Spoiler Alert Saturday :: my thoughts on Big Hero 6

22 Nov

Well gosh if that wasn’t just an adorable movie.

I think I must be turning into an easily-dissolvable sappy mess of a girl, because I definitely melt more easily than I used to.  Not more than I used to once I do it, but it’s easier to set me off going “awww” and not feeling disgusting about it, if that makes sense.  This was a very sweet movie, but it wasn’t just sweet, or it wasn’t sweet in the way of being painfully saccharine, I suppose?  It was realistically sweet.  Which is sort of a ridiculous thing to say about a movie about fighting a science supervillain with science superhero suits and a science robot, but hey.  I continue to maintain my theory that sometimes it’s easier to tell truly human stories that at least I relate to in a context that’s clearly fictional.

Was this a perfect movie?  No.  Perfect movies don’t exist.  I could pretty much guess most of the major plot twists, for example.  But did it make me happy?  Hell, yes it did.

I’ve seen meta covering many of the important points already, nice varied representation amongst the main characters and accurate and emotional portrayal of the process of grieving and loss being the big ones.  And both of those things were super exciting.  That while Baymax the puffy robot wasn’t necessarily originally designed for emotional health issues he quickly learned the importance of dealing with those and doing so well, treating them with equal importance, was wonderful.

And it hit a few of my own personal buttons, too, among them found family that sort of turned into team-as-family and also recreational science.  I’ve said before and I’ll say again, recreational science just floats my boat so much in fiction despite the fact that I honestly cannot science my way out of a paper bag in real life, and I think part of that is that science characters in movies tend to remind me more of people I like than “artsy” ones because it’s all drive to know things and drive to create things and less… I don’t know, Glee drama.  Or something like that.  It’s creation for the sake of creation, knowing for the sake of knowing, and being genuinely excited about it, sans drama; here you had a group of friends who all partook of different disciplines and subgenres of interests but came together to spend time and support each other and, you know, fight a supervillain.  And gosh, that was nice.

Also, although it was a movie primarily about boys, there was a strong and positive female presence!  Aunt Cass being supportive and loving no matter, the slightly scatterbrained adult figure, Gogo the more quiet but not all the way to sullen kickass one (how much did I love it that she was clearly the group’s resident badass?  “Woman up,” “there are no red lights in car chases,” etcetera), blessed sweet Honey Lemon with her pink glasses and her candy-colored science bubbles and her everything.  And goodness, what a relief that was.

Also also, it was just damn pretty.  I am a sucker for well-done animated scenery and the like, so, y’know, A+ here.

–your fangirl heroine.

ohhh burn

Fashion Friday :: poor dear.

21 Nov

shae (sibel kekilli)

At this point, my feelings about Shae (Sibel Kekilli) can be summed up in the phrase “poor dear.”  I wasn’t looking forward to the end of her arc in the show because in my opinion it was damned if you do and damned if you don’t: it’s already bad enough in the book, frustrating and tragic and gross, so if the show kept it exactly as was it’d still be frustrating and tragic and gross, and the showrunners are known assholes who make things more frustrating and tragic and gross than before anyway.  So here is a painfully posh modern Shae who is probably an actress or something and takes no shit from anyone.

cynthia cascade ruffle dress (bcbg max azria)

This is a bit spendier than I usually like to get for dresses in this collection, but ModCloth wasn’t yielding anything with sleeves in an appropriate color and style, so I ventured elsewhere.  And this makes sense to me.  Cynthia Cascade Ruffle Dress, BCBG Max Azria.

timeless of my life heel in caramel (modcloth)

I genuinely don’t know.  I’m playing by instinct here.  And the Shae I’m imagining, the actress whose life has just been a parade of asshole men and the media trying to define her so much that she sort of forgot what being herself meant for a while and whose life has also been absolutely dragged through the tabloids and things, is aggressively unapologetically femme and this makes sense.  Timeless of My Life Heel in Caramel, ModCloth.

heart back sheer seam tights (betsey johnson)

Why the hell not, I say.  They do more of the talking than the shoes do, but overall the picture is: weaponized femininity.  Heart Back Sheer Seam Tights, Betsey Johnson.

sleek in a second necklace (modcloth)

As I was saying.  Weaponized.  Sleek in a Second Necklace, ModCloth.

–your fangirl heroine.

warm fuzzies

Things in Print Thursday :: and someone else’s list of top children’s historical fiction, part four..

20 Nov

The same list.  Bolded titles are ones I have discussed before in this series.  Underlined titles are ones not about little girls..

Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, Angola, Africa, 1595 by Patricia C. McKissack
Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess by Kristiana Gregory
Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles, Austria – France, 1769  by Kathryn Laskey

3 out of 100 titles read.  Every single one which was from the Royal Diaries series.

–your fangirl heroine.

what the hell ever

Whimsy Wednesday :: in which possessed cats in love and also some filler.

19 Nov

Why is Priness Serenity’s dress transparent?

“Love and Chased: Luna’s Worst Day Ever.”

I did not know that autumn was the season for young girls. I thought that was spring, maybe. This also begs the question, what is the timeline for this show, how many days pass between animals, etcetera.

Why is this herd of alley cats chasing Luna? Why is a tiny one eating Luna’s tail? They are a weird mob thing and the large fat one just Tuxedo Kamen’d with a fish bone and is now licking her wounded tail. The large fat cat had a visible asshole and is named Rhett Butler and is owned by a little girl in a party dress.

Oh my god “turf wars between stray cats.”

Tiramisu being a trend.

Gathering data about the crystal. On Ami’s bitty computer.   Gods bless the tiny computer.

This family has fire in their name. I recognize the kanji.

Why do all of the other cats have differently-drawn eyes. Is it because they are not magical like Luna is?

“I’ve been so careless!”

And the senshi squashed into the tiny alley. This show is nonsense and I love it.

As they… watch over the little girl in her house, despite not having even learned her name.

Why is GOODBYE AND FAREWELL capitalized like that.

Oh no the cat is hurt. “Did you…. injure it when you saved me?” Luna asks, soon making the fat cat blush.

Luna, why are you asking Rhett Butler if he has a Rainbow Crystal, he won’t know. Fat cat, if you can barely fit in there, how can Zoisite?

Why is Rei standing in front of a building that looks like it says her name on it.

Ami and Mako doing things correctly while Usagi plays video games. Naturellement.

The rats creating a weird protective barrier around Zoisite. Sailor Mars giving a speech from her weird backward kneeling pose. “The flames of justice are burning.” I wonder if it’s significant that Sailor Moon says “punish” and Rei says “discipline.”

Tuxedo Kamen just attacks and runs away with the final Rainbow Crystal.

The monster is also injured! Luna gets to his heart with love.

“How could you ruin that moment?” The moment between… cats.

Mercury and Jupiter trying so hard to cover and failing hard.

“Meowfresh!” instead of Refresh. Oh my god.

Luna and her weird romantic sunset with the fat cat.

“The Hokkaido Sightseeing Association didn’t give you permission, did they?!”

“But if Luna says so, I believe her.” Ami is very trusting of her cat friend.

Zoisite jealous of Queen Beryl…l… yeah.

“He’s missing something that would light my fire.”

So now he becomes Tuxedo Kamen but horribly. Of course.

Going to the Redman show. Who is like a weird singular Power Ranger.

Stealing crystals by making people INTO monsters. Because of course the senshi just carry the crystals around with them.

Zoisite do not be fooled that is not Tuxedo Kamen. “Out of respect for you, I will leave for today.”

The freaking amusement park again. The ridiculous amusement park.

Your mission to find the princess. WHO IS YOU.

Yep. He’s a singular Power Ranger. A ridiculous singular Power Ranger.

OH NO the Red Ranger is gonna be the monster instead of Naru.

“Oh dear, I screwed up.”

And the monster makes everyone into… algae blobs?

Usagi’s speeches are consistently nonsense.

Time to fight Zoisite. Kind of.

This is just a hilarious round of cats batting around a cat toy.

“Usagi can do pretty well by herself.”

And now Zoisite has the crystal. Fudge.

–your fangirl heroine.

pushing zydrate

“I will take back the Rainbow Crystal,” says Tuxedo Kamen. Except you can’t take it back because it wasn’t yours to begin with.

Television Tuesday :: on manpain vs. men with pain

18 Nov

So this is a co-authored piece about the nature of men in pain vs. manpain.  I got thinking about this during my Deadwood watch last week, because that’s another really magical thing about that show.  The men on that show are in pain.  Pretty much all of them.  (The ladies, too.)  But never once does it feel trite or cloying (at least when it’s not supposed to feel cloying, like when E.B [William Sanderson] is sad about feeling picked on, even though he’s a giant smarmy douche a lot of the time so it’s not out of bounds for him to be “picked on”).  And I realized how wonderful that is.  Because so often on television and in movies, you have guys whose pain Consumes Them and also justifies everything they have ever done but really doesn’t justify it at all.

There is a gif that has been floating around tumblr lately, a scene from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which I don’t watch but really mean to.  And it applies often.  Here.  The context for this gif is that that officer Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg), has spent the episode attempting to solve an “unsolvable” cold case murder that he gave up on years before.  Eventually he finds that the murder victim is, in fact, alive and had framed his supposed killer because he was having an affair with the “victim’s” wife.  “It was for love!” the “victim” cries.  “Cool motive, still murder,” says Jake.  This gets thrown around a lot in discussions of manpain, and it really does apply: the manpain-haver will often rely so heavily on tragic backstory that he feels like he can get away with anything, including being a terrible and yes, often murderous, person.

Manpain.  It’s one of the central aspects of The Walking Dead (which I am very behind on, as in I haven’t seen any of this season, so I’m speaking from the past) that drove many people I know crazy.  Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is the king of manpain, not necessarily using it to justify crimes but wallowing heavily in it; the same show’s Governor (David Morrissey) did in fact use manpain to justify murder, and it came out feeling like a more high-stakes angst match between the two.

Manpain is the tiresome flashbacks to Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) in the Civil War or after it, being so angst-ridden about every single thing that the angst still hadn’t left him in the present continuity but continued his need to feel human again and give Sookeh a normal lahf or what have you.  Manpain is, to a lesser degree, other things on True Blood too (especially after it stopped being mine), but Bill Compton is the guiltiest party.

Manpain is Doctor Who’s Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) refusing to listen to his alleged best friend Donna Noble’s (Catherine Tate) requests that he not erase her memories of traveling through space and time with him, because the vast knowledge of the universe that’s been dumped into her human brain is about to fry it.  But she would rather go out in glory than forget how she felt for the last few months – important and valued and excited about her life in a way she never had been before, and he doesn’t allow her that dignity.  Manpain is Ten also making the death of Captain Adelaide Brooke, a tragic but fixed event in time which is a catalyst in her descendants’ (and thus humanity’s) progress in space travel.  When he becomes determined to rescue her from the doomed ship on which her entire crew has died, she later commits suicide due to guilt – and still he is unable to look past his own pain and guilt.  Various other Doctors have had moments of manpain – one could argue that the entire premise of New Who was built on manpain, since Nine feels constant guilt about having sacrificed the Time Lords in the Time War to ensure the Daleks did not survive –  but these two were particularly egregious.

Manpain is also Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) and… well, I was first exposed to the “cool motive, still murder” gif in the context of posts about him.  The main problem with Ward’s arc thus far is that, while he is definitely an abuse victim, he does not seem remotely interested in working to either move past his pain or avoiding causing similar pain to others.  Instead, particularly since being outed as Hydra, he hauls his pain around like a favorite stuffed toy and, when someone tries to make him admit to his actions (murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, and so forth), he cries, “But I’ve suffered too!”  Ward is a victim who wears his victimhood as a badge and seems to think that absolves him of any terrible things he has ever done.  And, worse, he perpetuates the cycle of abuse and manipulation that he apparently learned from his family rather than attempting to learn a new way of interacting with people.  He is so focused on the wrongs that have been done to him that he can’t accept that he has done equally wrong, awful things.

And then there are things like Deadwood.  Where the opposite is true.  So many of the characters have previously suffered or currently suffer abuse, and not all of the relationships are healthy, but when Al (Ian McShane) idly monologues in his room about his horrible past at the orphanage it isn’t so he can excuse his own mistreatment of people.  He’s not a great person, and he is cruel and/or harsh to most of his associates, to say nothing of his enemies, but he doesn’t try to excuse it.  Other characters are suggested to have experienced similar sources of angst in their past, but the narrative presents this to contrast how they no longer are in that same pattern, sometimes how they have made a better life for themselves.  They have angst and they rage – Cochrain (Brad Dourif) on his knees praying to God to end the Reverend’s (Ray McKinnon) life and turning it into a hysterical monologue about the battlefield, Seth (Timothy Olyphant) and his overdeveloped quest for justice against wrongdoers – but because of how it is presented in the script and how it furthers the characters but does not define them, it reads differently.

Another good example of a man who is in pain but doesn’t have manpain is Ned (Lee Pace) from Pushing Daisies, who has more than enough pain for any fictional character.  As a child, he discovered he had the power to bring dead things back to life when his dog, Digby, was run over by a truck.  One touch restored Digby, and, when his mother collapsed from a brain aneurysm, he was able to revive her too – but then he learned that his power had a catch, and that if something came back to life, something else had to die.  In that case, the “something else” was his best (and only) friend Chuck’s father, and Chuck was then sent far away to live with her aunts.  Then, later that night, he discovered the other half of the catch when his mother kissed him goodnight: if he touched an alive-again person once more, they would be dead permanently.  After his mother’s second death, Ned’s father shipped him off to boarding school and then moved house and started a new family without telling him.  This caused Ned to have issues with intimacy in his adult life, but he manages to find some form of happiness using his gift to make alive-again fruit pies in his restaurant, the Pie Hole.  He also works with his private detective friend Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) to alive-again murder victims and ask who killed them, then put away the perps and collect any reward money.  Then, later in the episode, he alives-again Chuck (Anna Friel), who has been murdered, since he had been in love with her since childhood and couldn’t bear to leave her dead – but, of course, they can’t touch except through barriers or she will die a second death.  All this to say, he has more than enough pain in his life, but he never infringes his pain upon other people, and if he does, the show is careful to call him out on it.

In one episode, the show introduces Ned’s half-brothers, who were part of the new family his father started after abandoning him.  Ned has resented these men for his entire life, having caught a brief, accidental glimpse of them after attempting to track down his father as a boy, but he rejected the idea of connecting with them as an adult.  It turns out, however, that not only do they have superficial things in common with Ned, but they, too, were abandoned callously by their father.  This episode serves to remind Ned that, while his pain is real, his pain does not diminish the pain of those around him, particularly those that he may blame for his pain.  And, in the end, they bond over their father’s inadequacy.

The point of all of this is: television, there is a way to handle angst in such a way that is neither cliched nor harmful toward the characters’ narrative arcs.  Study it.  Work on it.

–your fangirl heroines.

it's a lot worse than it sounds

Music Monday :: my thoughts on Magic

17 Nov

I have never heard of Paperwhite.  They’re a brother and sister and different sources describe them as “dream pop” and “synth-pop” and they’ve got at least one song that looks like it’s about outer space, though, and I’m in the mood for a short album today, so here we go.

“Take Me Back.”  Oh, it sounds exactly like the 80s.  In kind of a fun CHVRCHES way but with slightly airier vocals.  Or Haim.  It sounds a lot like Haim.  That’s kind of all I can think about — and mind, I like Haim, that’s not a negative.  It’s just a fact.  The way I figure about artists who sound similar is: well, maybe they do, but maybe Haim doesn’t have a song that’s about space, so there we go.  For fanmixing purposes, both are useful potentially.

“Galaxy.”  And this really sounds like it’s about space.  The Disneyland version of space.  This sounds like music they play in Tomorrowland, but with lady vocals over top of it.  This sounds enough like it’s about space that I might have a hard time finding enough other songs that were tonally similar to it to play with for a mix.  I would welcome that challenge, I bet.

“Pieces.”  This sounds like Rainbow Brite.  This legitimately sounds like the music that would be in a Rainbow Brite movie.  Or the film version of the Baby-sitters’ Club, even though that was from the 90s.

“Gold.”  Gosh, this is unapologetically 80s.  “Let’s run away and make it to the river,” though.  My goodness.  I feel like this is probably appropriate for that 80s/90s AU Game of Thrones fanart I saw circulating like a year ago.  Probably.

“Magic.”  This is so ridiculous.  This feels like the cartoon Gem and the Holograms, possibly, which I never watched but am aesthetically familiar with.  This feels like the soundtrack to Lisa Frank’s art.  It’s sort of fun.   There should be a music video where people wear shoulder pads and acid-wash jeans.  It’s got a definite ambiance.

“Got Me Goin.”  Oh my gods it is entirely the 80s.  I’m just… going to soak it up.  It’s fun.

–your fangirl heroine.

god know why i'm happy but i am

Spoiler Alert Sunday :: my thoughts on Birdman

16 Nov

You know that thing of when a movie is good, and you can recognize it, but your commentary is definitely not insightful or particularly valid and you sit there wondering why exactly you decided to write about every single movie you see in theaters on the internet?  I’m having that moment.

Like… this was objectively a very good movie, and I acknowledge that.  Everyone did a very good job, and it was brilliantly edited, and it was well-written and not too terribly predictable, really, it was well-done and whatnot.  But I’m sure everything that has already been written about this movie is much more adequate.

And also, about halfway through the film I got exceptionally distracted by a pounding headache.  I assume this was because of the combination of frantic drums (which were effective but not something I was apparently neurologically up for today) and the fast-moving, following, vaguely shaky camera work.  And this is not an indictment against the film, as these things suited the overall tone and whatnot, but they… weren’t doing for me today.  It happens.  Sorry, guys.

ETA: the obvious highlight of the movie for me was Susan Blackwell’s one-line appearance.

–your fangirl heroine.

you're shitting me

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