Thursday, November 29, 2012

Trailer Park Thursday

I'm going to not comment on each one this week! But I will say this: the first two I don't care if I ever see. The next 8 look great (some incredible) and I can't wait to see them.  One even got me a little choked up. Can you guess which one?

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Walking Dead - recappy

“When the Dead Came Knocking”
Merle starts off the episode trying to intimidate, er, interrogate Glenn who is unflappable.  He will not be flapped.  Not by walkers and certainly not by Merle.  Glenn refuses to offer up any information, especially Daryl’s location.  Merle even brings up Maggie and makes it all kinds of icky but Glenn stays strong.  He even gets in a good head-butt.  We get to see Maggie’s reaction to all this because she can totally hear everything that Merle does to Glenn through the aluminum wall.  Merle’s really pissing me off at this point.

Rick is at the gate and before he says anything (or Michonne says anything to him) she has to fend off the walkers surrounding her.  She had been fine since she was covered in walker goo but she’s got a fresh wound and apparently the stench of fresh blood is enough for them to realize she’s not one of them.  She whips out the katana and gets a few but then passes out.  Thankfully Carl is there to save her!  Ok, Rick’s there too.  They carry her in but not all the way in to C-block.  They need answers before they can trust her.  Like why she has a shopping basket full of formula.  Rick asks who she is but, as expected, she throws them a little attitude and stays quiet.  Daryl calls him away to spring the Carol surprise on him.  She greets him warmly, gets sight of the baby and knows from Rick’s reaction that Lori didn’t make it.  Crying begins (not me this time!) all around as Michonne watches the reunion from just outside the block.

Milty the science guy tells the Governor that “Mr. Coleman [is] ready.”  Whoever that is.  This reminds the Governor that he wants Andrea’s help with something.  Hmmm.  But before we get to that…

Michonne is up and (sort of) talking.  She tells Rick, Daryl and Hershel that Glaggie were taken by a man but doesn’t mention his name.  Damn.  I guess they’re saving that for a bigger reveal later.  She tells them about Woodbury, its defenses and potential weaknesses.  She seems sure they can sneak in there.  Michonne also describes Woodbury’s leader, the Governor, as a charming Jim Jones type.  Nice.
Merle really beats the crap out of Glenn who is still not giving up the information Merle seeks.  Glenn tries to talk up their numbers in an attempt to make Merle nervous but it doesn’t work when Glenn includes Andrea in the list.  Aaaannnd now Merle knows he’s lying.  Doh!

Hershel is stitching up Michonne while an armed Carl watches.  Most of the group decides to go after Glaggie in their incredibly clean Hyundai SUV.  Rick takes Carl aside before they leave and puts Carl in charge with the directive to lock themselves into cells if anything happens.  Before Rick leaves, Carl mentions the baby’s Daryl-given nickname.  Carl thinks it’s time to give her a real name and goes with his 3rd grade teacher’s first name…Judith.  Ooooohkay. 

In wacko Woodbury, the Governor brings Andrea to meet Mr. Coleman who is being fed soup by Milty.  I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine had to feed navy bean soup to that old guy but that’s neither here nor there really.  Just how my brain works.  Apparently Mr. Coleman is doing them a great service and I can’t wait to hear what that is but they’re taking their sweet time disclosing it.  Milty asks Andrea to cue up the first song on the record that’s playing on his mark, which occurs after he makes a chime-y noise on a metal Tibetan prayer bowl thingy (Thanks, Ukie!).  Milty then read a list of things he knew to be true about Mr. Coleman who was supposed to give a hand signal when he agreed with the statement.  Now they just have to wait.  Wait for what? Well they’re not telling us yet.

In order to speed things along with Glenn, Merle decided to bring in a walker on a leash and lets him loose on a bound-to-a-chair Glenn.  That’s hardly fair.  It matters not because Glenn, my possibly new favorite on the show (sorry, Daryl) fights him off and gets out of the chair in the process.  My hero!

Milty the science guy FINALLY fills Andrea in on the deal.  Mr. Coleman is going to die (terminal cancer) and when he reanimates, they’ll restrain him and ask the same questions to see if they get the desired response.  Andrea is appropriately skeptical, especially when she learns that Milty’s never been around a reanimated corpse.  Meanwhile, Merle and some other dude catch the Governor up on their progress with badass Glenn.  The Governor elects to be the one to interrogate Maggie.  He cuts her restraints and is pretty genial with her and even offers to drive her back to her group.  She’s not budging, which is admirable until… The Governor then commands her to stand up and take off her top.  Ew.  He tells her that if she doesn’t, he’ll bring her Glenn’s hand.  She does and then has to do the bra too.  EW!!!  Then the Governor stands up himself and removes his belt.  EWWWW!!!  I HATE THIS GUY!!!  Poor Maggie.  He gently strokes and sniffs her hair then slams her head down on the table.  She tells him to do whatever he’s gonna do and then he can go to hell.  My heart just breaks for her.  This scene is the absolute worst, most upsetting thing I have seen on this show.  Ever.  Then he walks away. 

Rick and the gang stop the car a mile or so from the town and hike the rest of the way.  He takes this time to thank Daryl for what he did while Rick was having his psychotic break.  They are soon surrounded by walkers and run into a stinky cabin, which is quickly surrounded by a large hoard.  This was not a good idea.  They even find a guy hiding in there who freaks out and tries to kick them out of his cabin.  Rick tries to calm him down but when the guy makes a run for the front door, Michonne kills him.  Daryl peeks outside and fights Glenn for my favorite with the line, “Remember the Alamo?”  Heh.  They sacrifice the dead dude to the hoard and are able to escape out the back door.  That was convenient.  Oh and we get a nice close up of the buffet the guy’s guts had become. 

Andrea and Milty the science guy are waiting for Mr. Coleman to wake up again and he does.  Milty does the Tibetan prayer bowl thing again and tries asking the questions but since Mr. Coleman is restrained he can’t signal with his hand as he had been doing before death.  Milty loosens the restraints and luckily Andrea was ready with a knife because, as she predicted, he lunges for Milty.  It’s at this point when I suspect Milty has soiled shorts.  Over in the interrogation wing, they’ve brought a half-naked Maggie in to see Glenn.  Glenn is threatened and Maggie spills.  The Governor then ups the creepy by consoling her.  The Governor and the other two are talking and are shocked at the fact that the group of 10 were able to clear the prison, which is something Merle said couldn’t be done.  Now the Governor is questioning Merle’s loyalties.  Rick and his gang have arrived outside the wall to Woodbury and the Governor has just ordered a group to go check out the prison.  Worlds are colliding, people!  Andrea is back home now and is visited by a nervous looking Governor.  She tells him it didn’t work with Mr. Coleman and he consoles her.  Had he not been so downright creepy with Maggie, I would have said there might be hope for the Governor.  But no.  He is just one creepy dude.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Does it stand the test of time? The Henson double feature

As mentioned in my last post, I have a plan of revisiting beloved movies of my childhood.  I started out quite strong and am keeping my hopes up that it stays that way.  Maybe I was cheating by starting with the Jim Henson films Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.  They are beloved by many so could there be much question about whether they'd hold up?  I guess my question is, after 20+ years of not seeing them, would I still love both movies as much as I did when I was a kid?  The answer?  Mostly.

It would be impossible to love Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal as much as I did when I was a child.  I've changed and developed mentally and emotionally so I'm not the person I was when I was 10.  Plus the movie industry has changed and developed in relation effects and such. And since I've been viewing this change myself, I can't help but notice the limitations of 80s movie making.  That said, I'm still REALLY impressed with the skill of the puppeteering and what they could do with the effects they had at the time.  For example, there's a scene in Labyrinth where Jennifer Connelly's character, Sarah, is surrounded by dancing Firey (uh, what is the plural of Firey?).  There was no blue screen at the time so the puppeteers were dressed in black and the computer folks did their best to erase them from the scene.  At the time I'm sure my 10-year old self never noticed.  My current self did and noticed how well they did with what they had. 

So here are a few observations about each film:

How did I forget that Bowie sang in the film?  He really is fabulous and impressed me with his acting.  The Goblin King's hair and outfit could have overshadowed most actors but not Bowie.  No, the man truly rocked.  Ok, the music was a bit cheesy but again, it was the 80s and we're talking about, essentially, a muppet movie.  Cheese is to be expected.  I got excited when I saw Terry Jones's name (he of Monty Python fame) attached as the writer but then IMDB stomped that out by saying most of what he wrote didn't make it onto the screen.

Jennifer Connelly (who is impossibly better looking now) started out a bit overly dramatic but then what teenager isn't?  Overall though I was impressed with her performance when surrounded by puppets.  I think most 14 year olds would have gotten a kick out of that kind of experience.

There is tons to like about the movie.  For one, is the presence of the typical Henson/Muppet type humor and silliness but this time with British accents, which elevates it ever so slightly.  I think there were a lot of Neverending Story elements too like similar characters (Ludo and the Rockbiter) and a character on a quest who picks up friends along the way (though you could then just say they were stealing from Wizard of Oz).

Verdict: Totally holds up

I think I like The Dark Crystal more than Labyrinth.  I'm not sure how I would have felt when I was a kid but as an adult, I really appreciate TDC even more.  It's darker and much more serious than Labyrinth.  The bad guys are really bad plus there's tons of destruction and creepy bugs.

The puppeteering totally holds up and at times can be quite impressive.  There are no human characters in the film and there's no loss there.  The story is great and everything about it just works.  I'm at a loss as to what else I can say.  It had been sooooo long since I'd seen it but it didn't matter.   It really is a special movie and I can see why it's so beloved.  I think kids now, jaded as they may be, would enjoy it too.
Kira and Jen

Fizzgig.  I WANT ONE!!!
Verdict: Most definitely holds up

Monday, November 19, 2012

The 80s are Making a Comeback! Sort of...

I don't know about you but it's easy for me to get a little nostalgic this time of the year. For my family, the holidays mean getting out all our favorite Christmas movies from the years gone by: A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Scrooged, The Ref and so many more.  These movies have held up as true classics over the years.  Not a lot of movies, especially ones from the 80s, have held up so well.

So my question is, do the movies we loved as kids hold up over time?  How does, ugh, 20+ years treat a film that we put on a pedestal?  Does Top Gun hold up?  Nope. Sorry.  The Princess Bride? Yes.  Hell yes.  With much trepidation I decided to revisit a few movies from my past.  And to be honest, I chose these because I own most of them on DVD (two still on VHS) but haven't watched them in a very long time.

So here's what I'm going to watch over the next few days:
The Last Starfighter
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Henson Double Feature: Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal
RomCom Double Feature*: Mystic Pizza and Can't Buy Me Love

I'm more than a little nervous to re-watch movies that have meant so much to me.  Could a movie that I loved as a child be changed forever as an adult?  It didn't happen with Ladyhawke so it doesn't have to happen.  Ladyhawke suffers from a ton a problems (the soundtrack and Broderick's accent are just two) but the story and movie as a whole still held up years later. I'm confident that most of that list are going to hold up.  I would be less confident to watch Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.  I need that to stay perfect in my memory and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't stay that way.

I should probably explain my mention of Top Gun.  It was the first time I was disheartened by a movie that I loved.  Don't get me wrong, it's still a classic but seeing it as an adult changed it forever for me.  I saw the flaws I never saw as a child.  The dialogue is cheesy and the homoerotic undertones were less undertone-y.  I watched it with a friend who had, surprisingly, never seen it before.  Towards the end of the screening it my friend was stunned that such a cheesy movie could be so loved by so many.  I was saddened and felt like, as a kid, I had been duped.  The action is still incredible and no one can compare to Anthony Edwards but I don't know if I could ever really sit through it again.  On the flip side, there are movies that I think I knew were bad when I was a kid but I still love them now.  Flash Gordon is one of those.  It's awful but I always knew it was awful.  If it's ever on TV, I will watch it.  No question about it.

So I'm off on my quest to rediscover movies from my childhood.  What are the movies you still love but maybe are a little scared to watch now because it might change for you?

*Added so I wasn't only watching sci fi movies (apparently I haven't changed much since I was a kid).

The Twilight Saaaahhhhgaaaahhhh: Breaking Dawn pt. 2 - the quickie review

Honestly I was hoping Tracy would have had the chance to see the final installment of the Twilight franchise this weekend because she's so skilled with the subtleties and nuances of a Twilight film.  Ha!  Nuances of a Twilight film.  I crack myself up.  Anywhoodle, this will serve as a quickie review until she sees it and is able to discuss the film as only she can.

It's confession time, y'all!  I didn't hate it!  I know!  I actually really liked it and, yes, as far as the Twilight films go, this was probably the best one.  Granted that's a relative statement in that we are discussing Twilight films but it wasn't terrible.  It still has all the same problems as its predecessors (bad acting from a mostly wooden cast, weak story, etc., etc.) but there was something different about this one.  Maybe it's because it is the last one so I was feeling kinder and a bit more nostalgic.  Maybe it was actually a better film.  Who knows?  Who cares?  It was fun.

There were a few problems beyond the expected and one specific one comes to mind.  They make a point of introducing us to Alistair, friend to Carlisle Cullen.  Alistair takes off in the book but it's explained.  However, in the movie the character is featured and then gone with no explanation.  Unless I fell asleep and missed it.  Did I miss that part?  Missing characters can be blamed on the director and the editor. So them I say, "Boo!"

Other than that and a couple of other truly inconsequential things, I really did get a kick out of the movie.  This was by far the worst of the four books but they were able to turn it into something I didn't hate.  I still hurl a bit at some of the stuff series author Stephenie Meyer came up with but they did their best with the movie. 

You may have heard there is a twist in the film.  I was able to forget to look for the twist and then was totally surprised when it happened.  It made sense and ended up being fun (after the twist itself was revealed to us). So yeah, it's still a crappy Twilight movie but I will always love these movies and this was the perfect send-off.

The Walking Dead - recapa-ding-dong


Instead of opening on that phone call Rick received in the boiler room, because that’s what we all wanted, the show opens on Merle in the woods with some of the expendables from Woodbury.  They’re tracking Michonne thereby confirming her theory that no one ever actually leaves that place.  They find a pile of walker bodies and realize Michonne has left them a neat little message to “GO Back.”  She actually shaped two walkers into a "G" and "O" and if I were at home watching I would have taken my own screencap. Anyway, Merle coins it a “bitergram” and that’s pretty dang funny.  One of Merle’s group is being a bit wussy about tracking Michonne so Merle gives him a pep talk only he can (the dude must have felt a little threatened after).  Merle then taunts Michonne who comes flying out of the trees and kills two of the dudes leaving Wussy wounded and Merle pissed off that all he did was wing her.

The woman on the phone with Rick won’t say where she is “for safety reasons” but disclose that “it’s away…from them.”  Rick pleads and pleads for her and her group to take them in.  She promises to call him back in two hours and hangs up.  Meanwhile the folks in C-block are hanging out when Rick makes an appearance, gets an update on the goings on and takes off again.  He is expecting a call, afterall.

Back in the woods with Merle (there’s a reality show there, somewhere), he’s expressing his desire to get back to Woodbury because the ruckus with Michonne would have drawn attention from local walkers.  Speaking of Woodbury, the Governor and Andrea are talking and she’s still upset about ‘biter arena.’  However, she’s not sooo upset that she can’t help out around town.  Specifically she’d like to get up on the wall to keep her shooting skills sharp.  The Governor is amenable and promises to get her trained up with a bow and arrow.

Rick gets that second call but this time it’s a man who asks him lots of personal questions like how many people Rick has killed.  He wants details too and this is when I make up my mind about what’s really going on with these calls.  He wants Rick to not only re-visit his kills but how his wife died, the latter Rick refuses so the guy hangs up.  Rick’s suspicious, though, because he never mentioned his wife dying to the woman on the phone.

Andrea is on the wall with a girl who is going to train her to shoot with a bow.  If they mentioned this chick’s name I missed it so we’re going to call her Katniss.  A walker shambles up to the wall so Katniss aims and…misses.  Twice.  Geeze, Andrea, don’t let her train you.  Andrea decides to jump the wall and take care of the guy up close and personal.  This pisses Katniss off and she whines about how they’re not supposed to go over the wall.  The part she doesn’t voice but that was an understood was how she’s going to tell the Governor on Andrea.  I suspect Andrea will escape with a slap on the wrist because my guess is that Katniss doesn’t share special Scotch time with Governor Phil. 

Apparently Rick is living in the boiler room now so Hershel decides to visit him in his new digs.  They chat and Hershel tries to get Rick to forgive himself.  Instead Rick tells him about the phone call.  Hershel does what we all would have done and picks up the receiver.  We can’t hear if there’s a dial tone but it’s not needed is it?  Don’t we all suspect the same thing at this point?  Hershel hangs the phone up and offers to stay with Rick in his new place but, of course, Rick refuses.

Merle and Wussy run into Michonne again.  They tussle and end up on the ground when some more walkers shamble up.  Michonne gets one in the gut and is consequently covered in his innerds.  Yum.  She takes off again and the game continues.

Daryl, Carl and Oscar are patrolling the prison and Daryl tells Carl a story from his very happy childhood.  His mom was a smoker and often did it in bed.  She burned herself and the house right down to the ashes.  Carl sees his story and raises with, “I shot my mom.”  I’d say Carl wins that hand of who has/had a worse childhood.  Plus Carl’s got the ace of his childhood happening during the zombie apocalypse.

Andrea visits the Governor for her scolding.  They move past it and she admits that she kind of did enjoy ‘biter arena’ but he already knew that.  He also knows that she kind of likes him a little or at least that he’s growing on her.  Meanwhile, according to Merle, Michonne is headed to the ‘red zone’ so she’s as good as dead so there’s no need to chase after her and actually kill her.  This doesn’t sit well with Wussy who thinks they should tell the Governor the truth.  Silly Wussy, never disagree with Merle…who shoots Wussy for doing so.  Michonne is hurt and covered in walker goo but gets completely ignored by passing walkers who mistake her for one of their own. 

Rick gets another call and it’s a woman.  She tries to get him to talk and uses his name, which he knows he never gave her.  Rick is crazy, y'all!

Michonne happens upon an abandoned town and, wouldn’t you know, Gleggie show up in that very same town! They get out of their vehicle, kiss a bit (AWWW!) and then bust into a store.  I jump when a flock of birds fly out but other than that this has been a jump-free episode.  Michonne watches from a safe distance as they hit the formula jackpot along with some other canned goods.  It seems like it’ll be a relatively painless trip to the store until stupid Merle shows up.  And even though Glenn recognizes him, everyone keeps their guns drawn on each other (totally reminding me of that skit from SNL this past weekend).  Merle only wants to know if his brother is alive, which Glenn confirms for him.  Merle wants to be taken to him but Glenn comes up with a reasonable compromise (Merle to wait there while Glenn sends Daryl back).  Too bad Merle isn’t exactly reasonable.  He gets the upper hand on Maggie and forces Glenn to drive them back to Woodbury, thus setting up a combined storyline.

But before there’s a story merge there’s still more of this week’s show left.  Daryl, Carl and Oscar find a wandering walker with Carol’s knife in his neck (apparently her aim was a bit off).  The phone in the boiler room is ringing again and this time it’s Lori.  Rick’s been talking to ghosts the whole time.  He tells her he loved her and about a deal he had made with himself about keeping Lori (plus Carl and the baby) alive.  He cries but the connection goes wonky and Lori is gone, hopefully leaving him with a bit of closure.  Because if you’re going to have a psychotic break after your son shoots your wife so she doesn’t turn into a zombie after dying from giving birth to your baby, closure is a good thing.

Post-special Scotch time and apparently post-coitus, Andrea and the Governor are in bed.  There’s a knock at the door (apparently the Governor forgot to put a sock on the handle) and it’s Merle.  Natch.  He catches the Governor on his day (it was a big one) including lying about Michonne’s status of being alive.  Too bad Merle doesn’t have her head or katana to prove it.  This will come back to haunt you, Merle.  He does have Gleggie, though and this intrigues the governor.

Rick rejoins the C-block crew and even acknowledges his baby girl.  Awww.  He even holds her in that Lion King kind of way and kisses her head.  Double awww!  We catch up with Daryl who is conflicted about Carol’s knife I guess when he finds her alive and carries her to (relative) safety.  Out in the prison yard, Rick spots something in the distance and hands baby ass-kicker off to Carl.  I chant, “Please be Michonne. Please be Michonne.”  And it’s Michonne.  She’s surrounded by walkers, which stumps Rick a bit and the episode ends.

Friday, November 16, 2012

In order to avoid clawing off my own skin while watching Bug, I theorized about horror movies

Due to a recommendation from Jonathan, and a desire to show solidarity with my fellow Tracys, I streamed Bug last night, a 2006 psychological thriller directed by William Friedkin and based on Tracy Letts's play (he also wrote the screenplay), starring Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon. I watched despite my antipathy for a) bugs; and b) Ashley Judd. This is how strong my loyalty is to Jonathan recommendations and other people named Tracy.

And I loved it. And it was immensely, almost unbearably, difficult to watch. The film traces the co-dependent psychological breakdown of Judd's Agnes and Shannon's Peter within the increasingly claustrophobic and bizarre confines of Agnes's seedy motel room. To say too much about the origin of the hallucinations would be to rob the screenplay of its emotional and dramatic power, but I will share with you their nature: Peter convinces Agnes that the room is infested with near-invisible aphids that hatched from his body, and that the bugs periodically burrow into the both of them to feed on blood. And join me now in a *shudder.* The film is an assault on the senses (I can only imagine what it would be like to see it performed live). The ears are invaded by jangling telephones, chirping smoke alarms, and a buzzing air conditioner vent. The eyes narrow at the harsh blue light of bug zappers reflecting off of tin foil. And the skin, literally, crawls. It's impossible to watch Agnes and Peter clawing at the insects they believe to be swarming on their bodies without scratching in sensory sympathy.

Shannon's performance is a revelation, with which Judd, and Harry Connick Jr. (!) as her abusive ex-con ex-husband do their best to keep up. His character is physically and emotionally, literally and figuratively, ripped open by his paranoia. Watch the film to watch him. But a subsidiary, and wholly solipsistic, element of Bug that temporarily distracted me from my physical and emotional discomfort (in a good way--art should make you uncomfortable) was Agnes's particular brand of victimization.

I watched another low-budget, but imaginatively rich, horror movie a few weeks back, A Horrible Way to Die. Though Die is inferior to Bug in every cinematic category, both horror plots are provoked by a heroine, damaged by an abusive and traumatic past and trying to start her life over again, willfully entering into a relationship with a dangerous man. Both women, Sarah and Agnes, have jobs and female friends, but are desperately lonely and healing from deep and profound personal losses, particularly Agnes, whose son was kidnapped while under her care ten years earlier. It is this emotional isolation that opens the door to Kevin (in Die) and Peter, as surely as more literally isolated heroines opened the door to (non-sparkly) vampires in horror texts past.

During the course of each film, Sarah and Agnes embrace stories, about themselves and their lives, that place them in grave physical danger, because those stories, as unbelievable, or horrifying, or in Agnes's case, psychotic as they may be, are less scary and threatening than the truth of their emotional isolation and loss. To get all metatastic, they write themselves into the horror plot by and through their desire for emotional (and also heteronormatively romantic) connection with a man.

At this point, I'm left with more questions than answers. Is this a new theme in (indie, story-centered) horror (after all, I've only got two examples)? Is the agency demonstrated by these heroines enough to code the trope feminist, or is it a new sort of naturalism, in which unattached women are punished? Are these films commenting on the modernist anxiety of social isolation? Anyone? Anyone?

This Milestone Post is a pretty, ahem, Good Omen for Once More with Geekery!

We've reached the mark of the beast, y'all!

Did we see Eclipse together?

Silly me…Did we see The Twilight Saaaaahhhhgaaaahhhh: Eclipse together?  If we did, I apologize for the remainder of this post.  I’m sure we had a fantastic time but, sadly, I don’t remember it.  These are monumental, epic movies!  How could I forget who I saw them with?

Here’s the thing about getting old, your memory starts to go and it goes quick.  Unless something out of the ordinary happened or the situation/setting was different for me, the memory of most events escapes me.  Oddly, the only Twilight installment I remember vividly is the first one.  It is the only one I remember because I was with two people I love and don’t get to see much of and we were in an odd situation.  To steal from Sophia of The Golden Girls, “Picture it…New York City, November, 2008.”  I was visiting my dear friend Ashlee who was in school at Parsons The New School for Design.  After some time in the city, we hopped on a train and headed west. Our destination…beautiful Berkeley Heights, NJ.  I have family in Berkeley Heights and thought it would be fun to visit with some of my cousins while up north.  We chatted a bit with two of my cousins and then Ashlee, my cousin Carly and I went to see Twilight.  It was Friday night, the air was brisk and the line for the theater was long.  Had I not bought tickets ahead of time (I’m somewhat of a planner) we would have had to bag the whole idea.  You see Twilight was pretty big at the time.  Not big enough that my other cousins knew what it was but big enough that I was determined to see it on my mini-vacation.

There’s a bit of an age difference between Carly and me so we didn’t really grow up together.  However we bonded instantly that night over our love for Twilight.  In fact every time a new sequel in the saaaahhhgaaaahhh comes out I feel like I should be back in New Jersey, standing in line next to Carly. I miss you, girl!

My friend Ashlee knew a bit about the Twilight phenomenon but was not a fan.  Actually she probably would tell you that her only experience with it was watching me tear through two of the books during a mini-vacation we took to Myrtle Beach one summer.  I couldn’t put them down.  Of course that was before I had gotten to Breaking Dawn, which I put down a lot.  Once I even threw it across a room.

So that leaves three other movies and my mind was still mostly blank.  My bestest friend, Dana, assures me that we saw New Moon and Breaking Dawn Part 1 together.  I vaguely remember seeing them with her but only because she was living outside of Raleigh, NC at the time and I made trips up there specifically so we could see them.  Other than that though, I don’t remember much about the situation.  I think I remember us driving into Raleigh for a jewelry class and complaining about all the angst in New Moon.

Eclipse is a blur.  I’m pretty sure I saw it with someone but I have no idea who that someone was.  I’m seeing part 2 of Breaking Dawn alone and it seems odd.  Part of the fun of these movies is seeing it with one of your friend and commiserating about how the rest of your life is completely reasonable and logical, but for some reason you can’t let go of these books or movies.  I will probably be seeing it a second time with two of my friends, Keenan and Ann.  They are two of the funniest women you’ll ever meet so I’m guessing we’ll have a fun time.  Did I ever tell you about the time Keenan and I went to see a Harry Potter movie with 200 5th graders?  See, that’s a situation I remember because it was so out of the ordinary.  But I’ll save that for another time.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chico & Rita: Who knew cartoons could be so sexy and sad and sweet?

Wait, don't tell me. Everybody knows that. But those who know me know that I usually have to be tricked into seeing animated films, so I'm not as familiar as I should be with the complexities of which the genre is capable. But there was something about Chico & Rita that broke through my animation antipathy. And that something was the music. Promise me that any or all of "Besame Mucho" will appear in your movie, and I'm in.

The Spanish film was nominated for Best Animated Feature last year, and I was instantly intrigued by the story, which follows two Cuban musicians as they fall in and out of love during the birth of jazz in the 1940s and 50s. Chico & Rita is beautifully, lovingly, hand drawn--a style of animation that captures the vibrancy, depth, and possibility of Havana, New York, Las Vegas, and Paris during the tumultuous post-war period. Chico and Rita's relationship is shaped by (and shapes, through their contributions to the musical culture) the racial, political, and gendered upheavals that rocked these cities after World War II.

But the story also remains deeply human, and deeply informed by the music that lends Chico & Rita its structure, plot, and atmosphere. Jazz is the conduit for the two main characters' romance--the medium through and by which their love not only expresses itself but also exists. This means that their connection is sensual, harmonious, and aesthetically beautiful. It also means it is mercurial, unpredictable, and improvisational. But above all else--the "else" in this film being, among other things, infidelity, bad timing, missed connections, deportation, revolution, and racism--it is intensely, vibrantly, and unwaveringly passionate.