Ramona Flowers wearing her delivery goggles (ramona flowers is awesome)
# I made a vid. It is Prometheus set to Bowie and I am very fond of it. /self-promotion

Actually, okay, a question: I am tempted to make an AO3 page for it. What do people think of making AO3 pages for vids/AMVs/etc? Hatred? Indifference? Squee?

# The Hunger Games is out in stores now, and I have had this New Yorker blog post in a tab for months: Keeping 'The Hunger Games' Kids' Stuff. It's about violence and counterinsurgency and the meaning of the movie's message, and I thought it raised some very good points.

In other old Hunger Games tabs, still hilarious, [personal profile] cleolinda's The odds may or may not be in my favor.

# Another New Yorker article that I've had in a tab forever is Extreme Makeover, about Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case that struck down anti-sodomy laws nationwide. It raises a lot of fascinating details about the case that were carefully and knowingly suppressed by its plaintiffs, as well as some hard questions about the Supreme Court itself:

As Carpenter’s nuanced exploration of what worked in Lawrence v. Texas makes clear, the Supreme Court is both supremely open to and supremely closed off from the world around it. That’s why we come to the Court, play by its rules, and tell the Justices stories they like to hear about people who remind them of themselves. The Justices don’t get out much. All of the current nine attended two law schools; their clerks mainly come from seven law schools; cases are argued by a shrinking number of highly skilled oral advocates; a shrinking pool of journalists cover the arguments. Nobody currently sitting on the Court has ever run for elected office, nobody has tried a death-penalty case, and nobody, it’s fair to assume, has been interrupted by the police while he or she was half-dressed in a run-down apartment outside Houston. One Justice bragged recently about not bothering to read the supplemental briefs in the cases; another talks about his distaste for the news media. We may well wonder, then, where they get their information about the world outside their chambers, and how they learn—as Justice Powell learned only very late in his life—how much they don’t know about that world.
starlady: (impending)
The Dark Knight Rises. Dir. Christopher Nolan, 2012.

Overall, I liked this movie. There were a lot of nice shout-outs to the comics and cartoons (and to at least one Batman novel that I read in high school), and it did a good job of tying the trilogy together and tying it off. Nothing will ever match the transcendent nihilism of the Joker tearing around Gotham in his purloined cop car, but this movie did have some good moments…as well as some things that made me laugh out loud inappropriately, and some things that just made me really angry.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times… )
starlady: (impending)
The Amazing Spider-Man. Dir. Marc Webb, 2012.

I went to see this movie with my roommate B and we both enjoyed it a lot. Although I have very clear memories of watching the first Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire ten years ago - we went to an opening day screening - and I had no real intention of shelling out more money until I read a bunch of reviews that said that the movie is pretty fun. Well, they were right.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are both pretty good actors, and they're cute and good together as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey (I am universally informed that they are also dating in real life). Although [personal profile] cleolinda posted that there was a whole other movie that got overwritten, I didn't actually notice any of the plot holes that she points out while I was watching the movie. The CG is mostly well done, I liked the supporting actors (particularly Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Peter's uncle and aunt), and overall it was just really enjoyable.

Spoilers really aren't cops )
starlady: the cover from Shaun Tan's The Arrival, showing an aquanaut in suburbia (i'm a stranger here myself)
The fantastic screenwriter Nora Ephron died on Tuesday night. She will justly be remembered for screenplays like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, but my favorite movie of hers will always be My Blue Heaven, which is the best movie that no one buy my family has ever seen. It stars Steve Martin as a mafioso in the Witness Protection Program, Rick Moranis as the strait-laced agent riding herd on him, and Joan Cusack as the local DA who really needs to loosen up, and it is hilarious. (It's also very accurate on New York-California differences, and relations. Sometimes I'm feel like I'm living this movie, I'm not going to lie.)

I embed one of the many hilarious scenes from the movie below. You should go watch it. She was great.




starlady: Queen Susan of Narnia, called the Gentle and the Queen of Spring (gentle queen how now)
Snow White and the Huntsman. Dir. Rupert Sanders, 2012.

I dragged my friend M (willingly) to see this with me for my birthday, and we both enjoyed it. I think that there is a much better movie hidden inside what we saw on the screen, and that the movie on the screen has a lot of stuff in it, not all of which needs to be there, but overall I liked it a lot and I am glad I saw it.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall... ) I would rather have watched that movie than the one we got, though I liked this one fine. When else have you heard people shouting "Long live the Queen!" at the end and meaning it?
starlady: (revisionist historian)
Prometheus. Dir. Ridley Scott, 2012.

Well, so that happened.

I think [personal profile] kuwdora, with whom I laughed my way through this trope-fest under the glares of fanboys, said it best when she said, "So Ridley Scott totally just made a Lord King Bad Movie!" Yes, yes he did.

I read a really great, snarky, fairly non-spoilery review before I saw the movie, and one of the things it said was that Michael Fassbender, playing the android David 8 in the single best element of the film, frequently seems to be in a completely different movie, and that it would be nice if the other characters could join him there. Big things have small beginnings. )

Tl,dr; Ridley Scott clearly does not know mythology as well as he thinks he does (nor does Weyland, for that matter), because it should have been called Epimetheus.

As a bonus, have mine and kuwdora's fairly non-spoilery Twitter reactions (@s without links are my replies to her):

Am I being an evil feminist? Evil, maybe, but not wrong )
starlady: (the wizard's oath)
Wittgenstein. Dir. Derek Jarman, 1993.

I heard about this movie from [personal profile] rushthatspeaks's review.

This was Derek Jarman's last film; he was, apparently, mostly blind while he was working on it. He was, clearly, an amazing artist.

The answer to the question of the life lived in space and time... )

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