talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Blu-ray packaging for Ghostbusters (2016) Extended EditionGhostbusters. It’s not a title you’d expect controversy over, at least not among the living. Yet Paul Feig made an update of the 1984 classic with an all-women team of Ghostbusters, and the Internet lost its collective mind. Many people behaved badly. Trolls came out to play. Productive conversations concerning feminism happened, at least, even in a veritable sea of uninformed hate. Ghostbusters became a rallying point for feminist interrogation of pop culture.

Feminism deserves better, which Alyssa Rosenberg covers with acuity at The Washington Post.

Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters can be a fun movie, especially when combined with a ladies’ night in and a judicious number of drinks. (Ooo, and Twizzlers. …no? More for me!) The cast is fantastic, carried by sharply funny women with great comedic instincts. It’s just not a particularly good movie, afflicted with poor pacing and wasted potential.

[Let’s cover the good bits up front…]

Click the link to read the rest of my review over at Nerdspan!

Mirrored from Please comment there.

talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

It’s October 11th! Which means we’re 11 nights in to my month of #HalloweenWatches, where I pick a seasonally-appropriate film each night and watch it. Often on Twitter, with GIFs and quotes and commentary galore. It’s been a bit hit or miss this year, but no longer! I’ll probably put Dracula’s Horror Bordello on tonight, and you’re all invited – plus I’m sharing 9 of my other favorite vampire films below.

I used to hate scary movies. In fact, I still pretty much hate scary movies – the ones with jump scares, anyway. I’m not fond of slasher flicks, dolls coming to life give me the heebie-jeebies, and ghost stories put my imagination on overdrive and freak me the fuck out.

(Seriously. Here’s an anecdote: I bought The Grudge on a vacation home in America because I was trying to overcome my fear of ghost movies and it had Sarah Michelle Gellar in it– I was in a phase. Anyway, I wouldn’t watch the movie until I was back in Japan because, by obscure logic, I assumed it took place in America – being an American remake of the Japanese horror film. I thought being in a foreign area would make it less scary. HAH! THE FILM IS SET IN TOKYO! And not only is it set in Tokyo, but it was filmed near some of my favorite places, so I recognized tons of landmarks. GOOD TIMES. I didn’t sleep for two days.)

However, for some reason, creature flicks have never fallen under the same personal ruling as general scary movies. That means that I hunger after vampire movies and werewolf movies and mummy movies (some mummy movies, anyway) and etc. Creature features are my fave.

Let’s get this bloodsucking film fest started! Here are 10 of my favorite vampire flicks*:

vampire-tlb1. The Lost Boys

I formed an attachment to this film as a kid. To the point where I begged for a Siberian Husky stuffed animal just so I could name it Nanook. The whole gang of misunderstood youth plus being tempted to the dark side plus oddball humor plus family togetherness with a Siberian Husky as the family dog plus hot vampires really appealed to me. Also, this was my bestie’s and my jam. I’m not sure how many times we watched this together on the phone.


vampire-iwtv2. Interview with the Vampire

I also saw this film (the theatre scene, anyway) at a tender age. The sensuality and danger of the vampirism on that screen sank deep hooks into my psyche, which probably worried my mother. Add to that the fact that I got into the books, completely loved Lestat, and built an amusing past-time out of arguing with J over the relative merits and flaws of her beloved (Louis) and mine makes Interview with the Vampire a shoo-in for the favorites list.

3. Love at First Bite

Now, my mama actually raised me on this film. I don’t remember how young I was when I first saw Love at First Bite, but I do know that I cut my teeth on the humor and story conventions of films from the 70’s such as this. Obviously, the female lead in this film choosing to leave her known (and empty) life to run off with the vampire has skewed me in some very fundamental ways. These days, when given a choice in a narrative, I almost always choose the monster** too.

vampire-vhd4. Vampire Hunter D

This film was one of my first introductions to anime – and it was a hell of an introduction at that! I remember coming in half-way through the broadcast of this on Sci-Fi Channel one Saturday morning. I was completely enthralled. Super dark, the vampires were actually terrifying, and young me found the main character enthralling. (I know it’s not widely favored, but I love Bloodlust too. Especially since it’s inspired a bit by Carmilla.)

vampire-btvs5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

My Buffy fandom runs deep, and I’ve got a lot of feelings about the show. I’ve also got a lot of love for the film from 1992 starring Kristy Swanson. My mom and I would watch this one together whenever it was on, laughing with all the snark and camp. So Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s on this list out of complete appreciation for what it is, in addition to its role as progenitor to Buffy the series.

vampire-fn6. Fright Night

Y’all knew this one was going to be on here. (The original, that is.) It’s one of the best #HalloweenWatches, featuring a disturbingly attractive Chris Sarandon, a hilarious and affirming Roddy McDowall, and the best parts of the vampire genre – strange neighbors, unconventional research, seduction and surrender, pop culture appraisal, and boy who cried wolf situations. It’s dated, but it’s still great fun.

vampire-mbfiav7. My Best Friend Is a Vampire

It always cracks me up to see Robert Sean Leonard (Neil Perry? Claudio? Dr. James Wilson, is that you?) as a teenage vampire. I probably shouldn’t enjoy this film as much as I do, but it’s one of my guilty pleasures. It’s got that nostalgia factor – I can remember staying up late to watch it by myself when I was 10 or so. I always thought it was brilliant that some vampires were just people trying to get by, picking up pig’s blood on special from the local butcher.

vampire-bsd8. Dracula’s Horror Bordello

Okay, so this is not technically the title of the film. Technically, the title of the film is Bram Stoker’s Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. See, I have this habit of renaming movies that do not match their source material. For example, I, Robot‘s real title is Will Smith – Action Robot Movie, or WS-ARM for short. Queen of the Damned is actually Queen of the Darned. And Bram Stoker’s Dracula is actually Dracula’s Horror Bordello. The film is GREAT. I love it, but it’s just not Bram Stoker’s novel. It’s actually the closest we’ve come to getting in film, but the romance plot sets it firmly apart. Regardless, I will watch this movie every October – the atmosphere is masterful, the Victorian setting wonderful, and almost all the acting is superb. Gary Oldman is my favorite Dracula, hand’s down.

vampire-wwdits9. What We Do In the Shadows

I tend to really enjoy mockumentaries, and this one about vampires was no exception. It’s eminently GIFable, too. The film pretty much perfectly captures the main stereotypes of vampires, while still communicating the horror of vampire existence. It’s funny and awful and disturbing by turns, which is exactly what is called for. Plus, you know, werewolves not swearwolves.

vampire-bii10. Blade II

And you thought we’d get through this list without a Guillermo del Toro film. Blade was fun. Blade II was better. Wesley Snipes continues to be a bad-ass as the Daywalker. Ron Pearlman gets to rock my world as a cocky, snarky son of a bitch. There’s a kick-ass vampire princess. And one of the vampires’ own schemes gone awry fucks up one of their old vampiric dynasties. Amidst an international backdrop. Really, it just does my little heart good.

Alright, it’s your turn. Hit the comments and tell me your favorite vampire flicks – maybe we can even schedule a Twitter livetweet of the most popular!


* This list is not in any particular order.

** For certain values of “monster,” anyway.

Note: if you make a purchase through any of my Amazon links above, I get a modest kickback.

Mirrored from Please comment there.

talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)

Iron Man lives again! And so does this podcast!

Welcome back, my faithful friends! When last we met, Andy and I promised you that a podcast crowing about The Avengers would be up "in a few days." Oops. In our defense, Loki destroyed that recording: the file was corrupted and, believe me, that was DEVASTATING. It was such a good time! Loki, you're such an asshole (love you anyway!).

Other things happened too. But we're back, and with at least one of the Avengers to boot! Behold, our episode on Iron Man 3:

[You'll have to listen at the post proper, as my audio player doesn't work here.]

Download is available. Runtime is 41:11. It should be up on iTunes at any moment.

Things you should know: THIS PODCAST IS FULL OF SPOILERS. No, seriously. Don't listen until you've seen Iron Man 3, unless you like listening to people ramble in random detail about unfamiliar franchises. If that's your thing, go on with your bad self. Also, we have cats AND THEY TOTALLY CRASHED THIS PODCAST. Because cats, much like Loki, are assholes.

Right, I think that's it. Enjoy!

(And review! And tweet! And chat with us about the podcast! We're garrulous geeks, as you may have noticed.)

Note: Thanks, as always, are owed to Jonathan Coulton, whose generous adherence to Creative Commons allowed us to use the first few seconds of his “Sucker Punch” as interlude music. If you’d like to hear and purchase the rest of the song, check it out at over at his site.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

I should probably mention that I’m writing for a great site called Nerdspan, relatively new and full of intelligent geekery on proud display. I have several reviews and articles in the works for them, and there’s a large stable of other nerds providing the same. Bookmark the site and follow the updates on Twitte @Nerdspan.

My first review went live today, and covers 2012′s Looper, directed by Rian Johnson and starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (along with Emily Blunt and Pierce Gagnon):

“The premise of Looper is easy to understand. Ready? Time travel is invented in the future. Time travel is immediately outlawed. The mob seizes control of time travel. The mob sends its hits to the past to be killed. (The future is a bad place for getting rid of bodies.) The people who kill for the mob are called Loopers. Loopers must one day kill their future selves and close the loop.” [Click here to read the rest of the review at Nerdspan!]

The review is short and sweet, so check it out even if you haven’t seen Looper yet. For those of you who have already seen the film (or just don’t give a shit), this post is for you!

People of the Internet: Looper makes it hurt!

Makes what hurt? Well, let’s see. Its clumsy dealings with time travel make your head hurt. (Here’s some aspirin.) Its brutal moments of emotional honesty make your heart hurt. (I got nothing for that.) Its casting of Pierce Gagnon as Cid the Creepy Kid makes you ache for the Ender’s Game hat could have been. (I’ve got nothing for that either.)

What I do have is a post twisting the knife and rubbing salt in those hurts! You’re welcome.  Here are 5 moments that had me diving for the pause button and kvetching at or gesticulating wildly with my husband before we hit play again. (Only 5, because let’s not kid ourselves: there were a lot more moments that called for pausing and swearing than I talk about here.)

[Here's a spoiler-filled look at 5 Moments that Hurt.]

Mirrored from Please comment there.

talkstowolves: Books + tea, books + coffee, either way = bliss.  (reading is a simple pleasure)
Yesterday, I watched The Godfather for the first time.

I can't believe that I'd never seen this film before. It's absolutely brilliant: remarkable acting, amazingly well-paced for its length, and intoxicating in its characterization both of individuals and collectives.

Really, I just enjoyed myself immensely watching this film. Until things started going poorly for the Corleone family, and then I sat in nervous anticipation. And then, at the end, I was transfixed by inevitability and sorrow.

Having been subjected to Godfather impersonations since I was a wee one, thanks to the Godfather being such a pop icon, I was concerned that Marlon Brando's performance as Don Corleone would be over-the-top. Luckily, that was a function of caricature and not a manifestation of the base attributes. Brando was brilliant.

Also, and I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I went through the whole movie wondering about Michael, the youngest son. "What a handsome devil!" I kept thinking to myself. "I wonder who that is playing him?" And "What a familiar nose!" You can bet my face met my palm when I realized it was Al Pacino.

I don't really have time to write a deeper review, but there you have it. I'm eager to watch the next one when I have a chunk of time.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
The short one:

If you like monster movies, as in the old school monster-destroying-a-city movies, go see Cloverfield. It's great fun and you won't be sorry you did!

The long one:

I think a lot of what made this film was J.J. Abrams' marketing genius. I don't know about Alias, but I've been with JJA through Lost, so I know how he likes to play games to seriously vitalize and deepen the experience of film.

For the past six months, interested parties have been given a wealth of cryptic background information on Cloverfield (pretty much all of which you can read back through by visiting Cloverfield Clues). We were introduced to the characters, their MySpace pages, given random teaser promo photos, mangas, Slusho commercials, even private video blogs of a girl to her boyfriend who'd been working for a mysterious company in Japan. We've learned about Slusho, a company related to the film, distributing a drink that contains "seabed nectar" as its secret ingredient. (Slusho! You can't drink just six.) We've learned about the company behind Slusho, Tagruato, and their mining corporation and even more information about that.

And still, with all this off-screen story unfolding before the release of the film, still we were able to go in and have a pristine monster movie experience.

Although the entire film is actually told through handicam footage, I found it to be superior in quality to that featured in The Blair Witch Project. I had heard that you don't get to see the monster that much because of the way in which the narrative unfolds (i.e. by people who aren't exactly going to stand around and videotape a damn monster coming for them), but I found that to be pleasantly untrue: yes, the people reacted properly to the monster's presence, but the monster still got a lot of screen time for all that. Maybe a slight spoiler... )

This film was pure fluff: great fun, an enjoyable monster flick, but lacking in any emotional or psychological meat. I think my enjoyment was heightened by the intellectual stimulation of knowing (or, rather, partially knowing) a lot of back story going in. It let me theorize about many things on screen that I would have been completely clueless about otherwise.

The handicam method of storytelling worked very well, although some of the scenes were a bit nauseating when there was a lot of running. However, due to the introduction of the film "evidence" and the nature of the "home footage" itself, the audience was left feeling very separated from the events of the story. It was very clearly happening to someone else, like a news story that has no bearing on you personally. You weren't right there with the characters, man, you weren't with them in all their terror and loss and humanity. (Like I said above: enjoyable and thrilling, just no emotional meat.)

The dialogue was also pretty good, as was the characterization, but I felt the film really could have benefited from the word "fuck." Spoilery example of why I feel this... ) That would just be my natural reaction.

Half-kidding aside, there were some genuinely great lines that I would quote but they would not be nearly as great out of context.

My one big complaint about the film would be the date thing. ALL of the internet-hype, the behind-the-scenes storytelling, the teaser images, EVERYTHING has been dated 1-18-08. And then they went and had the date-stamp on the camera be May 22nd and May 23rd. This wasn't the internal clock on the camera being off: the main character confirms the date on-screen at one point. It's really a minor point, but it just seems incredibly sloppy.

I hope that the brilliant marketing campaign will continue and interesting background information on the monster, what it is, where it came from, Tagruato (the mysterious company), and Slusho (their product; you can't drink just six!) will continue to emerge. I'm fascinated by the story and the experience they've built here.

The DVD is going to be amazing. (Extras FTW!)

I need to have an HD player of some sort by then.

P.S. We totally just walked into the theatre without presenting our tickets again tonight. They didn't start taking tickets at the door until after we'd already gone into the screen and gotten our seats. I went back out to have my ticket torn to get the promotional item, which happens to be a Kodak disposable camera. I was mildly disappointed, but I'm not saying no to free film! But couldn't we have had some Slusho promotional items? Some cups or something?

P.P.S. After presenting us with something that takes pictures, knowing we were about to watch a hyped movie with a super-secret monster, they were very serious about warning us that any opened camera would be confiscated and anyone engaging in flash photography would be thrown out.

P.P.P.S. They don't realize that some enterprising soul already caught the Cloverfield monster on their cel phone and has been spreading it around the Internet at least since yesterday.

P.P.P.P.S. Still sick. Glad I took that three hour nap earlier and stayed quiet until movie time. Equally glad I didn't have to stand in the cold outside and that the movie involved merely sitting down.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
I didn't get any work done on applications or syllabi, but I did get off to a fantastic start on writing my story tonight. I mean, I still feel like everything is one step to the left of right, but one step away from what I'm shooting for is much better than nonexistent! I'm tentatively excited over a few parts of what I wrote, though I'll probably return to the glum humdrum when I work on it tomorrow.

A few highlights from tonight's writing:

- I've almost settled on actually calling it "Green Dream." It was a placeholder title at first, but some things that suddenly occurred to me as I was writing tonight revealed that it might be more apt than I thought.

- I almost pulled something out of the following Christina Rossetti poem for the title, but concluded that it didn't quite mean what I'm going for:

The poem. )

- On my new planet, florists sell temporary stasis chambers in single-blossom and bouquet sizes. It's only legal to put plant matter in them, but some off-worlders are trying to adapt the technology to be suitable for other organic matter (it's better than deep freezing and the new technology wouldn't necessarily be looked for yet by the law, making it easier on smugglers who are into organics).

- [ profile] the_red_shoes is an awesome cheerleader!

Today's Goal: 750 words.
Goal met? Met and blown away, baby! 1345 words.
Reason for stopping: A scene change stymied me and I wanted to spend a little time with Andy, snuggled and watching a movie, before we go to bed.

Project: Short story, tentative title "Green Dream."
Status of project: Carin has left a meeting with an Aide to the Elders with a curious flower I had not foreseen and is on her way back to her ship for the journey to Dunwain starport. Irritated pirates and wondrous alien cities imminent.

To close, Andy and I totally just sat through Balls of Fury together. It was made fun by fun-making, a few funny jokes, and conversation.

My personal favorite moment was when I turned to Andy about 30 minutes in and said, (insert Walken accent here) "Wait a minute, wait. What I need here is... more Christopher Walken. This is not working for me... without the Christopher Walken. Please, guys, more Walken."

Ah well. If you can laugh at yourself, you'll never cease to be amused. Am I right?

P.S. Who (besides [ profile] sirandrew and without Googling) can tell me where the quote in my subject line comes from?
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)
Andy and I (and my bros, yay!) did, in fact, manage to see Elizabeth: the Golden Age today. There was much excited squeeing, though I internalized the majority out of respect for my company. I couldn't help a number of nudges and whispered comments ("I know!" "That was the first thing I looked for!" "I totally called that!") and barely-strangled chortles over parts of the film though.

I am so pleased at how they handled the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Walter Raleigh. I was slightly a-feared they were going to depict a torrid love affair. Instead, we were treated to a believable and estranged love that died ere it began. It was actually quite human and vaguely heartbreaking.

They did an extremely good job in showing us what Elizabeth had to bear up under. They qualified her loneliness in a series of telling social moments, sadly embarrassing scenes of vulnerability and weakness, and stirring images of symbolism. I truly ached for Elizabeth, for what she had to bear and give up to maintain her position and achieve the great things that she did.

This isn't an exhaustive review, but I'd like to mention the film's biggest flaw (in my opinion): they completely threw out the Speech to the Troops at Tilbury. Oh, there was a speech. And it was given to the troops. At Tilbury. And Elizabeth was resplendent in armor, riding astride a white horse. ...And then the writers threw us Generic Pre-Battle Speech #79. They didn't even take the real speech and modify it, as they could have, to fit the film's dialogue and storyline. They just completely threw it away. What bullshit!

Also? I want fully half of Elizabeth's wardrobe. Including her wigs.

After the film, Andy and I stopped in at PetSmart to find some toys for Tiger. We've been more concerned with him recently, as I mentioned: he's staying home alone for longer hours and acting out in new (worse) and exciting (worse) ways when we're home. We found him an amusing plastic ball and a wavy-fluffy batting toy on a spring.

And we also looked at the cats for adoption. We didn't remember they were there until we walked in, and then we thought it wouldn't hurt to look. There was one grey cat in the window who immediately looked at us, slightly gruffly or disdainful, I thought, and said "Mao." We moved along. We were attracted to a tiny calico kitten. I figured it wouldn't hurt to hold her.

Well, the calico kitten was terribly skittish and Not Having With Us. She was brought in as a stray and we fear she may have been a stray for a while, or possibly abused. We didn't press the issue with holding her. As I shut her kennel-door, however, I decided to check out the grey cat who was now sitting at her bars. She desperately wanted to say hello to me, rubbing against the door as she was and putting her paws through to touch my hand. As soon as I opened up the kennel, she immediately climbed up my body, settled into my arms, and lightly dug her claws into my shoulder. She also commenced purring and waiting for the body-rubs.

I held her for a bit and then passed her over to Andy, where she repeated her loving behavior. We talked with the PetSmart employee who told us that she'd been in the shelter for four months. She was brought in by her previous owner, apparently, who complained that they were allergic to cats. She's had all her shots and she was spayed just after she was brought into the shelter. She's loving, a lap cat, and well socialized.

She also didn't want to let go, and I have to admit that we quite melted with her in our arms. And it bothered us that she'd been sitting in the shelter for four months and not been adopted-- why not? And how much longer would she have?

We didn't walk into PetSmart to get another cat. We are still very wounded from Willie's death and no other cat will ever replace what Willie was. But this cat was so loving and in need and ready to go home. And we've been increasingly worried about Tiger's social/emotional health when we start having to work holiday hours at our second jobs. He needed a companion. We needed another companion as well.

So even though it felt a little like betrayal and didn't come without worries, it also felt a lot like the right thing to do. We brought the grey-and-white lady home with us. Her attached name was Sassy, but she hasn't been responding to that. We re-christened her "Kaylee" after that adorable engine mechanic in Firefly: after all, both Kaylee's are laid back, have expressive and happy faces, are unapologetic about what they want, and like enclosed places.

Kaylee, meet Livejournal. Livejournal, Kaylee of the Maneki Neko Smile.
(She totally has a Maneki Neko face when she closes her eyes.)

She initially ignored Tiger Jack and then obviously suffered by him and then hid from him because he just wouldn't let her try to cope with her sudden shift in living space. We shut him away for a little while, though, and she much improved. Now she's actually making overtures to play with him and we feel comfortable with how things are progressing.

P.S. On the last picture I link to, look at the size of Tiger Jack vs. Kaylee. Tiger is only about 8 months now; Kaylee is supposedly over 12 months. Tiger Jack is a big damn cat.
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
I'm making my seniors read a poem each day in class since it's National Poetry Month. We take the first few minutes of class to read the poem, briefly discuss what it's about, and then to express what we think about it or how it makes us feel.

Today's poem was Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Ozymandias." For your edification (and/or enjoyment), find the text of this poem below the cut:

Look upon my works, ye mighty... )

Of course, I had to explain it to them. I don't mean that I simply had to fill them in on the historical context (Ramses II and all that). NO. I had to tell them that, within the text of the poem, you read that the author meets a traveler who tells him about a broken statue of arrogant expression. And that the traveler reads an inscription that proves very ironic, given the shattered statue and the encroaching barren sands.

As I was explaining these basics to them, they interrupted me no less than twice to tell me they didn't understand. I became vexed and spoke over them, quite loudly, and somewhat caustically. All this before I even got to the historical aspects.

I weep for the future of America.

Meanwhile, in my Film Studies class, we've been watching Casablanca. At least 1.5 students actually got into it. I was so pleased and I didn't mind at all having to stop the movie multiple times to explain quips, plot points, or context to them. They were interested and wanted to understand. That was so refreshing.

Casablanca is one of my favorite movies of all time. It comes from an era when movie-makers didn't assume their audiences were stupid or possessed of 2-minute attention spans. I love the clever wordplay, the characters, and... yeah, it's just awesome.

I am clearly too tired, yet I said I would finish watching Van Wilder with my brothers. Obviously this is a far cry from the film I was just describing, but it's still amusing. Ryan Reynolds cracks me up.

P.S. For an awesome post on the myth of the medieval knight, please see this post on [ profile] sirandrew's journal!
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
As a reward for bearing with me through the grading period (more as a salve to myself, perhaps), this week is movie week for both my 10th graders and 11th graders. Usually, I show them the film adaptation of the book we've just read and allow them to write a film review for extra credit.

However, the book we just finished reading this 8 Weeks were Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (10th graders) and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (11th graders). While there are film adaptations for both, neither seemed to be available at the local Blockbuster (and I never plan far enough ahead on these things to use Netflix). This meant thinking up alternative movies.

For World Literature (10th), I finally decided on giving them a film adaptation of a Dumas novel. I had wanted to make them read one of his novels in class, but we just don't have enough time in the year. Why not expose them to his work through film, at least? Because I knew it's definitely tame, The Three Musketeers with Oliver Platt, Keifer Sutherland, et al was my first choice. I hoped I could fall back on The Count of Monte Cristo if that proved unavailable (but I couldn't clearly remember whether the latter movie contained anything objectionable).

Amazingly enough (to me), the Blockbuster DID NOT have The Three Musketeers! WTF? I seemed to recall that being a popular film. How can they not have it? They also didn't have The Count of Monte Cristo, which was an even bigger WTF for me.

Besides my problem finding anything for the sophomores to watch, I had no idea what to show the juniors. Then I turned around and saw it on the shelf: Dead Poet's Society. A classic! I had to watch it in highschool, I seem to recall. Why not?!

However, since I couldn't get both movies there, I took myself off to Best Buy in hopes of procuring both movies I needed cheaply. They also did not have The Three Musketeers. Or Smoke Signals, which I thought of as an alternative to Dead Poet's Society for my 11th graders. I did manage to find Dead Poet's Society and The Count of Monte Cristo, though.

As I was checking out, I had the following exchange with the female cashier:

FC, scanning the Dead Poet's Society DVD: Hey, I had to watch this for English last year. It was good.
Me, glancing at [ profile] sirandrew and laughing silently since that's what I'm buying it for; after a moment, I ask: What grade were you in last year?
FC: I was a junior. I'm a senior this year. Still in highschool, I'm afraid.
Me, laughing: I'm actually an English teacher and buying this to show my 11th grade class.

A few other random chat things and then she says:

FC: I'm a LAMPer.
Me: Really?! I'm an alumnus of LAMP.
FC: Yeah, last year Mrs. Frucci made us watch that movie...
Me: It was Mrs. Frucci that had me watch it as well!

I closed the conversation by asking her to tell Mrs. Frucci that I said hello. Andy pointed out that this is a sign that I'm showing the right movie and, by cosmic association, doing well as an English teacher. I mused that if I could touch any one student the way that Mrs. Frucci touched me in high school, I would consider myself accomplished. So I'll take this as a sign that I'm going down the right path as well.
talkstowolves: We love stories that subvert the expected. Icon inspired by In the Night Garden, Valente. (not that kind of story)
I saw Pan's Labyrinth today at the Rave. Ten minutes after the movie was due to have started, I had to get up and tell the staff that we wanted the movie and were tired of listening to Judy Garland and Olivia Newton John. The staff were indifferent at best and desultory at worst. The pimply-faced mouth breather who apparently went to fix the problem didn't even acknowledge my complaint before turning from me. I really need to write a letter to the company as I have literally had to complain about some careless mistake every time I've gone to the theatre since I've been back in the country.

But! That is not the subject of this post, oh no. We wish to speak of Guillermo del Toro and the magic he has wrought in El Laberinto del Fauno.

"Long ago in the Underground Realm, where there are no lies or pain..."

This movie was the best example of a fairy tale that I've seen in a long time. This was a tale of the Wood, and a house in the Wood. There was blood and terror and being true to yourself no matter the cost (and there were grave costs). There were unlikely friends, both fair of face and foul, who offered what help they could when those who should care were either dead or monstrous. There was a labyrinth inside a labyrinth and golden keys brought forth from filth only took you so far before actual blood was required.

The score was brilliant as well: darkly melodic and haunting, just like the movie. The orchestral arrangements engrossed me, completing the spellbinding effect of the visuals and the storyline. I may well have to purchase the soundtrack with some of this birthday money...

The fantastic elements really only take up a small amount of the movie, however. The rest of the narrative depicts the Spanish Civil War, a struggle that took place concurrent with World War II. The story of Ofelia and her labyrinth unfold against the struggle between the Fascist government and the Communist rebels.

Even though this struggle is shown in a most real and brutal fashion, replete with guerilla warfare, prisoner torture, and rebel intrigue (not to mention machismo machinations and military politicking), I feel that I must point out the fairy tale elements interwoven with this real world story. The profession of Ofelia's father, the way in which the Captain married her mother, and other such elements of the narrative were riddled with fairy tale tropes.

I'll definitely be seeing this movie again at the Capri come the end of the month. I actually won't have to complain to the staff and can just focus on once more enjoying the richness of this film.

Oh, also, Andy complained about the English translation of the film's title, pointing out that it should be The Labyrinth of the Faun rather than Pan's Labyrinth. I agree, but also realize that Pan's Labyrinth gives the movie a certain edge in attracting public attention: it sounds dark, fascinating, and haunting. Besides, Pan is one of the few named fauns around. His name gets a lot of mileage. Mr. Tumnus' Labyrinth just wouldn't have flown, y'know? (And I'll just end this post here, refraining from entering a discussion how fauns are a Roman-derived belief, but Pan was originally Greek and possibly more related to satyrs-- themselves originally different to fauns. Er, yes, done.)

March 2017

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