Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Movies: Month in Review {September/October 2020}

Did I drop off the face of this blog for a full month?  I sure did. 😂  School and work are both crazy right now.  Really looking forward to December when they'll calm down. 😅 

Anyway, here's the new stuff I watched in September and October!


Adopt a Highway
(2019) ● Not Rated


I know it would have been unrealistic if it had ended the way we want it to, but DID I ASK FOR REALISM???  DID I ASK.

(I did not ask.)

(But this was a good movie anyway.)

Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses
(2006) ● Not Rated


You don't understand:  I've been wanting to watch this for at least a decade. 😂  Ever since I had the novelization as a kid and fell in love with the dresses & the aesthetic & what-not.  And I finally know someone who owns it, so I was finally able to see it!  Huzzah.

I didn't love it, but I enjoyed the experience. 😍

Magic in the Moonlight
(2014) ● PG-13


This was my first time watching a Woody Allen movie, and all pedophilic sexual misconduct allegations things considered, I felt pretty validated when I discovered that it was nothing special.  It reminded me of an inferior version of My Fair Lady.  The plot raises some interesting philosophical questions, and there are some amusing lines and fun costumes, but that's about it.  The characterization and the technical aspects of the cinematography struck me as mediocre — which, once again, I found pretty satisfying, given the Woody Allen debacle as a whole.

Miss Americana (2020) ● TV-MA


I think I knew most of this information already, but I still enjoyed watching the documentary.  It was thoughtfully made, insightful, and strangely cozy.  I especially appreciated learning more about Taylor's experience with the sexual misconduct trial, and the fact that the documentary highlights the ways in which the judicial process enables and perpetuates rape culture. 

Over the Moon (2020) ● PG


I liked this but I didn't love it.  Fei Fei was a cool character; I loved her song (though I maintain that it should have been entitled "Fly Away" rather than "Rocket to the Moon," but whatever). I also loved a lot of the aesthetics.  

But I wasn't a fan of the way the Lunaria parts were done — random, neon-colored geometric shapes and amorphous blob people aren't what I sign up for when I sign up for a movie partially set on the moon, y'all. I was also disappointed in that I didn't really like any of Philippa Soo's songs.  *le sigh*  Aside from that, I thought that some of the characterization and plot development was underwhelming. 

I will say, though, that the "Chamber of Exquisite Sadness" scene was much more to my liking.  

Riding in Cars with Boys
(2001) ● PG-13


I have been cheated.  I was promised a funny, uplifting story about complex-but-generally-positive family dynamics, and did I receive that?!  No.  I received a technically well-done but also extremely upsetting look at profound parental abuse.  DID I ASK??  DID I REQUEST??  No, I did not.  I really don't need any more exploration of family dysfunction in my life right now, okay?

The Huntsman: Winter's War
(2016) ● PG-13


OKAY THIS GAVE ME FEELINGS I WASN'T EXPECTING

Context:

I've been familiar with the story universe in these movies for years now, because one of my sisters used to like the first one.  She tried to show it to me once, but my Sensitive Twelve-Year-Old Self noped out of that darkness real quick.

But over the past couple of years, I've been feeling an urge to try it again.  And, of course, the second one interested me because, hello, Freya.  Emily Blunt as an ice queen?  Don't even @ me.  But I didn't know everything about how her story was going to play out, or about how they were going to resolve her character arc.  I WAS REDUCED TO EMOTIONS, LET ME TELL YOU. 


And also??  Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman?  What a sublime surprise.  I was expecting him to be a macho edgelord stereotype with a dreadful accent and a moodiness problem. Instead, he's a goofy optimist who picks flowers and defends fawns and reassures people and laughs at his own terrible strategies and is also much more vocal about all his warm-fuzzy emotions than any of the women in the story and honestly? Quality content. We stan. 

I didn't think I would like the romance in this one, but I was yet again pleasantly surprised.  I actually got really invested, and I found it well-rounded and wholesome. 

Now, did I see some weak plotting?  Yes, absolutely.  Some of the character motivations and/or reactions to their circumstances were either unrealistic, generic, or just plain random.  (Like that sudden implication at the very end, during the final battle, that Ravenna also "wanted love & children" — what?)  And some lines were painfully cliched.  But I am more than willing to overlook these minor missteps. 😛 

Overall, definitely recommend if you like dark twists on fairytales!

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) ● PG


I've been waiting to watch this ever since the first trailers, so I was happy that I finally got around to borrowing it from the library.  I didn't love it as much as my Nutcracker-loving soul wanted to, but I enjoyed it enough to re-watch it. 

Oh, and I loved that they used the "Pas de Deux" music for the father-daughter dance at the end.  That made my as-aforementioned Nutcracker-loving soul happy.  (I actually would have liked to see just a little bit more of the father-daughter dynamic in general, but I'm happy with what I did get.  The last shot was really sweet. 😊)

Unorthodox
(2020) ● TV-MA


Been debating watching this ever since it came out.  I've read and watched several survivor testimonies about arranged or forced marriage, and one of the authorities on the subject had both positive and negative things to say about this miniseries.  So I was torn.  Ultimately, though, I decided to watch it when I was stuck and bored, self-isolating in my room after a Covid-exposure.  

I thought it was good!  Shira Haas, man.  That human can make you feel things without moving a muscle, just by sitting and watching a choir rehearse while tears pool slowly in her eyes.  Whew.  I also found the subplot with her mother compelling. 

I would definitely suggest that anyone considering watching it would read some of the feedback it got beforehand, though, just so you're aware of the positive and the negative aspects of its portrayal of the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community and marriage culture.  It's important to get a range of survivor perspective on an issue like this.

(Also:  It's rated TV-MA for a reason, so be prepared for that.) 


Have you seen any of these?
What did you think of them?
What have you been watching?

Friday, October 16, 2020

Everything 'Star Wars' Blogathon || 'Star Wars' text posts that light my soul.

You're familiar with text posts, yes?  Those memes that pair a screencap from a beloved movie or TV series with a completely unrelated but somehow relevant Twitter or Tumblr post?

Well, I love those things, and I have recently discovered several Star Wars-y ones on Pinterest.  Now, I don't want to oversell, but these might be the most beautiful items you'll see all day.  When I say "peak comedic content," I mean Peak Comedic Content.

Let's do it.



✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩


✩✩✩



You're welcome.
*sweeps a bow even though I did nothing*



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Everything 'Star Wars' Blogathon || All the Star Wars movies, ranked.

I WOULD HAVE ACCEPTED THIS *cries* 

What-ho, all!  Today marks the beginning of Eva's and Katie's epic three-day blogathon devoted to all things Star Wars!  Huzzah.

For my first (possibly only?  we don't know) contribution, I have ranked all the SW movies to date, according to My Personal & Subjective Opinion, Okay, Don't Let's Get Mad. 

I doubt there'll be that many surprises on this list?  But, as always & once again, these rankings reflect my feelings and my preferences and are in no way meant as an attack on those who have different ones.  I respect all the SW movies in various ways and I respect all the SW fan opinions in various ways. 

There.


#11.  
Rogue One


This ain't it, chief.  Not for me, at any rate.  I know a lot of people love it, and I understand why they do, but I . . . do not.  Nope, nope.  *shakes head emphatically*  It's sort of everything I don't want in a Star Wars film. 😬

#10.
Solo


I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would, all things considered.  I don't usually go for prequels very much.  For some reason, stories that retroactively try to force me to accept as canon a backstory for a character I've already met . . . stress me.  They mess with timelines; they mess with my own ideas about who the character was before I knew them, should I have undertaken to form any such ideas; and they often alter my perception of the character as portrayed in the original, "later" story in unwelcome ways.

Basically:  I don't tend to like them. 😛  So, from the very beginning, I was skeptical of this movie.  While I thoroughly approved the casting of Alden Ehrenreich, I still knew that they were going to "mess" with my favorite Star Wars character's history.  Plus, I knew that they were going to do all that WHILE ALSO attempting to sell me on a "serious" love interest that was doomed from the start due to what we already knew of Han's story later on . . . and I just wasn't on board.

I'm still not, for the record, "on board" so much as I am no longer "off board".  If you will. 😜  I still don't necessarily accept the Solo plot as Han's backstory; but the movie itself, I thought, was actually pretty good.  Even if it's not one I'd personally care to watch over and over.

#9.  
Revenge of the Sith


I think this is possibly the "strongest" of the prequel movies, but it's also my least favorite simply because, you know, sin and ruin and betrayal and despair and tragedy and all that.  I mean, Padme dies.  You can't expect me to be itching to watch my queen die every chance I get.

It's good; it just makes me feel . . . not sad, really, but . . . slightly crestfallen.  And I'm not looking to be crestfallen after watching a Star Wars movie. 

#8.  
The Rise of Skywalker


I don't have much to say about this one.  It was fine, and I forever love Rey + Poe + Finn; but beyond that . . . eh. *shrugs*

#7.  
The Force Awakens

everybody dance now

Rey and Finn being bright-eyed ingenues entering the free world after years of oppression is The Purest Thing, and I love their excitement and geekiness and hugs.  I also love the feeling of freshness, of newness, of beginnings.  I love Han Solo and Leia Organa being Crusty Old Whippersnappers.  I love the line, "Chewie . . . we're home."  I love the line, "tHaT's NoT hOw ThE fOrCe WoRkS!"  (I basically love Han, period.)

I don't love the unimpressive emo adolescent Phantom of the opera that is Ben in this movie.  I definitely don't love aforementioned unimpressive emo, etc. killing my boy.  Nope, nope.  We don't stan that, madam; we do not.  And any numbskulls who want to come and try to tell me, "Oh, but it needed to happen for the story" may exit, pursued by a bear, at the first available moment. 😁

#6.
The Last Jedi


Despite its arguable flaws, I enjoy a lot of this film.  It has several of my favorite moments of the new trilogy:  Rey screaming at Ben; Rey learning from Luke; Luke being salty and decrepit; Rey and Ben fighting Snoke together; Rey caring about Ben but taking Exactly None of his nonsense when he's urging her to rule the galaxy with him; Luke doing The Shoulder Flick; Rey closing the ship door on Ben's face; Rey lifting the rocks to free the Rebels; Finn and Rey hugging again because #pure; Poe and Rey meeting.

*sighs in satisfaction*  Good moments, those. 

#5.  
The Phantom Menace


This one is just fun, for me.  The stakes are pretty low, so I don't really have to "worry" about any of my favorite characters, but I still get to enjoy them.  I still get to experience a unique shade of the SW story universe, one that's different from either the original or the newer trilogy.  It's a good time, folks. 

#4.  
A New Hope


A Smol List of things that greatly enhance this movie:

  • Leia Organa, taking care of business.
  • Han Solo, trying very hard to not take care of business but doing it anyway bc, what the heck, it's the weekend and he's bored.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi, thinking he's taking care of business and really doing a kind of horrible job at it but it's okay he tried. 
  • Luke Skywalker, wanting desperately to take care of business but simultaneously being a Sheltered Homeschooler Teen with absolutely zero clue what's going on.  
  • "but I was going to go to the Tashi station to get some power converters!!"
  • Luke destroying the Death Star.
  • Han helping Luke destroy the Death Star.
  • Luke and Han tackling each other back at the rebel base bc they're so excited that they destroyed the Death Star.
  • "We're all fine, here, now, thank you . . . how are you?"
  • Leia handling herself with more suavity and aplomb and heroism than any of us could possibly hope to imitate even after being forced to watch her entire world be literally blown to smithereens in front of her eyes??
  • Han barreling down a hallway clutching a gun and screaming at the top of his lungs with no apparent plan whatsoever. 

#3.  
Attack of the Clones


I knowwwwwwwwwww, I know.  But what can I say?  I am Utter & Complete Trash for Padme Amidala; and I am likewise Trash for a solid Aesthetic; and this movie has both in abundance; and therefore you really can't blame me. *shrugs*

Will I mock its dialogue just as heartily as the next person?  Heck yeah.  Will I still thoroughly and unironically enjoy it?  Heck yeah.  

#2.  
Return of the Jedi


I love how much time we spend on Endor in this movie.  Endor is probably my second-favorite SW locale — right after Naboo — and all the forest-y goodness adds a touch of whimsy and coziness to the story.  Plus, I just love watching all the characters at the end of their arcs:  they're all a little more mature, a little more serious, but also a little more appreciative of the ordinary everyday good things that they're trying to preserve for the future.  I stan, madam.  I stan most strongly. 

PLUS THE ENDING.  It genuinely makes me feel so happy and cozy and safe. 💚

#1.  
The Empire Strikes Back


*grins*  You can't beat the Han-and-Leia dynamic.  I can't, at least, and I am unabashed in saying that this is my favorite of the films primarily because of all the screen time that the two of them get together. 

Luke also gets a lot of exposition in this installment, which is important and of course sets him up for the events of Return.  

I love it, my dudes — I do, indeed. 

And we're done!
Which is your favorite SW movie?
Which is your least favorite?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Tolkien Blog Party || Middle-earth Locations: Aesthetics

The Shire
- emerald & gold
- rolling hills
- thatched roofs
- painted doors
- curly hair
- bread & pumpkins
- pipe tobacco
- running water
- merriment
- wagon wheels
- fireworks


Rivendell
- autumn leaves
- scrolled archways
- quiet chambers
- tiled floors
- libraries
- dusky purple
- choral singing
- waterfalls
- dark-bright eyes
- vines & tranquility
- wistfulness


Lothlorien

- starlight 
- diamond buildings 
- royal blue 
- living midnight 
- white robes 
- gem-like flowers 
- marble steps 
- fountains
- twilight trees 
- fear & stillness 
- sanctuary


Rohan
- dry prairie grass 
- equine noises 
- stable dust 
- sunlight 
- cerulean sky
- motionless clouds
- reed roofs 
- empty halls 
- coronets 
- military exercises 
- pride & homeland 


Gondor
- grey & white 
- marble statues 
- twisted trees 
- industrialism 
- architecture 
- immaculate tomes 
- mausoleums 
- bright stars 
- dried lavender 
- hope & bravery 
- kings & stewards


Ithilien
- brambly thickets 
- wild berries 
- crumbling ruins 
- slow streams 
- laughter 
- star-white petals 
- herbs & gardens 
- stone bridges
- long, low houses 
- hints of autumn 
- woolen blankets


The Grey Havens
- waves lapping against marble piers 
- listless water 
- pearlescent walls 
- white ships 
- glistening sunlight 
- porcelain pitchers 
- refreshments 
- harp music 
- crystal tears 
- long goodbyes 
- rest & trust

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tolkien Blog Party || Tag

Hello again, and a very happy birthday to Bilbo and Frodo. *cheers*

I'm here to answer this year's Tolkien-y questions, as posed by the magical Istar herself, Hamlette.  (Who, in case you missed it, is hosting a wondrous giveaway in honor of the week's celebrations!)  

I'd also like to state, for the record, that these aesthetic collages (same line as last year's tag answers) make me feel truly indescribable things and I love them dearly. 


1. What Tolkien character do you think you're the most like?

Longish answer for this one, and to be clear, I'm not claiming that all of these traits are good or healthy ones. 

To start with, I'd wager that I'm a mix of Faramir, Bilbo, and Frodo:

  • Faramir's general personality & set of core social and moral values.  [See also:  this post.]
  • Bilbo's contentment with home & hearth, and his disinterest in adventures, combined with the occasional nebulous, heart-throbbing pull that he feels of "something Beyond".
  • Frodo's hesitancy & anxiety undergirded by an unshakable sense of duty.  [Also the way he simultaneously relies on the people closest to him and is often frustrated by the feeling that they're not cooperating or that he is being more responsible than they are.]


I also see bits of Galadriel and Gandalf in me, if I may be so bold — not the "unparalleled power & majesty & wisdom" parts, obviously, but some other aspects of their characters.  

Like, in Galadriel's case, I relate to her detached, observer perspective on the world and human relations.  I often feel like I'm perched atop some vantage point, surveying everything going on below as if it isn't necessarily happening to or around me, but just before me. 

I'm always moralizing, like Gandalf; but unlike him, I'm not always actively sharing those moralistic ramblings with others, or attempting to corral them into epic schemes.  


2. What Tolkien character do you wish you were more like?

I'd actually like to be more like all five of the characters mentioned above.  I see some similarities, as I said, but they all have admirable traits that I do not. 


3. What would your dream home in Middle-earth be like?

I wrestle with this all the time.  I'm utterly enamored of Rivendell, but Ithilien has always been the location that evokes a sense of complete belonging in me.  It combines some of the best elements of each of my other favorite places, and I think I would be most suited to a simple, happy home there.  (With semi-regular visits to the Last Homely House and the Shire, of course.)

More specifically, I would absolutely love a low-slung stone building tucked away in the woods, with small clearings and little streams nearby, and one or two of my most-beloved people.

(Credit to Heidi for her gorgeously detailed answer, which inspired me to elaborate on my own!)


4. You get to make a movie of the story of Beren and Luthien! Who do you cast as the leads?

Ooh, I love this idea!  I actually came up with too many possibilities to choose just one, so here are three different pairings that I could see being particularly epic.

Sean Maguire / Q'orianka Kilcher


Aldis Hodge / Sarah Gadon

Chris Hemsworth / Lucy Griffiths

What say you?  I'd personally be delighted to watch a film adaptation with any of these couples.

5. Have you ever marathoned the LOTR or Hobbit movies?

You bet your Old Toby I have.  Multiple times, in fact.  My family used to marathon LotR every year, and I even instigated a marathon with my own friend group once.  It happens less often now, but I suspect that I may have one this year.


6. Do you have a favorite song or track from the movie soundtracks by Howard Shore?


This one includes the instrumental motif I love best, as well as my favorite lyrical song, "In Dreams".

7. Which of Tolkien's characters would you like to be best friends with?

LITERALLY ALL OF THE GOOD ONES.  (Except maybe some of the dwarves.  Some of them tend to annoy me and I have a feeling we'd Clash. 😛)

But like.  Can you imagine being part of the huge interconnected friend group of all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit people?  The happiness?  The coziness?!  The sense of home and belonging?!


8. Who of the people in your real life would you want in your company if you had to take the ring to Mordor?

Probably my immediate family members, since we're all used to each other and able to be as direct and no-frills in our communication as we would need to be on a quest like that.  (If that makes sense.)  

Also, maybe, a select friend or two. 


9. Have you read any of Tolkien's non-Middle-earth works?

I've read Roverandum, Farmer Giles of Ham, and Smith of Wootton Major.  I can't recall whether I actually read Leaf by Niggle or only learned a lot about it in Craig Bernthal's literary analysis Tolkien's Sacramental Vision.  (Highly recommend that book for fans of Tolkien, by the way!)


10. Is there a book by Tolkien you haven't read yet, but want to?

I don't think so, actually.  I love Middle-earth, but I have to be in the right mood to read the man's actual writing, and I don't really have an interest in any more of it at the moment. 😬  Although I did enjoy Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major.



That's it, folks!  
Be sure to check out Hamlette's posts (links at the beginning of the post) so you don't miss out on all the Middle-earth goodies!

Movies: Month in Review {September/October 2020}

Did I drop off the face of this blog for a full month?  I sure did. 😂  School and work are both crazy right now.  Really looking forward to...