Tag Archive | movies

Momentary — Independence Day Edition

My mother has been eagerly awaiting the release of Independence Day: Resurgence. And by “eagerly awaiting,” I mean that she started texting me links to the trailer in January.

As soon as last week’s Movie Momentary went up, she started in. “Well, now we have to go see Independence Day.”  And I’m like, “Mom,  you can talk during a movie in the theater.”  And she’s all, “I’ll talk quietly. Or we’ll talk about it after. And you can tax deduct the tickets.”

So we go to the movies.

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First show of the day at Rave Movie Theater at the North East Mall. I didn’t know this when I picked the place, but they have actual recliners for seats. Like, I don’t have chairs this nice in my house. There are also five people in the theater, including us, so the talking thing isn’t such a problem.

Which is a good thing, because seriously, the first big alien ship that shows up, Mom is like, “THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER.”

Me: Mom, don’t be a ham just to get on the blog.

Mom: I’m not. I love this movie.

Me: Nothing has happened yet.

Mom: But there’s Jeff Goldblum and this giant spaceship. LOOK HOW GIANT IT IS.

An aside about my mother’s feelings about Jeff Goldblum: It took me a stupid long time to realize that mom has a “thing.” I only realized why when Goldblum got older. He bears a resemblance to my dad—tall and loose-limbed, dark-haired and dark-eyed, a little rawboned in the face, and usually playing the absentminded genius type. I see it—and now even the thought of Earth Girls Are Easy squicks me out.

Anyway, most of Mom’s comments were along these lines. (She doesn’t get out to see movies on the big screen very often.)

Mom: I can’t believe how good these special effects are!

Me: *viewing the screen askance as people and boats and the pacific ocean are getting sucked up toward the spacecraft because it’s so big it has its own gravity.*  I don’t think that can happen.

Mom: It’s so big it has its own gravity. They said so.

Me: That doesn’t change physics because Jeff Goldblum said it.

Mom: *pout* Why do you have to spoil everything with your stupid “science.” (The airquotes are a direct quote.)

Then Doctor Oaken from the first movie comes out of his coma (spoiler) and acts all crazy because people who had close encounters (ha!) with the aliens 20 years ago have visions and stuff (spoiler).

Mom: That’s Data!

Me: Yeah, Mom. He’s the guy who got the tentacles wrapped around his throat in the first move. The one at Area 51.

Mom: I know that. I mean, I didn’t know that was Data from Star Trek.

Now, just to put this in perspective, Independence Day has, for the last 20 years, played maybe every other month on TV, usually on back to back showings. There’s like four days straight of it around July 4th. And my mother will watch it Every. Single. Time. She also owns it on DVD and iTunes, it’s recorded on the DVR, and frequently on Netflix. So at a conservative estimate, Mom has seen this movie 500 times.  It’s her comfort food of movies, and wallpaper when she’s puttering and alone in the house.

But she’d never noticed that was Data until now.

Me: Are you even embarrassed that you didn’t know this?

Mom: *pause* A little.

So, fighter fights, bombing runs, sundry implausible schemes by Jeff ugh-my-mother’s-crush Goldbloom. Then the Queen Alien gets her ship blown up, and she dons her going out on the town bio-organic armor and stomps over to the bunker. She’s huge. And she’s got these tentacles whipping around, and the ground shakes beneath her as she makes her relentless way to the McGuffin.

Me: “Get away from her, you bitch.”

Mom: What?  Was that from something?

Me: Aliens.

Mom: You’re so weird.

Oak, meet acorn.

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans. In the words of Abraham Lincoln:

3p1ida

 

Momentary: Star Wars VII Edition

Vintage TV WatchingThis weekend, Mom and I watched The Force Awakens. She hadn’t seen it before, which is not unusual because I have to preview most things so I can tell her everything is going to be okay. Sort of like her personal Does The Dog Die. It’s a good system for us. I can reassure her, and I get at least one uninterrupted viewing.

Because Mom usually has a lot to say.

Speaking of SPOILERS (which I will be; this is your warning)…

As the opening crawl appears, I’m debating how much to tell her. This is my job, after all. I figure, I’ll get the basics out of the way, and let the details unfold.

Me: So, you should know, a major character gets killed.

Mom: What??

Me: You know it has to happen. Obi Wan had to die in the first one so Luke could do his Hero’s Journey thing.

lightsaber handoff

Probably Important

Mom: Luke dies??????

Me: No.

Mom: Is it Leia?

Me: No.

Mom: Chewbacca?

Me: No.

Mom: *thinks*  Is it Han?

Me: Yes. *watches warily for reaction*

Mom: Oh, well. He’s gotten really old anyway.

[I would have called that a burn, but it was too cold.]

Finn gets shot at, nearly blasted. Entire planets blow up. Cantina Castle implodes. 

Mom: DON’T LOSE LUKE’S LIGHTSABER.

Me: Jeez, Mom. Priorities.

Mom: If that lady with the glasses kept it in a box all this time, it must be important. Does she die? I really like her. Get on the Internet and find out.

Kylo Ren gets emo while the Darth Vader music plays. Cut to reveal Darth Vader Mask. 

Mom: Wait. So he’s Luke’s son?

Me: No, Mom. He’s Han’s kid.

Mom: How… but how is Vader his grandfather then?

Me: He’s Han and Leia’s kid.

Mom: Really?  Huh. I can’t picture them as good parents.

Me: Apparently they weren’t.

Luke and Kenobi Star Wars

Also could have used a haircut.

Mom: *pause*  He really needs a haircut.

Finn and Kylo Ren fight at the end. 

Mom: Does he (meaning Finn) die?

Me: No.

Mom: Does she (meaning Rey) die?

Me: No.

Mom: Does the bad guy (meaning Kylo Ren)  die?

Me: No.

Mom: *pause* Well, that’s disappointing.

Big awesome fight between Ren and Rey. 

Mom: (re: Kylo Ren and Rey)  They’re brother and sister.

Me: We don’t know yet.

Mom: No, I’m saying, I bet they’re brother and sister.

Me: They won’t do that. They already did that with Luke and Leia.

Mom: I don’t know. They keep rebuilding the Death Star with an access tunnel.

The credits roll.

Mom: Well, I’m glad the Hilter guy died.

Me: He didn’t die, Mom. The Supreme Leader Gollum told him to take a ship and get Kylo Ren and meet him.

Mom: *sigh* What I want to know is why are there so many people who want to be the supreme ruler. Sauron, and Voldemort, and the Emperor, now this guy. Why do all these guys want to be in charge? Where do they come from?

Me: Trump Tower, I think.

Mom: That’s not funny. She notices I’ve been taking notes. You’re not going to Tweet this, are you?

Me: I think I’m going to start a blog thing. I’ll call it a “Mom-entary.” What do you think?

Mom: I think that’s too much pressure on me. Just make me seem funny and nice.

Me: Not a problem. [Note: I didn’t make any of this stuff up.]

Mom: And don’t tell them that I called Han Solo old. I think he’s younger than me.

Me: Actually, I think he’s older.

Mom: Well, that’s a relief.

Be nice in the comments, she may read this to keep me honest.

 

 

Thor vs. the White Whale (Movie Monday: seafaring edition)

I am a total geek for maritime history. I’m a total geek about a lot of things, but my love of all things Tall Ship related goes under the radar because it hasn’t come up in a book yet (which is about to change). There’s actually a long seafaring tradition on both sides of my family–with Dutch pirates privateers and East India Company merchant marines on one side and captains in the Texas Navy and WWII Gulf patrol boats on the other. CH Heart of the sea.jpg

I, on the other hand, get seasick at the IMAX and am sort of afraid of drowning. So much line my love of ballet and swordfighting, my love remains theoretical rather than practical.

Which is all to say that I was really geeked about The Heart of the Sea movie, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth. It’s based on a book about the real life whaling ship Essex, and its bizarre encounter with a monster whale that attacked the ship and sank it like a son of a bitch (link). As the trailer points out, it’s “the true story that inspired Moby Dick.” Which is a terrible tagline, because I know how 99% of my English class felt about reading Moby Dick. They should have tagged it: “Chris Hemsworth fights a giant whale.”

01-heart-sea-lead-image.jpgIf only.  I mean, that happens, and it’s cool. And leading up to that is about 30-40 minutes of topgallants and capstans and fo’c’sles and gales and a whole mess of money shots of badass sailorific seatasticness.

Then the whale sinks the ship, leaving our crew adrift and marooned with no food or water in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which might as well be Mars. Only without Matt Damon to science the shit out of things. So it gets grim.*

And that’s the main flaw of this movie—not that things go to a dark, Donner party place. But that it happens about halfway in, and that’s a lot of movie time to spend with your characters literally adrift. Heart of the Sea Hemsworth.jpg

It’s a “man’s will to survive” story from there, and so the hardest decision they make to survive should be the climax of the movie. In the framing story where the last living crewman of the Essex relates this story, Brendan Gleeson sells this reveal in a fantastic bit of acting, one of those two minutes of a movie where the veteran basically gives a masterclass to rest of the cast. (See also, Peter O’Toole asking Brad Pitt’s Achilles for Hector’s body back in Troy. Also, Michelle Fairley plays Gleeson’s wife, which made my nerd heart so happy.)In-the-Heart-of-the-Sea-Brendan-Gleeson-Ben-Whishaw.jpgWhere was I?  Oh yeah. Basically, once you find out what’s haunting Gleeson’s character, the story should have wrapped up as quickly as possible.

So from a movie-watcher standpoint, the first hour or so was really satisfying to watch. The rest was a bit grueling, but Gleeson gives some payoff there. And I got knitting done.

On the other hand, I thought about the movie for a long time, because there were a lot of great ingredients that should have made a more delicious stew.**  How would I restructure this? Some deeper characterization would have been nice, and if the actual sinking were moved to the Act III break instead of the midpoint, that would allow for that plus more white whale action.***  Then recognize where the story really ends, and bring it home from there.

Or, we could just make a movie of Mad Eye Moody and Catelyn Stark play a married couple running a tumbledown boarding house full of eccentric characters who pay their rent in chickens and gillyweed.

So, this a wait for Netflix one, I’m sad to say. There’s some good stuff here, it’s just kind of out of balance. Everything aboard the Essex delighted and excited. When the story turns dark, it’s simply spread over too much screen time.But Gleeson gives some payoff there. And I got knitting done.

In the meantime, rent Master and Commander. That one has beat to quarters in the first three minutes, takes it’s lull in the middle, then gets all broadsides and boarding party again for the end.

 


*Here’s where I discovered that I have this ability–maybe it’s a talent, maybe it’s just a bad habit–of mentally glossing over the stuff I don’t like about a story, either ignoring it or completely rewriting it in my head. (Like the movie I talked about last week. Something happens to the little dog offscreen, and in my head, I’m like, oh, the dog totally got away, to the point where I convinced myself that actually happened, not just maybe happened if you’re in serious denial. So, sorry about that if anyone was traumatized. But it lead to my discover of the site Doesthedogdie.com. So that’s a plus.)

**This is kind of an unfortunate analogy for this movie.

***This is not a euphemism for anything dirty.

Recent-ish Science Fiction Movies That I Think Didn’t Suck

popcorn-1085072_640It’s just embarrassing how long it sometimes takes me to see a movie, even once it comes out of iTunes. Really Sad, becasue I don’t really have an excuse. Except, I guess for working all the time. (Pinterest and Tumblr are work, right?)

So among all the other things I’m catching up with in 2016 (The Year Where I Get Caught Up on S***) are movies. Maybe you are, too. Or maybe you don’t get that much time to watch movies, and you want an opinion so you don’t waste your limited iTunes budget/Netflix time on something lame. So I offer you this diffinitive guide:

Relatively Recent Science Fiction Movies That Didn’t Suck (in my humble opinion)

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Just getting the obvious one out of the way. I freaking loved this movie. I was the absolute last of my friends to see it, and sometimes after a movie has been out for… oh, lets say a month… some of the bloom comes off of it.  Well, TFA is blooming awesome. I laughed, I cried, I squee’d. I had ALL THE FEELS. Then I had all the thoughts about my feels, then thoughts about storytelling, and this movie is actually probably worth it’s own post, maybe when the Blu-Ray comes out.
  2. The Martian. Another movie that my friends pretty much all liked or loved. I loved it. When I’m at home, I measure the engagement factor of a movie based a lot on how many rows of knitting I get done during the run time. The Martian scored a “1” which is about as good a score as you can get. The plot is that astronaut Mark Watney gets stranded on Mars and then he has to science a way to stay alive until they can figure out a way to rescue him. I was totally engrossed and invested in Watney’s survival. Matt Damon always makes me want his character to be all right (even sociopaths like Tom Ripley).  But with such a strong cast, I felt how invested their characters were in getting Watney home, so I wanted THEM to succeed. So, great actors and Ridley Scott to find the heart in this really sciency story. (I loved it, but I was exausted at the end.)
  3. Time Lapse is on Netflix right now, so it’s free to take a chance on it. The professional reviewers didn’t seem to like it as much as I did, but that’s not unusual. It’s got a very “indie” feel to it (all takes place on limited sets, lots of silences and slow, minimalist piano music), but that’s what I liked about it. The premise (Three friends discover a camera that takes pictures 24 hours into the future) isn’t totally original, but I liked watching how the paradoxes and inevitabilities played out. It’s a good Netflix movie—I was glad I watched it, because I wouldn’t have payed movie theater prices to see it. (Plus I got more knitting done in this one).

I also enjoyed the heck out of Jurassic World, but I couldn’t think of a fifth movie, and the lists look weird when they stop on four, like you’re not decisive enough to pick three, but you lack commitment to go to five.

So help me out. What should I download next in my quest to catch up with 2015?

All. The. Feels. — IF I STAY on Movie Monday

IF I STAY has been on my list to watch ever since it came out on video (it’s on Netflix right now) but I knew that was going to need the right mood and moment. Though I have not (to my shame) read the extremely well reviewed book by Gayle Foreman, I knew what I was getting into. (This is not a spoiler—Mia’s family was in a car crash, and she is in a coma deciding whether to stay or go. She relives the past that got her where she is, and watches the present as those she love gather around her.)

(source)

“Heartstrings” courtesy of Sean Molin on Flickr under Creative Commons license (source)

I knew I couldn’t watch this in a movie theater. I knew I couldn’t watch it when my Mom was around, or right before bed, or in the middle of the day when I’d have to go be productive after. But last night, I had the house to myself, the evening off, and a blog I needed to revive.

I expected to need Kleenex (see description above). I did not expect to completely lose my shit. I’m not just talking sobbing. I’m talking gasping, shaking, and the occasional un-stifle-able keening cry. If I hadn’t been alone, it would have been mortifying.

Before you say, “God, that sounds awful,” I should explain that it was emotional, and beautiful, and ultimately hopeful and up-lifting. But for me, it cracked open that shell I keep around the loss of my brother and father, and that that grief, love, and loss came pouring out as if I were there again in the hospital. It’s not just the loss, it was everything–the vigil at the hospital, the disbelief, the anger, and finally that moment when you have to say to the person you love, “It’s okay to go.”

Which is what this story is really about–staying or going. Keeping to the course you’re on, or taking a new direction. It’s a theme that happens over and over, by characters in the past and the present, in little decisions and big ones. It’s beautiful, and it’s elementally Young Adult in nature. It’s about change.

The thing I loved most (and what spoke to me most, as someone who has so much anxiety about change) was the idea that there are no right or wrong choices. There’s only option A or option B; both can be happy, and both will have a measure of pain.  I read and write mostly genre fiction, where there’s a strong element of fate, and destiny, and pulling the sword from the stone, and what not. So this idea that both options can be satisfying in a different way is what made this such a realistic story.

I like moves that give me lots of thinky thoughts, and IF I STAY. I really do recommend it. Not everyone will find it so painful, I just have certain triggers.  I thought several times about stopping the movie, but I had to watch to the end. My objective brain wanted to see how the creators ended the story. My subjective brain knew that Mia’s decision didn’t matter–she wins either way, and she loses something either way.

A post about women science fiction writers… eventually.

Mary Shelley, arguably the first Science Fiction Writer. (This is relevant to this post.)

Mary Shelley, arguably the first Science Fiction Writer. (This is relevant to this post.)

I love when the premium channels like HBO and Showtime run free preview weekends, because it reassures me that I’m not missing much not subscribing to them. Even if it does mean I have to wait until the DVDs come out to catch up on Game of Thrones. Or read the series of books full of spoilers that bearded guy is writing. Whatever—

Cue record scratch thought derailment sound effect. That (above) was the start of  a Movie Monday post, because my mother has started reading blogs, which is a blog post in itself, and she has been nagging encouraging me to blog more often. It goes like this: “That other blog has a theme for every day of the week. Why don’t you do that? You’re so smart and funny, you should write that in your blog. You would have a lot more followers if you posted more often. This guy has way more followers than you, and he’s a monk.” (I am not even making that up.)

So I sit down to write a Movie Monday post. I’ll write about Ender’s Game, which I watched during the HBO free preview this weekend. Only I went looking for that faux article about George RR Martin writing spoilers for the GOT TV show, and then I found the picture below.

DirewolfandUnicorn

Photo taken (and tweeted) by the amazing artist/photographer Sarah Allegra (@sallegra). It is only tangentially related to this post.

Here follows my exact thought process from that moment until this:

1. Aw, that’s cute! GRRM has a little stuffed dire wolf.  Oh hey, that other guy has a little stuffed unicorn. Oh HEY, that’s Peter S. Beagle author of The Last Unicorn which is an amazing book (and an animated movie, so I guess this is still Movie Monday.) OMG The animals from their books are totally kissing noses! That’s so adorable!

2. Why is that funny? Two venerable old guys being dorks with toys from their books. That sort of makes them cooler. Authors! They’re just like us! Then I’m like, oh yeah, Ender’s Game.

3. Ender’s Game is kind of a venerable book itself, a military science fiction novel that explores the psychology of war and society, pretty much just like Starship Troopers (the novel) did, which also had giant bug-like aliens. I wonder why that is? Is it because the insectoid shape makes them seem true alien and icky, where a more mammalian thing might look like you could have it for a pet?

4. But Starship Troopers (the movie) was more action-y. It also had a lot more decapitations and impalements and also some brain sucking, if you like that sort of thing. Much more than the book.

5. This whole blog has become about venerable white guys who write science fiction and fantasy.  That’s just not right. I need to talk about some women science fiction writers.

6. Which women science fiction writers should I recommend? There’s Anne McCaffrey and Madeline L’Engle of course. Ursula L’Guin and Connie Willis. Would my blog readers be interested in them? I should go look up who are recent women science fiction writers (other than Suzanne Collins).

Literally the first line of A Wrinkle in Time. (This is the book that made me want to write books.)

Literally the first line of A Wrinkle in Time. (This is the book that made me want to write books.)

7. This first Google hit is a list of science fiction FOR girls, which is not the same thing, especially since half these books are by men.

8. THIS list starts with The Handmaiden’s Tale?  Ugh.  Well, there’s Willis and L’Guin. Oh yeah! Octavia Butler. A woman AND an African American. Yes, there’s Andre Norton, C.J. Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold. Also Elizabeth Moon. Well, there’s Kristine Kathryn Rusch, those are a little less dusty, more space opera-y. Tanya Huff!  I love her books.

9. These are great books, but kind of… old fashioned. Well, not all of them. I should still recommend them. They’re awesome, and my readers aren’t intimidated by big books.

10. But, still, I should look at YA science fiction and find some contemporary things to talk about, too. Oh, here’s Kirkus’s list of the Best Teen SFF books of 2013. Excellent!

11. Wow, these sound really good. I should put this on my Goodreads list so I remember them.

12. And maybe read a sample chapter…

13: Or two.

14. THREE HOURS LATER, I still haven’t written anything about Ender’s Game.

15. And it’s not even Monday any more.

Frozen Things

So. I finally saw Frozen. Now I know what all the fuss was about. My God, what a great movie. It had all the things. Elsa is so badass (this is my favorite word lately) and she just broke my heart, and then there was that song. So many feels. It was pretty much the exact same song as from Wicked, but I liked Frozen about a million times better, so that makes me happy. But I just fell in love with Anna.  I fell in love with both of them. I don’t know. It was just awesome to have a movie with two multifaceted female leads, and even though there was romance, it was turned on its head a little bit, and… I don’t know. I want to write books that are like that movie.

Frozen sisters

We are awesome.

 

Wait. I do, kind of. Or I try to. That’s what I’m going for. No wonder I liked the movie so much.

I also saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Also an awesome flick, in a totally different way. It might be my favorite of the stand alone Avenger movies. I don’t know. It’s a tough call.  Also, these two topics totally go together because Captain America was frozen in the 40s and thawed out to become an Avenger. See what I did there?

Captain America 2

This is my serious face.