August 10, 2009

Musings on writing and blogging and taking risks

Posted in Blogging, Movies, Musings, Personal at 12:10 pm by The Lizard Queen

I want to blog more—indeed, I want to write more in general.  Part of the problem with doing so, of course, is that it involves… blogging/writing more.  My major problem is feeling like I don’t have anything interesting to say.  Perpetually.  I’m a quiet person to begin with; lately it seems like waiting until I have something I feel is worthwhile to say leads to my saying nothing at all.  The problem, of course, is that little phrase I feel, the inclination to self-censor my thoughts, observations, and creative impulses, because who could possibly find them interesting?  Read the rest of this entry »

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March 18, 2009

The Laramie Project in schools

Posted in Education, GLBT issues, Movies at 2:45 pm by The Lizard Queen

[This began as a comment on Vanessa’s post over on Feministing, but it started to get long-winded enough that I figured I might as well post it on my own blog.]

I think I can see the CYA/”plausible deniability” tactic inherent in the district saying Taylor wasn’t forced to resign “because of homosexuality” — I’ll bet their rationale would/will be that Taylor was forced to resign because of insubordination. According to the USA Today article*, “Taylor says she was let go for complaining to the board member” about the principal’s actions.

Now, mind you, I’m not saying that makes it okay, I’m just saying that’s probably their excuse.

This hits particularly close to home for me given that I showed The Laramie Project to my 100-level (college) English comp students one semester a few years ago. I did get one complaint that I was forcing my politics on the class, but for the most part my students seemed pretty receptive — as did Taylor’s students, from what little is discussed in the USA Today article. It gives me hope that as the younger generations get old enough to vote and get more involved with running for office and whatnot, we’ll be able to progress on the LGBTQ-rights front.

(It also makes me grateful that as a general rule, in theory, one doesn’t have to deal with parents when teaching at the college level. There’s little doubt in my mind that the principal in question had his change of heart because a parent complained, or at least because he feared a parental complaint.)

*On a fairly tangential note, I don’t know what to make of the article’s title, which refers to The Laramie Project as a “gay-themed film.”  It’s about a man who was brutally murdered because he was gay, and how the community responded to his death.  So, I guess “gay-themed” is accurate because the subject matter includes what it’s like to be gay, but it seems overly simplistic, and I think it also speaks to the ghettoization of LGBTQ art, film, and literature (and this is often true of ethnic art, film, and literature as well), because I would argue that the dominant culture has more to learn from this film than your average LGBTQ person does.  But that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, I suppose.

March 5, 2009

Rambling thoughts on Watchmen and movie reviews

Posted in Books, Movies, Musings at 12:14 am by The Lizard Queen

I’ve always thought that the best movie reviews describe both the movie and the reviewer’s reaction to and opinion on it, and those descriptions allow me to get a feel for whether or not I will like the movie.  So, for example, while I might not always agree with Roger Ebert (indeed, I think I’ve disagreed with him more often than I’ve agreed), I’m generally able to figure out from his reviews whether or not I’ll like a movie.  (Of course, he has the advantage of being the movie reviewer I’ve had far and away the most exposure to.)

I ultimately felt like I was able to glean more from Anthony Lane’s review of Watchmen than Evil Bender was, but not by all that much, and not really enough for me to understand the rancor with which Lane approaches the movie and its source material.  And you know, I appreciate a snarky movie review.  Lane gives us the cast of characters and a bit of plot summary, but spends a good chunk of time bringing the hate in a way only The New Yorker can, I suppose (Lane uses the phrase “metaphysical vulgarity” at one point, and it seems like maybe it’s tongue-in-cheek, but still…).  And I can’t help but feel like that comes across as elitist, which of course gets my hackles up.

And really, does it make any sense at all to begin a review by lauding Maus and Persepolis, then end it by wondering why the comics aren’t funny anymore?  (Topics of interest if one is actually interested in exploring a format with literary potential, rather than simply looking down one’s nose at a sort of unworthy outsider art form: graphic novels and the Comics Code Authority.) Read the rest of this entry »

April 6, 2008

96 daughters, but the one son gets all the attention

Posted in Feminism, Movies at 5:34 pm by The Lizard Queen

I like Peter Sagal, and I like what he has to say about the new movie version of Horton Hears A Who (which, for the record, I haven’t seen):

I don’t know what sins Dr. Seuss committed in his life to be doomed to have Jim Carrey star in movie adaptations of his books. But I came out of Horton Hears a Who, with my wife and my three excited and happy daughters, irritated by something even more annoying than Carrey’s tics. In a new subplot added by the filmmakers, the mayor of Whoville has 96 daughters. He has one son. Guess who gets all his attention? Guess who saves the day? Go ahead, think about it, I’ll wait.

No I won’t. What’s so irritating about this casual slap at daughters is the sense that the makers of the film didn’t really mean it. They seemed mostly interested in riffs on pop culture and jokes about violating bodily integrity. But what writers are told, you see, in Hollywood notes meetings, is that every character has to make a journey, towards something he needs and ultimately gets, and what they decided the Mayor of Whoville needs was a better relationship with his son. Here is a father with 96 daughters — 96 amazing, beautiful, unpredictable, mysterious, distinct, glorious human beings — but gosh, what in the world is he going to care about? I know, let’s give him a moody silent uninteresting offspring, but this one’s got a Y chromosome… that’ll be boffo box office!

Read the rest here.

January 19, 2008

Six-word review of Cloverfield

Posted in Movies at 12:11 am by The Lizard Queen

It made me vomit. Twice. Srsly.

An explanation: it was shot either entirely on hand-held cameras or made to look like it was shot entirely on hand-held cameras. (The premise is that it’s a bystander’s video of a night when something attacked NYC.) At dinner before the movie, a friend of ours (T from this post) mentioned that people had been telling others to bring Dramamine to the theater when going to see Cloverfield. I laughed it off. Then we went to the movie. I left once, did my thing, then came back, hoping that taking a little break would help. It didn’t. The second time I went out, I stayed out. And I’m torn between chagrin — I haven’t walked out of a movie since Clifford, and that was by choice! — and being weirdly impressed — I would never have thought a movie could actually make me vomit!

So, my overall recommendation would be that if you have any tendencies toward motion-sickness, either avoid this movie or take some Dramamine (or your motion-sickness prevention of choice — I hear those acupressure wristbands work well) with you. Oy.

Edited to add: if you want a real review of Cloverfield, Phil Plait’s got a wonderfully in-depth one.

November 17, 2007

“This… is… DENMARK!”

Posted in Movies at 1:59 pm by The Lizard Queen

Evil Bender and I went to see Beowulf last night.  I enjoyed the hell out of it, and while part of that no doubt had to do with EB’s and my running commentary (the epitome of which is the title phrase of this post, which EB gets full credit for), I think a good deal of it also had to do with my not really expecting all that much, and approaching the film on its own terms.  I read Neil Gaiman’s blog, and he mentions that this Boston Globe review is his “favourite review so far today — in terms of feeling that it reviews the film [he and Roger Avary] wrote.”  I’m inclined to agree.  It’s certainly ridiculous at parts, but overall I got the impression that it served much the same purpose the epic poem once did: entertainment.  My advice to any interested parties, then, is this: go read the Boston Globe review, and if that sounds like the kind of movie you want to see, I highly recommend you do so.

November 9, 2007

Apparently “inspired by” means “not at all related to,” at least in this case

Posted in Literature, Movies at 12:03 pm by The Lizard Queen

Can somebody tell me what the hell happened to Ridley Scott?

A film inspired by Edgar Allen [sic] Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” produced by Tony and Ridley Scott and starring Josh Lucas, doesn’t sound too bad, right? These guys are all at least marginally talented, and the source material is strong, so this could be one to keep an eye on.

Except, as you’ll soon learn, “inspired by” can often mean “only vaguely resembling in any way.” Such as just using the idea of a heart and a murder…

Inspired by the classic Edgar Allan Poe story “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the contemporized adaptation sees Lucas starring as a single father whose recently transplanted heart leads him on a frantic search to find the donor’s killer before a similar fate befalls him.

More info here, if you haven’t already lost your will to live.  *whimper*

November 8, 2007

The WGA strike

Posted in Activism, Media, Movies, Television at 8:55 am by The Lizard Queen

A handy video [via Shakes] that explains why writers are striking:

And here, Joss Whedon takes the New York Times to task for its unsympathetic coverage of the strike. A sampling:

“The trappings of a union protest…” You see how that works? Since we aren’t real workers, this isn’t a real union issue. (We’re just a guild!) And that’s where all my ‘what is a writer’ rambling becomes important. Because this IS a union issue, one that will affect not just artists but every member of a community that could find itself at the mercy of a machine that absolutely and unhesitatingly would dismantle every union, remove every benefit, turn every worker into a cowed wage-slave in the singular pursuit of profit. (There is a machine. Its program is ‘profit’. This is not a myth.) This is about a fair wage for our work. No different than any other union. The teamsters have recognized the importance of this strike, for which I’m deeply grateful. Hopefully the Times will too.

Finally, regular updates and lots of information are available at the United Hollywood blog — which is where the above video originated. I learned through that blog that the WGA actually conceded the demand for the additional 4 cents (i.e. 0.6% instead of 0.3%) on DVD sales at the eleventh hour, to no avail.

I don’t mind watching reruns (even if this goes on as long or longer than the 1988 strike: 22 weeks — and 22 weeks without The Daily Show during election season would seriously suck) and waiting longer for movies I want to see if it ultimately means writers will get paid more.

October 25, 2007

Thursday YouTubein’ — The Blues Brothers

Posted in Movies, Music at 12:09 pm by The Lizard Queen

Evil Bender and I watched The Blues Brothers the other night, and I commented that it has a lot in common with more recent films based on Saturday Night Live sketches (namely a thin plot that largely exists as a pretext to string together a lot of celebrity cameos and musical numbers) — and EB commented that he hadn’t seen the SNL sketch Blues Brothers was based on.  “Really?” I asked.  “You haven’t seen ‘Soul Man’?”  “Don’t think so,” he replied.  So, then, here it is:

Read the rest of this entry »

October 13, 2007

ELOLzabeth: the Catten Age

Posted in Movies at 6:17 pm by The Lizard Queen

In the spirit of Cleolinda Jones’s Movies in Fifteen Minutes (to which this parody owes much, and to which “choppity” and “hor,” in specific, along with some phrasing here and there (go read the Movies in 15 Minutes!!! They rule, plus then you’ll know what I mean!), are homages), only with pure snark instead of loving snark, I have rewritten Elizabeth: the Golden Age in LOLspeak, aka Kitteh. If you think cat (etc.) macros are funny, then I can pretty much guarantee that this will be better than going to see the actual movie. And even if you don’t find cat macros funny, this might well be more enjoyable to you than going to see the actual movie. If nothing else, it’ll take up much less of your time.

A note: I numbered the scenes pretty much just because I felt like it. There are obviously more than ten scenes in the actual movie. Also, it’s possible I got things slightly out of order. Still, I think I covered the major plot points.

Without further ado, then, I give you ELOLzabeth: the Catten Age. Read the rest of this entry »

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