Saturday, December 01, 2012


Also, I hope that a someday we will have a
socially acceptable image of a strong woman
that will come from a source other than a
 propaganda poster from 1942.

 I recently finished reading Gloria Steinem's book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions so when my friend Jill told me she had gotten MISS REPRESENTATION from the Netflix and invited me over to watch it with her, I was pretty excited to see it.

Unfortunately, it wasn't all that exciting. (At least, it wasn't for anyone who has ever heard of the Bechdel Test.  Here's a link if you don't know what that is and a video if you don't want to read.)

The main thesis of the film is, (and I quote):

Miss Representation (2011), ... explores how the media's misrepresentations of women have led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence."

The movie did a good job of explaining how the media under represents women.  It had some lovely graphics, interesting statistics, a few tearful teenage girls frustrated with the system, and plenty of interviews with some really fascinating and knowledgeable people.  However, in the interviews and in the rest of the movie, every question and quote felt just a little bit off the mark.  Can you really prove that "Leave It To Beaver" is the reason we don't have a female president?  How can we talk about the media and not about those who consume media? Do we really believe that women appear on the show "The Bachelor" because they didn't see television shows which depicted strong empowered women?  Do young girls really become anorexic because they read fashion magazines? Or could anorexia be more directly related to a feeling of powerlessness within a young girl's life and a disordered attempt to control her body -- the only source of cultural power she may understand.

The film discussed the cultural traditions which support the way women are presented and why, in the 1950's, there was a deliberate campaign to get the women out of the factories so the men could get back to work. That was interesting but the film didn't apply the knowledge.  Instead we watched Katie Couric worry about whether her short skirts on national television led to the increased sexualization of women in the media and the film neglected to point out that her skirts had nothing to do with it!  Couric's visible thigh is NOT responsible for the drunken exploits of the girls on "Jersey Shore."

"Whatever! Katie totally told us to dress this way!"

I know that's a ridiculous parallel but there is a lot more happening to us, culturally, with the surge of pornography available on the interwebs and the normalization of women in the workplace than one early-morning news anchor's hemlines.

Don't be sad. This stuff is terrible.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the director/writer/narrator of this film, has noticed a problem in her industry and wants to work to fix it, which is admirable.  I am glad she is calling attention to the problem in a way which is easily digested and acceptable.  However, I would rather avoid legislating the issue, which seems to be the push of the film.  The media makes a lot of decisions but I believe that we, the consumer, have a lot of power as well.  If declining sales of Wonder Bread assisted in the downfall of a huge company then concerted efforts to reject programming which under represents or misrepresents women can have as powerful an effect. And if that means making hard choices like NOT watching "Honey Boo Boo", then maybe that's what we need to do.

I know, Boo, but some things are more important than
 flippers and pet pigs.

Addendum:  The website has just about everything one could ask for when it comes to generating change. The website is better than the movie so maybe it's best to just skip the film and go to the site.


Obviously, after watching MISS REPRESENTATION, the only logical thing to do was to rent EXPENDABLES 2.

No one was happy about it.
Now, to let you know, I love Sly Stallone.  He's a prime example of what happens to someone who has ambition, drive, intelligence, and talent, but lacks the social know-how to be a part of the "in" crowd.   He makes movies which capture the zeitgeist of his generation and gets no respect for it.  I like his determination to stay true to his own vision and make the movies he wants to make.

Plus, he was in the movie RHINESTONE with Dolly Parton
for which I will love him forever.

That said, EXPENDABLES 2 is just terrible.  I still loved the parts with Stallone but everything else is awkward and inauthentic, especially when Chuck Norris shows up and acts like your creepy uncle.
A rare example of a beard making a man
look LESS attractive
I would talk about plot except I don't want to.  I could talk about the "girl" in the movie except she was more of a fighting sex toy than a real woman.  I might mention how utterly terrifying Dolph Lundgren is but it's far too scary to think about anymore.  

Aak! Run for your life!

I should mention that I really missed Micky Roark's character from the first EXPENDABLES because he grounded and enriched that movie so much I actually liked it.  I definitely should say that the costume designer has marvelous taste.

Fighting Russian gangsters is never an excuse to look shabby.
But, the most important thing, I think, is to let everyone know that Arnold Schwarzenegger is officially uncool.  No, really.  Unlike Bruce Willis, who has aged wonderfully and is still an all-around groovy guy, Arnold is your Tea Party grandpa in a tasteless shirt.  

He's no longer a governor OR a movie star.  Really, he's lucky to be in this movie at all.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


 I saw this movie in Orlando and I loved every moment of it.  It is to acapella groups what SCREAM is to the horror genre - in mocking the culture it is better than the original.

And, yes, I am an acapella nerd.  In fact, it's hard for me to even type the word "acapella" since it's really supposed to be "a capella" (which refers to the "little chapel" in catholic cathedrals, smaller rooms for smaller services which normally lacked organs and therefore forced the singers to sing without accompaniment.)

See? Nerd.

This movie calls all acapella singers nerds, and demonstrates just how nerdy and amazing it can be by setting everything in an imaginary world where there are national acapella competitions at a collegiate level and where competing groups at the same college meet in secret, in the night, to have "sing-offs" Zoolander style.
This is what college is like, right?
I laughed a lot, cheered out loud after the musical numbers, and enjoyed every moment of this film.     The stand-out star of this movie, though, is Rebel Wilson who plays Fat Amy.  She is the one with most of the memes you may have seen.

 Really, see it for her.  Unless you are an acapella geek.  Then, just see it.

SKYFALL -- 8 (for being pretty)

SKYFALL opens with a man in silhouette walking towards us through a tunnel, gun in hand.  The figure gets closer and closer and then POW! - this happens:

That right.  The most perfectly placed chunk of light blazes into the steely blue eyes of our protagonist and tells all of us that this film is GORGEOUS! Since every single moment of this film is beautiful I became mesmerized with the visuals and didn’t pay so much attention to the plot.  Seriously, though, ya gotta see this stuff.  Here, I'll help you by attaching some screen shots...

This is how you fight a spy on top of a train.. with STYLE.

 Eve shows us how you walk over a dude you've knocked in the head with a case full of three million dollars while looking glamorous.

Here we see a homage to Blade Runner in a building that ACTUALLY EXISTS somewhere in Asia.

Here's how you go to the museum with your IT staff.

And, here is Bond and M looking at the most desolate bit of Scottish grandeur they could find to shoot with a vintage Aston Martin behind them.

Oh, right, about M -  She is in trouble and has to go up before a Congressional Committee (or whatever they have in England) to explain why she let someone get a list of EVERY SINGLE UNDERCOVER SPY THERE IS and to answer for the deaths of these spies who are being killed off very publicly.
"What? Why wouldn't I keep my list of secret spies on the hard drive of a random laptop?
Is that a security problem?"
It's the beginning of the whole movie and it's a bit silly.  I mean, if corporations like Citibank won't let someone walk into their buildings with a flash drive in order to protect the information of all those folks who owe them money, the idea of MI6 just casually making a list of the identities of all their undercover operatives is ridiculous.

Voldemort agrees with me but is totally sweet and British about it.

Anyway, Eve shoots Bond because M tells her to
"I'm not sure this is the right way to solve our security problems, M.
Couldn't we just get a new secretary or something?"
but Bond survives and goes on to meet the "bad" Bond girl.
"I'm the bad one because I have long pointy fingernails which freak Susan out."
Anyway, blah blah, there's a Komodo dragon, sex happens, and then we FINALLY get to meet our villain, Javier Bardem, whom I LOVED!
"What's not to love?  I'm stylish, blond, funny, and far less crazy than this Bond dude!"
He's known as Raoul Silva in this movie, and he is an ex-MI6 agent who got left behind in a sacrifice play made by M which is exactly like the one she just made on Bond a few months before.  Silva doesn't really care about Bond so much as he wants revenge on M but of course, since he's got the spy sitting there all tied up and looking cute, he might as well make a pass.

Wouldn't you?
Really, the moment is there only because it means Silva is somewhat gay and therefore it's alright to kill him at the end.  Because if someone is gay in a movie, they die. (No, for reals.)  But, death aside, I liked him much more than Bond.  James Bond is a psychopathic thug who looks alright in a suit and has governmental permission to kill anyone he feels like killing.  Raoul Silva is an emotionally ravaged victim of war crimes who feels the system needs some chaos introduced into it in order to highlight the absurdity of nationalistic "security".  But, more than that, he is upset with M and wants her to understand the results of the decisions she makes.  If I saw Bond walking down the street, I'd cross the street to avoid him because he's scary and he makes moral decisions based on idealistic abstractions.  Silva I would totally walk by because he's random.  He might kill me, he might not, but whichever decision he made, it would be personal.

I know, it's a totally un-American attitude.  It's like the difference between tornadoes and earthquakes.  Earthquakes happen suddenly, without warning, and mess up EVERYBODY.  You have moments to deal with them and the effects are non-negotiable.  Then, 24 hours later, they come back just to make sure you didn't forget about them and to make sure everything is awful. Because, really, the needs of the tectonic plates are FAR more important and we puny humans should just understand that some sacrifices are totally necessary.
Earthquake says: "Oh, I missed that minivan there.
 I'll just open a sinkhole right under it. "

Tornadoes might get ya or they might not.  When the tornado sirens go off in Texas, people finish their jogs, meander into their closets, call their friends, whatever.  Because it might utterly destroy your neighbor's house and leave yours untouched.  Or, you might die.  You don't know and you can't control it so.. whatever.  The clouds go green and everyone knows the sky is gonna fall on the ground (hey! sky... falling.. skyfall? ha!) but there's a chance that it won't hurt anyone at all.  And, really, when it comes to natural disasters or movie villians, I prefer to take that chance.
Plus, tornadoes are far more stylish!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer Movies 2012

So, when I could be bothered to stop watching Kingdom,
Eighteen hours of Stephen Fry just isn't enough
Warehouse 13,

Because I only watch tastefully understated science shows
or bollywood rom-coms about Sikhs on Netflix,

I absolutely love this crap

 I occasionally went to the movies this summer.  And, generally speaking, my overall impression of everything was -- meh.

Yes, ABRAHAM LINCOLN:VAMPIRE HUNTER was a good show.  THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS was fun.  And someday I will get around to seeing that last Batman movie.  But, in early summer, I went with the sisters to the drive-in and managed to see pieces of about eight different movies and I didn't much care about any of them, including BRAVE, the movie we went there to see.

I wish I had a reason for this apathy, but I don't.  Thankfully I have friends and relatives who are willing to watch and review films for this blog so look out for that.  I, however, just want to listen to Goodnight Moon by Eric Whitacre and watch Joseph Campbell lectures on Netflix.  And, since I have nothing to say about those things other than "Susan Sarandon needs to sit straight in her chair", I'm off to other, more impossible worlds.  See you in the fall.

Thursday, July 05, 2012


So, a friend loaned me a book called The Fourth Turning which, so far, is mostly about the attitudes held by different generations and and the effect those attitudes have on history.  According to the book, a "generation" is everyone born within a 20-ish year block, and after four generations a "saeculum" is complete, each generation representing the four seasons.  How accurate the book may or may not be in it's approach or data collection is of far less interest to me than the new paradigm it presents.  Even just thinking about generational shifts makes me see things differently.

I went to see DARK SHADOWS with my older sister and she laughed and hooted and clapped through the entire movie.   This made the movie a lot more fun, obviously, but it was interesting because I didn't think it was quite that amusing.  To me it was the same sorts of jokes that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp like to tell.  Visual jokes like vampires doing normal stuff

or vampires trying to find someplace to sleep

and cultural contrast jokes like vampires presented with eggos

or sitting in beanbag chairs.

Caroline loved it and it prompted me to do some googling.

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are only a handful of years older than my sister.  When they came of age they began to make films with a very specific ethos, a vision very different than anything anyone had ever seen. Twenty years later, what they created has become NORMAL, and the distinctions between their subversive vision and normal pop culture today are almost non-existent.   DARK SHADOWS is a fine film, and the campy soap-opera acting was fun, but it showed the Burton/Depp ethos to be shockingly conventional.  I mean, little kids run around dressed like Captain Jack Sparrow and Jack the Pumpkin King at Disneyland.  It doesn’t get any more mainstream than that.

JOHN CARTER, however, is nothing BUT old fashioned and out-of-date which is no surprise at all since the source material for the film is a book first published in 1911.   The real question is WHY Disney thought it would make a good movie.  Yes it's a classic series, yes they probably got the rights fairly cheaply, but there's still no reason to put ANY movie on Mars, much less one with "magical flying machines" and sword fighting and princesses in dire need of saving.

However homo-eroticism has never gone out of style

I'm thinking the real reason JOHN CARTER was made was a lame attempt to cash in on the Steampunk trend that was happening there for a bit.   Yes, there is a community who still enjoys steam punk gear and books and lifestyles, but when Steampunk is part of an episode of Castle and has spawned a line of romance novels... well, I think we all agree that it, as a trend, has jumped the shark.

That said, you do have to give props to the writers of JOHN CARTER for explaining how something we KNOW looks like this:

"Hey look! There's my shovel!" -- Mars Rover
could possibly support life that looks like this:

"Does the BLM know yall spray painted all that sagebrush here in Death Valley?"

Their VERY clever explanation is that, sure, Mars is a complete wasteland now but that's just because the Martians wreaked ecological disaster on their own planet. In the 1890s it was totally just a desert-ish place populated with cute things like toad dogs

It's both cuter and creepier than you think.

and six-limbed "primitive" native peoples who live in caves.

"Welcome white unattractive dude.  We expect you to go native & then betray us for a white woman in exactly 1.5 hrs." 

Now, it's not all bad.   The princess has some fantastic henna.

and I liked the Star Wars monster

but other than that it was pretty ho-hum.  I think a lot of my apathy was because of the leading man, Taylor Kitsch.  Bad acting, over acting, speech impediments,and general unattractiveness I can live with but please, please, don't let the leading man be BORING! 

Admit it.  You got bored just looking at this photo.
Mr Kitsch is DULL.   And that is a big problem with a swashbuckling, sword-fighting, big-budget picture like this.   

Also, when casting a leading man, make sure he can make skirts look manly.  Kitsch looks like he's wearing a nice party dress for most of the film.

"What? Skirts don't chafe!"

Sunday, July 01, 2012


I know a few things about a few presidents...George Washington has wooden teeth,  William Henry Harrison served a 30 day term  ( got immediately sick and DIED)  and Abraham Lincoln was a BAD ASS

Fact!: Abraham Lincoln was PISSED and weapon of choice was an AX coated in silver.  I could never see Mr. President as  a gun man, but an ax man I get.  At first I was a little sad because he wasn't wielding it, he was twirling it like the flag girl in the marching band thus making me uncomfortable but it took SECONDS for him to become one with his ax giving him one bad ass weapon of choice.  Once you get that weapon where you want it, whose to say you can do OTHER things to it, like stick a silver stabber on the end...or a gun in the handle??? Oh wait Lincoln DID that.  
"Hmm... maybe I'll install a flame thrower on this thing..."

Fact: Tall and lanky doesn't mean you can't do things like dodge horses that are thrown at you.  I don't know another president that was equally as tall, or equally as strong, or equally at awkward looking...but I know that because of all those things gave Mr. President 16 the TRIFECTA of bad assery, THUS giving him the ability to dodge thrown horses.

Fact: Just because you are 50 doesn't mean you can use AWESOME things like Silver knuckles (because brass knuckles doesn't kill vampires duh!)  

Fact:  Just because you are 50 does not mean you can't beat the hell out of vampires on TOP of a high speed trains.  I know that he groans when he sits down or grunts when he has to stand up, and no matter what people tell you 50 is NOT the new 40...all I know,  kicking ass a top of a train and leaping from car to car SANS grunting isn't very 50. 

"It's fixin' to get REAL in here, yall!"
Fact: The South was full of Vampires.  I don't know if you are like me but I am not a fan of slavery, OR vampires.  Both are evil bitches that need to be put to death, and if shooting Silver from cannons would kill them both, then  I say do it.  Lincoln did it, and THAT is why he was president.  

"I'm about to speech the HECK outta this this speech!"

These are just some of the reasons I know that Lincoln was a bad ass.  Now I am not positive, but I am pretty confident that Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, could beat the hell out of ANY Avenger.  I mean really could any one of them write the Gettysburg Address?? Oh look ANOTHER reason Mr. AL is my new super hero.  Now somebody give that man a cape.

"Cape? I don't need no stinkin' cape! I gots my hat to keep me safe!"