As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

Archive for June, 2012

What’s making me happy this week – week 24

Posted by Hedwig on June 17, 2012

A change of name for this feature – I felt like the previous title obliged me to at least try to mention a bit of everything, and I’d rather just mention one or two things. So: new title, borrowed from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, a podcast I definitely recommend.

What’s making me happy this week? Well, the TRUE BLOOD theme song, for one. I wish I could say the return of the show is making me happy, but it shows no signs of improvement, and looked especially poor compared to the great shows we’ve been getting lately. And yet? I still watch, and maybe that’s partly because the theme song is so perfect, putting you in the exact right mood for a large dose of campy fun – whether the fun actually follows or not. Jonathan Coulton played it on NPR’s fun new quiz, Ask Me Another, this week, and it made me feel like today’s episode despite the fact that there’s little to look forward to – except perhaps some Jason shenanigans.

Yup, that’s two NPR mentions above. It feels so obvious – of course someone like me would like public radio – but I don’t care: I love many of their shows, and quizzes with answers like “CinnaBonfire of the Vanities” definitely fall in the category of “things that make me happy”.

Also making me happy? Two genre novels I’m reading: RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES (the second Locke Lamora novel) by Scott Lynch on the e-book reader, and Jonathan Lethem’s GIRL IN LANDSCAPE in print. I’m only halfway through both, but the former continues and expands a fun fantasy universe with a STING-like plot, and the latter creates a sci-fi world that’s completely out there, but with a central character that keeps it grounded. Continuing a theme that’s been re-occuring lately (with Sansa in GoT and Sally in Man Men), the main character gets her period, and it’s described kind of perfectly.

Not making me so happy? The Dutch soccer team. But I might have to keep thoughts about that for another post… and at least I have a good excuse not to have to watch the probably-excruciating match tonight: i’m going to see ORFEO  ED EURIDICE, which apparently is quite the spectacle.

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My week in Pop Culture – week 22 & 23

Posted by Hedwig on June 10, 2012

I was away all day last Sunday, so I’m afraid my weekly post slipped through the cracks. Here, then, a post for not just last week but the week before that. It was heavy on film, with 4 cinema visits (COSMOPOLIS, PROMETHEUS, MOONRISE KINGDOM and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN), 3 of them interesting and one of them charming (that would be MK), listened to some new music for the first time in a while (new albums by Regina Spektor, Metric, The Hives), and read quite a bit (finished COSMOPOLIS the book and the stories included with I AM LEGEND, read TARZAN OF THE APES by Edgar Rice Burroughs and THE HEDGE KNIGHT by George R.R. Martin.

What I really want to talk about, however, is the final two episodes of this season of GAME OF THRONES. This afternoon, I listened to an interview with the director of episode 2.9, Neil Marshall*, and was disappointed but not particularly surprised to find out he’d been urged by an executive producer to up the pointless nudity. “You can do full frontal, you know!”, the man apparently said, adding that he represented the “pervert” side of the audience.

Look – I have nothing against nudity. The main reason HBO goes so over the top with it (and with swearing, too) is because the rest of American TV is so ridiculously prudish. I don’t even necessarily see a problem with people finding the nudity an incentive to watch something (the reason I’m going to see MAGIC MIKE in the cinema has little to do with plot or characterization), or with producers adding nudity with the express purpose of appealing to the “pervert side”. But GAME OF THRONES is taking it to a rather ridiculous level, and the nudity in that specific episode felt even more tacked on that usual, especially since the girl was a non-entity, never seen before and probably never to be seen again.

Still, I can’t help but wonder: maybe there’s a sneakier plan at work here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Snow White and the Huntsman

Posted by Hedwig on June 9, 2012

Note: I’ll keep it spoiler-free above the fold, but I would like to discuss the ending below it.

Updating fairy-tales is all the rage these days, with not just two Snow White movies but even a Jack & the Beanstalk one, but they’ve really never left the public consciousness. It can be safely assumed that like vampires and Frankenstein’s, they will never truly disappear, since the bare bones of the stories can so easily be adapted to the times, the core elements familiar but the subtext fluid. The stories of princesses might all look the same, and seem to embody only the most antiquated of gender roles, but their messages and lessons still ring strong.

Snow White, of course, has always been about beauty and youth. “Who is the fairest of them all?”, the queen asks, eager to hear her own name, and furious when it turns out she is fairest no longer, surpassed by a raven-haired pale beauty with crimson lips. In the fairy tale and in the new action-movie adaptation SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, Snow White “wins” the contest because she has inner as well as outer beauty. But the movie makes implicit that the queen’s desperate desire to retain her youth and beauty is not vanity alone – she fiercely defends herself because her beauty is the source of her power, perhaps even the only power she has. She’s a monster, but a monster made by the system, and this explains why Snow White can’t help but feel sorry for her. Charlize Theron clearly relishes playing such a grandiose, evil part, but she never forgets that her queen Ravenna is at heart a pitiful creature.

It’s too bad they haven’t found a Snow White to match her. Just to clarify: I’m no Kristen Stewart hater. The Twilight movies are easy targets, but she managed to give Bella something completely absent in the books: a personality. I can understand why she was cast: she projects a certain authenticity – carefully cultivated in her public image, too – that helps her play wide-eyed wonder and innocence without it going into maudlin territory. But this Snow White is a warrior too, and when called upon to give a St. Crispin’s day speech, she can’t quite pull it off. She shouts, and her chest heaves with labored breathing, but she lacks the authority Theron has no problem summoning.

Overall, though, I thought this adaptation was both visually stunning and thematically interesting. And what really sold me on it, the thing that made sure I left the cinema not just satisfied but elated, was the ending (and here be spoilers) Read the rest of this entry »

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Prometheus

Posted by Hedwig on June 1, 2012

cross-posted on tumblr.

PROMETHEUS (Scott, 2012) – I was planning to unleash some snark about how inconsistent and poorly thought-through the science in PROMETHEUS was, but someone’s already done that for me (warning: VERY spoilery). I was going to refer to one of the actors as “a poor man’s Tom Hardy”, but that’s apparently not very original either.

Read the rest of this entry »

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