Quick recs

Tue, Sep. 29th, 2015 11:17 pm
oyceter: (bleach parakeet of doom!)
First, I am sure everyone has heard about this by now, but just in case you haven't or have but didn't check it out yet: Hamilton Original Cast Recording Spotify playlist (or if Spotify doesn't work for you, YouTube). I've been dying to see or listen to this musical since I heard about it a few weeks ago, and now that the soundtrack is out, I can at least listen to it. Lin-Manuel Miranda's mix of hip hop and Broadway and other pastiches (the BritPop!) is amazing, and it reminded me of the excitement of listening to Rent for the first time in the 90s after only having heard Andrew Lloyd Webber and Les Mis. The recitative bits sounds a little like Rent to me, but other than that, Hamilton is entirely its own thing. Also, Thomas Jefferson sports natural hair and purple velvet.

I also saw East Side Sushi over the weekend, a cute indie film about a Latina woman who gets a job in a sushi restaurant and decides to become a sushi chef. The plot is pretty much what you would expect—opposition from her more traditional father, racism and sexism from the Japanese owner, a competition where she Proves Herself—and it sometimes felt a little clunky, but it's extremely charming and features Mexican-Japanese fusion food. It's also filmed in Oakland by a local director, so I got a ton of enjoyment out of seeing familiar places on screen as well.

And I (FINALLY) played through Hatoful Boyfriend, aka the pigeon dating sim, thanks to [personal profile] bluerabbit. Although to be accurate, it's more a piece of post-apocalyptic science fiction masquerading as a pigeon dating sim, which was not what I was expecting. Also, you date pigeons (and other birds). If this interests you and you're generally not into video games, I'd give this a try. It's a visual novel, so there's not that much game play involved aside from making some decisions about who to talk to and etc., and it's worth it to go through all the storylines.

I also mean to rec N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season and Zen Cho's Sorceror to the Crown, but I am still holding out hope that I will write actual entries on them.

Big Hero 6

Sun, Nov. 16th, 2014 04:07 pm
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I feel with this, Frozen, and Wreck-It Ralph, Disney is really entering another golden age (I know, all the critics say that...), which makes me happy despite all my issues with Disney because Disney is so much of my childhood. I was afraid Big Hero 6 was going to be too pop-culture-referencing and wink-wink-nudge-nudge, as well as being afraid that the main character would annoy me (that's my biggest issue with How to Train Your Dragon) and that the blend of San Francisco and Tokyo would feel pasted on and Orientalist. Instead, it's a really good movie that made me cry more than once, has some great relationships, and did what I thought was a pretty impressive job of balancing gender roles and portrayals as well as having POC representation.

(That said, Disney, I will be so happy if you make your next geek-oriented movie with a female lead!)

Also, the marketing department did a really good job with the trailer; I think it only goes into the first half hour of the movie and doesn't let on to some pretty big things while keeping the overall tone of the movie.

What most impressed me about the trailer was how the first ten or fifteen minutes of the movie completely recontextualizes a lot of the scenes, so even if you've seen them a lot, there's more there when you see them again in the movie. As I mentioned, I was worried I would be annoyed at Hiro, and I kind of was... and then they introduced another character that helped a lot. Then when something happens and Hiro gets acquainted with Baymax the robot, it adds a new emotional layer to all the boy-plus-robot scenes from the trailer. Also, Baymax is hilarious and adorable, as the best companion robots seem to be. (Are there any girl-and-robot stories that mix coming of age with teaching your robot how to be more human or something? Boy-and-robot seems to be a distinct subgenre, with this, The Iron Giant, Terminator 2, and probably more I can't think of right now.)

Cultural appropriation, gender, and other considerations )

I am talking a lot about the more political aspects of the movie and not focusing on just how fun the movie is, I think partly because so much of it is in the background and not that noticeable if you aren't looking for it. I thought this was a really great example of how to have diverse characters and places and make it feel organic and not the central issue of the story, and it's what I would love to see more of, especially in genre stuff.

A lot of the reviews I've read were tired of the whole superhero thing, but I did not realize it was a superhero movie going in (I had it more pegged as an Iron Giant thing), so when Hiro starts seeing everyone as a superhero team, it totally cracked me up. Because if you are a boy with a giant robot and a 3D printer, why not?

And finally, I LOVED how the entire movie was a celebration of engineering and science and making things; one of my favorite parts is Tadashi showing Hiro his "nerd school" and how clearly he loves it. I feel I should say so much more about this, because it was a huge part of why I loved the movie so much (that, and the Tadashi-Hiro relationship) and I've spent so many words on the background stuff. Except I don't really have anything outside of how much I love it and how much they made an effort to show that the whole maker culture thing isn't solely a white guy thing.

On a completely random note, I'm amused by the Disney-Pixar-Marvel mashup so that the movie has the now-famous animation short a la Pixar and the post-credits scene a la Marvel.
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Initial random thoughts! (With spoilers for the comics arcs as well.)

Spoilers )


Wed, Dec. 18th, 2013 12:06 pm
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I was going to see this regardless, given Idina Menzel + Disney musical, but I wasn't too excited at first, given that the only promotion I had seen was a large display of the goofy snowman in a theater.

Thankfully, it seems to be getting really good word-of-mouth, since it is (afaik) the only Disney animated movie with two female leads (sisters!!). Also, I thought the music was better than Tangled, even though I found Tangled very charming.

Anyway, will definitely be on the look out for more stuff from Jennifer Lee, the co-director and screenplay author, since I liked the gender stuff in Wreck-It Ralph (which she wrote part of). Also, first female director of a Disney movie! (And to that, wow Disney, that took you long enough.)

On another random note, Idina Menzel has now done duets with women in three major productions.

Frozen is a pretty typical Disney princess movie in many ways; it doesn't so much try to break the mold as gently stretch it. I actually liked that better than Enchanted's effort, which was an effort to break the mold but failed and had the movie becoming the very thing it was satirizing. You've got the cute sidekicks (one animated snowman, who I ended up liking instead of being annoyed by, and one reindeer), the requisite love story shoved into a hundred minutes, power ballads, and a spunky heroine who's clumsy but still conventionally attractive.

But then you have some of the other stuff.

Not hugely spoilery but just in case )

Very spoilery )

Wiki noted that the production team did consult with Sami musicians for the opening song, which would be a step in the right direction, but given Disney's overall track record with appropriation, I'm not too confident about how well they incorporated elements of Sami culture or Sami people, period. I saw a few people online arguing that Kristoff is Sami, but overall I am way too unknowledgeable to judge either way.

Other things:

  • I am totally amused that instead of an actual talking animal, it's Kristoff voicing Sven the reindeer and essentially having a conversation with himself.

  • "Fixer Upper" is such a cute song! Except for what it is advocating! Sigh. It does try to make things better near then end by talking about how you can't really change a person and that love being the answer isn't limited to romance, but it's kind of half-assed. I do like that they are basically talking about Elsa in the last part. Also, I saw a comment somewhere saying that yeah, the song content is pretty awful, but it is being sung by trolls, so I will pretend it is deliberately trolling the viewer.

  • "In Summer" is hilarious.

  • Love the entire palace-building sequence in "Let It Go" and am amused by the similarities between "Let It Go" and "Defying Gravity."

  • I thought the slit up the skirt and Elsa's increased sashaying post wardrobe change was very OOC.

  • "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" has been making me tear up every. single. time. And I have been listening to it a lot!

  • Wow, Kristen Bell has a voice! Now I want her to do more musicals!

  • Also, I've seen her say in interviews how she wanted to make Anna very anti-Disney princess, with the awkwardness and the talking too much and the bedhead. Alas, it did not work for me... I like Anna fine, but she read very much as "spunky heroine." Psst, Disney. These attempts to do anti-Disney princesses would work a lot better with a larger variety of body types and notions of attractiveness. I'm just saying!

  • I am super sad this came out too late for Yuletide, because I want all the Elsa and Anna fic ever.

  • Have also seen people talking about how for once, the parents aren't villainous and act out of love and trying to do the best thing, but they are still terrible parents, which is a nice change. Especially since they are the biological parents, given the general poor history of fairy tales and Disney movies with families of choice.

In conclusion: the movie is a good entry into the Disney ouvre, with some groundbreaking elements. That said, I'm not sure it's something I'd rec if you don't already have some latent fondness for Disney.
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I really love the world of this movie: the claustrophobia of giant walls going up, the success then failure of the jaegers, how so many people were exhausted and tired of fighting, instead of just encountering the threat for the first time. It also gets points for having more than one speaking role for POC. On the other hand, I wish more of the supporting cast were POC as well and that Mako had more to do.

I'm also surprised that I've found little to no comparisons to anime in the write ups I've seen on my network! I know both Guillermo del Toro has said the movie is not based on Evangelion, and Travis Beacham says he wrote the bulk of the script before having seen the show/movies/franchise, but it feels as though the influence of the show is everywhere.

Spoilers for Pacific Rim )

I really wanted more of the world after watching the movie, so I checked out the Tales from Year One comic. Alas, while it had some good backstory, I found it largely skippable and rather annoying.

Spoilers )

Iron Man 3

Tue, May. 7th, 2013 01:02 am
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As previously noted on Twitter, I did not hate this! I actually liked it? And I actually liked Tony Stark??? WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE WORLD??!!

Spoilers )

This is all for now, since I should go to bed!
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Wreck-It Ralph

Really loved this. Love all the gender stuff and how quietly and matter-of-factly the movie codes gaming as a gender-neutral or sometimes leaning-toward-female thing, LOVE Jane Lynch's character, adored the Sarah Silverman character, and was very impressed by how Dreamworks managed to make a pop-culture-inspired movie that feels so much bigger than just a string of pop-culture jokes. Also had thoughts about Ralph kinda sorta representing male gamer privilege when he's so medal focused. CB didn't quite think so, though. What do people think?

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

So weird to not be solving puzzles by myself for the whole movie! Alas, the series continues to have saintly, largely inactive girls and women, though at least this one features Emmy for a bit. There are also a lot of Laputa influences. Mostly it makes me want to play the newest Layton, which I have discovered is now out but only available for the 3DS. ARGH. Want to play but don't want to buy a 3DS just to play a single game!

The Hobbit

I've never been a fan of the book (read it once in sixth grade, never mustered up enough interest to ever finish a reread), so mostly I had fun with the movie. Was happy just to be back in cinematic Middle Earth, especially once the Shire theme started to play. Mostly the movie is notable in that a) now I can at least remember one or two of the dwarves' names (me watching FotR Moria scene: "Who the heck is Balin?"), b) Thranduil's doofy-looking "I am not emotional" expression, c) the hunger-inducing first scenes in Bilbo's house, and d) RABBIT SLED.

Fellowship of the Ring rewatch

Wow, I can't believe it's been ten years. The special effects hold up amazingly well, I'm guessing because they did a lot of things with stunt doubles and forced perspective and miniatures. And though I'm now largely uninterested in mainly-male medieval Europe-ish quest epic fantasies, this one has so much nostalgia attached, both for the books and for the movies, that I don't care and I love it anyway. I was also extremely amused that the very first shot after the Fellowship is formed is a long shot of the Fellowship traversing a mountain range, silhouetted against the sky. Also, the end Boromir + Frodo scene is filmed disturbingly like a rape scene.

Argo (2012)

Mon, Nov. 5th, 2012 11:54 am
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Dear movie: when you begin with an explanatory sequence about the election of Mohammad Mosaddegh and how the US and UK plotted to overthrow him because he was limiting their access to oil, and then how the US- and UK-supported shah became increasingly tyrannical, and then describe the Iranian Revolution and the US giving political asylum to the shah and how Iranians were kind of pissed off by this and stormed the US Embassy, it really doesn't position me to be all that sympathetic to portrayals of Iranian mobs and poor scared USians holding up against the Scary Angry Muslim Hordes (tm).

(I am, hopefully obviously, also not in favor totalitarian regimes, holding embassy people hostage, and etc. It's just that Hollywood has produced quite a few things with this point of view and very few things centering on POC and critiquing USian world policy.)

Argo is a well-made movie. That said, I was bored during nearly all of it, save looking at all the period clothing and furniture. Oh, and I was vastly amused by SpyDaddy (Victor Garber) playing the Canadian ambassador. I could tell that all the last-minute drama in the movie was made up and not based on true events, because hey, Hollywood. Also, I am annoyed at all the focus on Tony Mendez instead of the six diplomats and the Canadian ambassador, particularly at the insertion of his attempts to stay in touch with his young son while he and his wife are going through a break. Of course, part of the film's conclusion is Mendez hugging his son and his (nameless, voiceless) wife as a fitting heteronormative nuclear family reward to his ordeal. Oh manpain. I am so bored by you.

(Was curious if Mendez himself ID's as white; I can't tell from Google.)

So: well-made movie that basically conforms to the "single person saves the day" narrative and "scary Muslim people" narrative. I feel like I've seen enough of these already and would much rather give my money to something that is at least trying to be a bit different. (Watched this with the family, ergo the choice of movie.)

Also saw a preview of Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis' next shot for the Oscar, Lincoln. Am very uninterested, wish the preview didn't advocate the "single great (white) man freeing the slaves out of the goodness of his heart" narrative, also would like to see a movie about slavery that daresay stars Actual Black People (tm). As opposed to, you know, a few crowd shots of black people eagerly awaiting Lincoln's words re: their fate.

... sometimes I forget how rare just passing part of the Bechdel test (and its equivalents) is. Le sigh.
oyceter: Two of my rats in a tissue box (rat)
This is a movie in which the dog dies in the beginning.

(I am totally posting this entry just so I could open with that line.)

There were some free advanced screening tickets circulating around work (how do those work anyway?).

This is the most Tim Burtonesque of Tim Burton's movies that I've seen in a while: a black-and-white gothic American suburbia stop-motion animation movie referencing horror movie tropes, mid-century modern design, loner kids, and the bond between boy and dog. (Does anyone beside Tim Burton do Gothic Suburbia?)

I love stop-motion animation, and although I liked Corpse Bride and Coraline, I love how old-fashioned Frankenweenie is, and the animation feels just a bit more rickety and stop-motion-y than the previous two.

The movie is basically a rewrite of a short Tim Burton did when he was younger. Young Victor Frankenstein is a bit of a loner, but he loves his dog Sparky. Alas, Sparky is not long for the earth, at least until Victor rigs up various kitchen appliances and kites and manages to reanimate Sparky. His classmates, fearing that Victor will win the science contest, soon try to get in on the reanimation party, to rather disastrous results. I was expecting to be entertained, given the premise, but it's a really heartfelt movie along with being entertaining. It feels a bit like a classic already.

I only wish Burton had as much fun skewering non-horror tropes. The bad accent for Japanese student Toshiaki was terrible, as is the fatphobia and the lack of girls. Weird Girl is the scene stealer of the movie, but I wish Burton had the girls be just as competitive for the science contest. And Elsa is, alas, mostly just the cute goth girl crush object who isn't even crushed on that much.

Much less importantly, there is also a dead rat, which upsets me.

That said, I love pretty much everything else about the movie, particularly Mr. Whiskers and Weird Girl. I love how dog-like Sparky is, even undead, as well as the science teacher's unfortunate speech to the PTA, the character designs, the absolutely perfect mid-century modern props and architecture, the various monster rampages, and the way the film spirals deliciously out of control as Victor finds keeping Sparky a secret to be harder than he thought. Also, bonus points for parents who are involved and not stupid.

But more than that, it's about having a pet and loving that pet, and I wanted desperately to play with my rats when the movie was over.
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This is why I should not go into movies with the expectation that I might like them.

Spoilers. Kind of. It's hard to tell. )

So yeah. That was a movie. It had some great eye candy, I liked the clothes, and there were bits that could have been something, but the plot and pacing made even less sense than your standard Hollywood action flick.

Thor (2011)

Wed, May. 16th, 2012 09:54 am
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It took me about three tries to finally watch this past the point Thor starts to realize he might be stuck on Earth.

Spoilers for Thor and Avengers )

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Mon, May. 14th, 2012 10:14 am
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I rewatched this to try and catch more bits of Black Widow characterization, and wow, now I remember why I was so very hesitant when going in to watch Captain America last year.

So yeah. Despite overflow happy hearts from The Avengers, still hate Tony and Iron Man here, am appalled by how he treats Pepper, hate the objectification of all the women, really hate how Tony's statement about solving world peace in the very beginning is never really dissected, and overall am left with very bad taste in my mouth.

ETA: Further notes, with spoilers for both movies )


Fri, May. 11th, 2012 01:38 pm
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Possibly I watched Avengers again yesterday! The action scenes are much less thrilling the second time around, but I had a lot of fun looking more closely at the characters.

Not plot spoiler, but just in case )

Anyone have good gen team recs? I really want ones that are post-movie and explore the movie dynamics. Doesn't have to be the whole team, but I basically want stuff in which the friendships or alliances or teambonding is focused on more than romance and/or sex.
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I've read books one and two and been thoroughly spoiled for three. I enjoyed the first book but didn't think it was the Best Thing Ever, and I was rather disappointed in book two.

I think I probably liked the movie better than I liked book one, largely because the worldbuilding of the book is a bit skimpy for text format, but makes for excellent visuals. Also, I really don't remember many of the details in book one, since I read it about three years ago and never reread. The movie had many of the same major flaws the book (the race stuff, my generally wanting it to be more about revolution and less about the Games), with a few of its own added in, and one major point of awesomeness that made me really love it.

Assorted unspoilery thoughts )

Assorted spoilery thoughts )

Mostly, though, Katniss made the movie for me.

Links (assume spoilers for first book/movie!):
- my review of Hunger Games the book and Catching Fire (spoilers for book 2 as well)
- [personal profile] sanguinity's review
- [personal profile] diceytillerman's review
- [personal profile] grrlpup's review
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In late Victorian and early Edwardian England, stage magicians Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier form a rivalry with each other that eventually affects not only them, but also their descendents.

Plot summaries for this book aren't particularly satisfying, as the bulk of the book is in its structure. We begin with the descendents finding out more about their magician ancestors via diaries, and Alfred Borden's begins by telling you he is performaing a magic trick with his very narrative. Angier's diaries, not written for potential publication, don't have quite the same sense of illusion and mystery about them until the final bits.

I read this after I had seen the movie, so I already knew the major revelations. While I liked the additional details in the book, particularly about stagecraft and magic, the movie version of the characters and motivations resonated more with me. As such, I'm not sure how much of my dissatisfaction from the book stems from the book itself, and how much stems from comparison to the movie.

I was particularly irritated by the framing device of the descendents, given how Priest developed it. Due to mentions of the Borden-Angier feud lasting for generations, I wanted to see more of how both men affected their families. Instead, the bulk of the novel is still about Borden and Angier's personal lives, so much so that the single feud-like event from later on read as completely random to me. There is no sense of why the feud extends beyond Borden and Angier, save the fact that Priest needs to wrap up his story thematically.

The other bit that bothered me was how pointless the feud felt. Obviously, I know it should feel pointless to anyone but the two men involved, but the sense of urgency and obsession and rising stakes from the movie is completely missing. Instead, my impression was that either man could have walked away at any time, not out of better judgment, but out of simple ennui, which doesn't seem to be the best end to a multi-generation feud. I'm fine with the feud itself feeling petty and stupid, but it seemed that both Borden and Angier thought so as well at quite a few points in the narrative, which made me just want to shake them and ask them why they kept it going outside of "needed to further the plot." I was also intrigued by the bits of internal conflict hinted at in Borden's narrative, and I actually think I would have rather read a book about that than about the Borden-Angier conflict.

Finally, I have no idea what happened in the last two pages or so.

Spoilers for book AND movie )

Overall, Priest's puzzle box is intriguing and satisfying as a puzzle, but it didn't work that well for me as a story, at least in comparison with the movie. I probably would have been much more impressed had I read it first.

I am going to assume that there are spoilers for both book AND movie in the comments, since it's pretty difficult to discuss either without spoilers.

Links (assume spoilers!):
- [personal profile] coffeeandink on book and film
- Gary Westfahl's review of the film, with comparisons to the book, most of which I disagree with
- [livejournal.com profile] instant_fanzine discussion of the book
- [livejournal.com profile] kate_nepveu's thoughts

Any other links? I think I read them when the movie came out in 2006 (it was that long ago?!), but it'd be interesting to reread now that I've read the novel.
oyceter: (bleach sting like a bee)
Things I knew about the movie going in: 1) It was directed by the same guy who did Watchmen and 300, neither of which I had watched, but both of which had vids with amazing visuals. 2) Feminists were decrying it as misogynistic and exploitative. 3) The Disney Princess trailer mashup is awesome.

Captain Beautybeard had wanted to watch it despite its supposedly terrible politics, largely for the pretty, and after watching the Disney Princess trailer mashup, I decided that my expectations were low enough that I would go in and watch some girls kicking ass in exploitative outfits and probably while playing hookers (no, Sin City, I have not yet forgiven you). CB and I also joked about making out in the movie theater, since neither of us had done so before.

Alas and alack, by the first few minutes of the movie, we had both realized that any sort of making out during the movie would make us feel even grosser and more exploitative, as I personally don't really find violence against women, infantilizing outfits, or mental institutions sexy, even in a mocking, ironic sort of way.

Here's the thing: there was actually a movie in Sucker Punch that I wanted to see, corsets and fishnets and sailor suits and all. [personal profile] sohotrightnow pinpoints (spoilers in link) my frustration with automatically classifying the movie as misogynist because of what the women wear; like [personal profile] sohotrightnow, I grew up with numerous fantasy books in which tomboy girls defeated evil with swords and magic while the girls who liked dresses and embroidery stayed at home and were shallow and not worth knowing. I have no problem with tomboy girls or action heroines who aren't sexualized, particularly given the way feminine action heroines are so sexualized for the male gaze, but I do have a problem with the lack of variety. The kickass woman set in opposition to the useless girly girl or the kickass woman subject to panty shots and tiny bustiers should never be the limit of what we get, and both extremes are annoying precisely because they are extremes instead of being two points along a broad spectrum.

Here's the other thing: I was willing to give the movie just about anything as long as I got to see women kicking ass.

My disappointment, let me show it to you (spoilers) )

I don't actually agree with reviewers saying that anyone who liked this movie couldn't possibly be feminist; I think women have enough trouble as is finding role models and seeing themselves on screen that it's not surprising at all that people are taking the movie and subverting it. But I also don't think the movie is anywhere near a feminist narrative, even if you squint and futz around with it. That said, I think it's a pity that the movie bombing will basically be read by Hollywood execs as even more reason to make white guy action movies in which women still have no personalities and are still dressed in scanty outfits, only this time sans guns and swords and giant mecha.

Just... ARGH! It is particularly annoying because my expectations were so low, yet the movie still managed to slip underneath them. I am also prepared to read against the text quite often! I don't mind awesome heroines in shounen manga who are ogled at! (In fact, I am currently watching CB play through Bayonetta, and despite the cheesecake and the blatant male gaze and crotch shots, Bayonetta actually does kick ass and presumably triumphs, and does so with the other primary character in the narrative being... another woman!) But I do mind reading against the text and the male gaze and all the ways the heroines are still sexualized and taken advantage of AND THEN finding out that there's a limit to how much against the text I can read because the movie in my head very clearly isn't the movie in the director's. (Kubo Tite, I am still pissed off at you too.)

AWESOME WOMEN TRIUMPHING. Hollywood, why is this so hard?!
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(Original title: 刀馬旦)

This is a Tsui Hark movie from 1986 starring Brigitte Lin. There are other people in it too, but really, most of my memories involve Brigitte Lin dressing in a tuxedo, a uniform that is later adopted by many Japanese schools to be their boys' uniform, a military uniform, a foppish Regency-esque outfit, and a wet bloody shirt. The plot somehow involves Yuan Shikai and guerilla fighters attempting to overthrow something, but the subtitles weren't the best, so it was a bit difficult to tell. Also, as you may have noticed, I was a bit distracted by Brigitte Lin.

I watched this because [personal profile] rachelmanija has told me it is one of her favorite HK movies, that it involves the Peking Opera, that it stars Brigitte Lin, and that Brigitte Lin crossdresses throughout the movie. Sadly, it is also extremely hard to find, and after a few years, I managed to dig up the VCD in a random store in Hong Kong last winter. We just watched it today, and Rachel was a bit afraid that it wouldn't live up to her memories and that I would find it not worth my very long search.

I have to say, the beginning is a bit lackluster, with the exception of Tsao Wan (Brigitte Lin) in various awesome outfits. And then there is Sheung Hung, a singing girl who steals jewels and ends up embroiled in assorted rebel schemes, along with Pat Neil (worst transliteration ever! It doesn't remotely sound like this in Cantonese), a girl who longs to perform but isn't allowed to because only men are allowed on stage.

(Rachel is telling me to add that Brigitte Lin is really hot in this.)

I tend to do badly with plot synopsis anyway; Tsui Hark's movies are frequently incomprehensible; and although this one makes waaaaay more sense than Ashes of Time, I don't remember how the movie even starts, except with a guy in Peking opera make up going "BWAHAHAHAHA!"

Instead, you should all watch this movie because Brigitte Lin is really, really hot, but also because it has three awesome heroines who are allowed to have awesome action sequences. Occasionally the men do something, but I do not really remember what. Tsui Hark seems to have the same priorities I do, as the men randomly drop out of the story every so often, whereas there are many, many shots of Brigitte Lin looking awesome in uniforms, tuxedos, suits, and wet shirts.

Also! There are many scenes in which Tsao Wan tenderly comforts Sheung Hung and Pat Neil. She goes outside to drape her cloak over Pat Neil, who is heartbroken because her father has forbidden her to act! Romantic music swells! Romantic snow begins to picturesquely drift down! Rachel and I clutched each other and yelled, "Subtext! Text!" But little were we to know that it was just beginning. After the comfort scene with the cloak, we then move on to the three women.... in a pajama party! They drink and peer at a globe, with their faces so close that they were only fingerspans away from kissing! There was frolicking in white pajamas!

And there was a great scene with the three women and two of the rebel men all under a single blanket. The movie, by the way, had some great action sequences, in which everything happens in a nearly Rube Goldberg-esque manner. The death of the main villain in particular is AWESOMESAUCE.

And! There was the scene which I had been eagerly anticipating, as it was the only thing about the movie that Rachel really remembered aside from the Peking opera: Tsao Wan gets whipped! As we watched the movie and Tsao Wan avoided being whipped, Rachel thought she had made this up, although I said, "Yeah, but I also thought I made up the flying whale in Angel Sanctuary and the finger-eating villain and claymation skeleton in Heroic Trio!"

Lo and behold, Tsao Wan was captured by the villains, hung from two chains, and whipped. Normally I'm not that into the fetishizing of violence inflicted on the female body, but the scene didn't so much reduce her to a screaming girl, but rather made her seem heroic and awesome and stoic. It actually reminded me a lot of the torture scene of Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. The movie also plays dramatic music during it and shows the villains pouring salt water over her... in slow motion!

After, as Sheung Hung and Pat Neil go in to rescue her, Tsao Wan is TIED TO A BED. In her bloody wet shirt! Sheung Hung and Pat Neil were awesome as they rescued her, then the two girls are in bed again with a corpse to distract the villains, and then Sheung Hung and Pat Neil fawn over Tsao Wan and her bloody wounds and comfort her through all the dreadful hurts she has suffered. I could not be making this up if I tried!

Anyway, this movie completely lived up to expectation, and it joins Heroic Trio and So Close in my category of awesome action movies with not one, not two, but THREE awesome female action heroes. Except this one has really excellent action, Brigitte Lin (AWESOME), some very well-choreographed fight scenes, and great fan fodder. I think I am going to request this for Yuletide next year...

Happy things

Sun, Dec. 5th, 2010 09:21 pm
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I saw both Tangled and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 this weekend.

Tangled is much more of a Disney princess movie than the trailers had me believing, complete with Alan Mencken songs (!!). I was glad to see Rapunzel getting much more of a role than I thought she would, given early talk about adding Flynn Rider specifically to appeal to the male audience, and she gets to whack a few people around and not be saved, although she's not hugely active either. Minus points for privileging the standard biological nuclear family and demonizing older women and making them pathologically long for youth and beauty.

Happy thing 1: Before watching Tangled, my friends and I got cordoned off by survey takers who asked us to watch certain trailers and respond. Mine was some legal thriller starring Matthew McConnaghey (sp) about some guy accused of rape and murder.

SURVEY GUY: So how likely is it that you would see this movie in theaters?
ME: None.
SG: How come?
ME: Too many white guys. Too much violence against women. Not enough female roles or speaking roles for people of color.
SG: ...

I am hoping I seriously skew his statistics, although the pessimistic part of me doubts it.

Harry Potter has some lovely atmosphere and still a bit too much teenage emo for me, although they cut it down drastically from the books. Also, I really did not need to see that much of Harry and Hermione naked.

Happy thing 2: Going to a Kearney Street Workshop reading with [personal profile] troisroyaumes, loving both the authors, and thinking of quite a few people in my dwircle who would also enjoy the authors! Barbara Jane Reyes' Diwata has Filipin@ folklore, aswang, and mermaids and water, and Shailja Patel did a wonderful reading on textbook editing, Kenyan genocide, being brown and Hindu in Kenya, and so much more. I especially loved the mix of languages in their works and being able to hear them read as they should sound, and everything in their works about the things we're taught and the things we're taught to not know, the way history writes itself in personal memory, and how we write ourselves into histories that have written us out.


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