Category Archives: entertainment

movies, music, TV, and other entertaining/amusing posts

St. Valentine’s Day 2012

Last year, it was Sailor Moon Zoicite. This year, it’s Sherlock, courtesy of Sherlock NYC (tumblr). Thanks, Holmies! (tee hee hee) Art by Robbicide.

Sherlock BBC valentines Sherlock NYC bracelets

new Sherlock NYC sticker

Haha; I just realized that I put the sticker upside down compared to the others. Oh well… lol. The other stickers are: fanart by P.L. Nunn of Gundam Wing‘s Duo Maxwell (left) and an official NaNoWriMo sticker from 2010 (center).

In any case, happy St. Valentine’s Day. May the spice always flow; may you live long and prosper; and may the big bosses always drop major loot. And remember, believe in me who believes in you!

Quick hit (pun intended) on Neal McDonough

Quick hit (pun intended) on Neal McDonough

All right, so I’m watching Tin Man (finally) and the title character is played by Neal McDonough… I knew I recognized him from somehwere else, but I couldn’t place it. So, I looked ‘im up (thank gods for Wikipedia, seriously). I read the info and noticed that he was fired for refusing to do sex scenes, which I’m like… kudos, man, kudos for sticking up for yourself. According to Wikipedia,

McDonough was set to star in the ABC dramedy Scoundrels but was fired for refusing to do sex scenes for the show. He credits his family and his Catholic faith for his decision.

So, good for him. Whatever. But that didn’t tell me where I’d seen him before, so… I’ve seen Minority Report (which is mentioned in the opening couple of paragraphs) but not in a long time, but I have seen it, so at first I thought it was that, but then I scrolled down the filmography and (re-)discovered that he played Bison in The Legend of Chun-Li. Which I was like, “Oooooooohhhhhhhhhh, that’s where I remember him from, for sure.”

But then I remembered that Bison (played by McDonough) at one point uses a woman for a punching bag—literally. And it was the most difficult part of the film for me. Here’s what I wrote in 2009 (links in original):

There’s a serious women-in-refrigerators moment when Bison and Balrog are in the weight room using the punching bags. The camera pulls back on Bison and we see that his punching bag is actually Cantana, Bison’s black widow of a woman who gives up important information about “The White Rose” to Chun-Li in the bathroom of a dance club. Luckily (I guess), Cantana is already dead by the time Bison uses her for a punching bag (literally), but that didn’t make it any easier to swallow.

And so I was sitting here thinking, “You won’t do sex(y) scenes on screen, but you will beat up a dead woman/desecrate a corpse/be an overall misogynist asshole?” What the fuck is that about? What happened to “family and Catholic faith” for that decision? Seriously, in what fucked up world is it okay to decline work because of sex (which is fine by itself, by the way), but not decline it because of violence towards women?

Oh, wait.

Martin Freeman and all the BAFTAs

Yes, so here’s my contribution to The “Gee, Martin Freeman should probably have all the BAFTAs” Postcard Project.

All the information you want for this project is in that link, so don’t come running to me if you need help. (Well, I could probably help you, actually, but don’t come running until you’ve checked that page at least, will you?)

Martin Freeman postcard front
(ie: unassuming front)

Martin Freeman postcard back
(on left)

Dear Mr. Freeman,

ALL THE BAFTAS, SIR.
ALL OF THEM.

Very sincerely yours,
VE Duncan

(on right)

Martin Freeman
c/o Creative Artists Mgmt
4th Floor
111 Shoreditch High Street
London
E1 6JN
United Kingdom

Honest to gods, guys; I don’t think I’ve ever sent anyone fanmail in my whole entire life, not even a postcard. Oh, okay there was that one letter of gratitude to the writers of L&O: SVU for a line they wrote for Elliot Stabler in the episode “Mask“, but other than that… never.

In any case, if you like Martin Freeman’s work in BBC’s Sherlock, please consider sending him a postcard yourself, too!

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The Immortals, Book 1: Wild Magic (finished 24 December 2011)
I started this book on a trip to San Francisco in late October—there’s still a plane ticket sticking out of it, actually—and didn’t actually read it until later in the year. A friend of mine recommended this book to me as a good introduction to Tamora Pierce’s writing. I remember when the Circle of Magic books were published around the time I was in junior high; they were popular but I never read them. Wild Magic isn’t bad; I can find nothing glaringly wrong with it, at least, except that it is—quite obviously—simply an introduction. (There are three other books in “The Immortals” series.) I’d read the others (or, at least, the second) if they showed up on my desk somehow, but I probably won’t seek them out.

Red Riding Hood (viewed at home 10 December 2011)
A retelling of the ancient fable that’s part drama, part mystery—with a dash of romance for flavor. I was pleasantly surprised to see Galactica‘s Tigh in the film, though I wish he’d played a bigger part. The film itself was all right—I didn’t immediately figure out who the werewolf was, but I’m not adept at mysteries, so there’s that. I wasn’t really surprised when it was revealed. Definitely a fantasy, but not in an overt kind of way, which I liked. Also, I kind of liked the ending; romantic, in a strange sort of way, though I can see why it wasn’t well-received at the box office. Whatever. It was all right. Not “super awesome you must see this right now”, but okay.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn, part 1 (viewed in theaters 26 November 2011)
I don’t care enough about this series (the books or the movies) to give it more than a mention here. It wasn’t a good movie. In fact, it was pretty spectacularly bad—bad characterization (there is none), bad for women (are you kidding me, S.Meyer?), and a non-existent plot—and this is still the only series that involves vampires that has ever made me root for someone not the vampires. I mean, really. It’s just pathetic. This is the first movie in the series that I didn’t (attempt to) read the book beforehand. I’m pretty sure reading the book was unnecessary, since the very first Twilight movie was actually an improvement over the book upon which it was based. Just… ugh, Twilight; ugh.

Sleeping With Money (finished at home early November 2011)
I’ve said I’m not really one for yakuza/gangster stories, and yet recently I’ve read a few without even seeking them out. I don’t know why that keeps happening. Either way, this novel was… eh: so so. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. That might have been the translation (it was translated from the original Japanese), but I just… didn’t really get into it. I finished it, but the most it had going for it was the pictures (seck-say woo woo) and my desire to finish things I start. Otherwise, meh.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (viewed at home 14 November 2011)
Made me want scream. I realize the documentary is slanted against the MPAA, but seriously… it wasn’t like these guys had to try very hard to make the Association look bad. If the stuff in this documentary is true, the MPAA rating system—and its implicit censorship and the use of complete secrecy—is complete bullshit. Also, way to go, sexist/anti-gay/anti-sex movie industry… of which the MPAA is only a symptom. Made me want to just strangle someone. You think violence is okay and sex somehow isn’t? Not going to lie: that’s pretty fucked up. I’ll give you some violence. /garrrrrrr /tears out hair

Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove

Show me the way home
I’m lost
Show me the way home
It hurts too much

—Phil Roy, “Show Me the Way Home

So, let me explain about Dr. Strangelove (wiki).

I dated a guy during my first year of college who was basically in love with Dr. Strangelove (the film, not the character) and wanted me to see it. I refused—first out of apathy, then general disinterest for war movies (satirical or no), and then just to irk him a little… because that’s just how I am. (I had a different boyfriend later who let me needle him and still made me do whatever it was that he wanted… because that’s just how he was [and is]… like go to see Casino Royale even when I was an avowed James Bond hater.)

Anyway, this guy was just waiting for the nuclear apocalypse so that he could take his KA-BAR out into the wilderness and fend for himself once and for all. He was a right-wing, gun-loving, self-proclaimed libertarian who hated affirmative action and thought that feminism had run its course because men and women were equal already, just different. Oh, and he was also against a woman’s right to choose.

But that’s another story. I never did see Dr. Strangelove while we were dating, and at the end of our first year in school, we broke up. We remained friends throughout college (he hated that other boyfriend I mentioned, for example, and eventually I told him to just suck it up) until one night in December of our senior year, when our relationship was irrevocably damaged. That is to say, he raped me.

I’m still taking ownership of that idea—the idea that what happened to me on that night was rape—but no matter how I put two and two together, it still adds up to… that. It’s hard to think about; I have many triggers—his name is one that I had to deal with when I got a new job and one of my supervisors not only had the same first name but also the same last initial. Usually, I don’t think about it. I’m not over it. I mostly know my triggers, such as they are, and I avoid them.

What the hell does this have to do with Dr. Strangelove, right? Well, this semester I’m taking a creative writing class because such classes—even though I already have a terminal degree in creative writing—help me and force me to write, and if I want to call myself a writer, I need to actually do some writing.

This writing class is split into three parts—poetry, fiction, and screenplays/playwriting. To help students learn about characterization, plot development, timeline, structure, and so on in the last category, the teacher has taken to showing the class good film examples of said. Tonight, that meant watching Dr. Strangelove. All of it. And then talking about it for 45 minutes afterward.

The teacher told us he was bringing in the film last week, and I was… disgruntled. I mentioned after class that day that I had an ex-boyfriend who loved the film, but we hadn’t parted ways amicably (an understatement if I’ve ever said one) and that I wasn’t really keen on remembering that bullshit. But after my off-handed comment, I honestly didn’t think much more about it.

Then, when he actually did bring it in today [Tuesday evening, 29 November 2011], I said, “Are we seriously going to watch the whole thing?”

And he said, “Sure, why not?”

And I rolled my eyes and said, “Fine.”

And then I sat through the entire film. And you know what? Objectively speaking, it isn’t a half bad movie. Stanley Kubrick is nothing to shake a stick at, so to speak. But I sat there, unable to really focus on the movie to really enjoy it (or scoff at it, or have any normal reaction at all)… because all I could think about was him. Because it had been his favorite movie. And it had been his hands on me, even after I’d told him “no”.

Half way through the film, I slid down in my chair, sick to my stomach, and wrote in my notebook:

watching this movie all I can think about is [him] holding me down in that geology lab @ [our school] that night.

JUST
KILL
ME

and then I scribbled over the entire page to mark it out.

As soon as the film was over, I knew had been a terrible, terrible idea for me to have watched it when the only thing I could really see was… that, and as soon as the teacher gave us a five-minute break, I was out the door and down the steps to find a relatively unoccupied restroom.

I went into the nearest available stall (the very first stall had a sign taped to it that read “OUT of ORDER”—ridiculous, the things I remember) and threw up. Or rather, I would have thrown up, except that I hadn’t eaten much before the class since I was intending to eat when I got home. (I’m sure you can imagine that didn’t happen.)

After a few minutes, I stood up and went to the sink to wash my face. I went back to class (“You okay?” the teacher asked, and I nodded) and sat silently while the class discussed the film’s characters and structure, fists clenched in my lap. I was so wrapped up in my own crap—just trying not to explode or implode, just trying to stay in that holding pattern until I could go home and fall apart in the privacy of my own room—that I didn’t even notice the film has a single woman character (thereby utterly failing the entire Bechdel Test) until someone pointed out that she’d been wearing a fucking bikini in her only scene.

Finally, at the end of the discussion, the teacher turned to me and said, “You haven’t said a single thing. What do you think?”

And I said, “I’m not going to talk about this film.”

And he said, “What? Having some ex-boyfriend ruin one of the greatest comedies ever to grace the silver screen? What a tragedy.”

And I nearly just cracked up and laughed out loud because he really had no idea how right he was. It is a fucking tragedy, and you know why? Because I sat through the entire thing. I could’ve gotten up at any point and just said, “Fuck this. I know when I’m being triggered” but I didn’t. I didn’t really know it was a trigger at first, but the moment I realized it, I should’ve removed myself from the situation. I had every right to do that, but I didn’t because—as one of my waterbrothers said—I’m “certainly a committed student”.

Really, though, it’s because I still want people to like me, want people to not dislike me, want to not rock the boat, want to be “a good girl”, want to believe that if I do the right things—say the right things, wear the right things—that I’ll be safe. But I wasn’t safe that time. I had thought I was safe, and I wasn’t. I was with someone I trusted, and he betrayed me.

I left the class and started shaking. I called one of my waterbrothers and hung up the phone on the second ring. He called me back. I told him I needed him because I knew I was about to have a panic attack and I didn’t want to be alone. I drove home on autopilot and he found me there, sitting in my car, hyperventilating. He took me back to his house and held me while I cried and told me that I was safe, that whatever had happened was over now, and that he would hold me for as long as it took.

And then, after I’d calmed down some, he kissed me. And he kept kissing me, and I was thinking to myself, “Again? Please, not again.” But I was kissing him back because I actually do like him that way sometimes and I was just reacting, but it was too soon—still, even after all this time—and too fast, and after a few minutes, I was trying to get away and saying “no, no, no” over and over.

He held me there, and it wasn’t the same kind of hold as the one that time because suddenly he was whispering urgently in my ear, “God, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry” and I was shaking and crying again and he was holding me tightly, saying, “Goddamnit, I’m so sorry; you were vulnerable and I took advantage and I’m so sorry”.

And I wanted to scream at him, “Yes! Yes, you did take advantage!” but I didn’t because I couldn’t get the words out in between my sobs. When I could breathe again, he stroked my hair and let me just lean against him, listening to his heartbeat, for a long time.

Finally, just when I thought maybe he’d fallen asleep, he said, “Something happened tonight that made you remember something traumatic that happened to you, and I was supposed to be safe for you, but instead I made you remember twice. I’m so, so sorry. I’m no better than him.”

I was silent for a minute, thinking about it, thinking maybe I should agree with him, and then I leaned up and looked him in the eyes and said, “Yes, maybe you did, but you know the difference?”

It was his turn to be silent for a minute, and I could tell he didn’t believe there was a difference. Finally, I prodded him further, “Do you?”

“What?” he asked gruffly.

You stopped.”

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Alcohol, Shirt & Kiss (finished 28 October 2011)
Well, I can’t complain about two guys kissing each other, but I tend to like more explicit yaoi manga. The interaction between the two main characters isn’t too realistic, I don’t think—it is erotica, after all—but suspending my disbelief wasn’t a problem. The short at the end, “Moon Kiss”, was cute and ended unexpectedly. Kind of nice to be pleasantly surprised, you know?

Ai no Exorcist (viewed at home as it aired online April-Ocober 2011)
An anime that doesn’t really do anything new but held my interest long enough for me to watch all 25 episodes. I thought, by the end, that perhaps the younger brother (Yukio) had been the protagonist all along, even though much of the story centered on the elder brother (Rin). I think my favorite characters were Shiro (the brothers’ adoptive father)—even though he’s barely in it—and Mephisto (the school’s headmaster/chairman).

Garbo’s Cuban Lover (viewed at Macha Theatre 08 October 2011)
Went to see this stage play in West Hollywood with a friend, Joyce. Really enjoyed it, even though we got lost on the way there. ^_^;; Notes: two restrooms (one unisex, the other women only), no outside food or drink allowed, a can of Coke at the bar costs $2, one glass of White Zinfandel costs $10 (reason #837259 I don’t drink). The theatre is smaller than I was expecting (makes for an intimate experience, at least, right?), but the play itself wholly made up for that. Well written, well staged, and well acted. Also, lesbians kissing/being frisky/sexin’ it up, and who doesn’t like watching that? Would definitely see it again (after reading up on Mercedes de Acosta and Greta Garbo), if I could afford it. T_T See also.

The PhD Movie (viewed at Caltech‘s Beckman Auditorium 22 September 2011)
We meant to see the first showing (we didn’t know there would be another showing after the first), but the auditorium was full up right as we reached the steps up to the door. Saw this with Dad (his suggestion), sister, Mom, and Grandma. It’s really funny in an “ouch, that’s actually true” kind of way. If you haven’t read the comic, start here. Highly recommended for anyone who has worked toward a degree in higher learning, and for everyone who’s thought about it! Brother will be seeing it on his campus in November!

Seven Days in Utopia (viewed in theaters 04 September 2011)
It was (I think) Dad’s idea to see this movie, so the whole family (Dad, Mom, me, Bunny, and Grandma; not Johnny since he’s out of state) piled into the car and then piled into the theater. For a movie about golf, it was… okay. My mom really likes Robert Redford Duvall (Redford, too, probably), so she thought it was pretty good. It pretty spectacularly failed the Bechdel Test (no surprise there), but I was pleasantly surprised when the lady love interest told the main character, “No. It’s too soon” when he tried to kiss her. And then he didn’t pressure her. The sports commentators at the end were really, really irritating (all the talking over the action is about half the reason I dislike watching sports in the first place), but overall I didn’t mind sitting there watching it, even if the entire film turned out to be, as my sister said, “the longest, most elaborate website advertizement I’ve ever seen.” Like I said, meh. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t absolutely terrible.

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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.