movie: Thor

Sunday, 25 September 2011 07:47 pm
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
We watched Thor, it's going to be the last DVD we get from Netflix. I really enjoyed it. Simon thought it was okay.

I love these mythological based stories. Norse ones are a particular favorite.

It also plays into my "teenager in the 80s" visual preferences for long-haired blond men.

Admittedly the story is weak. 1) How could anyone be that stupid to think Loki, with whom they've lived for thousands of years, is truthful? I lived with my mother for mere decades and when introducing her to people, I would warn them not to believe anything she says. 2) Why is Thor interested in the Natalie Portman character? Over Sif? Really? 3) Why did Natalie Portman take that shitty role in Star Wars when she can actually act? 4) I didn't like the negative portrayal of adoption. 5) Heimdall was a stupid idiot and I don't like it when stupidity is the essential plot component.

Still. Could definitely have sucked more.

Knight And Day

Sunday, 18 September 2011 10:41 pm
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
Watched Knight and Day. It has Tom Cruise (who obviously dyes his hair now) and Cameron Diaz (who, shockingly, looks less like Kermit the Frog than usual).

I enjoyed the movie a lot. The plot almost made sense, which for an action movie is unusual, and you could sort of see how they got to the point they were at.

But what made it the most enjoyable was that the dialogue was witty.

Some negatives. 1) lame premise... car parts in Kansas? Really? Cameron Diaz?
2) Cameron Diaz suddenly knows how to shoot accurately after flailing 2 scenes ago despite no reason for her to have improved and spending the previous half of the movie whining about people getting killed.
3) car obsession
4) the riding off into the sunset involving driving to Cape Horn (tip of South America)... um. It's almost impossible to drive a car into Mexico, they require a huge "insurance" payment... like $5K or something insane and you don't get it back, it's so if you're in an accident in Mexico and run back to the US, they can compensate your victims--- so it amounts to a registration fee. You'd have to pass through like a dozen countries to get to Cape Horn and they're driving a car that doesn't even have headrests, let alone seatbelts.
5) I get where the Knight comes from, but the Day? I hate it when the titles don't match.

this is probably my penultimate netflix dvd review.
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
The Netflix sleeve said I Am Number Four was a two hour movie. I'm not sure what the time really is because our DVD player kind of guesses how long it's been playing for, but the clock said 1:45.

It was strange because it just stopped right when the story really got going. There was all this prologue where we're introduced to Four and watch him try (and fail) to blend. Then the enemy engages and it's almost interesting. Then the movie stops.

I was hugely skeeved by the alien love interest angle.
spoilers )

It seemed like Four had been held back in the remedial class for heroes because nothing was ever explained to him. It's quite clear that more information is immediately available and being withheld because he's not mature enough to understand it. Including the premise of the villains in the story. It seems like if you're in hiding (which is how the movie starts) then it behooves the situation if someone explains why you're in hiding. Anne Frank knew people would kill her whole family so she wasn't a bratty kid who stomped her feet when she was unhappy. Four does some bratty things even though he'd been told to keep a low profile. It seemed like he just didn't understand why he was in hiding.

So. Final vote. Eh. Whatever. Could have been decent if they got around to having an actual story. Would definitely have been better if we'd spent less time watching teenagers be angsty. There didn't seem to be a point in having Four pretend to be a high schooler other than bringing in some extra wanktastic characters and giving roles to the WB's rejects. Oh, yeah, the acting was totally pathetic.

If you look at it as an action movie, then 70% of it is banal. If you look at it as a romance, well, the girl is 15. If you look at it as a superhero movie, then hero-boy is too fucking stupid to win against the impossible odds that are a trademark of the genre. It was pretty good for one of those teenage drama movies except the only people who like those are teenagers.

Simon says, "Two bad he didn't add two, then he could say "I am number six; who is number one?"" Making a The Prisoner tv show reference. If you've watched the movie, then you realize this was quite amusing.

movie: Faster

Monday, 21 March 2011 09:38 pm
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
I don't remember why I put Faster in the Netflix queue. It's got "The Rock" in it, but he's done some stupid things. It's got some guy who looks like the homeless version of Howdy Doody playing a copy who shoots up with heroine on the job.

Throughout the movie the subtitles gave the characters all-caps titles akin to how Leverage does in their intro. It felt like a rip-off.

I enjoyed the "KILLER" character, the British accent assassin guy. He was interesting. I liked his reliance on therapy by phone and his obsession with perfection.

I didn't like the main character at all.

for spoilers )

The title made sense because they spoon fed us the explanation. But I appreciated that.

There is a concept in storytelling that the story should be told by or focus upon the character who changes the most. To me, this movie violates that because the main character doesn't change at all. I kept wondering why we were watching him.

I kind of liked the ending but it was "everyone rides off into the sunset" so it's not really the ending that's there but the one that played out in my imagination afterward.

So, tragic story, tragic plot, tolerable resolution at the end, characters we're not really allowed to involve ourselves in because the main character hogs all the attention and is a stereotype.


movie: Leap Year

Tuesday, 22 February 2011 11:30 am
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
I enjoyed a stupid movie. The entire premise of it was so dated and idiotic that I actually feel guilty for enjoying it. This movie should not exist in 2011, it certainly should not be a relatively recent movie. If it had been made starring Marilyn Monroe or Greta Garbo or someone from before the world was in color, then I could understand it. This isn't even from the 70s when pukey and rancid colors were starting to bleed through onto film (so everything stops being sepia and starts having avocado and burnt orange options as well, but it's all kind of brown and smoggy).

The movie was Leap Year. It's from 2009.

The movie starts with one of those modern women who are almost compulsively obsessive about details because everyone around her is a pathetic loser who can't find his ass with both hands and a talking GPS. After some weird plot points, we end up with Compulsive Woman A, also called Anna for convenient reference, having dinner at a nice restaurant with her boyfriend and expecting a marriage proposal.

Because he does not propose, she flies to Ireland to meet him there (he's on business) because in Ireland women can propose to men only on Leap Day.



1) Why can't women propose to men?
2) Why only in Ireland? If you're going to say it's an ethnic tradition, fine, but there's no reason why it has to be in Ireland, it's not like it was "on the bank of the Liffey at sunset on the 29th of February" or something specific to Ireland.
3) Why Leap Day?

because I could not avoid spoilers... )

movie: The A-Team

Monday, 31 January 2011 09:59 am
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
Did I tell you that we watched the new A-Team movie?

We did. It didn't suck. It was sort of a prequel to the show. There was lots of action and it seemed to assume the audience would be able to keep up when there was something quirky to the plan.

I had some issues with Face. 1) He's not pretty. Ew.. 2) Everyone else had their full character names given by the overlay, but Face's just said Faceman Peck, the Templeton was omitted.

I loved how Murdoch broke B.A. and made him afraid to fly. That had always seemed weird in the show because no one explained it. The guy playing B.A. did a great job of bringing more characterization to the role than Mr. T had done while remaining true to that interpretation.

Liam Neeson was good in this. I'm not sure why he keeps getting these big-name parts because he's really not a great actor. Everyone disses Kevin Costner and Keanu Reeves for sucking at their profession universally, but Neeson is inconsistent. If you get him a laconic part where he mostly is supposed to sound like he's parroting something someone actually intelligent told him to say, then he's fine. But it was very difficult for me to believe he was their great strategic planner with the ability to anticipate anything. (I liked Neeson as Qi-Gon Jinn in Star Wars 1: Jar Jar Makes Lucas Look Racist. But the whole point of the role was to pass along knowledge garnered from other masters.)

And the after-credit scene was amazing. I really enjoyed that.

I have some cognitive dissonance about modern entertainment. Things that were on TV when I was a child but which everyone derided as being mindless filler, now they're being resurrected and usually in a higher brow format.

There was a recent episode of Jeopardy where they talked about actors in the Broadway production of The Addams Family.

Did your brain screech to a halt? Mine did.
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
Watched Salt tonight.

Didn't like it. It's supposed to be a thriller where no one knows who anyone is. But I didn't really buy that aspect.

It was extremely scary, but mostly because huge swaths of scenes are closeups of spiders. We watched one of the extended versions (and I don't know what the differences were), but this was way too much for me. My neck hurts from turning away.

obfuscated spoilers )
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
I have had Charlie St Cloud in my Netflix queue since it was in theaters. It took forever to be released on DVD and then there was a wait for it, so it got pushed back (we're slow watchers, so I try not to hog stuff people are waiting for). So I think it's been about a year now. I'd forgotten why I wanted to see it.

Unfortunately that did not change after watching it.

It wasn't a bad movie, but I have seen sad-but-feel-good movies already and this one wasn't especially wonderful. Whoever they got to do Charlie isn't ready to be the leading man in a movie. Carrying this whole movie by himself was too much. He wasn't horrible, but there was no zing either.

I hated the younger brother in this.

I didn't understand the love interest.

I couldn't tell the difference between the flashbacks, the dreams, and the imagination sequences. None of it ever looked like reality and the crux of the movie depends on our ability to accept that some of what happened was reality.

So this movie failed for me on a number of levels. If I'd knitted during it and it hadn't taken up a DVD slot and hadn't been taunting me with its unavailability for months, then yeah, whatever. Right now I'm thinking I should have waited for it to come on TV in 2017 or something.
seryn: flowers (Default)
We watched that new Robin Hood movie, the one with Russell Crowe in it.

The dark parts were too dark to see anything. I wish they'd stop doing that.

The action shots were well done, but too much of that camera-swapping and I felt a little seasick.

And, of course, this movie was in complete violation of the mythos as I know it.

However. If you didn't think of this as a Robin Hood movie, it was really excellent. If you thought of it as an "origins" movie, it was pretty decent, but a lot of the stuff doesn't really gel here.

Russell Crowe was good in this. I'm not sure I've ever seen one of his movies before. He was really old in this though. Definitely older than King John, and seemingly older than Richard too.

I really don't like Cate Blanchette and she was Marion who was extremely prominent. I liked what they did for Marion's character, making her older and without having had that dominance beaten out of her. But the actress herself doesn't seem to have anything between vicious cow and ethereal.... I've seen a number of her movies. This one had none of the ethereal and her constantly pinched face made her unattractive. I had no idea why Robin was interested in her.

It could have been better if the night scenes had been corrected so they weren't just a smudgy black screen with subtitles for no apparent reason, but otherwise I liked it quite well.

I'm getting old enough that I appreciate movies where the leads are not young actors who can't comprehend the situation innately. I also appreciate it when the older actors aren't asked to pretend to be 20 years younger than they are. But I imagine those were precisely the reasons this was not a smash hit.

I'm not 17 and going out to the cinema because I want to be social but I'm not allowed to have that many friends over. I'm not 23 and going to the cinema because my roommate is home and cooking fish with sauerkraut. I'm 40 and I don't go to the cinema at all. I don't usually buy DVDs either. (Netflix, not torrent, so it's legal but it's still not "buying".) It's really not surprising that most movies focus on telling stories about their target audiences.

movie: Shooter

Thursday, 11 November 2010 10:33 am
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I watched Shooter, a movie starring Mark Wahlberg. It was surprisingly enjoyable considering it's all violence and I watched it interrupted by commercials.

What I liked most was how believable the whole situation was. What's shown to the viewer leaves the viewer with the same understanding as the main character, so the decisions made by the main character make sense within the context we see. That makes it feel like a well-plotted movie even if an external evaluation would suggest the path of the plot is ludicrous.

(That kind of professionalism in storytelling is precisely what was absent from the Percy Jackson movie, by the way. PJ was written where plot is inflicted upon characters who react in unthinkingly random ways even after we have known them for most of the movie. PJ was like the author didn't know his characters either. Or perhaps his characters are so moronically stupid that they don't think at all and their random behavior is because their brains are too small to house a personality while keeping them upright and breathing.)

So, Shooter was an unpleasant story, with a lot of gory unpleasant scenes, about an unpleasant topic, starring someone whose acting is generally laconic (perhaps typecasting, perhaps role choice). And yet, it was so extremely well done that I enjoyed it.

Just about the only thing this movie is lacking is that overt humorous overtone that pervades most movies and which I consider completly unfunny. I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes dramatic action movies without hesitation.
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
It was a while ago that I read the book Percy Jackson And The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. It was new, in hardcover, at the library and the second book wasn't available.

I thought it was okay as a book. There were some things which happened because the author needed them to happen. I call that, "Excuse me, your technique is showing."

When the movie came out, I was surprised. I'd thought it kind of a "meh." book. But it was well reviewed and I added it to the Netflix queue and grabbed it off the bottom when I wanted something light one weekend.

I thought the movie did a much better job of conveying the story than the book had. Honestly, I really did. There were fewer places the movie bogs down. But since the boggy bits were the foreshadowing in the book, the movie seemed even more so bizarrely random in plot events occurring for zero rational reason.

I'm not sure it's a compliment for something to be considered true to the book in regard to a failure. But the movie really was just like reading the book. It's completely chock full of these WTF moments where you keep blinking because that just makes no sense.

Now, considering that I liked this movie, let me get on with the parts that explain that. Firstly. And this was absolutely huge, Chris Columbus did not direct this movie the same way he directed the first or especially the second Harry Potter movie. Both of those were clipped so tightly in the editing and POV changes that it felt like the movie was directed by a ferret hopped up on crack and store-brand Red Bull. Percy Jackson (PJ from here on) was filmed and edited to look like a normal movie. It did not make me nauseatingly ill from the eye-whiplash and one can hear the ends of all the words in a conversation before the scene change. PJ is a movie for kids and adults don't need to be mainlining Pixy Stix while quadruple-patching No-Doz just to be able to keep up. That was way awesomely cool.

Second. I have a huge jones for stories that are "usually denigrated religions are fact". I love stories that have real Greek gods or real Norse gods. (I'm not hugely keen on the real Chinese gods ones. Nor the ones which make it crystal clear why those ancient religions deserved to be denigrated since everyone in the pantheon is a completely blocked anus.)

Third. I really like superhero movies.

So, overall, it was a pretty good interpretation of a book that had a lot of technical merit problems, but that book was something that was very likely to please me.

media roundup.

Friday, 29 October 2010 07:46 pm
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
I watched the most recent Hulu episode of House, the one where House has to babysit. The episode was so lame that I stopped watching it partway through twice.

I've also watched Iron Man 2 (I think I mentioned that already), Someone Like You, How To Train Your Dragon, finally finished watching Wilderness Love, and read a book-book by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer Wild Ride.

I've also read a bunch of k-books but it's really hard to tell whether they're novellas and don't count the same way fanfic doesn't count or if they're actually book-length. Most of them have been the 2-chapter porntext from Ellora's Cave... one week there were 3 dozen or so of those niblet size stories in the free pile and I grabbed all of them. But it gave me 25 pages of stories loaded onto my Kindle when I started and it took forever to find something when there's no jump-to-page function nor any reverse-sort function for when you know you want something starting with "w".

I liked the Dragon movie. I actually liked it a lot, but there were some completely egregious parts. I don't like it when movies make tongue-in-cheek allusions to common culture. So when the flight scenes were ripped off the scene from Return of the Jedi where they are flying through the forest of Endor on hover bikes and from the AT-AT battle in Empire Strikes Back, it's really annoying. And I know they did it purposefully as a sort of homage because they added in whooshing effects that were reminiscent. I was also appalled that they used fake scottish accents for vikings. That was actually offensively bad. The story was great though. The dragons were adorable. The clouds and animations were nicely done. It wasn't directed by a ferret on crack either. It just could have been amazing and wasn't.

I liked Iron Man 2, but the fic is better. Clell updated Technomage this week, and compared to Technomage, canonical Iron Man really isn't interesting.

Someone Like You, I've seen it before, but it was on Netflix Streaming and I had knitting to finish so I could start something for me. I liked it a lot too, except for the resolution scene. I don't get why Jane didn't just tell Eddie and the two of them proceeded to milk the situation for all it was worth since their boss was such a complete cow. (pun intended)

The Crusie/Mayer book, well, it's hard for me to see someone who is isolated and introverted and uninterested in family or children who ends up being drawn completely from her shell, hung out to dry by her lover, and pregnant with an unwanted baby as a "happy" ending. I really don't see that at all. The story was too scary for me a lot of the time aside from the pregnancy part (which I think is horrific). And I didn't think the characters were at all realistic. It was well-written and there was a pretty good balance between male and female points of view, even though it skews a bit to the girly. If you like mild horror, demons, first-person mysteries, and "instant families are the best kind" this might not be quite as nasty to you as it was to me.

Wilderness Love was filler TV in an extra-long format. I knitted through all of it. It starred Valerie Bertinelli. But wasn't otherwise especially interesting. It seemed to be about people who got married, had children, then stopped talking to each other until their marriage fell apart. It's kind of hard to see people like that as deserving of a happy ending.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010 06:52 pm
seryn: flowers (Default)
We finally finished Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

I liked it as a fantasy-action movie. There were some huh moments, but if you're not looking too closely it was just fine.

Hopefully we'll get Iron Man 2 next.

I started Holiday.. the one from before color was invented. Starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. So far they haven't called the gray-haired woman "Red" incessantly, which helps.

movies three

Monday, 11 October 2010 04:52 pm
seryn: flowers (Default)
I watched 3 things today. (I got a heaping lot of knitting done.)

Too Fast Too Furious. Lousy. Even worse than the first one and without Vin Diesel. I prefer the Transporter series to this one. The main blond dude in FF is lacking in presence and him being someone that everyone turns to is completely unbelievable.

Mrs Polifax: Spy.... I've read a number of the books this was based upon and the movie falls far short.

I also watched some National Geographic commentary comparing LOTR to various historical figures. meh. Obviously they have to cherry pick, but it felt like cherry picking so I didn't believe them when they were talking about the parallels. It was narrated by Gimli too, who is probably my least favorite voice actor ever.

I did go out for lunch. That was vastly better than all three movies. Big blue sky, crunchy leaves on the ground, idiot bicyclists to slalom even though I had the walk signal.
seryn: flowers (Default)
I watched two movies yesterday and today. They were very different but had equally disappointing endings.

The first was Second Chances.
Read more... )

The second movie was The Fast And The Furious.
Read more... )
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
I made salted caramel candy. It was supposed to be the soft kind of toffee and ended up being more like a butterscotch by Werthers or Brachs. I should probably buy a candy thermometer.

I think I was inspired to be more food-creative by:

Last week I watched Julie and Julia, the movie about that woman who did all the recipes in Julia Child's book in a year. It was tolerable. I didn't like the intermingled flashback shit where we were supposed to see the parallels between the two women's lives.

I really didn't like Julie's husband, but he's definitely not portrayed favorably (the "nice" stuff he does hardly compensates for the apparent selfishness of choosing somewhere hellish to live for his own convenience). I didn't really like Julie either since she couldn't man up and ditch her bitch friends.

I did really like Julia's husband as he was portrayed.

On the whole the movie seemed to be about the power one garners from pushing through obstacles to achieve success. That is a powerful message that was actively diluted by the deliberately confusing flashbacks.

movie: Watchmen

Monday, 9 August 2010 11:48 pm
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
I just finished watching Watchmen.


First that was a damned long movie.

Second. WTF man.

spoilers )

I did, however, really enjoy it. I would have enjoyed it more if it hadn't been ridiculously dark and hard to see anything because it was "atmospheric". But hello. Superhero movie where we get to actually see the struggle. This is what I wanted from The Incredibles which was so disappointing.

I also um. really liked the CGI nudity because it wasn't just fake boobs.
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
I don't know what happened to the writers. Maybe the original text was this bad and there's a reason they didn't make these texts into movies/episodes earlier.

This episode has Madame Oliver in it. Supposedly, according to the Alan Cumming intro, she's Agatha Christie's tongue-in-cheek self-portrayal. I loathe Madame Oliver. It reminds me of the worst parts of those prissy-pants mysteries like Gaudy Night. commentary on Gaudy Night )

The whole title of this was harped upon by the Oliver woman, and it was some shit she made up and pretended was a common phrase. The Oliver woman was completely idiotic and damn near got herself killed for no reason.

The victim/suspect in this is the same actress who did Lost In Austen. She's got these ENORMOUS lips. One wonders whether she needs a straw to consume liquids because her bulbous labia prevent getting the brim near her mouth. And that was what I was thinking about whenever she was on the screen, so I found her appearance a tremendous distraction from whatever professional attempts she was making. Her character does some stupid stunts that rival Mme Oliver's, but one cannot blame the actress for the role.

Poirot, however, is equally stupid. He never considers that someone in hiding would be freaked when the police show up at his door on an unrelated matter. Poirot says no one knows where the hiding person is, right before the butler comes in. Poirot used to do all his own cooking and did not appear to have servants of any kind, back when he was working with Captain Hastings and Miss Lemon. But regardless, the Poirot of earlier would never have attempted to tell someone that a servant is not a person or that their presence does not matter. Poirot was never dismissive of the servant class before. This Poirot was rudely dismissive.

Poirot doesn't go on about his Catholicism in this episode. That was a plus except it highlighted how ridiculous that was in the Murder On The Orient Express remake.

Whoever they have doing the video editing is one of those cracked up sugar-monkeys who do the music videos and Harry Potter movies and that Sherlock Holmes movie. It's extremely dimly lit. The scenes are cropped just a hair too short. The scenes jump around from one thought to the next without any sense of coherence. It's very difficult to see, very difficult to understand, and constantly makes me feel rushed about. I'm not that old, certainly younger than Poirot, and this made me feel like I was 90 and tottering about trying to understand a cocktail party without my hearing aid.

I'm honestly not all that interested in watching any more of these.
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
I finished watching the 2010 remake of Murder On The Orient Express, finally the one with David Suchet, who will always be Poirot to me. This was done under the auspices of Masterpiece Mystery and aired by PBS. (I believe you can still watch it online via

It's possible that this is one of my least favorite Poirot stories. I have hated all 3 movie versions I have seen. The updated version (the one before this) where it's set in current times but "cell phones don't work in the mountains" was so outrageous as to be almost unwatchable. I have heard that the Alps have terrific cell reception, which meant I started questioning everything they said. I didn't like the iconic version with Albert Finney either (1974), but that seemed more like a vehicle for aging stars than anything else. Everyone makes out that Murder On The Orient Express is Christie's most beloved work, but the story is so bizarre and randomly Deus ex Autura... or however you'd say "god from the mind of the authoress".

There were 3 really bad aspects of this remake. 1) Poirot is suddenly Catholic. There has been zero prior evidence of this and if the Belgian head of national police had fled the German invasion as a Catholic, he would have gone elsewhere than England which was rather intolerant of Catholicism. It would not have been sensible to have remained in London with an international reputation that permitted settling anywhere. 2) The actors in this were not up to snuff. Everything was over-acted but under-powered by emotion. These are all people who are used to stage performances where projection is from the chest but not from the heart. 3) The emphasis in this film's direction was on making sure that the audience didn't miss the clues. Poirot does everything but waggle his eyebrows a-la Magnum PI whenever someone admits to their crucial piece of connection. So about halfway through it's dead obvious who has "dun it" Poirot continuing to mull this over makes him look stupid.

All in all, despite it having David Suchet, there is nothing to recommend this as the best visualization of a very popular mystery novel.
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
The movie District 9 is available streaming via Netflix. So when [personal profile] jack mentioned it recently, it got shuffled up near the top of the pile where I could find it easily.

This morning we watched some of it.

We probably won't be watching more.

It's a bad movie if you're looking for something entertaining. Science fiction has a tremendous potential to be entertaining. Star Wars is a great example. But all we get is horror stuff and now political commentary about how when we see anything that's different as scary then we're the monsters.

The movie is done in this pseudo-news style, including the alternation between taped interview and live report that the actual news does to keep people from changing the channel. It's like a documentary, but about things which don't exist.

Most of the parallels in this movie were drawn with a very heavy hand. To the point of being offensive.
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