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Beastly (viewed at home 22 August 2011)
As someone who collects “Beauty & the Beast” stories, I meant to see this movie in theaters and didn’t manage to, so I rented it. I actually have the book upon which it’s based (in storage in New Jersey), but I haven’t read it, so I could only go on my knowledge of the fairytale itself. In terms of “how great was this movie?” it’s not spectacular, but I’m still putting it on my “need to own this someday” list. In terms of “how interesting was this adaptation of the fairytale?” it ranked somewhat higher. I’ve never seen or read a version that more fully incorporates the witch/enchantress who transforms the beast into a… well, a beast. Usually, that character is in the prologue or Beauty learns the beast’s story through other characters (or the beast himself, sometimes) telling her about something that has already happened. In this film, the witch is more active, and she doesn’t just do her thing and then disappear. It made me want to learn more about her character over the other two.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (viewed at home 22 August 2011)
My sister and I had been talking about “seeing that movie that Heath Ledger was making when he died” for a long time, and today we finally sat down and watched it. Neither of us knew anything about it, except that it was Ledger’s last film (so “last” that he didn’t even get to finish acting in it), so it turned out… stranger than I was expecting. Honestly, I don’t know what I was expecting (I hadn’t even seen a preview before watching the film), but it wasn’t… so fantastical, I guess? I liked the Mercury character, by far, the best. It was kind of the other actors that were cast in Ledger’s role after he died to take up his mantle, so to speak, and the transitions actually worked quite well. It was all right. No complaints, but nothing to really write home about, either.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (viewed in theaters 10 August 2011)
I went to see this with Daylin (visiting from out of town) when she suggested it, though I hadn’t heard much about it and have never been really impressed with Steve Carell (the actor who plays the main character). Well, this movie was much better than I expected. I was actually surprised by the surprise twists, for one thing. It was a “light-hearted romantic comedy” but it also—I think—showed a truer side of life; confusion, heartache, revenge, anger. And it was honest: at the end, things were still not completely okay, just like life. Totally recommended, but if you’re prone to crying in movies, bring some tissues.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, season 1 (completed 04 August 2011)
The first two episodes were completely ridiculous, but I liked the original My Little Pony enough when I was a kid that I decided to overlook how terrible contrived it was and watch a few more episodes after that. I ended up watching the entire 26-episode season without even realizing it. My favorite pony from when I was a kid, Firefly, isn’t in it because most of the characters from that era (excepting Applejack and Spike, the baby dragon) are out of copyright or something. (Seriously, though, how does a company lose the copyright on most of the characters but not all of them?) Decent show, though; I did watch the whole season, after all. Strange that it’s popular with the 12-35 male demographic, though.

Cowboys & Aliens (viewed in theaters 31 July 2011)
My dad, sister, and I went to see this because we had to get out of the house to let my mother work on her PhD. My sister (the film major) pretty much hated it. My dad and I went in thinking it would be a good, if pretty ridiculous, movie for just sitting back and being entertained, and we were right. It’s not the greatest, but I’ve seen far, far worse; pretty good fodder if you just want to turn off your brain for a while. I did notice, though, that: it fails the Bechdel Test, the main female protagonist—after proving she’s actually an important character—sacrifices herself (why am I not surprised?) for “the cause” or whatever, and that it was an interesting take on “the Native American metaphor fights the American military metaphor”… Also, the driving force behind this invasion is… gold? Weeeeeeak. Manifest destiny? Goddamn. Obviously, it’s not without its problems, but I’d watch it again.

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

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