matociquala: (superhuman)
I really liked Man of Steel.

Mostly.

The non-spoilery version of the "mostly" involves fight scenes that went on 33% too long and two or three moments of Clark Would Never Do That and a certain amount of Plot Stupid.

The spoilery version follows.

I loved, lovedlovedlovedlovedloved the following things:

1) Zod had an actual motive, and it makes sense, and he's tragic and nuanced.
2) Women. Doing things. Being people. Making choices. Martha fucking Kent, along with May Reilly Parker, is the great argument for the centrality of foster-mother figures as the moral arbiters of superhero universes. (Get me drunk and started on Clark vs. Peter sometimes, and how they fill similar roles.)
3) Earth is full of chicks and brown people, almost like we live here or something*.
4) The superhuman fights look amazing. Kryptonian type people move faster than the eye can follow. Then they pause. Sometimes you track them by the explosions.
5) Henry Cavill is beautiful, and he perfectly channels Clark's serenity when the story lets him.

I had issues with some other stuff, though.

Yeah, the point of Clark is that he's everyman, only with superpowers. He's invincible, invulnerable, invisible. He comes and goes like the wind. The conflict of Superman arises from his ethical choices.

So why are we shown adolescent Clark making solid ethical choices, but adult Clark fails that for... a sight gag? I admit, it's a really nice sight gag, but that's not Superman.

Also not Superman:

*kissing your girlfriend while millions of Metropolians are burning to death or being crushed in collapsing buildings
*not attempting to move the Kryptonian fistfight to outer space, but instead blowing up gas stations and IHOPs as collateral damage
*only giving a shit about the people about to die in front of you (or Lois or Martha) and not the faceless hundreds of thousands dying as Metropolis and Nameless Indian Sea Island are taken apart by alien tech.

The body count in this movie makes Kid Miracle[Marvel]man look like an amateur, but it's weirdly elided. We see civilians mowed down like chaff... but there's no emotional resonance to it until the very end. I found this to be a major mistake, and I think Clark's eventual choice would have had more resonance as an act of war if that had been thought through and addressed.

Superman cares when people die. Even strangers. This is what makes him Superman, and a moral ideal.

Clark can hear everybody on the planet screaming as they die. It's the essential tragedy--the interesting conflict--of Superman**. He can save a hell of a lot of people. But he cannot save everyone.

Also, Jonathan Kent only dies because Clark is too stupid to live. You let your dad go after the dog? You n00b. (Also, under an overpass is a bad place to be in a tornado. Suction. Sorry. Lie flat in a field.)



*paraphrased from [livejournal.com profile] scott_lynch
**Other interesting thing: Superman is a mask Clark Kent wears. Bruce Wayne is a mask the Batman wears. Discuss.

no kill i

Jun. 1st, 2013 01:40 am
matociquala: (sf star trek horta/spock)

Well, Star Trek: Into Darkness was a hot mess.

Only a very few spoilers, but: Physics does not work that way, story does not work that way, and fan service really doesn't work that way. Tribbles could have so easily been used effectively, as an actual plot element, and real fan service, instead of as an essentially pointless deus ex machina. (Why was Klingon Detroit not full of tribbles?)

So many missed opportunities, unearned moments that could have been emotional or telling, and Too Stupid To Live. And I'm sorry, but the entire subversive point of The Uberman Exists And He's A Brown Dude is kind of lost when you cast Benedict Cumberbatch, lovely though his voice is.

He can act. I wish they hadn't directed him into Shatnerhood.

I wish they'd just actually used the whole plot of Diane Carey's Dreadnought!, rather than selected aspects of it grafted onto such stupidness that don't make sense.

Oh, and space is bigger than Michigan, and Qo'noS is only 90 seconds away from Earth at Warp 10. Also, if you're having an enormous battle inside the orbit of the Moon, you can count on Starfleet to not even fucking notice, and nevermind what God needs with a starship, who the hell designs one without decompression doors?

On the other hand, the regular cast is fucking amazing. I could watch Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Anton Yeltsin, and Zachary Quinto play their elder counterparts all day. (John Cho. Karl Urban. ***Sigh.***) Chris Pine is a fine actor, and I adored him in Unstoppable, but the characterization of Kirk is so uneven that he's got nothing to work with.

I just want a movie that doesn't make me want to punch the scenarist in a soft and vascular place. Is that too much to ask?


matociquala: (criminal minds prentiss text)
There's love and then there's love and then there's this:



via [livejournal.com profile] kafkonia, it's Mr. Vincent Price and Mr. Peter Lorre! THEY FIGHT CRIME!

And yes, I am totally writing a fanfic in my head where Mr. Prentiss is Emily's estranged dad.
matociquala: (criminal minds bad shirt brigade)
...and i'll go talk to the killer with nothing to lose.

So yeah, those of you who commended unto me Flashpoint as a pallative for my Criminal Minds withdrawal symptoms (potentially fatal, given poor CM's imminent network-induced shark jump), it is indeed rather good. So far I'm six episodes in, and the ratio is two excellent (including the series opener) to four better-than-average. I still only know the names of two of the characters, and I could wish for a little more demographic diversity, but I really am enjoying it for smarts and humaneity.

So, win. Thanks!

This will probably hold me until I get new CM for my birthday. Although, man. Given what CBS is doing to AJ and Paget, I admit I fucking dread season 6.
matociquala: (lion in winter dead)
I watched Curse of the Golden Flower tonight, which was entertaining in a visual spectacle kind of way (wow, the visual spectacle. Like Titanic crossed with The Return of the King) and features Gong Li and ninja fights amidst karst topography (okay, they're Chinese, so they're not really ninja, but you know what I mean) how can you lose?

Also, evil!Chow Yun Fat hair porn. Ninjas, karst topography, Chow Yun Fat hair porn. Who cares what it's about?

Okay, it's a Chinese historical drama. So you know it won't end well. Don't get your hopes up. But hair porn.
matociquala: (writing sf starwars wookiee stet)
Well, I'm six episodes into Castle, and it's not too bad so far. If this is what the general public thinks the writer life is like (see also: NCIS) no wonder they're confused about how much we're making off ebook sales.

It's kind of the House thing--the characters (with the exception of Beckett, who is a terrible stereotype but the actress is doing her best with her, and of Alexis) are so unlikable that I don't actually have to invest in any of them. But since I'm not big on watching other people suffer, it loses the joy-of-schadenfreude aspect for me.

It does confirm my suspicion that what Firefly badly needed was a Wookiee, however, because I find I enjoy the show most during those moments when Beckett is handing Castle his head.

Castle needs to work on his ergo if he's going to have any wrists left in ten years. Also, man, I hope those are the publisher's titles, or I have lost all respect for him, even as a pulp author.

Castle's screen saver, however, has great verisimilitude.

I wish my book launches came with paparazzi.

Actually, you know, maybe I don't.

Checking my log, it's been 9 days since my last day off (and technically speaking, I wrote 500 words after midnight last night), so I think I'm going to take at least the morning off and indulge in more formulaic TV and a lot of tea. Peer pressure may engage me to write later, I imagine.

No running today. I'm tired, and there will be climbing tonight and possibly running tomorrow.
matociquala: (criminal minds garcia glam femme geek)
My review of Robin Hobb's The Dragon Keeper is up at Tor.com
matociquala: (sf star trek horta/spock)
I watched the Star Trek reboot with friends tonight. I didn't see it in the theatre, and I'm s ort of sad about that now because it was very pretty and I imagine it would have been improved by being very big.

...It's really not a very good movie. The plot makes not a lick of sense even by Star Trek standards, and it has about as much internal consistency as a bowl of goulash.

Bits of it were fun (I tweeted while watching it that I now knew that "live long and prosper" is Vulcan for "fuck you.") and the actors in general did a wonderful job playing 1960s TV characters as if they were playing real researched people in a biopic.

It would have been nice if Uhura and Chappel got a moment of glory apiece, as everyone else did. It would have been nice if the movie had a fragment of the generousity of spirit of Roddenberry's original. It would have been nice if the dialogue weren't so awful even Leonard Nimoy couldn't sell it.

But I think from a narrative standpoint, for me, what was most interesting is how much this felt like any other retelling of a cultural legend. It could have been Robin Hood or Sherlock Holmes; this is a story we all know in our bones, because it's integrated into our cultural background noise. We know the characters as archetypes; we know their broad traits and their incantatory phrases. They are mythic beings, and the narrative relies almost completely on that mythic status for its emotional impact and character arcs.

Kirk, Spock, Uhura, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, and Sulu are among the legends now. We're expected to care about these people not because the movie works to make us care, but because we are presumed to already know them. We grew up with them, and now we're listening to stories that are already in our bones. Which is why the payoff is Kirk in the mustard-colored command uniform.

It is peculiar and wonderful to watch that happen to the nerdy space story I loved when I was six.
matociquala: (Default)
1) Abby Franquemont, Respect the Spindle
2) Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius vol. 7
3) Amanda Downum, The Bone Palace (draft)
4) Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor (draft)
5) Carrie Vaughn, Kitty's House of Horrors
6) Gene Wolfe, The Sorcerer's House

One review column down, and 678 words on The Unicorn Evils. Another review column to write after archery.

This is the glamour, boys and girls. I have not stirred from this chair all day. But I did watch last night's Leverage over lunch, and it was okay. Seriously, less boyfriend, more roller derby. (No boyfriend would really be ideal--oh, okay, the Hardison/Parker thing is cute. The Sophie/whossname Timothy Hutton plays thing is just tiresome. Actually, I kind of find Sophie and Nate tiresome in general, but I still really like the other three.)

And now, off to shoot things.
matociquala: (criminal minds reid yes i'm a genius)
Spike Jonze pulled it off, I think. While slow in places, at least for me, Where the Wild Things Are suceeds in turning a creepy, peculiar, complicated  little id vortex of a book into a creepy, peculiar, complicated  little id vortex of a movie.

I have no idea if it will work for a child, other than to scare the pants off her, because I am responding to it so entirely on a professional (if nonverbal) structural and narrative level that I can't even begin to access it simply as a viewer. In any case, for me, it succeeded admirably on many levels, most of them visceral, thematic, and symbolic rather than strictly narrative. It is, for me at least, almost impossible to articulate how those successes work, but I will say that throughout the movie the audience I watched it with gasped, laughed, and--at the end--applauded.

I can also say that throughout it, I kept nodding and thinking this, yes. And the moment that crystallized that most for me is where Max explains to Alexander exactly what it is that is motivating Carol, and in so doing achieves a revelation about himself.

We don't want to want to be scared and lonely, and when we are scared and lonely, it makes us feral and mean. Such a simple thing, and so hard, so very hard, to show, to accept, to explain.

It's macabre and terrifying and I am a little concerned about what became of Richard (!), and my favorite moment (predictably) is the bit in the desert with the dog.

Well done, and I expect I will be nominating it for a Hugo next year.

Spoilers in comments, I do not doubt.
matociquala: (true blood lafayette god save)
The problem with True Blood is not just that it's the characters are offensively dumb, or that the show itself is appalling badly written, or that it's just plain silly--or even that Sookie Stackhouse is the worst telepath ever, and her powers can't stay straight from one episode to another...

It's that it has these moments of utter brilliance (most of them centering on Lafayette* or Terry) and nothing else ever quite measures up to the promise of those brief, shining moments.*

In fact, they only serve to point out to viewer that nothing, ever, anywhere, anywhen, could measure up to this:



Yeah.

Here's that t-shirt in close up, for the full impact of wonderfulness:



Please note, I'm not recommending you watch the show. It's terrible. It's so terrible, in fact, that I am actually convinced that everybody who works on it knows how terrible it is, and they're just resigned to collecting their paychecks for as long as it runs.

It's so terrible that I watch it because it's terrible. Fabtastically, baroquely, OMG I can't believe they just did that with a plain bald face terrible.

...yes, I probably will watch Season 3. But by God, I will not pretend to like it.



*For example, Lafayette's expression after Sookie places that jambalaya order, having been reminded of it by his ranting about the unwisdom of asking what goes in the sausage. Jambalaya, for those of you not familiar with Gulf Coast American cuisine, contains sausage.

*(And then there's all that suffering through Vampire Bill. And did I mention the willful stupidity? Sookie needs to read the Evil Overlord list and apply it to protagging, I tell you what.)



...and now, I will commence several weeks of staring at the walls and playing a lot of Bejeweled while I try to figure out what the hell Grail is about.

Please stand by.
matociquala: (criminal minds morgan hotch government)
I just watched In the Heat of the Night, which I can claim is research (my actor protagonist in Smile would have been of an age with Poitier if he lived that long) and wow, I suspect I haven't seen that movie since it was on television when I was growing up.

Even better than I remembered.

I remembered the flies and the pie, but not the chewing gum. Or Poitier doing the cognitive interview with Sam Officer Wood, though cognitive interviews hadn't been invented yet. I remembered the Competence Porn (man, I love me some Competence Porn.)

...But I know I must have been young when I saw it, because if I had been over the age of puberty, I would also have remembered the Poitier Hand Porn.

...I'll just be over here if anybody wants me. God damn, that man has beautiful hands.

Maybe I saw it at a formative age, and this is how I became obsessed with beautiful hands?
matociquala: (rengeek player king)
Leverage's John Rogers is sane about fanfic:

1.) I think fanfic is the sign of a healthy show. Here's what it boils down to: you're telling me that in today's crowded media space, our show made someone love it so much they take time out of their own life to talk about it? Holy. Crap.
More. (Scroll down.) Or hell, read his whole post. He's funny, and I like his show.

Also, I pretty much agree with him. Fanfic is a sign of love. I mean, I'm not going to read it. But I'm totally cool with it.

And now I have another page or two to write before lunch.
matociquala: (hustle ash hell yes)
Reprinted from an email to [livejournal.com profile] coffeeem and [livejournal.com profile] cristalia, regarding Hustle:

Really, for me, it's the Ash, Albie, Stacey, and Mickey show. I dunno why they feel like they keep having to add audience identification characters to stuff, because the audience never does.

But then, I love
Mission: Impossible, which is so devoid of AI characters it reaches out into neighboring shows and kills them by osmotic pressure.
matociquala: (criminal minds fate)
OMG OMG OMG. 

They did it as a caper movie.

OMG. eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
matociquala: (criminal minds reid 0.o)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?

Does a remarkable job of seeming like a movie with a semblance of a plot, really. And it's full of charming actors. Though it could have been forty minutes shorter and probably gotten away with the Advanced Plot Simulation thing clean.

Also? Never enough McGonnigal, and Luna Lovegood is my new imaginary girlfriend.

Also, I'm sorry, but the creepy subtext where Dumbledore is pimping Harry out to honey trap professors is so not just in my head. "Just take him out,  Harry. Show him a nice time. See what he tells you."

0.o
matociquala: (criminal minds hotch trauma hair)
So here I am watching old Chicago Hope episodes, sort of reveling in the surreality of Jethro Gibbs, Ted Earley, and Aaron Hotchner as a pack of terrifyingly self-absorbed surgeons.

I'm not sure whether it would be more terrifying to wake up in an ED with these guys, or the cast of House, looking down at you. Either way, stuff of nightmares. Stuff of nightmares, man.

(I had forgotten how much I loved the wacky surreality of this show.)
matociquala: (rengeek kit & tilda lucifer/gabriel)
Sunday, for a brief break in the unpacking (on the "leave the house so your break does not consist of finding other tasks to do" theory) I went to see Watchmen with The Jeff.

It was, in fact, quite good, though I think the denouement was seriously overplayed. But hey, that's not unfaithful to the original.

On thing that really struck me, however, was the characterization of the violence. Because there wasn't just one kind of violence in this film (which is, you know, not unexpectedly an extremely violent film) but rather moments of just about everything from extremely comic-booky superheroic combat, to Hong Kong martial arts poetry-of-ultraviolence, to cinema verite, to splatterpunk.

And I thought it was particularly interesting in terms of storytelling choices how that violence was used.

spoilers are going to break another finger )

In other news, the snot fairy is still in residence, which made climbing last night less fun than it might have been. I'm going to try to make it to the gym today, though, as I'm pretty sure I'm no longer contagious, and the body requires exercise.

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