Archive for Movies

Things that are just plain horrible

I’m so grossed out by this. Disney, you’ve done it again.

into the woods 2

Playbill announced yesterday that a 10-year-old bundle of youtubey stardom has been slated for Little Red Riding hood in the upcoming movie adaptation of Into the Woods.


This happens to be one of my favorite Broadway plays. Literate Libran introduced it to me as one of her favorites too- the dual parts of Cinderella and the Witch have always resonated so powerfully with her. For me the strongest message is the underlying indictment on group dynamics in troubled times. Click either of those to read our thoughts about it. Much has been said about this, and I could easily go on about it much more, so naturally I wasn’t too excited when I heard it was headed for movie theaters, but whatever. They snagged Meryl Streep for the lead, and that’s usually a good sign, right? But this?

A kid sings on Youtube, gets asked to show up on a TV show, subsequently makes miscellaneous talk show appearances… and… those are her acting credentials. This child is 10. The role of Little Red Riding Hood is a coming of age story, with a very overt message about carelessly sacrificing her innocence when a predatorial “wolf” crosses her path. This child is 10. A ten year old who still shows up at every public appearance in a princess costume is supposed to portray a layered, complex balance of fairy tale playfulness and the sadder but wiser embarrassed confidence of a young woman newly smarting from the regrets of a bad relationship.

Check out Danielle Ferland below from the OBC:

“Nice is different than good.” Pretty clever, no?

I thought about also including a clip of Sophia’s breakthrough appearance on Ellen, but she’s singing a song with illicit lyrics about having sex, and in case you’ve forgotten, this child is 10 (actually, she was 8 when that was done) and I think the world will be a better place with fewer blogs posting videos of little children belting out smutty rap lyrics.

Folks, really, how is this not the epitome of exploitation? The pink dresses, ever present to remind us how tiny she is? Have I mentioned she’s 10? Never mind that normal 10 year old girls don’t go trooping around in sparkly plastic crowns, she’s got the cutie-pie image to foster. Never mind how completely unfit she may be amongst her peers; as long as it’s garnering TV spots, why not keep it up? On the same token, I’ve never overheard a fifth grade girl mournfully lament her adolescent choices (because, of course, fifth graders haven’t experienced adolescence yet). A friend of mine commented that it’s a bit discouraging to see how this type of thing is pushed on children at younger and younger ages, but really, however informed a kid may be about the facts of life, ten means she’s still got her teen years ahead of her. Adolescence hasn’t even started yet, and therefore she has not yet earned the right to reminisce about it.

I could ask what kind of lousy parent would pretend like this is good for their child, but the subject of the fame-obsessed parent pimp has been discussed to death, and we all know it’s vile. Can we maybe just start having stagemom of the year awards?

toilet trophy

We could call it the “Don’t go in there” Award (little Office joke there). That’s actually pretty apropos.

I could also ask why the movie itself was necessary at all, but that’s something we all know too, right?

mickey the vandal

Although their original ideas are often fun and watchable enough, those are just the revolving door prime-time stuff. Disney feature films are most often hijacked pieces that the public has already grown to appreciate. I’ve learned by now to just avoid the ones about stories I like unless I want to have the original tainted (I’ll never forgive them for the butchering they gave the Hunchback of Notre Dame), and this will certainly be one to avoid.

I just feel sick and sorry for the child who is so obviously being herded into the child-star-who-does-scandalous-things act, especially considering that she’s got that along with the preschool-dress-up-princess image to maintain. This is one seriously messed up situation.

YAAAAY! But I still don’t want to watch the movie.


A Dichotomy of Mermaids

Hans Christian Anderson told this story about a young maiden in love with a hansome prince. She determines to have him at all costs, forsaking family and all that is familiar to her, propelled by infatuation into the all-too-common assumption that if she has the right physical appearance she will win him over. Conspicuously enough, she has never spoken with him, and therefore thinks nothing of bargaining away her voice for a pair of feet so she can go after him, which in the classic story, cause her terrible pain whenever she walks. That’s where the modern Disney interpretation starts to make its departure- HCA makes it a point that she suffers pain for her new look, which turns out to be a wasted sacrifice. She’s no different to lover boy than all the other girls around him, except for her hopeless inability to contribute to the conversation and he flutters off after some other girl. After his wedding, her sisters bring her a knife. They inform her that if she kills him and his new wife, she can return to the sea and become a mermaid again. Get it? Kill off the fantasy, and go back to your roots. But she can’t; she approaches him with the knife, and runs off to fall into the sea, dissipating into foam. Thus ends the little mermaid princess. She lost the man she wanted, because she never understood him and hoped that she could get by on looks. After she failed, she wouldn’t give him up and her life dissolved into nothingness.

It’s a horrific cautionary tale to young girls everywhere. Looking good isn’t enough to keep a relationship alive, living a fantasy will never allow you to be fulfilled as an individual… the morals are numerous and obvious.

Contrast that unfortunate creature with her modern counterpart:

ariel shopping

When the Disney movie hit theaters, I adored it. I filled countless notebooks and homework papers with mermaid drawings, and practiced swimming like a mermaid (hair tossing upon breaking the surface was a must). I was aware that the story glorified selfish behavior, but it was pretty enough that pretty beat out irresponsible (and it was JUST a MOVIE). As an adult, I find myself kinda sorta battling with that in my classroom. I love the toys and books and my kids like them too, but I see much nastier messages in the story that I didn’t pick up as a child. This character puts everyone around her at risk so that she can have what she wants. She decides she loves someone although she knows nothing about him. As it happens, he is a mindless hunk-o-matic who, like any good prince, exists only to be dashing and to fall in love, but after she creates the entire relationship without any effort from him, and after she sacrifices the well-being and emotional peace of her family, and after she has gotten herself into such enormous trouble that an entire kingdom is now in danger, he suddenly becomes a participant in the story and whoops up the villain before going back to mindlessly adoring her. In the end, her father sadly admits that she was right all along, and she gets an awesome fantasy wedding complete with paternal blessing and rainbow. Yaaay! Seriously, is that anything like reality?

Am I being ridiculous?

I find it ironic that the message is the polar opposite of the original story, but is it really that bad? I’m a little bit serious about that- Ariel is super bratty and she never has to pay for her outrageous treatment of everyone around her, so should we be warning our little girls against her, or can we just be okay with a person getting away with brattiness?

The Hobbit: Legos, Movie, and Current Culture

LOTR books

My husband and I have a few books that we reread every now and then, and among these are Tolkein’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series. Without going into too much, I will say that I love these books, and find them not only to be a thoroughly enchanting read, but also to have great personal value. When the Peter Jackson movies arrived, I felt generally positive about them, in spite of some screenplay irritations (Why did we need all that Arwen and Aragorn stuff? WHY did we need Frodo and Sam to have a fight?), but by and large, it’s an “adaptation,” not a “transliteration.” The two media are too different for audiences to reasonably expect perfect fidelity. That’s just my feeling. My brother disagrees on this, and his thoughts are worth reading. Anyway, I’m only trying to say that I think I have a pretty open mind about necessary book-to-screenplay adjustments. Necessary ones. They are painful, but I can accept them.

frodo elija wood

But then there was The Hobbit. For this movie, it’s actually a good thing he took such initiative to move beyond the “necessary changes” idea and just hacked away, because The Hobbit wasn’t a very good book and that’s why nobody liked it very much. Right. That’s why no one ever reads it.

hobbit movie poster

Stuff like this makes me scratch my head. How could such a good director let such a big project go so badly? Did screenwriters really think they were improving? Did everyone really think moviegoers wouldn’t mind that they all but discarded the original story? I suspect they thought neither of those things, but knew we would buy tickets anyway. It’s sad, but it happens. It’s the Citizen Kane syndrome: a small-time creator with big dreams of crushing the man makes something big happen, turns heads, becomes a force to be reckoned with, and slowly yields to the compromise that he initially spoke out against. I understand they wished to tie it in with the LOTR movie set, but the effort was really unnecessary, and the resulting final product is disappointing. I won’t detail my specific problems with it, aside from one pertinant change that my husband pointed out. The dwarves in the movie are reclaiming their home, as opposed to the ones in the book who are pursuing stolen gold. Doesn’t that make sense? Why not draw a little attention away from the pitfalls of greed? The entire movie is the child of gold mongering, and I find nothing surprising about the producers wanting to avoid the subject. Maybe they would have been better off doing so- is it better to admit you’re greedy and selfish or try to pretend you’re telling a pleasant little tale of lost orphans who want to go home and risk sounding vapid instead?
What do you think? Did you see the movie? If so, am I overreacting, or do you agree?

Anyhow, however the movie turned out, at least I got some good legos out of it. Hunny bought me Bilbo’s House a few days back as a present, and I share it below, just so that I can close this post on a positive note and also because I like talking about legos:

Bilbos House exterior

bilbos house interior

The design has a great balance of house and hill. It looks as cozy as Bag-End is supposed to be, complete with careful detail to the kitchen, of course. (There is a lot of food with this set.) This little kitchen stove and chimney are pretty cute, no?

interior detail

My favorite detail, though, is this front window.

window complete

I love lego structures that are made up of creatively arranged standard pieces.

window deconstruct 1

window deconstruct 2

window deconstruct 3

Yeah, that’s a cool window. This little bit of carefully organized plastic is altogether more appealing to me than the movie’s heart and soul, I’m sorry to say. If it weren’t for this acquisition, I would have ended my post telling you that I found virtually nothing of value in that movie. So very sad.


damian wayne

AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH! So wrong. So. So, so wrong. Spoilers drive me so crazy like nothing else can. It’s probably some kind of illness, but I don’t care. Keep it to yourself, people! I wanted to be surprised. People who give away spoilers should be held legally accountable. Personally, I have the policy that if you tell me the end of a movie I wanna watch, I will spray paint your car and cut holes in all your umbrellas. But HOW can this be maintained with the internet (aside from staying off the internet, I mean- that’s obviously not an option)? My husband tells me I’m alone in my feelings here, but I don’t know about that. I’ve started a petition to the President, asking him to stamp out this antisocial behavior, or at least raise public awareness of it.

Please help my cause by clicking below:

Seriously, people. This is a social ill that has long been ignored and must be stopped. It must, and I’m not the only person who thinks so, I’m sure.

commentary on how i feel

I’m not crazy. I just think it’s a crime against humanity and possibly the cause of all human suffering to spoil a surprise ending and I’ll attack you with a dull axe if you ruin a movie for me. It’s as simple as that.

Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor

Lego has this really cool program you can download and play with called Digital Designer. It’s free and relatively easy to figure out and use, and I find it rather addictive. I am happy to say that after a lot of work, last night I finished a project I’d been making with that software: Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor!
It is 908 pieces, although I could probably have economized on that a bit. I bet if I tried, I could have whittled it down to 850 or something, but working with virtual legos makes it kind of hard to tell which pieces are superfluous and which are necessary.

I made it to match the size of the other buildings in the Diagon Alley set. Hopefully, I will actually build it one day, although the bricks will cost a fortune. Probably the next project will be the Leaky Cauldron or perhaps Quality Quidditch Supplies.

If you’re so inclined, you can click here to see the lengthy and convoluted (because they are computer-generated) instructions for building it. I had briefly entertained thoughts of creating a shopping list of the different bricks needed to make this, but lost interest and scrapped the idea. Click here to download some sticker templates I made for the two signs.

Thinking mostly about The Prisoner of Azkaban -with Harry living at the inn and doing homework at the ice cream shop- I included a few accessories like books and extra foody looking things that I couldn’t place on the building itself. I also included a street lamp and a potted plant that I never found a place for just because Florean Fortescue seemed like the kind of guy who would like plants. Those are all on the left front side of the model.

The building itself includes a patio outside, a bar and two tables inside along with a few shelves and restaurant-like details. I included a shelf on a hinged back wall for the sole reason that the shop seemed to need a shelf full of dishes and I couldn’t find any other place to put it.

There is nothing specifically talking about how many floors are in the building in any of the books, so I took the liberty to design a second-story flat with the notion that Florean might have lived there. There is a trap door above the bar that folds downward, and a ladder that can rotate up into the flat or open down to the ice cream shop. That took me forever to design, and is a detail I’m pretty proud of.

Here are some screenshots of the two floors seperated so that the details are more visible.

Rear Window Timelapse

I was planning to blog the clothes I’m making today, but they’re not far along enough to get blogged. In the meantime, I give you this:

Rear Window Timelapse from Jeff Desom on Vimeo.

It’s a timelapse video compilation of all the activity that went on in the courtyard from the Hitchcock movie Rear Window.

The Pianist and the Chopin Ballade No 1 Op 23

Every now and again, I need to watch this scene. The Nazi officer catching Szpilman trying to pry open a can of food, the lighting, the rubble, and the stunned look on the officer’s face at the end. The clip above is just the music, but here’s a link to the whole scene.

The Hunger Games, Roger Corman, and a Brief Reaction to the Movie

Hubby and I went out and dutifully watched The Hunger Games this weekend. My overall impression was quite favorable. Jennifer Lawrence was remarkable, the costumes were brilliant, and the script was faithful to the book. On the negative side, the other tributes’ acting was a little thin. They didn’t seem very tramautized by the situation they found themselves in, and the emotional pacing zipped right by. I found the shaky camerawork distracting, and the digital transfer quality was surprisingly grainy. The storytelling was enjoyable, but because of the technical awkwardness, I would give it 6-7 stars out of 10, with the recommendation that you watch it.

I enjoyed it enough that I have been reading random Hunger Games news items for fun since then and rereading the books and doing general nerdy stuff like that, which brings me to the picture on this post. Maybe you have to be one of those nutcases (like me) who really likes crappy movies, but I have watched more than my share of Roger Corman masterpieces. posted a set of movie posters for The Hunger Games, as they would appear in the hands of a different director. They are awesome, but the best one was the Roger Corman poster. It’s making me want to go and make Cormanesque posters of other popular movies.

“She-Devil Deathmatch in the Blood Arena!” Seriously- just try saying that out loud without laughing.

Hunger Games Trailer in Lego

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Hobbyists are really weird people. I just wish I had thought of to do this first.

Non-fiction Book to Movie Ideas: Awful or Acceptable?

I’m voting awful. Granted, I tend to be a little harsh with my judgement, so maybe I should just lighten up, but I just saw the trailer for What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and I wanna slap the producer for reasons which I can’t even explain. In the interest of forthrightness, I must admit I haven’t seen any of these (and I probably never will), but I hear the title and it makes me cringe:

  • Super Size Me
    Hey everyone, let’s all be shocked- McDonald’s is really bad for your health! I guess it was ultimately a valuable movie since it raised so much negative publicity for the trash they were peddling as food, and now we do have slightly more healthful options in fast food… but really. As if capitalizing on a thing like that and getting haled as a hero afterward wasn’t enough, they turned it into a movie. Barf.

  • The Darwin Awards
    This was supposed to be based more on the concept of the idea behind the Darwin Awards, but, I think I’m safe in calling it a thinly disguised effort to cash in on the title.

  • Fast Food Nation
    See fast-food movie rant above. (By the way, I’m no fan of the fast food industry, I just think it’s like hunting down a rat, telling everyone how ratty your rat is, and then being honored for your boldness in blowing the whistle on it. It’s junk food- don’t expect me to be impressed when you tell me it’s bad to eat.)

  • Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *but were afraid to ask
    LOL! A movie based on a title like that… leave it to Woody Allen…
    nuff said.

Am I being obnoxious? Am I wrong? Business is business, but do these things really deserve to be made into movies?

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